Fine Arts Booster Group Survey Highlights

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96 Respondents
Of the respondents who were not parents of current ICSD students, 58% identified as a community member and 42% as teachers/administrators. A larger chunk of respondents had children in grades 4-8, than grades 1 through 12. This is probably due to the survey “launch” at a middle school concert.

We received a tremendous response to this survey with lots of excellent feedback. 
Further, thoughtful digestion of the comments is warranted. See full survey response for more details.

All Survey Comments Posted Below

What do you think are the most pressing needs now for the ICSD and arts?

  • Improve and expand learning opportunities
  • Leadership in tough economic times so arts education doesn’t evaporate
  • Maintaining momentum and improvement
  • Responding to imminent budget cuts
  • Keeping the Arts Alive during this tough budget season
  • Involving more children in fine and perfoming arts
  • Making sure that funding is not cut any further!
  • Increasing access for ALL elementary kids to music
  • Getting rid of the ridiculous schedule that music/art teachers are trying to follow

Money

  • Making sure music and drama remains a part of middle and high school education and have the opportunity for students to participate in after-school drama/music programs
  • Continuing the ability for at least 4th and 5th graders to begin musical instruments for band/orchestra
  • Maintaining the level of music “services” all kids have the opportunity to participate in; continue to connect community resources (artists, musicians) to the schools; having enough loaner instruments for every student who wants to play; supporting the music, art and drama teachers with grants, connections, etc.
  • Finding a good balance of funds and arts opportunities for all students and teachers of the ICSD
  • Keeping the importance of the arts in the minds of the decision makers for our schools
  • Identifying new and unusual sources of both human and financial resources to support the arts
  • FABG is more important than ever before. As funds shrink, the fact that the arts always seem to fall into the category of “junk jewelry” in the minds of those holding the bank, means that the arts will survive only with huge support from the community.
  • Publicizing the arts, gathering community support and fundraising will allow the arts to thrive in Ithaca
  • Consistent reliable funding, rather than a struggle with the Board every year
  • It is imperative that we maintain the current level of funding for teaching and staff positions and for ALL clubs currently receiving District/ FABG funding. The fine arts must be “marketed” as a vital part of our cultural heritage.
  • Funding for the arts!
  • Funding and coordination
  • $$$$
  • Making greater use of arts programs to support at-risk children in our schools
  • Work to maintain existing programming in the face of budget stress
    • One of the most pressing needs is to keep the arts on the funding agenda - - surely the arts comprise 21st century skills! Keeping programs available in the public schools also assures access to families who cannot afford to pay for private instruction.ICSD has an impressive track-record in arts education and accessibility, and this should not be compromised. (“it ain’t broke, so don’t ‘fix’ it”)
    • Re-imagine and redevelop arts education with a focus on creativity, skills development, and mastery.
    • Currently, the music curriculum at the elementary level is poor and undeserving of funding. Learning an instrument like violin should be integrated into the curriculum and not an extra where students miss instruction in other subject areas. Performance arts and drama needs to be integrated into the music/arts elementary program. ICSD has enabled gifted to students to shine in the arts, and we need to integrate the extra and co-curricular activities fully into the curriculum at all levels. In short, I would like FABG to think big picture and enable the district to move forward in re-imagining its arts education. I applaud all of FABG’s efforts on supporting the year-to-year activities and programs, but we need a fundamental reinvestment in curriculum development. Perhaps host a state conference on arts education.
    • Just keeping the arts in the schools - music, art, drama - all important to the growth of our kids. I am not sure what the current budget situation is, so don’t know whether the status of the arts in schools is precarious. It could be that after upcoming budget cuts, the FABG and other external funding sources may be the only way to keep the arts going in schools.
    • Budget cuts are yet one more reason this school district needs to allow greater flexibility for individual students. This would help ensure that limited resources are used more efficiently. EG: Students should be able to continue taking studio art classes for a full year if they so desire in middle school. In addition, outside studio classes or music instruction should be counted for credit perhaps with an exam or other proof of completion, which would allow highly skilled musicians to take more art and visa versa, and lower the number of kids in classrooms.
  • Participation in instrumental instruction and studio art needs to be supported and expanded. Instrumental instruction is not valued highly enough.
    • More digital media should be introduced to an expanded studio art program. Visual literacy in the digital age means comfort with producing, not just consuming, media.
    • Every child should have the opportunity to experience drama and performance, since so much grading -especially in middle school - is based on presentations and participation. Currently the drama programs are extra curricular for extroverted kids who already have these skills. The shy kids who either stay away or get minor parts, and the underprivileged kids who can’t come after school, need exposure to the dramatic arts.
    • Integration of the arts with the curriculum has proven important in research findings on student engagement in learning and on academic performance. The current curriculum in this district, even in single teacher elementary school classrooms, but particularly in the middle school, is very fragmented and lacks coherency of purpose and meaning. A more integrated approach would help strengthen the position of the arts as essential as well as help students with academic engagement and achievement.
    • Visual arts seem under emphasized in the middle and high school years. The plays, bands etc. get much more attention and resources.
