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Mission and Goals

Guiding Practices


Peace Event



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Paul Hillman

NYC @ NYU - October 11-13, 2007

One of the goals of the Cultural Arts Coalition is to generate connections across an expanding network of individuals and groups who embrace the mission and goals of the Cultural Arts Coalition. Participants also take a role in mentoring and leadership. Summary of event @ New York University by Robert Miley, Artist and Director of Release the Fear (

N Y C @ N Y U 2 0 0 7

The Cultural Arts Coalition & Release the Fear, Inc. were presenters for the 2007 Social Theory, Politics and the Arts International Conference. We were honored to be chosen from a diverse group of panelists selected from 26 different countries and 22 states across the United States.

Chosen from hundreds of compelling individual papers and presentation proposals received by the committee truly was a gratifying experience for us. An estimated 300 diverse, group leaders in their fields, brought with them vast knowledge: scholars in political science, economics and law; artists; public officials, policymakers and urban managers; performers, writers, multimedia technologists and cultural leaders attended. There were over 40 panels and roundtable discussions, persons sharing their research and cultural participation processes: new ways of thinking and integrating with their communities, reinforcing the Power of Arts to bring about Social Change and Social Justice.

2007 International Conference on Social Theory, Politics and the Arts was held on October 11-13, 2007, hosted by NYU's Wagner School of Public Service, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Research Center for Leadership in Action, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. STPA 2007 was housed at New York University's Kimmel Center on Washington Square in the heart of historic Greenwich Village.

From the moment we (Melanie Ohm, judy butzine and I) walked across Washington Square, we could feel the energy and enthusiasm from this incredible campus. Entering the Kimmel Center we were warmly greeted by Jason Franklin, Conference Director and Darren Flusche, Conference Coordinator. We gathered our schedules and information packets and found our way to a quiet corner on the fourth floor, to review and select from three days of a very impressive array of panels those which we were to attend.

Thematic Panels:
Theme 1: Artists, Activism and Social Change
Theme 2: Leadership in, of and through the Arts
Theme 3: Sustaining Cultural Industries and Organizations
Theme 4: Role of the Arts in Bridging Ethnic, Cultural and Regional Differences
Theme 5: Cultural Planning, Development, and Economics
Theme 6: Urban Revitalization and the Arts

The decisions were difficult as so many of the talks we wanted to attend were going on at the same time. We decided to split up and then share what we learned at the individual discussions during summary reviews.

Shortly after we sat down, Ruth Ann Stewart, the Chair of the S.T.P.A. 2007, walked around the corner and seemingly went out of her way to make sure she introduced herself and extended her warm welcome. This kind of initial contact set the ongoing ambience for the next 3 days of gatherings.

The conference began with an opening plenary session from 12:30.-1:30. The keynote speaker was Kate D. Levin, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Her primary focus was the importance of the Arts and their effect on the economy, identity and aesthetic of New York City.

Shortly after, I attended a round table talk: Social Entrepreneurship, How Creative Solutions Create Maximum Impact. In this session, Allison Cornyn led the panel with a topic of responsibility and creative solutions of how to look at the foods we eat and her perspective for how what we eat affects the world. Web site reference www.360

Then Susan Davis spoke. She represents the Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship, Ashoka (New York). She was categorizing separately (music- writing / arts). I interjected they are all ONE.

Also during this conversation questions were asked about how we can increase funding for something that is being considered the icing and is only funded after other budgeted items are paid. Once again I spoke concerning the thought of using the cake (icing) as a metaphor, "the Arts are the flour, or better yet the egg, that holds it all together," and THEY need to be considered as the primary substance. I also stated that I would love to see a campaign started worldwide, "if you could name one thing in our world we would have without Art or the creative process, you would win a $1 Million." Placing money in front of something as important as the Arts truly motivates people to think. And I can guarantee that no one can come up with anything because everything begins with a thought which starts the creative process/the importance of the Arts and its Mind Opening/Whole-Brain thinking, stimulating process.

