Every two years since 2008 the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Arizona Department of Education have planned and co-presented the Joint Arts Education Conference (JAEC), a day of professional development for teaching artists, arts educators, school administrators, and others working with young people in the arts. For JAEC 2018, the organizers endeavored to demonstrate the principles of the conference’s central theme: Creative Youth Development (CYD), a recent term for a longstanding theory of practice that integrates creative skill-building, inquiry, and expression with positive youth development principles, fueling young people’s imaginations and building critical learning and life skills.

In other words, they placed young people in the lead.

Composed entirely of young people, ages 15-18, the JAEC Youth Advisory Board guided a collaborative effort to plan the conference agenda, design break-out sessions, and deliver opportunities for attendees to explore the potential of student-centered learning and develop culturally responsive curriculum.

“I hope that the attendees are able to learn about the different ways they can learn to better serve their students and understand the ways in which young people have to maneuver not only the educational system, but the world,” said Thameenah “Ty” Muhammad, a 17 year-old teaching artist and Youth Advisory Board member. “And even though this is only a one day conference, [I hope] this will spark a conversation between young people and adults about power, shared leadership, and accountability.”

According to the Creative Youth Development National Partnership, “Young people thrive when they have opportunities to maximize their creative potential. Research shows that creative youth development supports young people in developing the personal, social, and intellectual skills that are critical to success in life, school, and work.”

And yet, youth are rarely granted access to the spaces where decisions about their welfare and development are made, let alone invited to contribute to these conversations.

“Creative Youth Development changes the student/educator relationship because it actually gives students the voice they deserve in their own education,” said Elisa Radcliffe, Arts Learning Manager at the Arizona Commission on the Arts. “Using CYD creates a more equitable relationship.”

Beyond enlisting young people to plan and present JAEC 2018, for the first time in the conference’s history, young people were invited to attend the conference free of charge, thanks to funding support from APS. Throughout the day, Young attendees were positioned as experts with valuable insights, while adults were invited to ask questions, listen, and learn.

In the words of one young participant, “the adults asked questions and shared their own experiences. It was nice to see them being so interactive and taking notes. They were listening and working with us to present new ideas to our classroom environments.”

“I think it was helpful for both the adults and the youth to collaborate in creating a lesson plan,” reported an adult participant. “The youth were able to see what questions the teachers must ask themselves when preparing to teach, and we adults were able to see what sort of outcomes the youth were interested in achieving.”

JAEC 2018


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1 day ago

Arizona Commission on the Arts

Thank you to Verde Valley Leadership, Inc. for inviting us to present at their monthly Development Day this afternoon. Our Programs and Grants Coordinator Brad DeBiase co-presented with ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts' Ricky Araiza on the role the arts can play in addressing complex community challenges.

Meanwhile, our Artist Services Manager Gabriela Muñoz participated (virtually) in a panel on “Dance + Art in the Sonoran Desert” at the National Performance Network Annual Conference in Pittsburgh. The panel, organized by Yvonne Montoya, a Tucson-based dance artist and founder of Safos Dance Theatre, also included M. Jenea Sanchez, a media artist and co-founder of Border Arts Corridor in Douglas, and Erin Donahue, a Scottsdale-based dance artist and arts administrator. The panel discussed "the challenges and opportunities of collaborating across 3 different cities to serve and collaborate with artists in communities that have been historically marginalized and isolated."
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