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Janelle Stephens

The Integration of Organizational Perspectives in Arts Education
Partnerships: An Examination of Partnership Practices

           Arts education partnerships, encompassing various constituencies with their own values and goals, including institutional and community-based perspectives, have been formed to navigate and overcome barriers between public schools and community-based arts organizations.  In the model I will investigate, an intermediary organization was formed to create the partnership and facilitate, negotiate, and manage its funding and initiatives.  The intermediary organization’s mission, organizational structure, and practices reflect the institutionally-oriented values and goals of their founding constituencies, which may include government agencies, foundations, and corporate giving programs. These constituency organizations often emphasize productivity, building marketable job skills, and creating a certain type of cultural citizenship.  On the other end of the partnership are the community-based teaching organizations that deliver the partnership’s programs in the schools, with values and goals emphasizing empowerment, cultural democracy, and an asset-based approach to education. 

            One role of the intermediary organization is to negotiate the two perspectives and integrate the top-down and bottom-up values, so that the top-down institutional goals are accomplished through the bottom-up practices of the community arts organizations, which also hope to fulfill their own goals through participation in the partnership.  In this way, the relationship between organizational constituencies creates a new type of practice—community arts within an institutional framework, or institutional community arts.

         The purpose of this thesis is, first, to discuss how the intermediary model of arts education partnerships has evolved within the historical context of relationships between the institutional and community arts cultures, and recent trends in the arts and arts administration.  Second, through case studies of specific arts education partnerships in Chicago, it will explore a continuum of intermediary practices evolving from different institutional values, and how these practices relate to cultural policy.


         Janelle Stephens received her BA in English from Northwestern University in 1998.  She is currently the School and Group Programs Coordinator at the Chicago Cultural Center, where she develops arts workshops, tours, and teacher resource materials. While at SAIC, she focused on museum education and arts education partnerships.


Thesis Advisor: Nicholas Lowe, Visiting Artist, Arts Administration

Thesis Reader: Steve Weaver, Regional Director, After School Matters






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