The most impressive person on this panel was a woman, Ms. Rise Wilson, from the Laundromat Project in New York City.

Her commitment to the Arts injected into her presentation was passionate and engaging, revealing these incredible creative solutions for bringing Arts to the People. Her concept was to engage people in the Arts, at a time and place where they do daily chores - SOCIAL ENTREPENEURSHIP. Most people within the income bracket of this focus group do not have their own laundry facilities and need to spend time in a Laundromat. One of the artists she works with was displaying his line drawings and people actually engaged in asking him how much the drawings cost.

He replied, "the cost is an exchange of a drawing you do for me." I thought what a wonderful way to shed light on the true value of one's art, at the same time involving the creative spirit from the viewers. Rise and I had a wonderful conversation afterwards and we exchanged information on our organizations.

During a half-hour break between panel discussions it was an opportunity to get to meet some like-minded persons doing similar work around the world and exchange information and business cards.

From this first panel discussion, I attended The Creative Campus: an Emerging Agenda for Higher Education gathering. This discussion was from a research group that was being funded by Duke University Foundation. Their findings are of how the integration of Arts on campus plays an integral role in elevating higher education. In their research, their university classrooms which promote creative thinking and activities are more academically advanced than comparative classroom campuses in the U.S.A. Their goal is to promote this information and to expand learning opportunities by integrating the arts on other educational facilities. They found that people seeking higher education would be more apt to engage in the various modalities of the arts if they were given an opportunity. I will be sending them my research and how our curriculum with RTF addresses most of the education standards from math, reading and the sciences, etc. showing how reverse research came about through an inquiry about the curriculum and standards and how they relate. We found that our curriculum spoke to many of these traditional, educational standards including the arts. Proving that it is not a separate thing yet an integral key to the learning process.

Early Friday morning I went over my part of the presentation to make sure it was going to be as engaging as it should be, without glitches. I made my way to the subway to attend Bridging Differences by Entering Cultural Communities. In January 2007, from Rutgers University Press, came two emerging models: Consumers Translation model and the Humanists Translational Model. For example; the WACTAC, Walter Arts Center Teen Arts Counsel, has an incredible pilot interacting with the community through engaging teens in the community through their council on how to develop programs, empowering teens. The administration utilizes the input of what the youth want to see within their Art Center. This public participation process is gaining momentum across the country.

Shortly after that I had just enough time to take a deep breath and assist Judy and Melanie in preparing the room for our presentation. There were a couple people attended due to conversation generated in prior panel discussions.

(Please note the overview of the 4 power point presentations given by the CAC team at the end of this commentary.)

Our panel proposal "No Longer Invisible: Arizona Artists, Activists and Grassroots Leadership" was well received at the 2007 Conference. We engaged a group from Trinity Cathedral New York who want to interact with several high schools in the area and are very interested in the "CAC's Nine Guiding Practices for Community Arts Engagement". Lots of thoughtful questions and an exchange of a slew of business cards / info, afterwards from other attending groups, who expressed interest in the CAC's community cultural work. The following is my part of the presentation featuring 60+ slides in a power point /multi media presentation:

My Abstract: Robert Miley is an artist and founder of Release the Fear, engaging participants of all ages in a process of communicating and understanding individual differences of perspective, utilizing the most visceral forms of critical thinking and communication...the ARTS!

For 18+ years, through community arts engagement, the artist has actively pursued a comprehensive, repetitive framework of programming that stimulates thought-provoking dialogue and creative activities aimed to facilitate participants to bridge their thinking to intuitive and heartfelt solutions---letting go of fears that block effective problem solving. Through ongoing participation in the Cultural Arts Coalition (CAC), the artist engages in an exchange of information and thoughtful leadership that benefits the community in creating effective tools for participatory arts delivery. The artist was involved in identifying the CAC's "Guiding Practices". This paper highlights his evolution as an artist for social change seeking to make the multiple facets of his work publicly visible.

