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The Conference for Community Arts Education features nationally renowned speakers and dozens of professional development workshops, roundtables, and program showcases designed to help you increase impact, improve participation, raise money, sustain and grow key programs, and advocate for more equitable access to arts education. Gather with your peers to address common challenges, network, and brainstorm innovations for the field.
Sessions are organized in progressive tracks to provide you in-depth training in Leadership Development, Community Partnerships, Creative Youth Development, Social Justice, Arts in Education, and Teaching Artist Development, as well as the Next Level nuts and bolts skills you need to grow your organization. View the full list of sessions by tracks.
Thursday, November 3, 10:00AM - 11:30AM
In 2016 arts educators need to be providing the youth that they serve with conceptual tools for both understanding and working collectively to combat racial and social injustice. Dr. Bettina Love will discuss how art, resistance, and Hip-Hop, when linked to the sociopolitical lives of youth, nurture their civic sensibilities to engage in the work of fighting for visibility, inclusion, and justice. Her speech will also be a call to action. Dr. Love calls on the field to not only teach students about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in their communities through innovative movements, but to also expose youth to the possibilities that come with envisioning a world built on joy, radical love, and finding power in centering humanity.
Friday, November 4, 10:00AM - 11:30AM
The arts are a powerful tool in leading and inspiring youth culture toward social activism. With extensive experience educating and amplifying the voices of Chicago’s youth activists, Kevin Coval and Malcolm London’s work together began in the roles of teacher and student through the city’s youth poetry scene, and has evolved into that of peers and collaborators. In this plenary session and spoken-word performance, the two will share insights into the mentor/mentee creative bond, and how the intersections of race, class, and gender have informed their work spanning community arts organizations and social movements. The artists, educators, and activists will perform original poetry and discuss how they have cultivated a Hip-Hop centric pedagogic strategy to develop programming that inspires youth movements working toward a better, fresher, and more equitable world.
Saturday, November 5, 12:30PM - 2:15PM
Join us for a celebratory luncheon honoring two extraordinary leaders in the field: Lowell Noteboom (National Guild Service Award) and Khary Lazarre-White (National Guild Leadership Award). The Luncheon, which is included in registration, also features performances by local Chicago musicians and performers.
Cultural Competency and Racial Literacy: 21st Century Frameworks for ALL Effective Arts Education Leaders
Thursday, November 3, 12:00PM - 3:30PM
The 21st century represents an unprecedented interconnected global society, as demographics in the United States continue to shift and longstanding effective leadership strategies are challenged. Similar to all effective leaders, arts leaders are also increasingly recognizing the urgency to cultivate the ability to communicate effectively across cultural differences and deepen their racial literacy in order to realize their goals of maximizing access and supporting all students and families during their arts education. This workshop will provide you and your organization with new skills and resources to help navigate an increasingly complex cultural tapestry and better support all children and families during their arts journey.
Ticketed event: $15. Lunch will be provided. Registration for this event can be found in the "Next Level Luncheons" section of the registration portal.
Powerful Boards: Action Planning for Full Engagement
Saturday, November 5, 9:00AM - 5:30PM
This highly interactive, full-day institute is designed to provide your leadership team with concrete tools, strategies, and coaching to help you achieve full participation of your board in meeting key organizational challenges. The first part of the day will be focused on re-orientation to essential aspects of board and staff governance, including ensuring healthy governance and management succession, articulating and calibrating organizational strategy, and ensuring organizational sustainability and stability. We’ll examine building blocks for effective board engagement and gain practice with specific planning tools. In the afternoon, you’ll work in pairs to begin to develop your own action plan to implement back home with guidance from board development expert Gordon Goodwin.
Note: Free for registered delegates. However, preregistration is required. The program is designed for teams of two, ideally comprised of the executive director and an experienced or new board leader.
Rebuild Foundation Neighborhood Tour
Saturday, November 5, 3:00PM - 5:00PM
Founded by Chicago-native and nationally-recognized artist/social activist Theaster Gates, Rebuild Foundation rebuilds the cultural foundations of underinvested neighborhoods and incites movements of community revitalization that are culture based, artist led, and neighborhood driven. Rebuild’s programs enlist teams of artists, architects, developers, educators, community activists, and residents who work together to integrate the arts, apprenticeship trade training, and creative entrepreneurship into its process of neighborhood transformation. During this special walking tour, you’ll learn about the organization’s history in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood and visit multiple program sites, including the Archive House, community garden, and the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative. The tour will conclude at Theaster Gates’ newest project, the Stony Island Arts Bank, where participants can explore unique collections, including the Johnson Publishing Library and Frankie Knuckles’ Records.
