Advancing Policy by De-siloing Arts Education & Disability Studies: Examples in Kansas and New York


The Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs began convening a leadership network in 2018 to foster dialogue and advance the work of individuals supporting arts education for students with disabilities across the country. Out of this work, the leadership network gained a better understanding of the intersecting fields of arts and culture, education and youth development, and disability studies. In addition, the leadership network has produced key publications, including a research and policy agenda and a field guide. During this session, attendees will learn about the intersecting fields and effective strategies for policy development related to some of the most pressing issues facing the field and hear from leaders in two state-based contexts: Kansas and New York. Policymakers, researchers and practitioners alike will envision the futures of this intersectional field. Presenters focus particularly on the state educational policies related to increasing access to arts learning opportunities for diverse and intersectional student populations and the education of future arts educators who will serve this population of students.


Elaine Bernstorf, Professor of Music Education, Wichita State University
Elise Sobol, Director, Music Education and Visiting Associate Professor, New York University
Rhoda Bernard, Managing Director, Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs

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Author profile

Title: 2280 Pasos Bajo un Cielo Nublado | Artist: Hernán Jourdan | Medium: Film

When I was asked to create a work of art exploring literacy, I wanted to create a dance but I had no dancers or a studio, so I chose to use my own body in the space I had, my yard. Fluent Nature is video of micro-choreography that explores what cannot be expressed with words, how nature has its own language, and how placing the human body in nature changes the story.

Title: What Is Me and What Is Not Me | Artist: Alex Chadwell | Medium: Music

My thinking on arts and literacy centers around the concept of literacies and artmaking as both sense-making and meaning-making processes that organically and inevitably overlap, intersect, and reciprocate. Compositionally, What is me and what is not me is a sound collage of sorts (there is no notation for the piece, and I'd be hard pressed to recreate it accurately) that abstractly and aurally represents the relationships between literacies and artmaking.

Title: A Curious Honeybee | Artist: Gideon Young | Medium: Film

Offering welcome through traditional and digital elements of literacy, A Curious Honeybee provides an experiential learning environment by activating visual, musical, natural, and emotional literacies.

Title: Tercera Llamada | Artist: Karilú Forshee | Medium: Audio

La Carpa Theatre is a project that I am currently directing in the Detroit Latinx community. The project aims to strengthen and uplift youth voices through devised theatre, in the style of the Mexican Carpas. This audio was created in the theatrical environment envisioned for our project. The ways in which literacies are re-defined are at the heart of La Carpa Theatre's mission.

Title: Literaseas | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite and ink on paper with digital edits

Title: A Riddle | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits

Title: False Binaries | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits