Guillermina Gonzalez Considers Art A Serious Business
Mexico City native says success in math and science innovation can only be achieved with a healthy exposure to art.
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Gonzalez’s business degrees have proved invaluable in advocating for the arts in Delaware, because corporations and their nonprofit counterparts “need to learn from each other. When it comes to a not-for-profit, at the end of the day, it’s a business, with a different kind of mission, but you need results. You need to think strategically, probably being much more efficient, because you never have tons of money. So the best practices from the business world should be applied.”
And the business world should also take note as Gonzalez makes her case for the role of the arts in economic development. For example, when attempting to attract new talent to the state, “you need to provide them reasons to stay, even to consider coming here. And the quality of life is closely related to the arts. People think of the arts in terms of ‘What am I going to do on the weekend?’”
The arts have their role in how prospective Delawareans will educate their kids, too. “Innovation is sparked by the inclusion of the arts early on,” Gonzalez says. “Not everything is math and science, and I’m a big believer in math and science. But without the connection that the arts spark in creativity and innovation, we’re not going to have the competitive environment that is needed.” And that means preparing students to compete globally.
Fostering such a competitive environment today demands at least one special chemical process: changing STEM to STEAM—Science Technology Engineering ARTS and Math. Among the challenges facing the alliance is to ensure that core standards reflect the inclusion of arts education in all public and charter schools. Too often the first part of any curriculum on the chopping block during a budget crunch is the arts, when, as Gonzalez is quick to point out, research has demonstrated that inclusion of the arts enhances both reading and math scores.
During her tenure at the alliance, attention to the impact of the arts on the overall health of the state has been expanding—via social media, public dialogues, matching-funds campaigns, even a National Arts Advocacy Day. Gonzalez credits the current administration with help in achieving some of these advances. “We’re lucky in this state to have a governor, a first lady, and a secretary of state who get it. That’s not the situation of some of my peers in other states.”