. Interchanging Idioms: April 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Need for Well Rounded Students

Lou Spisto is at it again, calling for well rounded students

Reblog from: Dallas Daily News

Louis Spisto Encourages Well-Rounded Education for Today’s Students

According to arts advocates like Louis Spisto, keeping arts education in schools is essential to the development of today’s students. Throughout his long career as a producer and arts executive, Spisto has led the development of community and education-based performing arts and theater programs designed to spread appreciation of the arts amongst youth.

Unfortunately, in the era of school budget cuts, arts education is almost always one of the primary targets. Schools nationwide are trimming arts programs, and students are no longer learning to appreciate music, visual and performing arts. This is worrying to Louis Spisto and many others in the art community.

“The argument for arts education is robust for so many reasons, regardless of how strict budgetary limitations become,” says Lou Spisto.

According to a report by Americans for the Arts, arts education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. “If they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a chance to blossom,” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about art education. There are many benefits of instructing students in the arts. Parents, educators, and other community members need to join together and fight to keep the arts in schools.

The Arts Increase Student Potential

All students have the potential to grow and learn. Through their instruction, they are able to identify their strengths and develop skills that allow them to thrive in future endeavors. Unfortunately, many assume that math, science, and language are the only important topics in the curriculum. This is mainly because our educational system spawned from the Industrial Revolution, which placed heavy significance on disciplines that translated directly to the mechanical needs of society. Ken Robinson, British Culture Leader, challenges the way we’re educating in his TED Talk.

Having learned a great deal through his own involvement in the arts, Louis Spisto is an example of how exposure to the arts is critical in education.

Spisto explains that, through his years of community involvement, he has seen how the arts can increase a student’s potential in numerous ways. Engaging in the arts allows students to discover new skills that they may have not known that they possessed. Creativity, problem solving, critical thinking are important lessons that students learn through exposure to the arts–lessons they will carry with them forever. Developing these key skills will help students with the personal and professional challenges they encounter as they grow older.

Studying the Arts Helps Students Develop a Well-Rounded Perspective of the World

Whether learning about painting, theater, dancing or music, children are exposed to new ideas and cultures when studying the arts. They allow for creative self-expression denied to students in other subjects. They help teach new concepts and different ways of thinking. This effects how students think and understand situations from multiple points of view.

Today’s world is becoming increasingly interconnected, thanks largely to the power of the Internet and other technology. But this globalization also means that people need to learn how to interact with one another, and how to appreciate different ideas, beliefs, and values that other cultures may hold.

Studying the arts helps students to become global citizens, rather than just members of their local community. More than any other subject, the arts demonstrate diversity, eclecticism and alternate points of view. Learning these and growing to appreciate them creates a more rounded and tolerant person. Through the arts, it’s possible to gain a new appreciation for the world.

This global perspective can enrich an individual’s life tremendously. Louis Spisto notes that including arts in education is also crucial to appreciate the ways that an arts-focused educational approach can boost professional development.

“Looking at the professional implications alone, theater and other arts can help students to develop into successful individuals who thrive in their chosen field,” says Lou Spisto. “From a communications standpoint, this exposure gives students the ability to understand people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. These enhanced communication skills are what drive teamwork and enable final products to be delivered.”

Studies show that students may actually perform better academically when they are exposed to the arts. The School Superintendents Association (AASA) reports that research is revealing the impressive impact of arts instruction on students’ cognitive, social and emotional development.

One of the most compelling reasons that the arts are important is the ability for students to use the skills they learn from artistic endeavors in other settings. These skills can translate to many areas of life, both personal and professional. And, of course, they can also improve academic achievement.

According to Louis Spisto, another reason it may be beneficial for students to study the arts is because it may help them put ideas into context. Instead of simply learning about certain historical events or ideas, students can study artistic projects that reflect these issues. As such, they can better understand what is taught in history and other classes because they have a way of envisioning some of these ideas in a new context.

The Creative Community Allows for a Deeper Level of Involvement

Art is a community-based field that thrives on collaboration and shared ideas. While some artistic activities can be performed independently, the arts as a whole promotes community. This encourages engagement, and promotes interaction with other individuals.

This interaction can help students better learn about themselves and the world around them. Additionally, it can facilitate the development of communication and other key skills, which help students succeed as citizens of the world.

Students Who Study the Arts Have a Richer Educational Experience

Studying the arts also builds new skills and a stronger appreciation for culture and the world as a whole. It’s clear that teaching the arts in today’s schools allows students to benefit from a richer educational experience.

