November 10, 2015
The Educational Theatre Association’s eighth 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 7-8, 2016, plus $250 cash.
This year’s prompt seeks to explore the student perspective on the value of diversity in theatre and other arts education. The issue was the focus of a keynote panel at the 2015 EdTA National Conference, and will be a prominent aspect of the 2016 Conference, themed “The Changing Face of Theatre Education.” The panel, noting an increasingly diverse student population, discussed the lack of arts education access for many children, particularly those in high-poverty schools and with special needs, and how multicultural content can influence student interest and participation.
Bearing these concerns in mind, the 2016 Democracyworks essay competition asks students to answer this question: “Why is it important for all students to have arts education opportunities?
In their writing, essayists should consider how theatre and other arts education has been of value to them, and why it’s important that all students should be able to engage in arts education opportunities that are relevant to their own cultural and personal experiences.
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 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 representatives’ 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.
James Palmarini, EdTA Director of Educational Policy, said that arts education faces the same inclusion challenges that other subjects are. “In the last ten years our school population has changed significantly,” he said. “Fewer white students are enrolled, and there are a growing number of Hispanic students and other minorities in public schools throughout the country. For many of these students, English is likely a second language and their cultural traditions are not necessarily reflected in what is being taught. In theatre, the plays being produced may not feature stories or characters that they can relate to. We know our students are aware of this and we think they are the best advocates for changing the face of theatre and other arts education in this country. That’s why we chose our prompt this year.”
The submission deadline for essays is February 1, 2016. Read the guidelines.
Learn more about Arts Advocacy Day and register to participate.