The 2016 Joint Arts Education Conference (JAEC) was held at Herberger Theatre Center in downtown Phoenix on Monday, October 24, 2016. Presented by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Arizona Department of Education, and City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, the full-day event drew over 150 teaching artists, educators, arts administrators and arts education advocates from all across the state.

jaec1aThe theme of JAEC 2016 was Connect and Respond, with sessions that focused on the evolution of Arizona’s youth demographics, and the design, creation, and sharing of tools and resources to develop cultural competency, systemic equity, and increased access and participation across all artistic dimensions.

Keynote speaker Deron Hall, Director of Partnerships and Operations at Memphis Music Initiative, opened the event with a stirring speech on what it means to ensure all have a “seat at the table.” Describing his own personal struggle to overcome the systemic obstacles in the path of his education, from preschool through graduate school and beyond, Hall invited attendees to consider the challenges their own students face.

panelaThe themes of equity and access introduced in the keynote address were further explored in a panel discussion presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts and sponsored by Helios Education Foundation and Americans for the Arts. Moderated by Hall, the panel featured Deborah Gonzalez, Chief Academic Officer of the ASU Preparatory Academies; Michael Kelley, associate professor of early childhood education at Arizona State University; Jaclyn Roessel, public programs and education director of the Heard Museum; and Alex Tuchi and Paula Alvarado, youth artists at Rising Youth Theatre.

The remainder of the conference led attendees through four breakout sessions:

In Common Language community organizer and educator Luke Black facilitated a discussion on how the arts education community in Arizona can create common language that strengthens our current and future classrooms, organizations, and programs.

breakout4a Youth-Driven Engagement demonstrated successful collaboration models connecting educators with their students and to their broader community. Led by Rising Youth Theatre, shared models and tools to create safe space and acknowledge power and privilege in youth/adult space.

Led by keynote speaker Deron Hall, Cultural Competency looked at the responsibility of arts and culture educators and administrators to know their students and their students’ communities.

Artistic Literacy and the New Arizona Academic Standards in the Arts examined the best practices of designing curriculum for artistic literacy–for arts educators, traditional classroom teachers, and community arts partners–and identified key strategies for richly embedding arts instruction across all academic disciplines. Reflecting the breadth of arts practice, the session was facilitated by a quartet of experts: Dr. Joan Ashcraft, Director of Fine and Performing Arts for the Tucson Unified School District; choral director Jacob A. Landi; arts integration specialist Trista Tamura; and Robert Waller, Arts Education Specialist for the Arizona Department of Education.

The Arizona Commission on the Arts would like to thank all who attended this year’s JAEC, the team of volunteers who ensured the day’s events ran smoothly, the amazing panelists and presenters who shared their wisdom and insight, our partners at Arizona Department of Education and Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, our hosts at Herberger Theater Center, and our friends at Arizona Citizens for the Arts.

See you again in 2018!