Celebrating 40 years of Network! 1981-2021

“It was kind of a love affair… we could not let each other go once we discovered each other.”
– Jane van Hoven, North Carolina School for the Arts

In 1981, the Los Angeles Unified School District was planning to open a new school for the arts. The superintendent, assisted by Joan Boyette of the Music Center Education Division of Los Angeles, invited 12 influential arts school leaders to meet and help with the planning.

They were:
• James Nelson, Alabama School of Fine Arts, Birmingham, Alabama

• Darrell R. Chambers, Jr., Booker T. Washington High School for the Arts, Dallas, Texas

• William Dickinson, School for Creative and Performing Arts, Cincinnati, Ohio

• Gail Thompson, Educational Center for the Arts, New Haven, Connecticut

• Maurice Eldridge, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Washington, DC

• William Lawrence, English High School of Visual and Performing Arts, Boston, Mass

• Mary Martha Lappe, The High School for Performing and Visual Arts, Houston, Texas

• Karen Carroll, Hope High School, Providence, Rhode Island

• Roger Jacobi, Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen, Michigan

• Richard Klein, LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, New York, New York

• Thomas Tews, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, New Orleans, Louisiana

• Jane van Hoven, North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

These participants were excited to meet others who were running arts schools. Mary Martha Lappe invited them to meet again in 1982 at Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, in March of 1982, where they formed a planning committee. Later that year representatives from 25 schools attended a meeting at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, including David Graham from Ontario, Canada, whose participation heralded international membership. Maurice Eldridge (Duke Ellington School of the Arts) chaired the meeting.

Gene Wenner, vice president of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts facilitated funding from his organization for what would become Arts Schools Network (ASN).

In July 1983 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, participants drafted bylaws and appointed ad hoc officers. In October 1983, James Undercofler, Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut, hosted 50 representatives at a conference that formally established NETWORK of Performing and Visual Arts Schools. Joan Hickey, founder of the Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan University, hosted a banquet at her home.

The participants adopted the constitution and bylaws and voted to make all schools that joined the first year founding members and keep the ad hoc committee of officers in place until the next conference. James Nelson from Alabama School of the Arts was appointed president of the Arts Schools Network. (Bruce W. Galbraith of the Interlochen Arts Academy became the first elected president in 1984.)  At the Toronto 1991 conference, the membership voted to establish the International NETWORK of Performing and Visual Arts Schools. In 2004 the organization’s name was changed to the International NETWORK of Schools for the Advancement of Arts Education.  In 2008 the organization was renamed Arts Schools Network.

Today, ASN addresses the needs of an international membership. The organization continues to grow and influence the success of arts schools throughout the world.