VAPA in transition :: Notes from our policy roundtable

Notes from our September 6, 2019 Arts Education Policy Roundtable featuring Sam Bass, director of the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) department of the San Francisco Unified School District.

Bass gave a presentation about his own leadership story and exciting VAPA initiatives, then we broke into smaller groups to discuss how to address district challenges.

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Congratulations to the Dream Catchers

The Dreamcatcher awards are the Oscars of arts education in San Francisco. The Visual and Performing Arts Department of the San Francisco Unified School District is proud to recognize arts education leaders from various parts of the community, including arts teachers, school arts coordinators, principals, administrators and community arts partners.


They began presenting the awards in 2007, the same year that the Arts Education Master Plan was released. The 2018 awards were presented on March 15 at the community reception for the SFUSD Arts Festival in the glamorous grand hall of the Asian Art Museum.


Sketchnotes by Todd Berman, marker on paper.

Tutorials as Cultural Exchange, Merav Tzur

Merav Tzur is an accomplished contemporary artist who works in a variety of media, including video. Her practice was transformed when she discovered amateur tutorial videos online - see below for her video about how to create the tree of knowledge. Watch the video of her presentation to find out why she finds the medium so meaningful for her media students at Ohlone college. 

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Creating Narratives of Youth of Color, SoMapagmahal Photography Mentorship Program

SoMapagmahal Photography teachers Erina C. Alejo and Dara Katrina brought their young artists, David, Dayzsha, and Julianna, on stage with them because the whole purpose of their program is to give youth of color the power to tell their own stories. Their goal is to reactivate brown joy, and they are clearly successful.

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For Students, By Students: How to Build the High School Survival Kit, Sierra Reading

As a fashion instructor for teenagers at Youth Art Exchange, Sierra Reading wants to make sure her students understand that they have the power to drive the fashion industry. She helped here students work together to design a backpack that would serve their needs.

Watch the video of her March 16, 2017 presentation as part of the "Student Voice. Community Power." Curriculum Slam. Apply by March 12 to present at the 2018 show.

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The Challenges of Partnerships :: an Arts Education Policy Roundtable recap

Every two months, we hold a gathering of arts educators for an arts education policy roundtable. On December 1, 2017, we met underneath Peter Ilyin's 1938 oil paintings of San Francisco's waterfront in room 125 of the Veteran's Building to discuss what makes for successful partnerships with public schools.

This post was created with significant assistance from notes by Nicole Sumner of Artways Playways. Email to learn about her workshop, "Hard Wired to Play: A Course Exploring the Specturm of Play as if Your Leanring and Mental Health Depended on it."

Don't miss Honor Your pARTner :: an Arts Education Partnership Showcase on Thursday, February 15, 2018.

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A first dive into our survey data

At our October 6, 2017 Arts Education Policy Roundtable, we took a first look at data from our survey about teaching artist pay rates and employment structure. We decided to take on this survey project after our discussion at the April 2017 Policy Roundtable about how we can work together to address a local teaching artist shortage.

This post outlines our initial reactions, findings, and first steps. We will continue the conversation on October 25 in Oakland at That Teaching Artist Life…Taking Action to Support Teaching Artist Sustainability.

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Working together on the Teaching Artist Shortage

Who here has noticed a teaching artist shortage? 

Everyone raises their hand.

We met for our bi-monthly Arts Education Policy Roundtable meeting on April 7. On our agenda: The teaching artist shortage and advocacy issues. The discussion about the teaching artist shortage had such momentum that we went ahead and spent most of the meeting discussing that. Some of the ideas raised are captured below in three sections:

  1. Teaching Artist Shortage: sharing experiences,

  2. Teaching Artist Shortage: ideas for solutions,

  3. Advocacy

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