Arts Learning Policy & Practice: Reflection & Synthesis

Posted onJune 8, 2012 
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Amirsoleymani_Synthesis_Essay

I am confident in saying that I learned more in this class than in any other AAD graduate core course. While in part due to my initial lack of knowledge about the arts learning field and arts education history, policy, research, and practice, the comprehensive readings in combination with supplemental resources, insight from speaker Deb Vaughn, and exchange of ideas and tools among peers in group project settings amounted to an incredibly rich and rigorous knowledge-, awareness-, and skills-building experience.

First and foremost, I am grateful for the ways in which I was able, both individually and collaboratively, to move through the history of US-based arts learning–as well as core policy and equity issues at the forefront of the field today—in such a way that I can now make firm and informed arguments about the importance and significance of arts education, both integrative and specialized, in multiple settings (schools, after-school/out-of-school, community, and lifelong). Deep exposure to both historical and contemporary contexts—and the research, models, and tools that inform each–has enabled me to build an advocacy toolkit of sorts that is informed by key issues and ideas in both research and practice, and how those translate into policy. I am now becoming comfortable employing these tools in a variety of settings, including casual conversation, formal and informal advocacy, and research and professional practice. On the most basic level, I’ve crafted an “arts education elevator speech” of sorts that I can use to start critical conversations about key issues and arguments in favor of pro-arts learning policy with anyone, anytime.

In turn, the course helped me clarify how arts education programs and partnerships or operationalized, moving from conceptual and planning phases to grounded implementation and evaluation. I have professional experience in program development formal evaluation for nonprofit social services, but it is important to me to acquire arts-specific skills and knowledge in this arena, and to better understand how specific facets of the larger arts administration field (e.g., the variety of arts learning programs that exist) translate into program development and assessment. The considerations involved in arts learning and arts education program development are distinct from those focused on exhibiting/presenting, or outreach and engagement, while also being inextricably intertwined with the work happening in those areas.

Highlights for me include the ongoing debate about integrated versus specialized/discipline-based arts learning (and how hybrids or compromises are hard to come by in conservative political and fiscal climates); concrete evidence of how arts education improves performance in other standards-based academic subject areas, school climate, and positive behavioral development; the role of teaching artists in school-based and after-school/OST arts learning contexts, especially new research specific to their unique professional identities and practices; and the strengths and weaknesses typical of arts organizations’ education programs, including connections between education program development and grant funding/marketing/audience development (and arguments for why this should be avoided).

A key takeaway for me was the in-depth unpacking of steps, resources, conditions, and constituencies, involved in program partnership best practices. While I often found the Remer reading repetitive, and certain of its chapters or sections to overlap too closely with content in other sections, the volume of reading on the subject of partnerships helped me establish a clearer understanding of the groundwork that must be established, and the conditions that must be cultivated, to realize successful arts partnerships. I also didn’t have any previous exposure to the interconnected web of individuals, institutions, and human and financial resources involved in school-based arts education partnerships.

To be aware of the diverse field of players that must contribute to and buy into a program’s plan in its development phases will help as I aspire to carve out a niche area of practice-based programming expertise in community engagement, outreach, and education for contemporary, interdisciplinary fine arts organizations (especially those focused on the work of new artists). Since I am doing that right now for the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, this class was a direct influence in the scale and quality of my outreach efforts and strategies to key community partners for the organization’s first attempt at formal public programming that is explicitly rooted in community engagement and educational goals.

With an eye to creating multiple points of entry for audience members who want to connect with new artistic material at varying levels, and with the aim of creating educational and cultural contextualizing opportunities that help audiences to better understand, appreciate, connect with, and directly co-create newly commissioned visual and performance work in residency with PICA, I feel that my exercises in partnership development that aim for educational or community engagement outcomes has greatly benefited from exposure to partnership best practices. This includes identifying key partners in the community and making personal contact; carving out time for in-person partnership planning; meeting the goals and objectives of each partner; putting learners and audiences first; establishing formal agreements; creating opportunities for multiple levels of learning and participation (from exposure to individual and co-creation); determining how the needs of both artists in residence and audiences are being met; establishing program design parameters and evaluation criteria prior to implementation; experimenting with multiple methods of assessment to glean richer data; and documenting development and execution processes in order to illustrate, market, report, evaluate, learn from, and model successes.

