Arts Education, by the very nature of our work, is a hybrid profession. As such, I’m sure many an arts education administrator or fundraiser can share tales of woe about having to explain to board members or funders how our work is both artistic and educational – a task which only a few people, in my opinion, have managed to accomplish in our field. But where some people see confusion as a result of not being able to label, others see collaboration… the overlap of a Venn diagram. What fascinates me about our work is that we are the combination of two ecosystems and a place where community takes on a whole new meaning.
While all that sounds lovely, there are (too) few concrete places where one can achieve a professional sense of community – a space where folks can come together from different cities, organizations and professions to share, discuss and dream about what arts education can achieve. For me, one of these places is American for the Arts – specifically, the Arts Education Network.
In 2011, a year in which many of us and our organizations were dealing with the ripple effects of a massive economic meltdown, I very quickly became overwhelmed by the sense of isolation and surprised by how most in our community quickly reverted into a survival mode that prevented us from seeing beyond the walls of our institutions. We became so focused on making sure our organizations could make it through the crisis, we inadvertently turned our back on the solution: us. I, along with everyone else, was starving for perspective. Read the rest of this entry »