That evening I received a treat as I was invited by a publicist friend to go to an art show down at the Battery area of town. This area is in re-developed since Sept. 11th and is near ground zero and Trinity Church. I engaged with quite a few people, Artisans, Actresses, Directors, Singers and many Socialites from near and far. The biggest treat of the evening, besides seeing my friend and the Art was meeting my all-time Heroine, Eartha Kitt.

Saturday morning and back to the conference Art and Civic Democracy. It opened with a wonderful presentation from Lisa Phillip-Harbutt, from the Community Arts Network, South Australia otherwise known as "CAN". Her presentation was multimedia and very well done. Topic was "How To Develop Society Ahead of Its Time" and "How the Arts Work as Change Agents for the Future". She utilized the shape and metaphor of a magnifying glass as a symbol ("O") to look within and into a subject. She proposed a question what is Art? Then delivered the answer, "Art is a verb ~ art is creative activity that occurs, art adapts to change".

Emergence of issue perceived change and how the Arts affect change was plotted on a grid, raising awareness over a 30 year time period. Conversation continued on how the arts have causes systemic change over this 30 year time span in Australia.

Dan Eugene Rutiu from Babes-Bolyai University Romania, presentation was on Artists and a Democratic Regime, the Elite on the Margin or Workers of the Future? His presentation was not quite as colorful or engaging as Lisa's, yet was quite informative, talking about how arts affect social change and compel an idea to be integrated in community dialogue through forums which by its motive can change the world, and how this action affects political responsibility. Discussion arose on the "Paradoxical Effect" of social critique and artists' critique... Since the romantic generation the artists incarnated the valorization of the singular as well as the right to a privileged generation. It is the moral responsibility of the artist to carry that message forward. During the Communist regime, the artists were charged with the responsibility as change makers and it is now the current responsibility of these artists and the arts is to carry this ethical and moral responsibility forward.

To conclude this panel discussion Daphine Tepper, from the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage from Belgium, spoke of a European culture and how artists and arts professionals are infusing policymaking on a European level. This organization is promising a long-term, agenda item and how this action of artists is going to be a long-term effective group of change agents to set into action social justice. She also spoke of the fear in joining and how various countries are finding strength, autonomous social dialogue and social partnership through already existing local, cultural community entities.

Reflecting back, I feel like I just took a trip or cultural journey around the globe in three days through experiencing this incredible information and like minded people who are making a difference in the world through the Arts.

Robert J. Miley






PANEL Title (no more than 20 words):
No Longer Invisible: Arizona Artists, Activists & Educators identify Guiding Practices to self-organize; support Grassroots Leadership; activate Community Arts
Proposed Track (Please circle, highlight, or underline your selection):
1. Artists, Activism and Social Change
2. Leadership in, of, and through the Arts
3. Sustaining Cultural Industries and Organizations
4. Role of the Arts in Bridging Ethnic, Cultural, and Regional Differences
5. Local/Regional Revitalization through the Arts

FIRST PAPER Title (no more than 20 words):
Community Arts in Dialog & Action - Cultural Arts Coalition participants document their work, reflect on "Nine Guiding Practices"
Abstract (no more than 150 words):
Artists, educators, businesspersons, activists, and policymakers have the capacity to work together to build awareness about shared issues; acknowledging that the arts and art-making are integral to community and can serve as a vehicle for social change. The Cultural Arts Coalition (CAC) has identified "9 Guiding Practices for Community Arts", developed in a public-participation process over six months, recognizing community arts programming that is: participant-centered and inclusive; issue or theme driven; experiential and expressive; holistic and authentic; reflective and evaluative; social, collaborative, and democratic; developmentally appropriate; relationship-oriented; and celebrative. Community Arts in Dialog & Action, a booklet compiled by the CAC, documents how these practices are being engaged in the greater Phoenix area. This paper explores the guiding practices and their context in the field through the voices of Arizona artists, educators, businesspersons, activists, and policymakers. The reiteration of shared community practices has the power to define policy.

