Blog Posts for culture and communities

What’s Going on with Arts Ed in Chicago? (The 5 Things You Need To Know)

Posted by Jeff Poulin, Jan 23, 2015 0 comments

In the Arts Education world, Chicago has been in the news a lot lately. To best understand what has gone on the past 2 or so years, we have compiled a concise list of events, news stories and reports to tell the tale for all of us non-Chicagoans.

1. Chicago’s Cultural Plan

In February 2012, a celebration was held to mark the release of the City of Chicago’s Cultural Plan. Developed in conjunction with advocates, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) along with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the plan called for specific attention on Arts Education within Chicago Public Schools (CPS). After one year in effect, the several studies have been completed, data has been compiled and analysis is beginning.

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The Greater DC Diversity Pilot Initiative, #2: Talking Diversity in the Arts (Reflections on the Community Diversity Forums)

Posted by Abe Flores, Dec 09, 2014 1 comment

I had never been accused of being white. It was the second Diversity Forum with about two dozen local arts stakeholders and a clearly skeptical gentleman asked, “What are two white guys from a national arts organization doing facilitating a local conversation around diversity in the arts?” The question took me aback. “I’m not white, I’m Latino,” I instinctively responded as if my bona fides to facilitate this conversation were my non-whiteness. The gentleman had come into the meeting space with folded arms and body language that clearly expressed skepticism towards the purpose and the conveners of the forum.

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Beauty and the "We"

Posted by Roberto Bedoya, Nov 21, 2014 0 comments

Roberto Bedoya Roberto Bedoya

“Our experience of the beautiful in the recognition of models that make world and community is restricted to the moment when these worlds and communities present themselves explicitly as the plural” - Gianni Vattimo

“We is not the plural of I” - Emmanuel Levinas

Beauty and the We. Beauty as an articulation of the plural, announced in engagement practices, is the experience I know and have been lucky to support in my career. Most recently, as the Director of the Tucson Pima Arts Council. Our team has supported 66 projects since 2010 that advance civic well-being, civic engagement, and community building of the We through the arts. Most prominently, this happens through the PLACE (People, Land, Arts, Culture and Engagement) Initiative, our placemaking/civic engagement platform. These projects create art experiences that shape the identity of place, present visions and manifestations of social cohesion, and activate democracy so as to build and animate the commons. And where is Beauty in PLACE?

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The Beauty of Change: Re-imagining Small Town America

Posted by John Davis, Nov 20, 2014 6 comments

John Davis John Davis

I am the Executive Director of Lanesboro Arts, a multidisciplinary arts organization founded in 1980. Lanesboro Arts fulfills its mission to serve as a regional catalyst for artistic excellence and educational development in providing diverse art experiences for people of all ages through visual art galleries, the performing arts, an artist residency program, public art, and educational outreach. Last year, Lanesboro Arts programming involved more than 180 volunteers, 300 artists, and 30,000 audience members. In 2013, Lanesboro (pop 754) was named one of the Top 12 Small Town ArtPlaces in America, a recognition determined by the number of arts opportunities per capita.

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Calling Out to the Old Radical Herbert Marcuse

Posted by Bob Leonard, Nov 19, 2014 0 comments

Bob Leonard Bob Leonard

The definition of aesthetics drafted for 2014 ROOTS Week seems to have stood up usefully: “aesthetics are means by which art and art-making respond to and stimulate sensory and emotional experience, and how such sensory and emotional experiences contribute to meaning. Understood this way, we believe the term can be applied affirmatively and effectively to community-based arts practice for social justice.”

This statement was crafted as a positive strategy to counter the common assumption that aesthetics is way of thinking devoted to the establishment of standards of excellence or criteria of evaluation, all too often predicated on the dominant culture. The strategy seemed to work at ROOTS, where the conversation has advanced past defensive posturing to a pretty vital engagement with learning how to talk about the actual sensory and emotional experience of conceiving, making, and receiving art, especially in the context of ROOTS’s artistic commitment to working for social, economic, and environmental justice.

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The Aesthetics of Politics, Art, and Communications

Posted by Nato Thompson, Nov 18, 2014 0 comments

Nato Thompson Nato Thompson

When we begin to wrap our heads around the fact that culture-making surrounds us on a daily basis, and that everyday people are now both consumers and producers of symbolic production, we can then more accurately approach the question of aesthetics and politics, and begin to see how it operates around us daily.

The question of aesthetics and politics is certainly not new. It has been both a productive and destructive line of inquiry throughout much of the 20th century, much debated between Bertolt Brecht and Theodore Adorno, and the Constructivists and social realists of the Russian Revolution. It sat at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, was rife throughout 2nd wave feminism, was a central concern of the Zapatistas revolution, and was prominent in so many other social movements. It is a question that is as clumsy as it is urgent. It is neither new nor resolved.

This is all to say: if the topic of aesthetics and politics gives you a headache, find odd comfort knowing that you are not historically alone.

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