“Today’s arts education programs are in danger of being cut completely due to financial limitations. Anyone who is passionate about keeping the arts in schools is encouraged to speak up and let their voice be heard,” Lou Spisto says.

ABOUT: Louis Spisto is a producer and arts executive with experience planning and building new venues, as well as leading transformational change for nationally respected organizations. Louis Spisto looks forward to continuing to play a role in the development and success of arts in communities.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Social Media’s Role in the Performing Arts with Arts Expert Lou Spisto

repost from: advisories.com

While great performers and performances will always be central to why people attend live arts events, experts like Lou Spisto (with nearly three decades of experience in the arts world) believe that social media is becoming an important player for audience engagement and possible growth in overall attendance. Social media’s influence seems to be everywhere and the 2014 Academy Awards may be the boldest example of this to date. Ellen DeGeneres, the host of the show and already a top figure on Twitter, broke new ground with the “impromptu” tweet of her “selfie” that included some of the world’s most well-known celebrities. It generated more than 3 million retweets. She easily surpassed the previous record holder, President Obama, who had under a million.

Although this may be an extreme example of the power of social media and a “live” event, does it auger well for the performing arts? Can social media make the opera, ballet symphony orchestra or theater event appealing to a wider public? According to arts expert Lou Spisto, who has produced for arts organizations and commercial theater, “Social media has become a key component of every arts marketing plan, but the Oscar tweet reveals just how powerful Twitter, Instagram, and the like, can be in creating buzz and relevancy. Aside from the telecast viewers, more people know about the Oscars from that one tweet than all other media outlets combined.”

Spisto stated, “I think that the performing arts benefit from smart use of social media. Arts organizations can foster connections with social media users already interested in their programs, allowing these opinion leaders to become connectors, giving their arts program relevancy to those in their broader network.” Spisto continued, “In effect, the power comes from influencers who create a community of interest based on their credibility. Back in the day it was literally word of mouth; now it’s word of mouth via phone, tablet or laptop.”

Spisto cautioned, “My only concern is that arts marketers are looking for a direct correlation between social media connections and purchase, and involvement may not lead to immediate action. At this stage, fans and friends are not translating immediately to buyers, but as these strategies become more mature and the relationship with the market is better assessed, we can be clearer about the effort and its value. In any event, we need to be here for the long-term, as this will only become more important as we move forward with future generations.” As Chip Michael, Digital Media Manager for the Pacific Symphony in Orange County notes, “the younger generation spends more time on their smartphones than they do watching television, reading the newspaper or listening to the radio (combined). Performance organizations will need to be visible on social media if they have any hope of connecting with the next generation of attendees.”

Social media is playing a role in many areas of art marketing in addition to ticket sales, such as donor solicitations, volunteer groups, fan clubs, education and outreach programs. Performers and other creative artists are gaining more connections and accessibility as they reach out and document their on-stage experience through platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram. Theater and dance are no longer limited to the confines of the stage – social media delivers on-stage and back-stage experiences to audiences across the globe, not just in their town.

Many arts organizations, large and small, have embraced, and achieved success through social media. Chip Michael, notes, “[Social media] allows us to keep what we’re doing in the forefront of the minds of our audience. When we’re preparing for a performance, but not actually performing, it’s important to get buzz going, to get people talking about what’s coming, and to keep people thinking about us and what we do.”

The New York Philharmonic, for example, is sharing their artists’ musical inspirations and behind-the-scenes photos on their Facebook and Twitter accounts to inspire fans to attend upcoming concerts. They have a program called “What’s New” where in one click, a social media user can find out about all concerts, dates, tickets, artists, and anything else they would want to know about the Philharmonic. The San Francisco Ballet has account on social media platforms that include Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and a long list of others to reach a wider and younger Bay area audience that seems a natural fit for this brand of marketing.  Chip Michael continued, “We need to engage with our fans, make them a part of the experience, and allow their thoughts, ideas, enthusiasm and passion for our art bubble out to the rest of the world.”

According to the popular online news outlet Straight.com, social media is becoming so integral to marketing the performing arts that “in the age of the hashtag, it seems, it’s tweet or perish.”

Lou Spisto is confident that social media will help boost the popularity of live performing arts. “I think the greatest thing about the prevailing use of social media is that it places the artist at the center of the message, and brings a community of users together with what may have been an inaccessible world. The art, the art making, and the artist, are now in the palm of your hand. Literally and figuratively.”