Apr
11

Common Ground (AIE) Conference

For the past few days I have been in Albany, New York attending the annual New York State Arts In Education (AIE) conference. This conference brings together over 200 administrators, teachers, teaching artists ( to learn more about teaching artists go to the ATA) and community members. The programing and sessions for this conference contribute to fresh curriculum design, school reform and new models of classroom learning in the arts for the state of New York.

My interest in coming to this conference stems from my interest in the work of teaching artists and the teaching templates that this growing movement of teachers are creating, to be able to focus on integrating the teaching of art (music, creative writing, dance, theater etc.) into all subject matters in the classroom (math, social studies, science etc.).

What was incredibly interesting for me was to witness the evolution of entrepreneurial-like teaching development processes, created by artists, which in many ways is a first in the arts! These teaching artists are learning how to create integrated partnerships with K-12 schools ( sometimes facing resistance from other teachers and administrators and having to learn to overcome them), while focusing on developing individually designed programming to meet the needs of each school, using innovative, integrated cutting-edge teaching of artistry by combining it creatively into the subject matter of math, social studies and the sciences, AND finding a way obtain funding for it. This process is VERY entrepreneurial, and, I think can serve as a step towards integrating the business world’s need to economically advance and innovate by utilizing the benefits that can be taught to help them do this through artistry!

The process itself requires the three legs of the stool I feel need to be taught in all art: the highest level of artistry, the integration of art into all aspects of life and thought, and the understanding of the creation of value– ethical, moral and financial– from everything that is created.

Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education’s (CAPE), Founder Arnold April, is one of the key leaders of the development of this new movement of teaching and the establishment of it being a field of study.

What pleased me greatly about attending this conference was the openness to incorporating business into the conversation. Many I spoke with, including the Director of Arts Education for The New York State Council of Arts, Amy Duggins Pender, were interested in the benefits that teaching artists could bring to business and that in turn, through serving business objectives, would in turn bring to the arts through greater financial support.

As I write this post to you, reflecting on my time at AIE, I am waiting in the Albany airport in hopes that my cancelled flight from this morning will take off this evening. (Ughh. The joys of flying.) But, this horrible delay did allow me to return to the conference just in time to hear the final presentation at the conference given by the new executive director of The New York State Council on the Arts, Heather Hitchens, over lunch; after all NY politics is rather exciting these days ( thanks to former Gov Spitzer’s resignation) and I was sure, as the new executive director of the council, she would have something interesting to say about it all.

It also allowed me to be present for AIE’s raffle drawing which included a grand prize of 2 free nights at The Crowne Plaza Hotel and conference center in Albany. I guess I was meant to be there because I won. In all the raffles I have entered, I never win. AIE’s conference is again in Albany next year, so I guess I am suppose to come back.

If you would like to know more about this conference you might want to check out the following organizations that help orchestrate it. AIE is coordinated by Partners for Arts Education for the state through collaboration with the New York State Council for the Arts and The Association for Teaching Artists, Empire State Partnerships, New York Foundation for the Arts, NYS Alliance for Arts Education and the NYS Education Department.

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