Ticket event: $15. Rountrip transportation provided.
Standing on the Pillars of Hip-Hop: Finding Community Voice through Artistic Expression
Friday, November 4, 2:00PM - 5:30PM
Part 1 - Democracy and Equitability: Exploring Agency in Hip-Hop Culture
How does Hip-Hop have the potential to be a democratizing platform for marginalized populations? In what ways can Hip-Hop make access to arts learning more equitable? Our panelists from community arts institutions throughout Chicago will discuss how a practice in Hip-Hop arts (including graffiti art, turntablism, MCing, and breakdancing) holds the potential to create safe space for exploration and vigor, affirm identity for marginalized populations, circumvent systemic obstacles, and supersede established institutional narratives. Participants will come away with tools for using the lens of hip-hop culture to instill a new sense of possibility and equitability into their programming.
Part 2 - Visual Affirmations of Community: A Pilsen Neighborhood Walking Tour
Led by Graffiti Institute, this walking tour through Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood builds on Part 1 to reinforce the diverse aesthetics and artistic forms that can tell a vibrant community story. From historic Chicano murals, to community projects, to graffiti and street art, this walking tour will connect seemingly disparate art forms into a cohesive story about the affirmation of identity in communities of color. Participants will explore how the ethos of hip-hop culture manifests in one of Chicago’s most artistically vibrant communities.
Part 2 is a ticketed event: $15. Roundtrip transportation provided.
What's Age Got to Do With It?: Bringing Arts Education to Older Adults
Saturday, November 5, 9:00AM - 5:30PM
Everyday more than 10,000 Americans turn 65. People are living longer, healthier lives and seeking opportunities for social engagement, creative expression, and continual learning. Research shows that professionally led, arts education programs for older adults promote positive aging. Community arts education organizations are perfectly positioned to play a leading role in providing innovative and meaningful programming for an aging population. Through this full-day institute, you will gain a deeper understanding of current research and public and private funding trends in creative aging (also known as artful aging), effective practices for designing and implementing creative aging programs, and strategies for recruiting and sustaining the participation of older adult learners. Through hands-on exercises and case studies, we will examine the balance of skills mastery and social engagement in program design, and the impact of ageism and generational differences in this work. We’ll also explore how developing new creative aging programs or deepening existing programs can raise your organization’s visibility, increase community engagement, and provide additional revenue streams.
Note: Free for registered delegates, but preregistration is required.
Highlighted sessions from 2016 Conference. New sessions will be added weekly. Check back regularly for the latest updates!
Can We Teach for Creativity?: Using New Research to Inform Your Arts Integration Practice
New research on arts integration practice shows how effective professional development strategies can lead to higher student creative development. This inquiry-based session will showcase the preliminary outcomes of the Beacon Schools Study, a three year assessment of a professional development model practiced by Collaborations: Teachers & Artists (CoTA) in Southern California school districts. The formative research design examines how elementary school teachers are collaborating with CoTA teaching artists to develop arts infused instruction across academic subjects and includes perspectives/experiences from the entire ecosystem within a school community (students, parents, teachers, artists, principals, superintendents/school boards). In this session, you will gain an understanding of the quantitative and qualitative assessment methods used in the study, including measures of student creative development and an overview of conditions necessary to teach for creativity. You’ll also practice using an engagement tool that supports teacher-to-teacher coaching as a form of adult social learning. We’ll conclude with a robust discussion of the underlying mechanisms of change, within the entire ecology of education, to strategically initiate and operate diverse, creative professional learning communities.
Creative Youth Development: What's In a Name?
Creative Youth Development (CYD) intentionally integrates learning in the arts, humanities, and sciences with youth development principles. In CYD programs, young people create work and apply their creative skills to solve problems, shape their lives and build the world in which they want to live. The 2014 National Summit for CYD generated new focus and energy in CYD, catalyzing collective action (e.g., CYD National Partnership, Alliance for CYD). Through case study examples, discussion, and student work, participants will explore what it means to create and sustain programs for youth through this framework.