In sum, I am excited to already be putting my learning from this course into practice with an organization for which I hope to continue developing new programming long into the future. I think that having a solid foundational understanding of the arts learning and arts education landscape on national, regional, local, and community levels is critical to doing one’s best work in the arts administration field, no matter what one’s role. In turn, I already feel as if I can stand out in the field of contemporary arts programming with the amount of arts learning/education literature and exemplary program models with which I’m now familiar, as this knowledge base tends to be broadly lacking in contemporary art curation, exhibition, programming, and administration. I plan to use and build on my knowledge to inform development of improved contemporary arts programs and organizations that perform with more comprehensive and inclusive awareness of issues and politics critical to arts and cultural administration in this country, and future arts and cultural exposure, knowledge, and experiences of its artists, audiences, and participants.

 

Arts Education Program Plan

Posted onJune 8, 2012 
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This Arts Education Program Plan  for a new Culture and Education Alliance  in the greater Eugene area was created with colleagues Meghan Adamovic, Savannah Barrett, and Lexie Grant.

Arts Education Program Plan

Responses to Arts Education Plans (Group Presentations)

Posted onMay 30, 2012 
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Congratulations to my classmates on some excellent program plans presented today! Here are some thoughts on strengths and areas of improvements for each:

Global Arts Exchange
- very thorough; clearly there has been a lot of solid work put into this
- Excellent ideas about priorities, criteria, program outcomes and goals
- Clear ideas about staffing and roles
- Great use of group members’ areas of cultural expertise
- Clear awareness of University as an asset and what resources it can provide as a core partner
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CENT (seniors and new technology)
- great synthesis of research to support curriculum development and program design
- think about the sub-sets of senior citizens who will need programming to be adapted (e.g., low-income, or those who are
alone, vs. those who are living in wealthier retirement centers with support systems, spouses, close families, etc.
- very timely, so likely well positioned for grant funding

BAM – Book Arts Mentorship
- strength in advocating and providing reasoning for a mentorship model
- appreciate focus on grantmaking, especially “co-authored” aspect
- seemed like notions of community outreach and marketing were collapsed – “community outreach” is different from building
awareness and marketing–the former is two-sided, the latter one-sided – better to talk about both separately and differently
- good specifics around resources that will be need and potential outlets – maybe a little hopeful/idealistic, though
- good to include section specific to sustainability planning
- would be better to have specific evaluation tools/methods mentioned (e.g., surveys, interviews, etc.)

Connecting Collections
- partnership between high school AP English class and an art museum
- strong idea, but it really only benefits people who already have certain privileges – there might be challenges to funding
- professional development for gifted/advanced students
- Might need to target students of minority or low-income status who have other barriers to access/success
- Appreciate research brought in on building identities/personas beyond the academic
- Very concrete research on budget expenses that is quite useful and realistic
- Great that you phased the assessment/evaluation process (identifying stages of a process is really important to planning)
- Maybe think about incorporating the “future” of education and curating through discussions with students and get their input on what that really looks like and what they want to see
- Explain how the museum will come to clearly understand both the positive and negative aspects of the AP Program

In terms of overall feedback, I think all groups should continue to work on being mindful of time, time management, simplicity of slideshows, getting comfortable with material to be able to engage directly with the audience, and ability to synthesize information in detailed papers and translate that into easily digestible presentations that hit the most important points–easier said than done!

Arts Learning Policy + Practice: Best Practices Rubric

Posted onMay 16, 2012 
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This assignment serves as a survey and synthesis of knowledge acquired thus far–through readings and research–of best practices in the fields of arts learning and arts education.

