Arts Education Update

As I mentioned briefly in my dispatch from the Oregon Arts Summit, Oregon poet Kim Stafford has penned a new "Declaration of Creative Rights" on behalf of the Oregon Arts Commission. His text synthesizes a great deal of input from Oregon's citizens articulating the belief that arts education is vitally important to all of us. Among other things, the Declaration is being used by the OAC to launch a new statewide arts education planning effort, which you can learn more about by visiting

Here's the declaration itself, which Stafford says he modeled after Thomas Jefferson's famous document of 1776, "complete with long sentences and capricious capitalization."

In Oregon, May, 2009
The Declaration of the Myriad Oregon Friends of the Young

When in the Life of an Oregon Child it becomes necessary to advance beyond Reticence, beyond a lapse in Personal Vision, or a loss of Innate Genius resident in the growing Mind, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth that confident station to which the process of Discovery shall entitle each Young Citizen, a respect for the Benefit of all Oregonians requires that we declare Certain Principles of learning that impel this Life.

We hold early Creative Experience to be indelible, and that all children need be offered, equally and abundantly, certain Rights that secure access to the formative Encounters of Art-and that among these are making original Work, savoring creative Practice, and the Pursuit of one's own generous Vision and articulate Voice.

To secure these Creative Rights for the young, art programs are instituted in schools and communities, deriving their just Purpose from the needs of our People. Whenever our ways with the Young become destructive of these creative experiences, it is the Obligation of the People of Oregon to lay a New Foundation, as it may seem to them Expedient, in order to effect our people's Safety and Happiness.

At every Stage of our state's history we have recognized the power of creative citizens to encounter, to consider, and in Good Company one with another to resolve by Insight, Wisdom, and Work together any difficulty that may confront us. And just as a River, in order to thrive in passage through the Tangle of Civilization, must begin pure at its source of Oregon Origin-Applegate, Rogue, Umpqua, McKenzie, Santiam, Chetco, Siuslaw, Trask, Deschutes, Malheur, Grande Ronde, Wallowa-so must a Child begin with pure encounter in the Ways of the Maker, the Inventor, the Architect of personal Image, Craft, Hue, Print, Dance, Drama, Song, and Story.

Therefore, Friends to the Children of Oregon, and Friends to the inventive Capacity that will be required of our people in Difficult and Dangerous Times, we here appeal to all Families, Schools, and Communities to adopt certain Creative Rights for each young Scholar of the Possible. We hold it only just, that each child be afforded these early and frequent Experiences in Creation, that our state may thrive. We thus Publish and Declare that each child is, and by right ought to be, free to advance our common cause through access to Art. For the support of this Declaration, we mutually Pledge to each other, and to the Children of Oregon, our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Honor.

--Kim Stafford

Meanwhile, on a somewhat related note:

If you are wondering how that grand experiment known as The Right Brain Initiative is coming along, then consider this your hand-engraved invitation to attend an Open House on Wednesday evening at the John Ross Tower Penthouse in South Waterfront. (Sweet!) It's billed as a Progress Report of sorts, and from 6PM to 7:30, you can see a sampling of student work and hear stories about what’s possible when artists, arts organizations, teachers, schools, and the community collaborate in the name of whole-brain education.

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