Creativity, Civic Action, and Cultural Organizing
The Chicago Park District’s Re:Center Project is a placemaking initiative combining community engagement, artistic excellence, asset mapping, and program and staff development to better support areas of cultural need in Chicago communities. This interactive workshop unpacks the Re:Center Project as a case study of arts-based civic action being implemented in diverse Chicago communities. Participants will be engaged in interactive cultural planning techniques that explore the ecosystem and strategies needed to lead placemaking work in one’s own community. Park staff, artists, cultural liaisons, and community members actively involved in current cultural organizing efforts will be represented in the discussion and workshop. Placemaking and community engagement has surfaced in arts and civic planning sectors in recent years as an effective way to build and sustain vibrant communities. Many community based arts organizations seek tools, skills, and knowledge to lead community driven cultural planning in order to better serve and develop cultural relationships and stewardship in their communities. Upon completion of the session, you will be able to: explain the components of a community planning process that leads to cultural programming informed by local citizens' ideas and voices; utilize techniques and strategies to compile community input into actionable programs, projects, and events; and design strategies to create partnerships and events that bring greater visibility to an organization's cultural assets and the community it serves.
Enrich Chicago: A Racial Equity Arts Movement
We have all heard the words “racial equity” at this point, but what does that actually mean for an arts organization, its funding, and its practices, and for nonprofit arts leaders? In this session, a group of institutional directors share information from the front lines in Chicago, where Enrich Chicago, a nonprofit-led movement focused on combating systemic racism in the arts, is underway. Participants will hear how administrators and funders are finding their way in, facing breakdown moments, gaining insights, and trying to change the city in measurable and remarkable ways. Following the presentation, participants will divide into groups to learn from other efforts happening and to create action plans for kicking off or continuing this movement in their hometowns.
Five Effective Models of Creative Youth Development Practice
In this dynamic “TED Talk-style” showcase, representatives of five exemplary creative youth development organizations will share how their programs are sparking young people’s creativity and building critical learning and life skills that carry into adulthood. Through short-form, energetic presentations by A Reason to Survive, Community Music Works, DAVA, Destiny Arts Center, and Harmony Project, you’ll learn about several, interrelated CYD practices including:
This showcase will send you home with inspiration and new ideas for how to create, develop, and advocate for successful creative youth development programs back home.
Fostering a Healthy Environment for Arts Leaders Who Work for Social Justice
When an arts education organization commits to social justice, it is important that the work is happening at every level. How your administrative team works affects the way your teaching artists work, which directly affects the students you serve. In this workshop, hear how DreamYard Project, a creative youth development organization in the Bronx, is prioritizing community building and leadership development within its administrative team to help develop and sustain well-being in the workplace. DreamYard staff members are expected to approach their administrative work in the same way that DreamYard’s teaching artists and students are expected to approach art-making: creatively and through a social justice lens. In this session, you’ll learn strategies and techniques for fostering a healthy environment for social justice within your organization and hear from representatives of DreamYard’s team on how these practices have positively affected their leadership and social justice work.
GET FREE: Hip Hop Civics Ed
Dr. Bettina Love will discuss her multimedia Hip Hop civics curriculum for middle to high school students, GET FREE. The goal of the curriculum is to introduce students to a national network of young community leaders, artists, and activists who advocate for social change and democratic inclusion driven by grassroots organizing. GET FREE is inspired by the exuberance, ingenuity, political energy, resistance, love, and DIY model of underground Hip Hop. Its aim is to push and extend ideas of democracy, citizenship, freedom, community, and civic engagement.
How a Web Redesign Can Transform an Organization: A Live Case Study
Are you concerned that your current website isn’t delivering on all its promises? An optimized website should inform prospective students, engage and cultivate donors, and bring your brand story to life. Both MacPhail School of Music and Merit School of Music recently partnered with Ciceron, a digital agency in Minneapolis, to create two distinct websites that help bring their community arts schools to life. These “rediscovered” websites now focus entirely on the needs of their communities while achieving key organizational goals. Users and school staff now enjoy a streamlined communication process that simplifies the search for class information, music resources, and organizational progress. Join us to learn cost-effective strategies for enhancing engagement through improved web content, site structure, and an easy-to-use registration processes with quick search results.