    • Keeping band and drama in the middle and high schools.
    • Supplementing opportunities for the kids to be involved in art, music especially after budget cuts
    • A clear vision needs to be established especially in the IHS Drama program. The hiring of the IHS Drama Director should be a decided through a panel of IHS Staff, Musical and Drama personal, parents and community members. IHS Music/Drama productions should collaborate with community and college theaters to give students a high quality experience.
    • Sustaining the district’s financial commitment to including top-quality arts offerings as part of every child’s education.
    • Add more relevant music electives, and more music teachers, to the IHS program in order to support the equity goal: (ie Djembe Ensemble, Steel Drum Ensemble, etc.)
    • Add chorus/choir to the LACS music curriculum
    • Restore the elementary vocal music program
    • Maintain the elementary instrumental program
    • To advocate for all arts (vocal music, fine arts, strings, band, dance) through budget strains and economic hardships. To try and show the Ithaca community and staff how valuable the arts are for all students. To help discuss alternatives with scheduling problems in the elementary school art and music programs.
    • Continue to support equitable access to before-, after-, and in-school activities @ middle & high school levels
    • Continuity in arts funding Central planning of district arts program funding, programming (curriculum, scheduling, staffing)
    • Return funding responsibilities of extra-curriculars to the ICSD
    • Preserving current programming for all students
    • Return specialists to area of expertise
    • Not to lose programs in this time of budget cuts, but to scale back
    • Arts for ALL - not just privileged. Arts as motiviation, therapy, education, avenue for those in need - $ needy, special needs, socially needy, etc.
    • The privileged will get their arts in Ithaca with or without FABG. We should serve the needy. (instruments - an equity factor) (connecting to community - important, but in my opinion already happens quite a bit)
    • For the district to reinstate funding to the arts programs
    • Explore uses for new fine arts facility
    • Advocacy and fundraising
    • Preserve current arts programming in face of state funding crisis
    • Having teachers in their content areas.
    • Keeping going
    • Advocate for the arts as an integral part of every child’s education.
    • Sufficient funding for full array of programs.”
    • More after school arts activities, esp groups esp orchestra, etc.
    • To keep arts going in light of budget cuts
    • To continue opportunities and perhaps expand opportunities in all of the arts!
    • Keeping the arts funded
    • Teachers/pay
    • Keep school programs
    • Advocating the value of music in child brain development, advocate funding: state/school
    • Preventing budget cuts
    • Encouraging and supporting a more diverse population to participate
    • I didn’t really understand the previous screen, because some of the options seemed overlapping and there were only five ratings, but way more than five choices.
    • I think the ICSD has a serious problem with raising taxes. I have a child in the school district and I very much support the arts, but I simply can’t vote for a budget that has a tax increase, because the change over the past ten years is kind of ridiculous and if it keeps up I will not be able to retire in my home, because I certainly don’t get that kind of raise each year. I like the idea of parents (including myself) and community members kicking in what they want to support fine arts programs and taking it increasingly out of the taxed budget as needed.
    • Avoiding the budget axe again
    • Fixing the schedule mess
    • Maintain funding/work on changing elementary scheduling
    • To help ensure that the district funds arts, both as part of the school curriculum and as extracurriculars
    • Most important is to keep the current programs going. It would be lovely to have greater emphasis on arts (I would love to see dance in our schools), but in the current climate I would be happy if programs don’t get cut.
    • Keeping art and music as part of the curriculum. Supporting art and music teachers.
    • Fundraising
    • I think that the most pressing needs for the arts is collaboration. I see no work between schools or school music programs. Unity comes in numbers. The school districts that have no music cuts or the least cuts are the ones that have weekend String Festivals for all strings in the district, etc.. I also think that it is worthwhile bringing in more guests as well as making sure that all teachers are part of component organizations such as AST, MENC, etc. These component organizations have subsidiaries that will help you fight for your programs, have grants available to offset some of what FABG does, but will not if you are not a member.
    • Continued community support to maintain all arts programs in the district and to reinstate funding for extracurricular activities. Encourage improved scheduling of elementary music and art and returning teachers to areas of expertise.
    • Advocating for arts in this time when keeping them IN the curriculum could be difficult.
    • Support fine arts program & teachers
    • Maintain existing programs particularly at the elementary/middle school level
    • Inform the public about the value of existing arts programs to overall learning, particularly at the elementary/middle school levels. There is plenty of advocacy already, and even independent fundraising, at the high school level.
    • To protect the programs that exist and ensure the survival of the arts in ICSD into the future. Also, to see how to more fully integrate arts into other curricula (ie how can arts also be a regular part of Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Math) so that the arts can’t be defunded on their own; such that defunding the arts would also be defunding Language Arts, SS, Science and Math.
    • Communication, getting people involved. Making people aware of competing priorities and how important it is to advocate constantly!
    • School board arts lobbying.
    • Educating the community about current opportunities for students in fine arts.
    • Mobilize support to maintain these programs.
    • Restore funds for extra curricular music and drama A mission statement for the performing arts and real leadership that exists above and beyond an individual school. An administrative position with authority to make decisions - on quality.

