Mass Cultural Council was proud to support and further learn from our Massachusetts organizations who attended the 2019 National Guild for Community Arts Education Conference in Austin, TX. With conference goals rooted in social justice and designed to showcase innovative strategies for advancing the work, Massachusetts leaders took to the stage.
Sadira Bethea is a college freshman with a passion for community empowerment. As an alumni of the Community Art Center in Cambridge, she co-led an on-site institute, entitled, Youth in the Lead: a Youth Development Approach for Engagement with Laurie Jo Wallace. As Managing Director of Health Resources in Action, Laurie Jo has spent the last 27 years promoting healthy communities and healthy youth in Boston through initiatives such as co-developing and promoting the research-based Advancing Youth Development Curriculum and the BEST (Building Exemplary Systems of Training for Youth Workers).
Both presented through warm-ups and research on how community-based arts programming can truly support youth leadership when “adultism” can be left behind. Sadira illustrated how adults can become more like accomplices with young people as they offer leadership opportunities to support youth in developing their strong identities, creativity, and connections. She also wowed the audience by using the new digital presentation tool of Menti (www.menti.com)!
Lisa Donovan, Ph.D, (professor at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts) and Kim Roberts Morandi (Director of Curriculum and Assessment for the North Adams Public Schools) spoke eloquently on how arts can be a strategy for regional change, in their presentation, Think Like A Region: Supporting Arts Learning in Rural/Remote Regions. As co-directors of the Berkshire Regional Arts Integration Network, they have devised dynamic professional development along with proven models and strategies in order to help their communities gain access to arts education through regional network development.
After they discussed ways to effectively leverage change and maximize impact to an inspired audience, attendees were able to create mapping for their own projects and visions based on a “Yellow Brick Road” tool designed by Americans for the Arts. (Watch Lisa’s TED Talk and listen to her on our podcast. ) BRAINworks is part of a larger regional initiative (Creative Compact for Collective Impact) that includes the development and launch of the Berkshire Blueprint for Arts Integration and Education and a vibrant network for cultural organizations – Berkshire Cultural Assets Network. Learn more about BRAINworks, a portal for arts education in Berkshire County.
Also in attendance was Miranda Aisling, founder of Miranda’s Hearth. She is addressing the challenge of developing affordable and sustainable creative workspace, which is at an all-time low throughout Eastern Massachusetts. She has submitted a proposal to repurpose the Briscoe Middle School in Beverly MA as BevArt: The Beverly Arts Community Center. This proposal is the culmination of years of research, planning, and advocating, including qualitative interviews with over 140 Beverly stakeholders. More than 240 artists filled out a survey demonstrating their desire to rent studio space at BevArt in just six weeks. These responses included artist alums of YouthReach. If her proposal is selected, her project would create the largest community arts center on the North Shore and one of the largest in Massachusetts. #BevArt
Thank you National Guild for Community Arts Education for providing 3+ days of connection, ideas, inspiration, and providing opportunities to showcase the power of culture with the vision and leadership of Massachusetts.