Blog Posts for Social Change

A Conversation with Kansas Pioneer Laura Ramberg

Posted by Margaret Weisbrod Morris, Apr 18, 2018 0 comments

Laura Ramberg is a ceramicist, sculptor, and dancer who has been working as an artist in the Lawrence, Kansas community for the past 40 years. A true innovator and creative pioneer, she has taught art classes three times a week at the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center in Lawrence for two decades. Working with literally hundreds of students over 20 years, she has witnessed fluctuations in policy, changes in facilities, and the digital revolution in youth culture. She has experienced firsthand how art can help people in crisis in the moment, but also how it can change their lives. Arts Education Council member Margaret Weisbrod Morris sat down with Laura to hear about her experiences working with incarcerated youth.

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VSA Texas Distinguished Artist Veterans: A State of Arts & Military Outreach

Posted by April Sullivan, Apr 06, 2018 0 comments

VSA Texas works with people with disabilities as they access the arts. This can be as a patron of the arts or as an artist. Through our Artworks: Creative Industries program, we meet artists where they are in their hobby or career and act as a resource to move them to where they want to be in that hobby or career. My challenge is to find out what the barriers are for our artists and find ways for each of them to work through those barriers to reach their personal goals. In 2009, we noticed a barrier for Veteran artists within our own services. Veterans in our community were not identifying as artists with disabilities, so they were not entering our art exhibitions or attending our workshops and events. Rather than trying to change their viewpoints, we adapted ours and started programming specifically for Veterans.

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Arts and Gentrification: Potential for Change

Posted by Sylvia Fox, Apr 03, 2018 0 comments

In informed discussions about the role of the artist when communities undergo change, words like privilege, displacement, and tools of gentrification often come up. The point is not that the blame for the detrimental effects of gentrification lies in the artist—of course there are much larger forces at play. Rather, the arts are being used as a tool on the path to displacement. If national trends are any indication, the artists who encroach as community outsiders in fact have a stake similar to longtime residents in the process of gentrification. Across the country, the artists initially involved in neighborhood “transformations” are themselves pushed out as rents rise. Artists and arts organizations have an opportunity to recognize their place in the system, and to take responsibility in it.

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SAAN By Me: The Good Arts Advocacy Work Happening in Your States

Posted by Elisabeth Dorman, Mar 30, 2018 0 comments

Advocacy promoting arts and arts education funding and policy doesn’t just exist at the federal level. While the federal government funds the NEA at $152.3 million, state governments invest $357.5 million into state arts agencies. However, like the NEA, state arts agencies cannot lobby regarding appropriations, law, legislation, or policy, in their official capacity. Enter the State Arts Action Network—a professional development network of Americans for the Arts comprised of 53 state arts advocacy and service organizations from 42 states. SAAN members work around the clock advocating for pro-arts and pro-arts education funding and policies in their home states. Here’s just a sample of the great work happening at the state level! Here’s just a sample of the great work happening at the state level!

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Group Creation in Theater and Dance Builds Trust Among Students in High School Academic Classrooms

Posted by Susan Potters, Mar 29, 2018 0 comments

There’s an important role arts education can play in relation to school violence: prevention. Since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, Maine high schools have had access to Building Community Through the Arts, a performing arts program that lowers social barriers and builds trust within the classroom. The Maine Alliance for Arts Education sends professional theater and dance educators into high school academic classrooms to engage all the students in the class in creating an original drama or dance piece together over eight hours of class time during school hours. The group experience is daunting at first for many students, and many are initially reluctant, but by the end the students feel differently about each other and about theater and dance itself. A pre- and post-test administered to each class, designed by the University of Maine, gives us the data that confirms this.

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Incubating Art for Social Impact: An Interview with Halcyon Arts Lab in Washington, DC

Posted by Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell, Mar 21, 2018 0 comments

This spring break season has seen an increase in the numbers of students, teachers, and arts advocates choosing civic engagement over a hedonistic week at the beach. As engagement in the arts for positive impact towards civic engagement and social justice continues to trend up, community building around organizations and practitioners working in social practice becomes increasingly important. So I reached out to Nicole Dowd, Program Manager of Halcyon Arts Lab—a newly launched residency and incubator program for artists working in social justice in Washington, DC—to learn insights gained from the first full year of the program. With local influences and resources ranging from Capitol Hill to an actively engaged tri-state area with interests in arts, policy, civic engagement, and everything in between, visiting artists to the Halcyon Arts Lab are welcomed into a profoundly energetic creative environment.

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