Friday, December 20, 2013

Thoughts from the 2013 Conference for Community Arts Education: Lindsey Buller Maliekel

Earlier this month, we presented the first entry in a series of reflections from our staff members on their experiences at the 76th Annual National Guild Conference for Community Arts Education. First we shared a reflection from one of our Teaching Artists, WT McRae, who touched on many of the workshops and sessions that resonated specifically for him as an educator and instructor.

Today we have feedback from Lindsey Buller Maliekel, the New Victory's Director of Education/Public Engagement, who speaks to some of the larger themes and philosophies being discussed by the community. Here's what she had to say about the experience:

Courtney J. Boddie: What excited you about the conference?

Lindsey Buller Maliekel: I loved getting to spend quality time with our colleagues from around the country who also work with large groups of Teaching Artists. The conversations that we had as part of the Teaching Artist Track with Eric Booth made me feel that the nation as a whole is starting to understand the amazing resource we have in these groups of highly trained, inventive and collaborative artists. Our Teaching Artists are the heartbeat (and brainwaves) of our award-winning Education program. It is their ideas that enliven our work with students, teachers and families. As I spoke with our national colleagues about the programs they are running and the ways they are utilizing their teaching artists, I became aware of a real movement afoot to raise the profile of teaching artists and the work they do and I am excited to be a part of it.

We were challenged by two of the National Guild award winners, Dennie Palmer Wolf from WolfBrown and Shirley Brice Heath from Stanford University to re-frame how we think about assessing the arts' impact on young people, away from test scores and toward assessing how the arts affect people. The New Victory has recently launched a new program where we will be looking at the impact of the performing arts on kids. Both of their speeches excited me. I can't wait to begin answering their challenge!

CJB: What was inspiring to you?

LBM: I was inspired by the student performers we saw. Every day young artists from around Chicago came to perform at the conference, and I found their commitment and enthusiasm completely infectious. It simultaneously made me think of my own high school choir days (and night and weekends) and the young people we work with here in New York City. Several of the performances brought tears to my eyes. Watching the focus and joy that performing so clearly brought to these young people inspired me immensely.

CJB: What tools, strategies, methods could you immediately apply to your work?

LBM: A visual arts organization, Marwen, in Chicago is doing some really interesting work around mentorship of their young participants and their Teaching Artists. I am excited to use some of their strategies in our Usher Corps program and with our Teaching Artist ensemble. They have some great ways of keeping in touch with their former youth participants once they go off to college (also helping to support them to stay in college!) that we are hoping to be able to adapt and use with our own young people.

CJB: What were some take aways for you?

LBM: This was the largest National Guild conference ever - which tells me that the field is growing, and that people are very interested in sharing their work and learning about best practices. I am also taking away that a lot of really great things are happening in Chicago!

CJB: What questions came up for you and/or are you still asking now after the conference?

LBM: The keynote was done by Don Marinelli - his work (mentioned in WT's responses as well) about the online world and the intersection with the arts was incredibly provocative. I still have a lot of questions about his work and how the world of digital gaming intersects with the work we do here at The New Victory Theater. We started a program called TXT Marks the Spot several years ago that combines a scavenger hunt, texting, and fun arts activities, but his speech made me wonder what the next possibility would be. How can the behaviors present in the online world be brought into the world of the performing arts?

Watch videos from this year's conference, featuring panel discussions and keynote speakers, here.


Courtney J. Boddie
Courtney J. Boddie, Director of Education/School Engagement, is responsible for the direction and growth of the New Vic Education Partnership program: Education Performances for New York City schools, Classroom Workshops, Teacher Resource guides and professional development. She also supervises the New Vic Teaching Artists. She is a Board member of the NYC Arts-in-Education Roundtable and co-chairs the TA Affairs Committee. She is on the adjunct faculty for the Educational Theatre Graduate Program at New York University, where she also graduated with a Masters in Educational Theatre.

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