Youth and Education in Science
ENGAGING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCIENTISTS
The USGS offers various programs and tools to help educate students and prepare them for careers in science. For example, the Youth and Education in Science (YES) office coordinates internal funding and internship programs, such as graduate internships, tools for the classroom for K–12 teachers and work—transition programs for young adults with cognitive disabilities. USGS programs, such as the Cooperative Research Units (CRU), also offer a career pathway to the Department of Interior for underrepresented undergraduate students in 38 states by providing them mentoring and hands-on experience. Since 2015, over 670 students have graduated through the program.
The Smithsonian Institution
SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION & ELECTRONIC RESOURCES
Scientific collections and the professionals and scientists who collect, care for, and study these resources are a vital component of our nation’s research infrastructure and bioeconomy. Collections are a critical resource for advancing the knowledge needed to address current global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and pandemics. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is a valuable federal partner in the curation of and research on scientific specimens. Scientists at the NMNH care for 146 million scientific specimens and ensure the strategic growth of this internationally recognized scientific research institution. To increase the availability of these scientific resources to researchers, educators, other federal agencies, and the public, NMNH is working on a multi-year effort to digitize its collections and make the data available online. That effort will substantially increase the use of these collections by researchers, educators and students, and policymakers. NMNH is also working to strengthen curatorial and research staffing and to backfill positions left open by retirements and budget constraints.
Similarly to education, the current staffing level at museums and institutions are insufficient to provide optimal care for the collections. Future curatorial and collections management staffing levels may be further jeopardized given prior funding cuts at science agencies, such as the USGS that, until recently, supported staff positions at NMNH. The budget for NMNH has not seen adequate increases in recent years. We urge Congress to provide NMNH with at least $60 million in FY 2022 to allow the museum to undertake critical collections care, make needed technology upgrades, and conduct cutting edge research.
Creating Readers, Authors, and Creatives
ENGAGE AND INSPIRE STUDENTS WITH MISSION RELEVANT RESOURCES
In March 2020, nearly all American art museums closed due to the pandemic, and most stayed closed for extended periods of time. While most have reopened, ‘‘open’’ is not the same as it was a year ago. Many are open for fewer days and hours, operating under reduced capacity constraints, and requiring advance reservations and/ or timed ticketing. Most have ceased offering in-person public programs such as tours, lectures and performances, and school field trips are for now a thing of the past. (Pre-pandemic, AAMD’s 200-plus members typically served at least 40,000 schools annually.) Earned revenue from admissions, shops and restaurants has plummeted, while pandemic-related costs have soared. Moreover, according to Giving USA, an annual report on philanthropy, charitable giving to the arts declined by 7.5 percent in 2020. And while the Paycheck Protection Program helped many museums retain staff, some were unable or ineligible to access it, and many have since had to lay off or furlough valued workers.
Three bright spots stand out. First, art museums successfully pivoted to on-line programming. Second, they have reached new audiences; in fact, an extensive survey last year found that about half of people who were consuming museum programming had not visited an art museum in the previous year. Third, they are among the safest indoor spaces. Their sophisticated HVAC systems may have been designed to keep art safe, but they turn out to keep people safe as well.
The purpose of the Association of Art Museum Directors is to support its members in increasing the contribution of art museums to society. The AAMD accomplishes this mission by establishing and maintaining the highest standards of professional practice, serving as forum for the exchange of information and ideas, and being a leader in shaping public discourse about the arts community and the role of art in society.
Virtual Field Trips & Virtual Reality Headset Opportunities for Learning
THE ARTS IN EDUCATION
NEA’s funding to Local Arts Agencies (LAAs) is extremely vital to their ability to serve their communities. LAAs collectively are responsible for approximately $912 million in public and private grantmaking annually. They are also the largest grantmaker to individual artists.
LAAs work directly for or with mayors, city managers, county supervisors, and township managers as well corporate CEOs, real estate developers, and social service providers in every size community across the country. Additionally, LAAs have taken the lead in equity—centered grantmaking in their cities, counties, and rural and suburban areas.
They have been entrusted with federal, state, and local funds, including CDBG grants and CARES Act and American Rescue Plan Act state and local block grant funds to support emergency relief grants to arts and culture small businesses, nonprofit institutions, individual gig artists, and entrepreneurs. One recent issue LAAs have been focused on is addressing cultural equity.