YA National Conference April 3 – April 5, 2024 | Chicago, IL
April 3 – April 5, 2024 | Chicago, IL

Breakout Sessions, Panels, & Chats

Thursday, April 4

Thursday, April 4 10:30am CT

Session A1: Natural Resources 
Jordan Knecht (he/him), Teaching Artist, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) 
Charles Bessett (he/him), Community Partner, CAPE 
Sophia Ulloa (she/her), Community Member, CAPE 

This session will focus on how our CAPE community class uses natural resources found within and around the school, including non-conventional materials (rusty metal, collected stories, and discarded clothing), to facilitate collaborative projects. We will introduce our concept of natural resources, which includes not only physical materials, but the resources found within each member of our class as well. Participants will come away with an expanded concept of what kinds of materials can be used creatively in a classroom. They will learn new collaborative strategies that, rather than be limited by physical ability, celebrate the unique abilities of each participant. They will also learn innovative techniques for non-conventional dyeing, including ice-dye, bleach discharging, and rust-dye. 

Session A2: Dismantling the Master’s House: Tools for Equitable Organizational Change 
Clockwork Janz (they/them), Director of Creative Talent + Equitable Partnerships, Arts for Learning Indiana 

There is no quick and easy fix to old and inequitable structures doing harm within your community, but there are many free tools out there for making equitable changes to your organization. Keeping on these tools, and being steady and persistent, are necessary to drive systemic change. This session will focus on becoming familiar with some of the free tools out there, setting goals for putting these tools into action, and building a network of accountability for moving this work forward. Also, one participant will come away with a copy of All About Love: New Vision by bell hooks, an important text for integrating oneself into a new space in their equity journey.

Session A3: The Healing Arts: Lessons from a Trauma Informed Healing Arts Theater Program 
Sam Leopold (he/him), Program Manager, Partnership with Children 
Katie Nicholson, Clinical Director, Partnership with Children

Join us for a dynamic and participatory session focused on the impact that community, healing, and theater collaboration have on academic and social emotional learning (SEL) in four elementary schools in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  Participants will learn about the collaborative program model we employ in our four-year, federally funded Student Voice and Engagement program. This session will center on lessons we have learned as we work to implement a program that hinges on collaboration across the school ecosystem to support students’ social emotional learning and English Language Arts skill development through the exploration of theater, using best practices in theater education, social work, and evaluation. Participants will walk away with best practices and tools for program design, partnership, and assessment of arts and SEL learning.   

Session A4: From Partnership to Programming: Engaging Community to Impact Program Design (Panel Discussion) 
Ellamonique Baccus (she/her), Executive Director, Arts Partners 
Claudia Gomez (she/her), Senior Manager of Programs, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning 
Tya Anthony (she/they), Director of Education, RedLine Contemporary Art Center

Learn best practices and innovative strategies from three organizations that collaborate with their communities to design and implement programs. Arts Partners’s Artists to Authors program was a competitive paid fellowship for local BIPOC artists and authors that resulted in the publication of culturally relevant books used by Arts Partners in arts integration programs in Wichita public schools. Spanish Sprouts is the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning’s preschool multi-arts initiative that works closely with educators, parents, and community stakeholders to deepen cultural connections to the communities served by CAL beyond the school day. RedLine Contemporary Art Center operates using a Methodology of Community Responsiveness that transforms ideas born from the community into implemented programs with the voice, experience, and leadership of constituents and participants inherently built into the process, creating pathways for community members to be integrated into all facets of RedLine’s programming.

Session A5: Focusing Your Organization’s Time and Effort on What is Most Essential

Facilitator: Bill Pearson (he/him), Board Chair, Young Audiences National / Board Member, Young Audiences New York

This interactive session will address current questions on the minds of many nonprofit leaders: How do you determine which functions within your organization can be outsourced? What are successful examples of outsourcing non-mission specific functions, such as human resources, finance, and technology? What are the best practices and common pitfalls to avoid when making this transition? In this conversation, participants will share their own successes and challenges and take away practical strategies for moving forward.

Thursday, April 4 12:15-1:00pm CT

Chat 1: Creative Aging in Action: Building Relationships & Creating Safe Spaces 
Facilitator: Jennifer Kubik, Program Coordinator, Think 360 Arts for Learning 

As an organization celebrating its 60th year, Think 360 Arts for Learning has expanded its offerings to include older adult (55+) programs. Considering our first-year audiences are now in this demographic, we recognize the need for arts engagement throughout the entire lifespan. Collaborating with our community partners to fit this need, we developed rich relationships with communities throughout the state to serve older adults. In this chat, we will discuss what constitutes a quality arts program for older adults, strategies for building and maintaining relationships, and how the Creative Aging movement combats ageism. 

