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Theater and Dance Act Aims to Increase Access to Performing Arts Education

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California State Senator Ben Allen introduces Senate Bill 916 -- the Theatre and Dance Act (TADA), January 27 2016.

A new California bill proposed today in Sacramento could offer new opportunities for dance and theater majors to acquire teaching credentials directly related to their fields.

The proposed Senate Bill 916 -- the Theatre and Dance Act (TADA) -- aims to create single-subject teaching credentials in dance and theater, which were previously unavailable to aspiring teachers.

State Senator Ben Allen, the chair of the Joint Committee on the Arts, said at today's press conference that California is one of two states without dance and theater teaching credentials. "The visual and performing arts, which are art, dance, music, and theater, are integral to California's economy, and our way of life," Allen said. "But only two of these disciplines, art and music, are being taught by people credentialed and trained in these disciplines. For no particular reason, dance and theater, do not have their own credentials in the same way that art and music do."

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Under the current system, people who major in dance or theater and want to become teachers in their fields need to be credentialed in physical education or English first. Yet, Allen said that the standards to teach dance or theater are quite different to teaching physical education or English.

"Dance and theater degrees are prevalent in California, we've got 73 public and private universities offering dance majors, 131 colleges offering theater majors, and to tell these majors that they cannot teach in their respective fields, unless they get a credential in P.E. or English, simply makes no sense," Allen said. "It's a disservice to the instructors and the students, and indeed to the subject matter."

The proposed legislation would create specific credentials available to aspiring teachers who studied dance and theater, and would also allow current teachers credentialed in English and physical education to continue teaching their classes.

Allen said that the bill was created in response to last year's meeting of the Joint Committee, which addressed issues of access to arts education. Dance and theater community stakeholders discussed the marginalization of their disciplines from the other arts education credentials. "We're giving dance and theater a place at the credentialing table, that those disciples very much deserve," Allen said.

View more on arts education:

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How Arts Education Fuels the Creative Economy

Education, particularly in the arts, will play a pivotal role in preparing students' creative capacities and sustaining a creative economy.


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Filling the Gap in Public School Arts Education

For underserved communities in SoCal, an increasing number of non-profit organizations provide much-needed arts education for public-school children.


Top Image: Sen. Ben Allen Teaching | Courtesy of Ben Allen for California 

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