Measuring Youth Arts Impact
Vital to the growth of creative youth development programs and the advancement of the field is the ability to measure and boldly communicate youth arts impact. In this working session, we’ll explore best practices for effectively and efficiently capturing and analyzing impact. We’ll also discuss strategies and existing models for boldly demonstrating program impact within the youth arts field and across sectors. Finally, we’ll share how a Boston-based network of arts organizations, funders, and partners have come together to create a peer learning community, the Youth Arts Impact Network, to establish and share best practices related to data gathering and measurement for youth-serving arts organizations. Join us to learn how youth-level data can inform programmatic decision-making and increase program impact, and to gain inspiration for how practitioners and funders can work together to invest in the tools and systems to move the field forward.
Practicing Compassion: Helping Students Affected by Trauma Thrive
Research shows that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) have both immediate and lifelong effects on young people’s health, well-being, and opportunity. In this in-depth workshop, we will explore ways staff and teaching artists at your arts education organization can support students who suffer from adversity and trauma. The first part of the workshop will focus on increasing your understanding of how poverty and trauma affects young people’s brain development and cognitive functions, and what studies tell us about resulting behaviors. Reginald Harris, a mental health therapist and former professional dancer and teaching artist, will share first-hand insights into his experience working with students affected by trauma and provide strategies for trauma-informed arts education practice. You’ll then work in small groups to examine real-life situations and brainstorm effective solutions with the help of a coach.
Putting Arts at the Core of Juvenile Justice: An Innovative Collaboration
In Los Angeles County, a groundbreaking collaborative of arts organizations is reframing the arts as a foundational strategy for transforming juvenile justice systems and enabling youth to process, express, and heal from trauma. AIYN was founded in partnership with the LA County Arts Commission in support of the County's efforts to establish arts education as a healing-informed strategy for young people. It's also a key strategy for successful re-entry into community and for accessing creative economy careers. In this workshop, you’ll learn how this Network is supporting a larger shift in the culture of Probation, creating a model for public-private partnership, and laying the groundwork for systemic change in the largest juvenile justice system in the country. It's also positioning arts education as a fundamental way of breaking the school-to-prison pipeline, connecting advocates for arts and juvenile justice.
Putting Mindsets into Action: A Challenge and Opportunity
The belief that artistic talent is innate—that some children will find their “talent” in spoken word, others in dance, and others in math—is endemic in education and the wider culture. These “fixed mindset” beliefs have great implications for our field both in terms of the systemic and equitable delivery of arts education, and the challenges teaching artists face in working in environments where fixed mindsets dominate. And yet, arts education and creative youth development are especially well-positioned to foster a growth mindset and other internalized beliefs that not only foster greater learning in the arts, but can also support in other areas of academic engagement and learning. In this session, nationally recognized researchers and Arts Corps staff and teaching artists will provide a framework for deeper understanding around the definitions and research behind academic mindsets that have been shown to underlie engagement and performance in school and other learning environments. Together we’ll explore the intersection of these mindsets with other internalized beliefs that are informed by structural racism and oppression and practice a set of arts based strategies that you can implement in your programs to help foster these mindsets in youth and adult participants. Finally, we’ll think through how to responsibly, equitably, and reliably measure these valuable beliefs in ways that inform our field and our practice.
The Realest of Rap: Race, Class, and Gender Inequality in Community Arts
Exploring in further detail the topics in their plenary session, Kevin Coval and Malcolm London will lead participants deeper through the radical re-imagination of youth culture in the public cultural sphere. Using their work in Chicago communities, and the Hip-Hop centric pedagogic strategy at the core of Young Chicago Authors and Louder Than A Bomb, they will explore the intersections of race, class, and gender in community arts, and how arts education can inspire youth movements.
Social Justice: Activism and Institution Building
There are many challenges to building and leading a social justice organization dedicated to the practice of developing youth leaders, supporting their artistic voices, and facilitating political learning. In this session, Khary Lazarre-White will share insights from his 20+ years at the helm of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol and facilitate a roundtable discussion on how to sustain and advance this work through effective management, program development, organizing, policy, and strong leadership.
