The New Pennsylvania Arts Education Network Introduces Policy Agenda

The Pennsylvania Arts Education Network, a new coalition of arts, education, and advocacy organizations, met in the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 19, and urged state lawmakers to take action on the Network’s Policy Agenda.

The Pennsylvania Arts Education Network is a coalition of arts, arts education, and advocacy organizations and individuals working together to strengthen public and policymaker support for arts education in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania arts and education leaders were joined at a Capitol press conference by four legislators who are the co-chairs of the Legislative Arts and Culture Caucus (Senators Jay Costa and Pat Browne; Representatives Stan Saylor and Tim Briggs).  Other speakers included Representative Mark Cohen, a member of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; Phillip Horn, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; and Ron Cowell, president of The Education Policy and Leadership Center.

State lawmakers were urged to fill a long-vacant staff position in the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Fine Arts and Humanities Advisor, and to reinstate the Governor’s School for the Arts, a summer program that had more than 10,000 participants over 30 years before being cancelled for budget reasons.

State lawmakers also were urged to create an “endorsement” credential for teachers of theater and dance and to advise school districts that they may use Title I and Title II federal funding to support arts education and professional development.

Local school boards were urged to require at least one credit in the arts as a high school graduation requirement.

The Policy Agenda of the coalition also reminds state lawmakers that the large cuts in state appropriations to school districts the past two years are reducing arts education opportunities for many students.

“Pennsylvania has a long and rich heritage in its arts and cultural institutions. We take great pride in our museums, our galleries, our theatres,” Senator Pat Browne said. “It is critical that the arts remain part of our educational system as a way for people to share and express their creativity and knowledge.”

Jenny Hershour, Managing Director of Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania’s arts advocacy group, reminds lawmakers that the arts provide skills that business leaders look for in future employees, such as innovation and collaboration, and that “an education that includes the arts is good for students, businesses, and the Commonwealth.”

Margaret Bauer, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, said “Today’s celebration of Arts Education Advocacy provides an important message to lawmakers that decisions being made in Harrisburg will either support or undermine opportunities for high quality arts experiences for all of Pennsylvania’s students.”

Gene Frank, of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, reminded everyone that arts education in Pennsylvania includes dance and theater as well art and music, and that each contributes to the education of every student.

Leeann Rhoades, of Pennsylvania Arts Education Association, emphasized that advocacy by parents, teachers, other community leaders, and students themselves can make a difference in helping lawmakers understand that arts education is an essential part of the core curriculum for every student.

Earlier, the State Senate and House of Representatives approved Resolutions declaring March 19 Arts Education Advocacy Day, a day set aside “to recognize arts education as integral and essential every year to the education of all Pre-K, elementary, and secondary students, and to express appreciation to arts educators throughout the Commonwealth.”

As part of Arts Education Advocacy Day, the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association arranged for a student choral group from Gettysburg to perform in the Capitol Rotunda and the Pennsylvania Art Education Association exhibited in the Capitol some of the student art pieces from their Youth Art Month exhibition at the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The Pennsylvania Arts Education Network was formed following the publication of the March 2012 report, Creating Pennsylvania’s Future Through the Arts and Education, by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).

Ron Cowell, president of EPLC, said the Network is an unprecedented coalition of organizations and individuals who support arts education and understand the value of effective public policy at the state and school district level.

For more information about Arts Education Advocacy Day or the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network, visit or contact Network Coordinator, Erin Gough at, or 717-260-9900.


Erin Gough
Pennsylvania Arts Education Network
PHONE: 717-260-9900
CELL PHONE: 717-574-4719

Vicki Wilken
Senator Pat Browne’s
PHONE: 717-787-1349