How often are we able to sit down with colleagues from across the state to share ideas about an issue that is of common significance? That is what the Oregon Arts Commission‘s 3rd Annual Arts Education Congress enabled last week.
This varied gathering of individuals committed to arts education—whether from the education community, the arts and culture community, or the government—spent the day reflecting on outstanding work in the field while also discussing future goals to support better opportunities for all Oregon students.
One highlight of the day for me was our afternoon session. Initially, we were grouped by region. Sitting at my Portland Metro table were Right Brain colleagues, a teaching artist and education administrators from local arts organizations. Prompted by our facilitator, Deb Brzoska, we were asked to brainstorm ideas of something we, as a group, would like to try to accomplish together to support arts education before next year’s Congress. Now this is a tall order—but the room was buzzing.
Our table primarily discussed our interest in creating connections with business groups and other entities concerned about the improvement of our education system. Not necessarily just in the arts, but improvement of the experience for the whole child. We’d like to see better bridges between different stakeholders, from what might be considered differing camps like arts and sports, in order to bolster each other in our common aim to improve education for all students.
Then the true highlight, and unique opportunity, for me took place. We all moved from our table groups to sit with two other attendees from different regions of the state. I sat with a teacher from Hood River and an artist from Central Oregon. It is not often that I am able to get out of my Portland Metro bubble and learn from what is happening in the rest of the state. We shared ideas and concerns, some of which had common threads and others that were unique to our locations. From our small groups, we then shared our thoughts across the Congress. There were many who focused on building better advocacy, messaging and support for arts education throughout the state. Some shared ideas for meetings and collaborations, while others shared ideas for public service announcements or bumper stickers. Getting more access to students and families throughout the state and possibly using the library as a means to connect with more people were additional ideas. These regional conversations focused on many topics. For a closer look, visit the Oregon Arts Education Forum.
If even half the people in the room take action for arts education across the state, this year something will shift for Oregon. That is the hope I left with and that I believe others will carry with them in our work in all corners of the state.
Thank you to Deb Vaughn and the Oregon Arts Commission for organizing this opportunity to come together, across regions and roles and disciplines, to put children’s needs at the center of the discussion.
For more information about the Congress visit http://www.oregonartscommission.org/oaec/
Carin Rosenberg is the Implementation Manager for The Right Brain Initiative. Read more about Carin and the rest of the Right Brain staff here.