November 2020 Arts Newsletter

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The Arts News & Notes | November 2020

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As artists and arts educators, we know from experience that something special happens in the brain when we engage with the arts. Did you know that there’s a science that studies this? Neuroesthetics is the young science that explores how art impacts the brain and how the brain processes beauty and art. Check out these resources to learn more about the connections between the arts and the brain!

Scientists are Studying a Teenage Musician's Brain

What happens to our brains on art? Watch "Edutopia" on YouTube.

A list of research connecting music to aspects of the brain.

An article from Harvard Medical School connects dance and the brain.

This multimedia article from the Washington Post explores improvisation and the brain.

This story from National Public Radio explains the connection between visual arts and the brain.

Thank you for all that you do in service of the arts in education, and please take the time to take good care of yourself during these challenging times.

Janet Hayakawa, Program Supervisor
The Arts - Dance, Media Arts, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Cell/Text: 360-764-6157

Art—"Wish You Were Here” by Katie Leigh Place, mixed media (Regional Finalist, 2020 Superintendent’s High School Art Show)


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Remembering Our Colleagues

In October, we unexpectedly lost two colleagues, Dr. Debbie Montague, an award-winning music educator and administrator who worked in the Northshore and Sumner School Districts, and Ms. Anne Gregory, a talented art teacher at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. They are both remembered fondly by students, families and colleagues and will be missed. In these challenging times, when most are learning and teaching in isolation, please remember to connect with others who may need support. Lean into social, emotional learning that so naturally aligns with the arts.

Art—“Every Drop Counts” by Lance Johnson, photography (Honorable Mention, 2020 Superintendent’s High School Art Show)

Join the Conversation!

Washington arts educators and administrators are invited to join regular sessions to learn, connect, share and collaborate. Open to all grade levels and arts disciplines. Clock hours available.  If you would like to participate, email

  • Arts Educators Collaborative—3rd Wednesday of the month, 4–5 pm
  • District Arts Administrators—biweekly meetings, 12–1 pm

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Deana Lawson Wins the 2020 Hugo Boss Prize

Deana Lawson is the first photographer to receive the award (in cooperation with the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation), which honors contemporary artists whose work has made a significant contribution to the evolution of the contemporary visual arts. Black men and women are central to Lawson’s work.  Although her images appear to be natural, they are carefully staged. "Photography," Lawson once said, "has the power to make history and the present moment speak towards each other." To learn more, click here.

Photo courtesy of The New York Times, Deana Lawson, via Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York 

Resources for Learning & Teaching...

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New Film: 'The Forgotten Slavery of Our Ancestors'

Teaching Tolerance’s 12-minute film for secondary students offers an introduction to the history of Indigenous enslavement on land that is now the United States. Directed and edited by Howdice Brown III, this film aligns with Teaching Hard History: A Framework for Teaching American Slavery and resources that support the framework.

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Performing Arts at the Library of Congress  

The digital collections at the Library of Congress contain primary source materials including photographs, interviews, prints, clippings, recordings, manuscripts, films and more for music, theatre and dance. Find the new Performing Arts Remote Research Guide here and a K–12 Music  Education Resources Guide here. See a collection of performing arts videos here.

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Performances from Spokane Area Artists 

Watch Inland Sessions featuring local musicians and spoken word artists performing in studio.  Produced by Spokane’s public television station, KSPS, this season’s first episode feature Nicolas Vigil, founder of the Spokane band, Milonga. He explores his musical roots and evolution while performing solo on accordion and guitars—some he’s modified to create a unique tone.

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Native American Music and Dance

Singers from three different nations—Navajo, Apache, and Totonac—discuss the purposes of their music and the connection between music/singing and dancing in their cultures. This toolkit includes video, discussion questions, teaching tips and background reading. (PBS Learning Media)

Educators for Anti-Racism

This grassroots movement of teachers committed to abolitionist and anti-racist principles, are seeking to bring systemic change to schools. Find resources podcasts, articles, websites, webinars on their website. This session from a recent conference presents a discussion of what anti-racism looks like in an art classroom.

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'The Great Thanksgiving Listen'

Inspire connection, empathy, and a love of storytelling in your classroom —in-person or virtually—by inviting students to create an oral history of a loved one with StoryCorps' "The Great Thanksgiving Listen."  Click here for a program overview and here for an educator toolkit which includes background information, permission slips, worksheets, handouts, activities, suggested inspirational stories and a lesson planning guide.

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Live Music Performances

All Classical Portland is hosting "Thursdays @ Three"—small groups of musicians (stringed instruments) performing safely—while socially distanced.  Tune in on November 5, 12, 19 @ 3 pm.  Click here for program information.

Free Online STEAM Resources

Science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics (STEAM) resources for middle and high school students are being introduced by Honoring the Future. Honoring Trees explores the splendor of trees, the challenges posed by climate change, and ways to restore balance to our relationship with nature. We, The Ark focuses on endangered animals and how to protect them.

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Podcasts for Arts Educators  

Listen to interviews that address a myriad of topics including: social emotional learning and the arts, arts spaces safety, and Title IV-A implementation of quality arts instruction. Produced by the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE).


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'Connected and Caring for Music Education' | Nov 45

Presented by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) the virtual 2020 Music Program Leaders Forum will provide relevant professional development for music program leaders and district arts coordinators working in the K–12 school setting, aimed at establishing and growing networks of collegial support for those in the profession. Find agenda and registration information here.