Dr. Rhoda Bernard Honored with Service Award for Arts Education Advocacy
Dr. Rhoda Bernard, a longtime champion of the arts and accessibility to arts education for the disabled community, has been awarded the Irene Buck Service to Arts Education Award for 2023 by Arts|Learning, a state advocacy agency for arts education. Bernard, the founder and managing director of the Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education (BIAAE) and assistant chair of the Music Education Department, received the honor on November 15 at the Champions of Arts Education Advocacy Award Ceremony held at the Boston Renaissance Charter Public School in Hyde Park.
The Irene Buck Service to Arts Education Award recognizes one individual each year for their “distinguished and prolonged service as an advocate for arts education.” It is named to honor the legacy of Buck, former president and executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education, who was the award's first recipient in 1998. Buck was in attendance at Wednesday night’s event to present Bernard with the award.
“Like so many others [here], my work is not about me. It is about people with disabilities, and making the arts and arts education more accessible,” said Bernard at the ceremony during her acceptance remarks. “It is about arts educators and giving them the tools and strategies of accessible arts education so that they can reach every student. What keeps me going is a mission to make the arts and arts education a meaningful part of every person’s life.”
During the ceremony, the leadership of Arts|Learning noted that Bernard was chosen for the award for her dedication to “providing arts education opportunities for individuals and communities that would otherwise not have them,” calling her “an international leader in arts education for people with disabilities.”
Bernard and the Berklee Institute of Accessible Arts Education were recently featured on PBS Newshour in a piece that highlighted the incredible students of the program, as well as the BIAAE team’s commitment to making arts education accessible and affordable to every individual regardless of their circumstances.
In addition to her roles at Berklee, Bernard has also served as the past chair of the Arts Education Advisory Council of Americans for the Arts and remains actively engaged in the global community of arts education advocates. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in government from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Music with academic honors in jazz voice from New England Conservatory. She earned both her Master of Education and Doctor of Education degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Arts|Learning (A|L) is the hub of arts education in Massachusetts. The company supports the inclusion of a complete arts education (dance, media arts, music, drama/theater, and visual arts) for every K–12 student in the Commonwealth. As a nonprofit organization, A|L partners with dozens of professional arts education organizations, cultural institutions, and public agencies to bring about changes in the way the arts are viewed and supported within public education.