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WSIU’s Jak Tichenor talks with Nancy Stemper, director of Carbondale Community Arts and president of the Carbondale Elementary District #95 school board, and Alene Valkanas, executive director of the Illinois Arts Alliance/Foundation (IAAF), about Illinois Creates, a statewide arts education initiative led by the IAAF and the Chicago Community Trust’s Art Education Task Force. With support from the Illinois Arts Council, the Field Foundation of Illinois, the Joyce Foundation, and the Polk Brothers Foundation, the IAAF recently initiated the first-ever statewide research analysis on the status of arts education in Illinois public schools. Although their research shows parents, teachers, and school administrators all place a high value on arts education, Stemper and Valkanas say that the arts is one of the first programs to be cut when schools face a budget crisis. Illinois Creates is working to develop grassroots support and local partnerships to bolster the number of arts programs in Illinois’ K-12 schools, both at the local level and with state policymakers in Springfield.