Primary Author:judy butzine
Position/Title:Co-Founder of the Cultural Arts Coalition
Organization/University Affiliation:Cultural Arts Coalition
City, State, Country:Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Additional Authors (if applicable):Melanie Ohm and Carmen De Novais

SECOND PAPER Title (no more than 20 words):
The Arizona Cultural Arts Coalition Guiding Practices: Shaping Curriculum, Activating Learning in the University Classroom, Developing Leadership for Social Change
Abstract (no more than 150 words):
At Arizona State University, a mixed class of students ranging from junior-year through doctoral studies, ethnomusicology to geology, and experienced activist to tentative volunteer set out to discover together Community, Culture & the Arts. The instructors decided this would be as much a balance of theory and practice as possible in the course of a semester. Students would interact with community artists, activists, and facilitators; explore and examine community environments; and begin to develop the content and context of their individual work through class readings, dialogs, and projects. The newly identified "guiding practices" of the Cultural Arts Coalition shaped the curriculum, the classroom experience, and the field experiences. This paper provides an overview of the curriculum with particular attention to experiential learning inside and outside of the classroom, touching on the challenges of this approach, and following the path of a couple of class alumni a year later.
Primary Author:Melanie Ohm (instructor)
Position/Title:Principal partner
Organization/University Affiliation:Concepts Consulting Group, Inc.
City, State, Country:Tempe, Arizona, USA
Additional Authors (if applicable):judy butzine (instructor)

THIRD PAPER Title (no more than 20 words):
The Artist-Family as Community Organizer - A Latina's Perspective on Family and Community, developing Coalition & defining a Way of Work

Abstract (no more than 150 words):
It would be difficult to untangle the roots of the DeNovais-Guerrero family from the foundations of the Phoenix community. The Guerreros have been here for generations; and when this Brazilian artista joined the Guerrero family, she joined the community as well. How does a family of Latino artists engage community, create social awareness, preserve culture? In large ways by organizing events such as Dias de Los Muertos at the renowned Heard Museum and La Procesión through city streets to commemorate children lost to violence. In ambitious ways by forming nonprofits: Xicanindio Artes, Inc.; Cultural Coalition, Inc.; and the Cultural Arts Coalition (CAC). But most intimately, through the family. The artist talks about her remarkable family, creating social structures that reinforce communities, coalition building in the Phoenix Latino cultural community; and the CAC's "Nine Guiding Practices" as a way of work.
Primary Author:Carmen DeNovais
Position/Title:Executive Director
Organization/University Affiliation:Cultural Coalition, Inc.
City, State, Country:Mesa, Arizona, USA
Additional Authors (if applicable):Melanie Ohm

FOURTH PAPER Title (no more than 20 words):
An Artist speaks on "Rediscovering a Spirit of Possibility," working for social change, contributing to a community of practice

Abstract (no more than 150 words):

Robert Miley is an artist and founder of Release the Fear, engaging participants of all ages in a process of communicating and understanding individual differences of perspective, utilizing the most visceral forms of critical thinking and communication... the ARTS! For 18 years, through community arts engagement, the artist has actively pursued a comprehensive, repetitive framework of programming that stimulates thought-provoking dialogue and creative activities aimed to help participants bridge their thinking to intuitive and heartfelt solutions, letting go of fears that block effective problem solving. Through ongoing participation in the Cultural Arts Coalition (CAC), the artist engages in an exchange of information and thoughtful leadership that benefits the community in creating effective tools for participatory arts delivery. The artist was involved in identifying the CAC's "Guiding Practices," and this paper highlights his evolution as an artist for social change seeking to make the multiple facets of his work publicly visible.
Primary Author:Robert Miley
Position/Title:Artistic Director/Founder
Organization/University Affiliation:Release The Fear, Inc.
City, State, Country:Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Additional Authors (if applicable):