Connected Arts Networks (CAN)

A five-year grant initiative to create nationwide virtual Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) with educators in visual arts, music, theater, dance and media arts

About CAN

The National Art Education Association, in partnership with the Educational Theater Association, the National Association for Music Education, the National Dance Education Organization, and the NYC Dept. of Education’s Arts Office launched Connected Arts Networks (CAN). CAN is a five-year grant initiative to create nationwide virtual Professional Learning Communities with educators in visual arts, music, theatre, dance and media arts.

CAN Mission

The purpose of CAN is to build a sustainable model of professional learning for arts educators in public schools and public charters to strengthen their pedagogy, instruction, and leadership skills in order to better serve students.

CAN Goals

  1. To develop highly effective arts educators, building their capacity to address Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and Social-Emotional Learning in their standards-based arts instruction through sustained, intensive, and job-embedded blended professional learning.
  2. To develop a local and national cadre of teacher leaders in the arts by building their content knowledge and leadership skills in order to expand the impact of arts learning for students and their communities.
  3. To develop accessible arts-based instructional materials, strategies, and toolkits to disseminate to arts educators nationwide, including synchronous and asynchronous professional development programs and digital resources.
  4. To create a model for developing, deepening, and maintaining effective partnerships among school communities, Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and national arts education associations.

Current Locations

We are mapping the schools and districts that are currently participating in CAN across the nation, color-coded by art form.

Partner Organizations


The National Art Education Association (NAEA) champions creative growth and innovation by equitably advancing the tools and resources for a high-quality visual arts, design, and media arts education throughout diverse populations and communities of practice.

Founded in 1947, NAEA is the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts, design, and media arts education professionals. Members include preK, elementary, middle, and high school visual arts educators; college and university professors; university students preparing to become educators; researchers and scholars; teaching artists; administrators and supervisors; and art museum educators—as well as more than 54,000 students who are members of the National Art Honor Society.


The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) is an international nonprofit organization that serves as the professional association for theatre educators. EdTA is the parent organization of the International Thespian Society, an honorary organization that has inducted more than 2.5 million Thespians since its founding in 1929. Additionally, EdTA operates the Educational Theatre Foundation, the organization’s philanthropic arm dedicated to increasing opportunity and access to school theatre. For more information about EdTA’s mission and core values, visit


National Association for Music Education (NAfME), among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century.

Since 1907, NAfME has worked to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. NAfME’s activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, for the promotion and guidance of music study as an integral part of the school curriculum, and for the development of the National Standards for Arts Education.


National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) is a non-profit organization that supports dance educators in every setting and genre. Since 1998, NDEO has had a direct impact on dance education centered in the arts. With its 4,200+ members from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 25 other countries, NDEO remains well-positioned to continue advancing the field and advocating for #DanceEducationforALL. Members include early childhood dance educators, K-12 dance teachers, dance studio owners, college and university dance professors, university students preparing to become dance educators, dance teaching artists, choreographers, dance company directors, and administrators. In addition, through NDEO’s National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) program over 15,000 outstanding dance students have been recognized for their artistic merit, leadership and academic achievements over the past few years ensuring a bright future for our field.

NYC Department of Education’s Arts Office

The NYC Department of Education’s Arts Office leads arts education efforts for NYC’s 1+ million students and 3,000+ arts teachers. Through instructional resource development, teacher & leader professional development, partnerships with NYC’s rich arts & cultural community, and direct student arts programming, the Arts Office strives to support schools in providing equitable and sequential arts education for all students.

Quarterly Workshops and Resources

As part of the CAN project, we are offering “Quarterly Workshops” four times each academic year on a given topic. Each virtual workshop will be accompanied by a handout and a podcast episode featuring current CAN Teacher Leaders.

Resources from each of the quarterly workshops are available here.

Additional resources:
Access episodes 11 and 12 of Arts ARE Education’s “Talk It Up” podcast series, as host Jim Palmarini talks to Connected Arts Networks (CAN) leaders:

  • CAN Part 1
    • Josh Streeter, Asst. Professor of Theatre Education at Emerson College and CAN’s PLC Leader for theatre
    • Amy Appleton, CAN Project Director and CAN’s PLC Leader for visual and media arts
  • CAN Part 2
    • Nicole S. Robinson, Fontana Unified School District dance educator, consultant and CAN’s PLC Leader for dance
    • LaSaundra Booth, Ed.D., National Board Certified Teaching Artist, arts administrator, and CAN’s PLC Leader for music

Archived Information

  • Read the official Press Release (October 2021) here.
  • View the archived call for Teacher Leaders (March 2021) here.
  • Read the CAN Teacher Leader Selection Press Release (October 2022) here.
  • View the September 26, 2023, Town Hall: Connected Arts Networks (CAN) Professional Learning Communities Recruitment here.


Questions about CAN can be directed to Amy Appleton, CAN Project Director at

U.S. Department of Education

Program activities for this project are fully funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Assistance for Arts Education Program for a total of five years.