Chat 2: Students as Partners in Program Assessment 
Matt Klepfer (they/them), Research Analyst, Metis Associates 
Susanne Harnett (she/her), Managing Senior Associate, Metis Associates
Andrea Allen (she/her), Research Analyst, Metis Associates

We can learn so much about a program’s impact through the expression and voices of the students we serve. Beyond the quantitative data from survey collection and other performance metrics, qualitative data can provide a fuller picture that can help inform both program design and advocacy. But how do we determine which qualitative measures to look at, and how do we know what to look for? In this chat we’ll discuss these and other common questions and collectively share out successful strategies for qualitative assessment.

Chat 3: Strategies for Building Effective Collaborations with Classroom Teachers 
Laura Marchese, YA Nationally Credentialed Teaching Artist, Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern PA 

Among Young Audiences teaching artists, a conversation arose about the challenges we sometimes face in building and nurturing relationships with classroom teachers around a mutual understanding of each other’s goals and boundaries. A teaching artist’s collaborative relationship with classroom teachers can make or break a residency and greatly impact student learning. The goal of this conversation is to create a list of shareable strategies for building effective collaborations with classroom teachers. 

Friday, April 5

Friday, April 5 10:25am CT

Session B1: The Power of Words + Perseverance 
Jessica Mueller (she/her), Teaching Artist, CAPE 
Tracy Netter (she/her), CPS Art Teacher, New Sullivan Elementary 

Presenters will lead participants through step-by-step instruction of an arts integration project for all ages. We will explore social emotional learning concepts through mantra writing (for self and others) and by conceptualizing unique hand lettering and layout designs for posters and embroidery. By delving into text-based art and embroidery, participants will engage in project-based learning and problem-solving skills to foster compassion and empathy (for self and others). This project and presentation were inspired by MotherWords, a mental health/embroidery project developed by presenter Jessica Mueller.  

Session B2: A Strong Foundation: Crafting a Dynamic Professional Development Framework for Organizational Growth
Juliane Toce (she/her), Director of Education, Arts for Learning Maryland
Katherine Dilworth (she/her), Director of Arts Integration / YA Nationally Credentialed Teaching Artist, Arts for Learning Maryland

Expand your organization without diluting your impact. People love what you’re doing! They want more of it! So, you grow. But in that growth, you lose some of the magic. Where did the magic go? Come walk through how we are maintaining our magic through rapid growth and expansion. Learn how you can ensure the quality of the programs you’re running by keeping your partners and staff steadfastly aligned with your mission and vision. Design a way to stay responsive to the needs of your unique community while deepening the relationships with teaching artists and gaining the trust of classroom teachers and schools.

Session B3: Authentic Partnership for Meaningful Change
Kimberly Washburn Motte, Arts Learning Director, South Carolina Arts Commission 
Regi Strickland, Regional Director, ArtsNOW Learning

In high-need, underfunded areas, leveraging the power of the arts through arts integration can transform teacher practice and student engagement. This session explores how ArtsNOW, an education nonprofit organization focusing on arts integration professional learning, and Arts Grow SC, a collective impact initiative of the South Carolina Arts Commission, forged an authentic partnership to create broad-reaching, meaningful change in primarily rural areas with limited access to the arts. Participants will learn the roles that each organization plays and the importance of a network of support and will work in groups to collaboratively workshop relevant strategies to inspire future mutually beneficial partnerships.

Session B4: Artistic Disruption: Arts for Learning Indiana’s ‘third space’ Initiative 
Ploi Pagdalian (she/her), Senior Director of Programs, Arts for Learning Indiana
Christopher Nunn, Teaching Artist, Arts for Learning Indiana
Melli Hoppe (she/her), YA Nationally Credentialed Teaching Artist, Arts for Learning Indiana

The “third space” project temporarily disrupts the school environment and the learning experience by showcasing transformative works of art from established local artists, integrating art not only into the physical space of schools in the Indianapolis metro area, but into the curriculum as well.  This spatial disruption prompts students to explore and create their own meanings, see things in new ways, and acknowledge the extraordinary. This interactive session will feature a presentation, film viewing, panel discussion, and a Q&A. In addition to gaining an understanding of the “third space” concept, participants will be encouraged to reimagine school environments as dynamic learning spaces and the role of the arts within them.  