Amirsoleymani_Best-Practices-Rubric

Media Mashers: Raiders of the Archive

Posted onApril 11, 2012 
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The Arts and Administration Program is home to the annual Cinema Pacific Film Festival, which this year takes place April 18-22, 2012. Media Mashers: Raiders of the Archive is a mini-symposium within the larger festival that runs Thursday, April 19 and Friday, April 20, and features three pioneering media activists, artists, and culture jammers: Mark Hosler of negativland, DeeDee Halleck of Paper Tiger TV, and Rick Prelinger of Prelinger internet archives. All Media Mashers events are FREE and open to the public! For more information, visit http://cinemapacific.uoregon.edu/2012/highlights/media-mashers/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arts and Administration Program is home to the annual Cinema Pacific Film Festival, which this year takes place April 18-22, 2012. Media Mashers: Raiders of the Archive is a mini-symposium within the larger festival that runs Thursday, April 19 and Friday, April 20, and features three pioneering media activists, artists, and culture jammers: Mark Hosler of negativland, DeeDee Halleck of Paper Tiger TV, and Rick Prelinger of Prelinger internet archives. All Media Mashers events are FREE and open to the public! For more information, visit http://cinemapacific.uoregon.edu/2012/highlights/media-mashers/

Co-sponsored with the UO School of Journalism and Communication and UO Libraries with support from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

 

 

 

 

 

Learning Objectives: Arts Learning Policy + Practice

Posted onApril 10, 2012 
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I do not yet have extensive knowledge of the history or theory behind arts education in the United States, so at the very least, I will work to help this course fill that gap in academic study and professional practice and help round out my arts administration experience and knowledge. More specifically, my learning objectives related to my specific interest in community and contemporary arts. My academic concentration, professional focus, and personal passion center on the space and connections between community and contemporary arts practices.

I firmly believe that interdisciplinary, experimental, conceptually rigorous, and politically- and socially-driven contemporary art can cultivate generative conversation, dialogue, and experiences that engage communities in thinking about and addressing difficult issues. However, the art in question must first be made more accessible, more affordable, and more meaningful for a general public—and genuinely engage them through their own concerns, questions, and ideas—through public programming experiences informed by certain principles and practices of arts education and learning. In many ways, I am interested in helping arts organizations focused on cultivating contemporary art and artists and the conditions that help them thrive to look at their gaps in audience engagement and public participation, and help them think about how to meaningfully connect with audiences through a more balanced set of goals and objectives that include audiences and participants in efforts to cultivate ideal conditions for contemporary art to flourish.

With this course, I hope to use our explorations of major debates in the field of arts learning, as well as our examination of its best practices, to apply arts learning to the context of public programming and education-oriented community engagement in contemporary art. I think there are direct intersections among all of these areas—arts education, arts participation, public programming, and community engagement—that call for a more careful consideration of how they speak to and inform each other, and how they can be programmatically interwoven and concretely applied.

More specifically, I would like to walk away from this course with a firm grasp of what those intersections look like when met with some of the major questions, challenges, and opportunities in contemporary arts programming, presenting, and practice, developing my own sense of current best practices, guidelines, or recommendations for what contemporary art organizations, projects, and programs can do to make their material more accessible for the general public, as informed by arts learning—especially adult and lifelong learning, not just academic—cultivating stronger, more diverse partnerships and more meaningful experiences for arts audiences.

Specific learning outcomes

Identify commonalities in arts learning, public programming, and community engagement employed by leading contemporary art organizations and programs (especially non-museums), drawing out some of the theoretical, conceptual, or practical aspects of these traits.

Be able to apply certain principles and practices of arts learning to the particular context and landscape of contemporary arts programming

Identify model programs that reflect the above and be able to explain why they are leaders or influencers in shaping public engagement and educational experiences around contemporary art.

Explore models and future options for how contemporary art subject matter can be incorporated into the specific settings, methods, and modes of arts learning, including in-school, after-school, out-of-school, arts organization, museum, and lifelong learning contexts.

Supporting my own learning

Draw on my own experience presenting and programming contemporary art, and my network of professional practitioners in this field.