Of these needs, what do you think FABG can help with?

  • Continuing to talk about the importance of the arts, and offering incentive money
  • All of it
  • Fundraising
  • Keep notifying people when they need to advocate for the arts.
  • Assisting in creating opportunities through community resources, seed grants and support of new ideas.
  • Advocacy & publicity to the community. Being a way for people to donate old musical instruments to ICSD.
  • Fundraise
  • Advocate for arts/music/drama programs with the school board/admin. Organize community support for programs. Fundraise for special programs.
  • All of them! and especially advocating for the arts at school board meetings, and other meetings that go on in the district but teachers can’t attend. FABG is or can be the eyes and ears for all the busy teachers!
  • As many as the volunteers are able to achieve with their priorities considered.
  • We must help with advocacy, visibility of the many arts events and activities, and keep pushing how important the arts are to our civilization.
  • Advocate and fundraise
  • You are doing a great job….you need more volunteers, and a strong relationship with Dr. Brown.
  • The grants you offer are fantastic! Keeping the community informed.
  • Fundraising. Continued advocacy for support of the arts in the ICSD Budget.
  • Work to maintain existing programming in the face of budget stress
  • Advocacy, funding, connecting private donors to school programs.
  • FABG should always be advocating and bringing extra resources, but needs to be careful to not become depended upon in lieu of the official school curriculum/budget.
  • Asserting the value of fine arts within the curriculum. Providing teachers with easy, accessible ways to tap into the resources that exist.
  • Same as this year, fundraising and supporting programs that the ICSD cuts.
  • FABG should clearly establish the vision and set up guidelines to gauge the growth in the program and act as an advocate if the program is not fostering a positive learning environment for IHS students
  • Advocating for continued budgetary support of our fine arts staff.
  • They should help with all of the above although they seem to only focus on instrumental music
  • Continue outreach to the community and ICSD staff and promoting the arts. To educate the community and ICSD staff more about the importance of the arts.
  • Both of these needs, through advocacy with the district.
  • Advocacy
  • Communicate clear information between parents and administration -Fundraising showing importance of the arts
  • Advocacy will be important
  • As much money as possible
  • Money
  • Support programs for all kids and more specialized programs for those kids who need it
  • Keep pressure on public officials to maintain arts support supporting existing programs
  • To continue advocating for the arts as a necessary and vital part of all children’s education
  • Costume coordination for musicals throughout county, reuse!
  • Rallying and informing the community
    • Both of the above
  • Keeping the pressure on the school administration and raising money and awareness from the community to support arts in the schools.
  • All of these.
  • Maintaining support and continued dialog with ICSD administration, BOE and community members
  • Continue Mini Grants and other special funding. Thank you for your efforts in keeping extracurricular offerings at ICSD this year. It is understood that your heroic efforts would not be expected on a regular basis.
  • Our students thank you as well!!!
  • Doing what you’re doing…keeping the art in the public eye and ear. I like the concept that connecting arts tothe schools is important; it needn’t cost tons extra sometimes to use what’s already there.
  • Garner community support
  • Financially
  • Advocacy at school board meetings, in local print media and talk radio, and at performances demonstrating/publicizing the value of the arts to the overall learning experience, and to class/racial equity in learning to demonstrate value for tax $ spent
  • Connecting school and community - shows students that what they study is relevant, shows the community that their stake in the schools goes beyond paying taxes
  • Have representatives/speakers at the elementary/middle school arts events to remind parents and other audience members about the value of arts to academic learning and to the learning climate, and about the need for arts advocacy at the parent/public level
  • All of the above, but the second part is more tricky.
  • All
  • School board education
  • Community arts awareness
  • Arts advocacy
  • Funds for grants (not for existing programming - this allows board to rely heavily on booster organization

Survey other ideas:

