Cyclical Mentorship in Action: Crafting this Toolkit

Posted by Jermaine Doris, Sep 10, 2018 0 comments

This post is part of our “Broadening and Diversifying the Leadership Pipeline” blog salon for National Arts in Education Week 2018.

While helping with research for Americans for the Arts’ Emerging Arts Education Leadership toolkit, I was able to find the true potential in the reciprocal exchange and cyclical mentorship of arts leaders in the field. Originally, I came to this project as just an artist and, therefore, a believer in the power of the arts, but I knew very little of the landscape and infrastructure of support for the arts in my region or my nation as a whole. I felt singular and, in many ways, understandably ineffective. I had lacked that knowledge of how to create coalition as an arts leader, how to inspire others to action in the best way, or that there was even a cycle of mentorship that could tap into. With Jeff Poulin, and through this project, I realized how many resources and how much support there really is (and how much support there can be) for the intersections of identity and culture within arts education programs in America.

In many ways, this was a cyclical mentorship. I brought my theories on artistry, cultural analysis, black marginalized identities, and communities. Jeff brought his massive amount of experience from his years as an arts education leader, his lens from his time at Americans for the Arts, his theories derived from his time in graduate school, and much more. We were able to connect and inform each other’s understanding of the arts education leadership pipeline and support for embracing identity through arts education programs in America.

It was only through this mentorship, this multigenerational and multi-experiential dialogue, that I could begin to help craft this toolkit on the same subject. I was inspired by this and the many powerful threads within the interviews as part of t0he “Cyclical Mentorship in Arts Education Leadership: Insights from Emerging and Veteran Leaders” publications. They shared their inspiring stories of what brought them to the field and what they faced as they came in contact with the systemic barriers present for many arts education leaders.

For example, one anecdote told by Andre Green in his interview along with Tee Lambert was about how he robustly embraced the field of Arts Education when realized that there was a positive correlation of higher graduation rates in students who were provided with a substantive arts education. I also learned from Tamara Mozahuani Alvarado in her interview along with Nicole Amri about the barriers within many Arts Education organizational boards. There was much information to be shared between these multi-generational exchanges with various arts leaders and it was inspiring to read it. Therefore, it became very apparent to Jeff and me that we should create a toolkit that revisits these interviews and gives others the means to create platform for this kind of dialogue in their own regions.

I am so grateful to have been a part of this and see arts education leaders lend their wisdom and experiences to this ongoing cycle mentorship.

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