Dr. Sarah Tambucci joined the Arts Education Collaborative in 2001, but the idea for such an organization emerged earlier. In November 1998, seven months of hard work culminated in the Arts Education Congress. Organizers at the time recall being surprised at the number of attendees who came to the downtown Hilton in Pittsburgh – nearly 300 educators, administrators, representatives of cultural organizations, parents, and other stakeholders turned out to voice their support for the arts. The Congress clearly showed the groundswell of support for high-quality arts education in Western Pennsylvania.
Sarah facilitated Session II for parents, school board members, and principals that day. One highlight of the discussion was the “[n]eed to sustain a ‘high profile’ for the arts in education,” as well as the need to address differences between elementary and secondary educators. Sarah was also a member of the Congress’s Sounding Board. This Sounding Board proved to be surprisingly resonant, as it led in 1999 to the creation of AEC.
Initially headquartered in the Regional Enterprise Tower (formerly the Alcoa building), AEC emerged from the generous support of the The Heinz Endowments and The Grable Foundation and the work of many Congress organizers and attendees. Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh gave AEC its foundation by providing material and logistical support and remains AEC’s parent organization. After working to define its identity, AEC’s Steering and Advisory Committees chose Sarah as AEC Director in 2001.
The following years were a whirlwind of growth and change as Sarah worked to build AEC’s connections with educators throughout the region. These first years saw the first class of the Leadership Academy graduate in 2003. Later years saw the addition of further staff and the inception of the Community of Learners for Arts Education (CLAE), Regional Arts Education Day, the Induction Program, the publication of works such as the five volumes of Translations, and more, as well as a steady stream of programs and opportunities.
In the last four years alone, AEC spent over 4,000 hours in school districts throughout the region. AEC has worked with many cultural organizations large and small, as well as reaching national and international audiences through Translations and work with ISTE. Over 3,000 educators, arts professionals, institutions, and collectives have connected through the AEC’s work. Furthermore, through work on standards-based curriculum, AEC has impacted an estimated 131,225 students.
Sarah has made a huge impact on arts education in the region as a teacher, a principal, and Director of AEC. Please join us in thanking Sarah for her incredible contributions over the last 50 years. We wish her all the best, and look forward to building on the legacy of her hard work and generosity. Congratulations, Sarah!