Connecting Schools and Communities to Build an Inclusive Arts Ecosystem


The shift to virtual learning for many young people during the past two years impacted the connection between classrooms and communities in an unprecedented way. While the two learning environments have always been inextricably linked, the shift in learning brought challenges and demands for education providers, learners and caregivers. This panel discussion explores what has worked during this adaptive period that can still work after the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists critically examine what needs to change to make learning environment models sustainable for the future. They also discuss how to build and support an arts education ecosystem that is more inclusive of community artists and partners and that reflects the communities and cultures of young people served. Participants at this panel conversation will gain a better understanding of the barriers that limit meaningful collaboration among classroom teachers, teaching artists and community arts organizations and the current opportunities to support a more inclusive arts education ecosystem.


Abigail Gómez, Chair, Virginia Commission for the Arts
Mike O’Bryan, Humanature
Miko Lee, Co-Executive Director, Teaching Artists Guild
Victor Sawyer, Co-Chair, National Advisory Committee and Fellowship Coach, Memphis Music Initiative

Access additional 2021 AEP Virtual Gathering resources here.

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