The first event of its kind at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Building Community conference brought together nearly 150 AiE Program alumni and current students and their colleagues from 18 states across the US (with one attendee even making a trip from Singapore!). Attendees engaged in in-depth conversations about the arts in education field, and enjoyed a pre-conference exhibition and reception in the Gutman Library art gallery featuring Chinese calligraphy works by AiE alumna Son-Mey Chiu. A keynote panel featured reflections on the arts in education field from Steve Seidel, Jessica Hoffmann Davis, and Shari Tishman. The conference also featured plenary sessions led by AiE alumnae Rachel McIntire and Amanda Lichtenstein and closing reflection activities that engaged conference attendees in dialogues about the nature of arts in education work. A comprehensive conference website served as a site for virtual dialogues and provided opportunities for more than 100 users to remotely engage in online conversations. Over the course of the conference weekend, 72 guests shared their work through 25 presentations. Presentation formats including interactive workshops, presentations with facilitated discussions, artmaking sessions, and timed slide (“PechaKucha”) presentations provided forums for a diverse group of Conversation participants to present their work and help others engage with seminal questions in the arts in education field.
The Building Community event included opportunities to attend interactive workshops across the spectrum of arts in education interest areas, including administration, teaching artistry, and research. Workshops were presented by event attendees. Presentation formats included paper presentations with facilitated discussions, interactive workshops, and short presentations of attendees’ current work. This part of the event weekend enabled attendees to be actively engaged, to reflect, and to contribute to the larger conversation in the field and in their specific areas of interest. Theme areas included:
- Creating in Community. Participatory workshops in art-making explore building community through leadership, research and documentation, or teaching and practice.
- Communities of School Practice & Partnership. How are arts in education professionals impacting the worlds of formalized education and redefining how we understand our roles in the education of students? These workshops share curriculum, policy interventions, or cutting-edge research and practice.
- Community Arts Education. Non-profits and community arts organizations are part of the fabric of our cities and towns. Workshops share innovative forms of community engagement, unique interventions with specific audiences, and ways in which arts in education professionals are impacting communities across the world.
- Developing Our Professional Community. How can we reach out to collaborate, advocate, and lead with each other? Workshops and papers provide new ways for arts in education professionals to lead the field by sharing best practices and professional development, discussing new research/ideas in the field, supporting policy & legislation, and providing a closely networked community of members of the field.