Because dialogues about contemporary art practices are so current and active, I will look to periodicals, journals, websites, and blogs to supplement and even direct my exploration of this particular area.

I will look to a combination of perspectives for my information, including audiences/ participants, artists, curators, and arts administrators. I am constantly reminded of how much arts administrators have to learn from the other constituents in their field, not just their peers.

Strengths and Challenges

I am disciplined, driven, diligent, and determined, but I can also attempt to take too much on, sometimes leading to an overwhelming and less than productive learning experience that doesn’t allow me to engage in as much depth with material as I otherwise would. Striking balance and
finding my focus will be key if I want to walk away with a polished product that represents first steps in cultivating expertise in this particular area.

As a team member, I am collaborative, direct, helpful, deadline-driven, fast-paced, and committed. I can sometimes dominate group dynamics and need to be cognizant of stepping back to allow other group members to fully engage at their own pace and in their own learning and communication style. I have lots of experience working in teams in school, professional, and nonprofit settings and look forward to continuing to develop my skills in and appreciation for teamwork and collaborative creation.

I embrace emerging media tools and platforms for collaborative teamwork, independent research, and sharing of ideas and work products. I look forward to this component of the course.

Case Study Assignment

Posted onMarch 13, 2012 
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Based on your interests/area of specialty, critically discuss a media management situation/case study that you find. SEGMENTS of this assignment will include: context/history of case study; media under management (description); issues at stake in management; constituents who benefit/engage through these media.

Media Management Case Study: Feminism & Co. (MCA Denver)

Assignment: Finding Your Media

Posted onJanuary 26, 2012 
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Assignment Description: Describe a “management” system/approach/strategy based on your engagement/experience with a range of media. Such media may be “personal” (eg. your DVD library of rare animation films), “professional” (e.g. heading up communications/publicity for a non-profit arts agency), or some combination of the two. You may choose to focus on one format/kind of media, or a diverse set. In any case, here are a few expected components of your writing:
• a robust description of the media under discussion; name formats, technology, genres, or other relevant components; situate media historically; articulate relationship between technology and strategies of ‘use’
• outline a management “system” (or approach/strategy); address more than one sense of the term “management” in your outline (technical, cultural, interpretive, etc); make connections between the various aspects of management
• connect this management approach to a professional setting in the arts/culture work (IMAGINED or REAL); contextualize your outline by putting it in a setting that illustrates how it might work

Managing Video as a Media Asset in Nonprofit Arts Organizations (pdf)

Managing Video as a Media Asset in Nonprofit Arts Organizations (MS Word)

Learning Goals for AAD 610: Media Management Praxis

Posted onJanuary 12, 2012 
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Click here for a description of this course.

My learning goals for the course are as follows:

1) Build on my knowledge of media theory, especially in relation to notions of participatory media and social practice

2) Become familiar with more examples and case studies of media being utilized in contemporary art contexts, as both the “art itself” and in the context of engaging and diversifying audiences and publics around critical and activist conversations in contemporary art

3) Build on my understanding of “digital divides” and its many implications and incarnations (including international examples); I am especially interested in looking at more research and critical analysis of who is using what media forms for which purposes, if our common-held notions of digital divides are accurate, and what is being done to remedy those that do exist

4) Acquire a better understanding of how media tools and programs are being used across a variety of everyday operational contexts in the nonprofit and public arts and culture sector (curating/programming, audience/community engagement, program planning and evaluation, development, financial management, even media technology applications used by independent/freelance arts managers and consultants

5) Demonstrate evidence of learning and both theoretical and practical engagement with these and other topic areas covered in class, particularly those most pertinent to the contemporary and community arts and culture fields.

Ghana Think Tank: A Participatory Media Case Study

Posted onDecember 7, 2011 
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Download a copy of my case study on Ghana Think Tank, a contemporary art and social practice project that re-imagines the problematic practice of traditional international development as an experimental problem-solving process and dialogue across divergent cultures.

Ghana Think Tank: A Participatory Media Case Study

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