  • Never say die.
  • It’s hard to look past simply not losing the programs we have now.
  • Make sure every child has experience in the fine and performing arts prior to high school graduation.
  • Keep up the great work!!! Stay visible & involved!! THANK YOU!!
  • An extended school day for all students that includes academics and all of the arts. An extended school year where arts bursts could be the focus…for all students. Co-learning opportunities for adults and students in the arts…combine activities and resources for senior citizens thru preKindergarten to benefit all.
  • Involve the students in art and theater, band and orchestra in fundraising activities. Suggest that this will benefit them, and will be community service, which all juniors and seniors realize is a necessary component of a college application. Use their energy!!
  • Also, how about an art auction and concert? Silent or otherwise, using the arts (the whole array) to cycle attention and resources back into the district’s arts programs and events.
  • Expand!! Improve collaboration between community and schools to provide arts for all.
  • Recruit some BOE members
  • I hope ICSD will make good use of the beautiful new Kulp building. Dance classes and performances (hip hop, jazz, step dancing, etc.) might help minority students feel more engaged in the arts.
  • I love the ideas of expanding the number of plays students do in the fall and running workshops for students interested in technical theater. Hope we can take full advantage of the relationship with the Hangar. And I’m very glad IHS chose the Wiz for the spring musical! (Don’t know what part FABG played in that decision.)
  • This is a great organization. Thank you for all you do.
  • Loved the collaborative Ithaca Symphony, Fall Creek, Boynton MS concert!!!
  • Your survey doesn’t include Kindergarten. My 2nd daughter is in K not 1 - as indicated.
  • I’m too overwhelmed to think about the future.
  • Have more visiting artists from the community come to classes and critique, work with and support student’s work.
  • Perhaps have them join the more academic classes as well to discus how other academic studies can influence art.
  • Equitable access and support
  • To have vocal music and art teachers on a schedule that maximizes instruction time and learning time for students. ”
  • Continue to advocate for the arts programs people want to support

Other Comments

  • One project I would like to pursue is creating some publicity for ICSD alum who are working in the arts still thinking work with teachers to support and promote their work commented on
  • Excellent listserv

Comments from other parts of survey

  • Knew about IPEI but not FABG
  • Arts are essential not secondary to learning curriculum
  • Do not want access restricted to those whose families can afford it
  • Hard to rank current activities without knowing about FABG
  • Black and white concert clothing swap meet fundraiser
  • Charge minimal amount to get in then have kids/parents swap up sizes for concert wear
  • Budget cuts may need to be made, but how to do that and maintain a strong program? (additional comment - My son was very concerned about the Boynton Jazz Band. Thank you for your efforts.)”
  • Could you also help with concert advertising? The Journal and Ithaca Times could use some “”nudging”” granting us space in their papers for this.
  • Thanks for all you do for our kids! I hope this year’s budget process will be more open and timely
  • Grants are essential to our programs. Thank you for all the support you’ve given me over the last ten years.”
  • More fundraising
    • Grants!
  • Please continue your support of all arts for all students. Continue Mini Grants under current format. Continue your advocacy efforts with community, administration and BOE.
  • Really making noise when programs are cut or downsized. Need to be careful not to get into union issues, such as “my schedule is too hard,” or “this teacher sees fewer classes than I do.” That’s not FABG business or woes. Often the whiniest, squeakiest wheel gets the attention! Keep a broad outlook. I really think FABG does that very well.
  • Help develop ties with the larger community to make better use of the new facilities in Kulp -
  • Help advocate for arts education at the elementary/middle school levels
  • Integrated learning curriculum that ties music, art, drama to history, English, etc. Read about Baroque period, listen to Baroque music, etc. Coursework (maybe intensive mini-courses) that try this out.
  • Help with funds for special programming- ie. art shows, festivals that might increase community awareness of student talent
  • The Fine Arts Booster Group is a valuable association of people eager to help keep art/music/drama etc. available in the public schools. I see this group as a support network - and appreciate that volunteers raise monies to help more students have opportunities to study or participate in arts related events. Providing grants/scholarships to teachers for items that are not in the budget/for students who cannot afford equipment, etc. I believe it should not be a policy making group, however, but should support the existing programming and find ways to increase community awareness and support of arts education.

Additional comments tied to ranking:

  • Improve learning opportunities for all: by providing scholarship/funding, yes; by initiating new programming, no. Increase equitable access: by providing scholarships, yes, by not by policy making.
  • Finding used instruments: This advances equity - makes more resources available to impoverished/needy students.
  • Printing booklets: If it helps raise funds and encourages local businesses to support Arts - Education - yes! ” “additional comments from form: Fundraising: Ideally I would rank this a 3 but with current economic climate, a 1.
  • Communication: not sure what kind of communication is referred to here.
  • Grants and instruments: I think both of these programs are wonderful but in current times, I think maintaining and improving overall programming and curriculum is perhaps more of a priority.
  • Listserv: Much of this information also appears on school based lists.