Solving the Opportunity Gap through Cross-Sector Collaboration
Cross-sector collaboration is essential to solving the biggest problem facing education today - the opportunity gap. The opportunity gap is the complex web of challenges blocking under-resourced young people from reaching their potential. Tackling the gap requires an innovative, multi-faceted approach to education and the cooperative effort of the community. As one of the nation’s leading nonprofits focused on building partnerships, Big Thought is committed to facilitating meaningful dialogue that will advance our goal of expanding equitable access to programs that ignite the imagination in every child. Participants will explore strategies to engage partners from multiple sectors of their community and discover practical approaches to collaborative fundraising, resource-sharing, and communications.
Storytelling from the Source: Making Arts Learning Visible
Documentation is a critical process for teaching artists, schools, and educational organizations. But how do programs establish authentic documentation and package it for public relations and marketing efforts? In this workshop, you’ll learn how to harness the power to illuminate student voice, deepen learning in any discipline, and communicate authentic experiences in your classroom or program. Participants will engage in documentation practices, study artifacts of learning, and evaluate the audiences and methods for communicating impact. This workshop is grounded in the work of Project Zero’s Making Learning Visible project and is guided by the question: How can I make student learning visible to students, educators, learning community, and beyond? Leave this workshop prepared to implement strategies that simplify and improve how you communicate your impact, beginning in the classroom.
Sustaining the Human Fabric of Your Organization: Moving Human Resources from Wish List to Reality
Recruiting, developing, and retaining talent is essential to sustaining the structural and fiscal health of our organizations yet rarely do arts education leaders discuss formalizing HR best practices to support and protect our greatest assets—the people whose work fulfills our mission. Whether you have an HR person at your organization or not (and many fall into the “not” category), your organization is doing it. We hire, promote, onboard and occasionally, off-board. In this session, we’ll discuss frameworks for organization talent development and share strategies for strengthening existing HR processes that align with your organizational core values –and budget. This session is designed for all arts administrators who are responsible for managing people
Transforming School Climate to Embrace the Arts and Creative Practice—Even in Challenging Times
Arts education organizations can play a key role in helping school administrators take advantage of arts opportunities for their students and build a school culture that actively creates a safe space for creative expression. In this hands-on workshop, you’ll learn about EASEL (Education, Arts and Social-Emotional Learning), an innovative partnership between three California agencies—Inner-City Arts (an arts education organization), Center for Collaborative Education, and the California Community Foundation—that is supporting school administrators in embracing the arts as a way to connect academic, social-emotional, and social justice goals for their schools. EASEL provides Los Angeles Unified School District administrators in underserved areas with a 10-month program that includes experiential visual and performing arts engagement, social-emotional and brain-based pedagogical theory, and support for implementing these practices at schools. As a participant, you’ll learn about the partnership and gain tools and practice in applying its strategies back home.
Zombies, Space, and Connecting Creativity to STEM
Fusing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects with creative writing is a key way to inspire learning and prepare students to become the next generation of innovative leaders and thinkers. In this session, we will explore inherent connections, benefits, and creative opportunities that exist when integrating the literary arts into STEM education. In partnership with Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds initiative, 826 National—a network of nonprofits across the country that provide free arts education opportunities to over 30,000 students annually—collaborated with educators and nonprofit partners on a two-year project that incorporated hands-on STEM learning into 826 National’s proven creative writing model. Students across the country participated in workshops like “Rewriting the Zombie Apocalypse” and “The Science of Superpowers” that aimed to make STEM learning relevant and fun, while building critical, cross-disciplinary skills. Working in small teams, students used STEM fields and techniques (hypothesis-building, mathematical modeling, bioengineering, simulation) to investigate scenarios like “the zombie apocalypse” by playing zombie tag, devising ways to fight back, using their engineering skills to connect structures with model bridges and zip-lines, and sharing resources with other teams to defend against attack. Along the way, their zombie knowledge was recorded in a survival manual and students wrote stories about their hard-earned victories. Other workshops over the course of the project included poetry, songwriting, and fiction spanning wide-ranging genres. Join this session to learn more about the benefits of integrating the literary arts and STEM education, and leave with new strategies, inspiration, and resources to design effective cross-curricular workshops at your organization.
Ticketed event: $35
These dynamic, peer luncheons featured facilitated discussions that generated ideas and practical strategies for taking organizations to the next level. Topics include:
Meet with some of the National Guild's Networks and Ambassadors. Meetings include:
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