Friday, April 5 – 11:35am CT 

Session C1: Youth As Partners: Collaborating to Create, Connect and Change 
Dana Carr (she/her), Chief Executive Officer, The Creative Impact Group 

During this session, we will explore best practices for incorporating and elevating youth voice in community arts-based programming. This kind of programming is the perfect medium for implementing a developmental approach that honors youth voices and input as true partners. By discussing the challenges and examining real world applications, we will discover the benefits of community-based arts programming in collaborative, youth-centered spaces. Participants will learn several tried and true methods for incorporating and elevating youth voice based in multiple developmental frameworks, coming away with creative project ideas that they can implement within their own programming.

Session C2: Designing a Human-Centered Brand for Impact 
Omote Ekwotafia (she/her), Founder, Otwo Design Studio 
Renee Benson (she/her), Director of Access, Belonging and Strategic Partnerships / YA Nationally Credentialed Teaching Artist, Young Audiences of Louisiana 

Community collaborations are an essential part of arts in education programming at all levels. A key component of a successful partnership is finding entities who share your goals and culture. In this session, participants will explore best practices in DEIAB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access, Belonging) and branding and begin applying them to their work through session activities. As a result, participants will learn how to collaborate in ways that are genuine and attractive not only to fellow organizations that share goals and culture, but to educators, artists, and administrators who want to participate in and support their work. Participants will come away with a stakeholder profile to facilitate understanding of key demographics; a branding template to gather the main messages of their brand; and a goal framework to reach desired impact. 

Session C3: Arts Lab: A Multi-year Collaboration between YANJEP and Community Partners 
Liz Winter (she/her), Education Operations Director, Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern PA 
Laura Marchese (she/her), YA Nationally Credentialed Teaching Artist, Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern PA 

Arts Lab, currently in its sixth year at Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern PA (YANJEP), is a multi-year project that began with the focus of impacting student attendance by creating an arts-rich school environment. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on different collaborations in their own organizations and hear about the multi-layered collaborations that structured this project, such as those between YANJEP and funders, Arts Champions, school administration, teaching artists and classroom teachers, and the larger school community. The session will include art-making, a video presentation, and multiple opportunities to move, discuss, reflect, and connect with other participants to inspire creative thinking.

Session C4: Collaborative Partnerships as a Culturally Sustaining Practice – The IDEAL Example 
Andrew Lusher (he/him), Artist and Programming Manager, Arts for Learning Virginia 

Spotlighting Arts for Learning Virginia’s innovative IDEAL residency, a ten-week out-of-school time program for students in grade five, this session will focus on collaborative partnerships as a culturally sustaining arts practice to support high-quality educational experiences. IDEAL (Intentional Designs of Expression in Artistic Languages) is an ideal example of bringing together professional arts practitioners, local arts institutions, and three school divisions, resulting in culturally sustaining arts practices rooted in collaborative community partnerships. Participants will explore the intersection between culturally sustaining practices and community engagement, and take part in a community asset mapping activity, identifying the cultural wealth of their own communities and imagining potential collaborative relationships. 

Friday, April 5 1:30pm-2:15pm CT 

Chat 4: What Does Professionalism Look Like to You? 
Alexandra Novak Foster (she/her), Education Manager, Arts for Learning Connecticut 
Clockwork Janz (they/them), Director of Creative Talent + Equitable Partnerships, Arts for Learning Indiana
Chris Espinosa-XYZ (he/him), YA Nationally Credentialed Teaching Artist, Young Audiences of Northeast Texas

In this conversation, we will explore what “professionalism” looks like across different cultural lenses in an effort to understand how to improve relationships and conversations between staff members, board members, and teaching artists. In a field where we all believe that students benefit from multi-modal learning, alternative learning practices, and alternative assessments, we often forget the importance of these practices in our daily lives and workplaces. We look to investigate how these themes can help us to all collaborate with more intention across our roles. 

Chat 5: Arts Education and Materiality 
Erin Preston (she/her), Research Consultant, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) 
Mark Diaz (he/siya/sila), Associate Director of Education, CAPE
Brandon Phouybanhdyt (he/him), Program Coordinator, CAPE

Student agency is a core goal of learning in the arts; yet, research on learning in the arts has long equated student choice with agency. A more recent line of research in arts education has used a materialist lens of disrupting the binaries of nature and culture, human and non-human actors, to understand agency by looking at how we learn with materials. This has implications for how arts educators think about 1) differences between choice and agency, 2) our own relationships with materials and our bodies, and 3) how materials can disrupt disciplinary boundaries. Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) has been exploring how this notion of materiality intersects with their work on arts integration in school and community settings, and this investigation has shaped their professional learning for staff, teachers, and teaching artists. In this conversation, we’ll dig into these ideas together as we consider our post-Covid learning spaces: What new understandings about art education, in light of learning spaces infiltrated with arts practices, are possible when the agency is reframed as tied to materials?