New podcast ‘Arts Educators Save the World,’ launching Aug. 29, will feature Lin Manuel-Miranda, other top artists

When artists write unforgettable songs or give iconic performances, they can change our lives. But first, someone changes theirs. In the new podcast “Arts Educators Save the World,” artists talk with UW–Madison’s Erica Halverson alongside their teachers and mentors about how those collaborations made them who they are today.

Arts Educators Save the World podcast logo
(Art by Lyra Dark)

In the first episode on Aug. 29, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the ultra-prolific creator of “Hamilton,” and Robert Lopez, the first-ever double EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards) winner and co-writer of songs from “The Book of Mormon,” “Avenue Q,” and “Frozen,” sit down with their elementary school music teacher Barbara Ames. Both artists credit her for guiding them toward their life’s work.

Listen to the trailer.

“The direct education we got from Barbara … was life changing for me,” attests Miranda. Adds Lopez, “I was about 13 when I started writing songs for shows, and I believed that I could because Ms. Ames told me I could.”

Lopez is thrilled to be interviewed for this first episode: “Everyone at ‘Arts Educators Save the World’ is doing exactly what we all need right now — proclaiming the powerful positive force that is arts education — and examining its ability to shape our future for the better through its strong effect on young people.”

Erica Halverson

The show’s host, Erica Halverson, is a professor and department chair in the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the author of “How the Arts Can Save Education,” a blueprint for how the arts can transform our broken system of teaching and learning. With “Arts Educators Save the World,” she offers origin stories that remind us of the critical importance of arts education in a time when the arts have been devalued and defunded at an alarming rate. Guests share personal narratives about the mentors who harnessed the power of creativity and helped them not just understand art, but life itself.

“Arts Educators Save the World” is executive produced by the Story Pirates, a nationally renowned group of top comedians, musicians, best-selling authors, and incredible teachers with 15 years of experience creating content that celebrates the imaginations of kids.

The first season also finds Halverson in conversation with UW–Madison’s Faisal Abdu’Allah, an internationally acclaimed artist, the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art, and associate dean of the arts in the School of Education. Other guests include Josh Radnor, Annaleigh Ashford, Sharif Bay, (MacArthur Genius award recipient) Bill Strickland, Fraser James, Kate Baldwin, and more. The show is produced by Alek Lev (“Meeting Tom Cruise”) and Doug Matejka (“Whistleblower”), with sound design by Justin Asher (“Levar Burton Reads”). New episodes will post weekly.

More information is available at, and the show will be available on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, and other popular podcast platforms.

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