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Conco CEO tapped to attend arts education institute

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Rob Baird, chairman of the board and CEO of Springfield-based Conco Cos., was selected by the Missouri Arts Council to attend the National Endowment for the Arts Education Leaders Institute on May 11–13 in Chicago.

The Missouri Arts Council is one of five state teams chosen to attend the conference, according to a news release from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, of which the arts council is a division.

The event brings together decision makers from state education departments and arts agencies, educators, artists, and leaders in public policy, philanthropy and business to bring arts education to the center of education policy discussions and address shared concerns and challenges.

Baird, who has been active in local and statewide arts organizations, including Missouri Citizens for the Arts, for several years, said discussions at the NEA event are likely to be both interesting and challenging – given the fact that arts organizations and schools may be facing steep cuts. The case must be made he said, for perhaps making some cuts, but not eliminating arts altogether.

“They may have to cut back things like the position of an arts coordinator, but what this conference is going to be about is, how do you make the point that the arts are essential and a wonderful tool for early childhood development?” he said. “Missouri, even if we’re in financial trouble, needs to figure out a way to get that accomplished, so that is the challenge and the opportunity.

"It’s a very chaotic and fluid environment to be trying to figure out how you can influence policy long-term to make sure people understand and appreciate the importance of the arts to a community and to children at a time when there are some very scarce resources.”

According to Missouri Arts Council Executive Director Beverly Strohmeyer, arts education plays a key role in improving the learning environment for children.

“Having arts programming has been proven to keep attendance high, promotes proficiency in mathematics and often-times students have higher standardized test scores,” she said in the release.

Other teams slated to attend the event are the California Arts Council, Idaho Department of Education, Kansas Art Commission and South Dakota Arts Council.

Other topics the teams could discuss are improving educator and arts professional networks, curriculum design and implementation, and sustaining and increasing public arts education at the local, state and national levels.

Other Missouri Arts Council representatives joining Baird include Nola Ruth, chairwoman of the Missouri Arts Council, and Stan Archie, a member of the Missouri State Board of Education.[[In-content Ad]]

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