Many people become confused about the definition of a local arts agency because no two local arts agencies are just alike. The best explanation is that a local arts agency meets the needs of the community it serves - whether its arts education, public art, grantsmaking, festivals, facility management, etc. The four programs outlined in this issue of Monographs are responding to needs of disadvantaged youth, arts education, and job training within their communities. The programs challenge youth to use creative thought in problem solving, incorporating math, science and language arts in a summer job training program that uses arts education to teach marketable job skills. In each case the community has responded with enthusiastic support.
Each of these programs reach inner city and/or rural communities in collaborations that are multi-layered. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Collaborative Inner-City/Rural Initiative Program restricts application to state arts agencies. A survey of state arts agencies advocated opening this program to application by local arts agencies. The importance of this recognition by the NEA would be to duplicate the success of similar programs throughout the country.
Each community is unique so it should be no surprise to local arts agencies that these four programs provide differing approaches to summer job training in the arts that corresponds to the distinct character of the local community - urban or rural. What is consistent is that JTPA (Job Training Partnership Act) funding is available for youth salaries during a summer job training. Any arts agency could develop a similar program - whether for 10 youth or 500 youth, it's a matter of scale. The principle - and the need of youth in the communities - is the same.