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New Book on Collaboration & Sustainability in Arts Education

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Dec 03, 2012
New York, NY

When arts education organizations collaborate with other entities to address broad community goals, they multiply the benefits of arts learning and become more sustainable. That is the thesis of a practical new book, More Than the Sum of Its Parts: Collaboration & Sustainability in Arts Education just released. The book illustrates these ideas by providing best-practice strategies and inspiring, real-life examples of thriving arts education partnerships from communities large and small throughout the United States.

The book, authored by two seasoned practitioners—Thomas Wolf and Gigi Antoni—is jointly published by Dallas-based Big Thought and the National Guild in New York. Vibrantly illustrated and presented in an easy-to-read format, it describes the theory and practice underlying various levels of collaboration—from organizational partnerships to mergers to community-wide systems. Written for nonprofit organizations who want to initiate, enter into, and support long-lasting partnerships, the book provides a strategy to become stronger, more viable entities that create affordable, effective solutions for addressing community needs with sustainable results.

“Over the past two decades, the National Guild has identified best practices and models for arts education partnerships that have powerful, long-term effects on students, faculty, institutions and communities,” said Jonathan Herman, National Guild Executive Director. “Through a variety of concrete examples, More Than the Sum of Its Parts illustrates how collaboration can increase equitable access to arts learning and deepen impact, while also helping organizations gain access to greater expertise, credibility and funding. It complements and builds upon the National Guild’s work focused on partnerships with public schools, public housing communities, and the aging services sector.”

“At Big Thought, collaboration and partnership are at the very heart of the work we do,” said Gigi Antoni, President & CEO. “We began working through collaboration more than a decade ago. Since then, more than 100 organizations have come to the table with staff, resources, time, and expertise which together create a massive support system for children. We’ve seen the synergy that occurs when people come together—and have seen that synergy translate into better programs with tangible results and more engaged communities that ensure these programs have a long life.”

More Than the Sum of Its Parts may be downloaded, free-of-charge, at,, and Printed copies may be purchased for $25 at ( or through the National Guild office at (212) 268-3337 ext. 16. A review copy is available to press upon request. To request a copy, contact Heather Ikemire, Director of Marketing and Communications, at (212) 268-3337 ext. 10, or at

About the Authors
Dr. Thomas Wolf’s career spans over four decades and encompasses the fields of philanthropy, education, and the arts. A principal with WolfBrown (an international consulting firm which he helped establish in 1983), he also served as the founding director of the New England Foundation for the Arts. He became involved in arts education as a performer, then as an administrator, later as a board member, and finally as a consultant. Wolf holds a doctorate in education from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard and Boston University. He has also served as an elementary school principal and a high school music teacher. His many books include Managing a Nonprofit Organization (now in its fourth edition), Presenting Performances, And the Band Stopped Playing (with Nancy Glaze), and two books on the arts and education written with his wife, Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf: The Arts Go to School and Academic Preparation in the Arts.

Gigi Antoni is president and CEO of Big Thought, one of the nation’s leading nonprofits devoted to closing the opportunity gap in education through creative learning. Gigi leads the organization in developing groundbreaking partnerships, including Thriving Minds, a citywide initiative that joins the City of Dallas, the Dallas Independent School District and more than 100 other organizations, with Big Thought as managing partner. She was also instrumental in forming a partnership with the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee to implement SLANT 45, one of the largest communitywide service-learning programs for children in U.S. and NFL history. In July 2011, The White House named Gigi a “Champion of Change” which recognizes community members doing outstanding work in their fields. Gigi has worked for more than 20 years in the arts-education field as an administrator, educator, community developer and performing artist. She joined Big Thought in 1990 and was named president and CEO in 1995.

About the Publishers
For 25 years, Big Thought has provided creative learning programs that help kids imagine possibilities, excel academically and contribute to their community. Driven by its mission to make imagination a part of everyday learning, Big Thought develops programs that address academic achievement and youth development by connecting classroom objectives and traditional teaching methods with arts, culture and creative learning. Through its partnerships, Big Thought serves more than 100,000 Dallas children, families and teachers each year, both in and out of the classroom.  Annually, Big Thought also delivers more than one million hours of programming and individual creative instruction. A model to cities across America, Big Thought has achieved national recognition, including the Americans for the Arts “2009 Arts in Education Award” and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities “Coming Up Taller Award” in 2004. In 2011, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities selected Big Thought President/CEO Gigi Antoni as a “Champion of Change,” serving on a White House panel highlighting best practices in arts education. Learn more at

Founded in 1937, the National Guild for Community Arts Education is the leading service organization for community arts education providers in the United States. The National Guild’s mission is to support and advance access to lifelong learning opportunities in the arts. It pursues this mission primarily by fostering the creation and development of nonprofit arts institutions and government agencies that ensure community-wide access to arts education. The National Guild provides essential research and information resources, professional development and networking opportunities, advocacy, funding, and high-profile leadership. Members include community schools of the arts; arts centers; and arts education divisions of performing arts institutions, universities, museums, local arts agencies and other organizations. The National Guild is guided by the vision that all Americans will understand and appreciate the value of the arts in their lives and in the lives of their communities. Learn more at



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