November 1, 2016
The Educational Theatre Association’s ninth annual Democracyworks essay competition is now accepting entries. The winner will receive $1,500 toward expenses to attend Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., March 20-21, 2017, as well as $250 cash.
This year’s prompt asks students to address STEAM education. The emphasis on STEM subject areas—science, technology, engineering, and math—has become increasingly common in our nation’s schools the last several years. More recently, the acronym has gained a new letter: “A” for the arts. In 2015, STEAM education gained new credibility when Representative Suzanne Bonamici introduced the arts into the STEM provisions of the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). That inclusion signaled a federal recognition of the arts as a fundamental aspect of the well-rounded work and career preparation for all students in the twenty-first century. As STEAM consultant Georgette Yakman explains, “STEAM programs integrate subjects in an inquiry-based, hands-on curriculum in a way that more closely aligns with what students will experience in college and the workforce.”
Bearing in mind this new emphasis on STEAM, the Democracyworks prompt asks students to consider this question: “Why do you think STEAM education is important to the well-rounded education of all students?”
“In STEAM, creativity is the central focus. It not only expands STEM, it actually addresses real-world projects and issues,” said James Palmarini, EdTA director of educational policy. “In theatre, for instance, think about David Auburn’s Tony Award-winning play Proof, in which a woman seeks to prove the authorship of a ground-breaking math equation, or the creation of a light plot, or an automated set of computer-generated sound cues.”
EdTA will choose one essay winner based on his or her response to the prompt. Arts Advocacy Day, sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for the Arts, brings together arts advocates from throughout the country to meet with legislators on behalf of a wide range of arts issues, including arts education. The essay competition winner and a chaperone must be available to attend the two-day event. The winning essayist will take part in all scheduled Arts Advocacy Day events, including legislative training on current arts issues circulating on Capitol Hill; the Congressional Arts Breakfast; visits to Congress members’ and senators’ offices; and the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The winning essay and a photo of the winner will be published in Dramatics. The first runner-up essayist will be awarded $150, and second runner-up $100.
The submission deadline for essays is February 1, 2017. Complete essay guidelines are available here.
To find out more about Arts Advocacy Day and to register, visit Americans for the Arts.