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Mission and Goals

Guiding Practices


Peace Event



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Paul Hillman

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Phoenix Preparatory Academy

This Day of Celebration occurred on March 27, 2008, following three weeks of ongoing classes and personal reflection on the Honoring Box project by students in Ms. Lynn Ptacek’s classes assisted by Ms. Perralta.

The event was staged at Phoenix Preparatory Academy, a Phoenix inner city school, for approximately 100 AVID students in the 7th and 8th grades.

These youth are tracked for college placement and provided educational programming that assists them to attain their goal.

For three days in the month of February, Christy Puetz, artist in residence, was on site to present the Honoring Box art history, art inquiry, personal reflection and art making activity to all these students. Through the Cultural Arts Coalition support was provided this project in the form of coordination, documentation and purchase of Milagros (miracle charms).

Both Christy and judy butzine (co-founder and co-director of CAC) were available throughout this day to enjoy the personal statements from the heart concerning the symbolic representation of these individual material forms and the value of this project to each one of the participants.

The objective of the final day’s learning for this arts activity was clearly stated on the classroom board.

Ms. Ptacek introduced the sequence of events for the day at the beginning of all 5 classes.

Boxes with youths' typed reflections were beautifully arranged around the room for easy access.

Youth met in the "Talking Circle", a means of student interaction, which has been encouraged throughout the year.

One by one, each student holding their box and reflective statement talked from their hearts to the group.

They spoke with confidence in these circles from a place of trust that allowed stories to be revealed about self and family that few had previously heard.

Those students who were not able to complete their reflective statements due to the extremely sensitive nature of the information were assisted by Ms. Ptacek.

At times Ms. Ptacek was even having difficulty talking about those personal issues presented in the context of the individual writings.

Posters prepared by the Cultural Arts Coalition Administrative Staff during the workshops documented the three days of art making activities that led up to this day.

Networking arrangements to provide this workshop were initiated by Malissa Geer, ASU Downtown Campus, Masters of Nonprofit Studies student. Malissa just received the Leadership award from the YWCA for 2008. As an emerging leader in the field of Non-profit management and a graduate of Interdisciplinary Studies, Malissa interfaces with the community on a regular basis and makes connections to provide learning opportunities in the diverse inner city neighborhoods.

One of the goals of the Cultural Arts Coalition is to document and publish methods and examples of successful cultural arts delivery in academic and community settings.

Following discussion and giving respect to each youth’s story the honoring boxes and written statements were taken to the library (media center) for exhibition and to be enjoyed by parents during the next evening’s Parent/Teacher conferences.

Ms. Perralta had prepared additional posters to explain the process that had occurred to track the evolving creation of these boxes.

The Cultural Arts Coalition Nine Guiding Practices for Community Arts stresses experiential and expressive learning with its art making activities.

Reading is of primary importance so it is a part of every Cultural Arts Coalition’s arts process designed and facilitated in an academic or community setting.

The teachers and administrative staff were very complimentary of this total arts process and plan to not only continue it next year, but expand it from a 3 day activity to 5 full days facilitated by artist in residence, Christy Puetz.

Continuing with this is an overview of one of the three days worth of activities facilitated by Christy Puetz.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2008, at Phx. Prep, Read Book, begin Honoring Box with Christy Puetz

Ms. Ptacek begins class with overview of day’s objective and art making activity.

Christy introduces One Small Blue Bead book by Bryd Baylor and begins the story. This literature connects to the art making activity.

Christy then explains the project to all 30 students.

Youth select wooden boxes and materials to begin creating their honoring spaces.

Christy has made a connection to the concept that the choices one makes in selecting materials to adorn their boxes is like the choices one makes in life. They invove thoughtful and reflective problem solving inquiry and follow-up critical review for appropriateness.

Caring adults help to facilitate this process of critical thinking to promote positive outcomes.

These mentors exist everywhere. Youth must seek them out and heed their guidance.

Administrators are responsible to take those steps necessary to assess appropriate learning for teaching not only didactic lessons, but Life Lessons and Skills of Daily Living.

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences is a focus of understanding for experiential and integrated learning promoted during this multidisciplinary curriculum with music played in the background.

A bead could have been heard dropping in the classroom during this one hour session.

The Lesson unit for this sequential, developmental proceses of learning follows the Cultural Arts Coalition Nine Guiding Practices for Community Arts

Cultural Arts Coalition Nine Guiding Practices for Community Arts

When using these guiding practices for building and evaluating programming, it is important to understand that many, but not all of these practices, will be present in a single project. Over the course of a longer program or initiative, all of these practices may be evident in different aspects of the work. Please note that this is also a work in progress and is expected to transform through our dialogs about community arts practice. The Nine Guiding Practices are the result of a public participation process involving artists, educators, and community activists during 2005-2006 in Arizona.

Practice One: Participant Centered and Inclusive of All Ages and People.
Programming is responsive to, even directed or initiated by, the participant community.

Practice Two: Issue or Theme Driven.
Programming deals with themes that have a universal focus and promote dialogue and/or creating a rich, interdisciplinary learning experience in safe community settings.

Practice Three: Experiential and Expressive.
The environmental setting, the sense of place, engages children and/or adults in active learning and participation, drawing on a full range of communicative media: storytelling, writing, literature, dance or movement, theatre, music and visual arts.

Practice Four: Holistic and Authentic.
Participants encounter ideas, events and materials in meaningful contexts with complex, life lessons at the heart of the learning process.

Practice Five: Reflective and Evaluative.
Arts programming provides opportunities and vehicles for participants to reflect on feelings, thoughts and new information, as well as a means for community organizers and participants to evaluate themselves, others and the effectiveness of the process.

Practice Six: Social, Collaborative and Democratic.
Programming encourages learning in a social-cultural context, preferring cooperative over competitive approaches to achieving goals and creating a shared space for meaningful work with a collective purpose. It is about understanding self in relation to others and community.

Practice Seven: Developmentally Appropriate.
All programming is age appropriate, following child and adult development guidelines and providing learning environments that enable all participants to create connections between content areas and understand context as well as absorb content. Learning experiences involve investigative processes, self-monitoring and problem-solving skills that engage higher-order thinking.

Practice Eight: Relationship Oriented.
Relationship building and processes have priority over projects and products in the development, implementation and evaluation of community arts work.

Practice Nine: Celebrative.
Participants are recognized and honored both individually and collectively through community celebrations.