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Charles Best: Democratizing the Arts

by Charles Best, Founder & CEO of DonorsChoose.org | shared from LinkedIn

Have you ever backed a project on Kickstarter, bought an item on Etsy, or supported a teacher’s request on DonorsChoose.org? These three sites enable so-called amateurs, people who don’t have wealth or industry connections, to go public with their creativity. When you support an artist, crafter, or educator through one of these sites, you open a pathway free of gatekeepers.

Over the last few years, thousands of teachers have created many thousands of art projects on our site, ranging from a school mural to help students impacted by the Joplin, Missouri tornado, to equipment to make stop-motion animated videos. These projects represent teachers’ best ideas about the art resources their students most need, and the activities that are most engaging to budding artists.

Democratizing the arts is a central theme of the Aspen Ideas Festival this week. Every attendee will be given a DonorsChoose.org gift card to apply to a classroom art project of their choice. (If you’re an arts educator in a public school, create a project before people at the Aspen Ideas Festival start donating!)

Below are the most frequently recurring words in the art projects on DonorsChoose.org, categorized by theme:

Music: marching band/percussion, bass, cymbals, mallets, djembe

Ceramics/Pottery: clay, kiln, glazes

Song-writing: guitar, ukuleles, amplifier

Digital Media: iPod, camcorder, podcasts

Orff Instruments: xylophone, glockenspiels, steel

Printmaking: press, carving, hill, bench, styrofoam, gyotaku

Weaving: looms, basket, textile

String Instruments: violin, cello, bows, rests

I’ll be identifying more themes as part of the Citizen Artists track at the Aspen Ideas Festival. But now you’ve got some data, and hopefully some inspiration, to come to your own conclusions.

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