After discussing, in our five eddies, what we consider the BEST PRACTICES, however fledgeling, in "restoring the arts as an integral part of community life and healing society," we agreed that the following were important practices to be explored and shared among community/arts workers :

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Paul Hillman

  • Dreams must be shared as a first step to transformation. Use the arts to give voice to dreams
  • Personal and community stores translate history and offer insights about the future; storytelling engages everyone regardless of their "learning style;" truths can be easily extracted from stories
  • Arts can and must take place in any venue where people gather - streets, garages, businesses, homes, shelters, bus depots - as well as in traditional venues
  • Artists should take responsibility for mentoring younger artists in this work
  • Theater - especially the theater of Brazilian activist Augusto Boal - is powerful; Boal's work is especially important to investigate as he as already developed techniques to link the artist to the community, enabling the community to explore crucial issues in new creative ways
  • Arts can and should be infused throughout learning of all "subject matter" as well as in any lifelong learning endeavor
  • Art - literally - heals diseased people as well as diseased societies; the link between arts and medicine should be explored
  • Community [cultural] needs assessments and action plans should be conducted in every community, broadly inclusive in both the exploring of needs and the suggesting of solutions
  • Marketable arts products can be important in developing local economies; in a larger sense, The arts role in grassroots capacity-building
  • The arts should be used by community planners, for people can envision their future in ways that other "planning" techniques cannot do as powerfully
  • "Ritual art/ritual play" is a powerful tool for workers in the social arenas and should be used
  • We need to explore and embrace technology, both as a way to communicate what we do as well as a way of inventing new creative forms
  • We need to engage in deep audience research - what is meaningful to what people?Some of this research has begun, and should be expanded.
  • The arts are linking different sectors striving to connect, or which don't even know that they are trying to connect or needing to connect
  • Evaluation is itself a creative process, and we need to consider evaluation up front in planning our endeavors, in order to further communicate the importance and power of what we do

In order to begin to assume role which may be new for many artists and many community organizations and community members, EDUCATION AND TRAINING are essential, for we assert that the most effective "learning societies" are those where the arts are infused throughout the process of living, from birth to death. One group saw artists who undertake transformative work to be akin to a society's "shaman," but for that to happen, the individual must first assume a self-aware mantle of responsibility and the community must recognize the need for its shamans, permitting them to play both their role as healer and as questioner. If this is to happen it must happen throughout a community and society:

  • Arts must become infused throughout all learning - whether it's used as a way (which, by the way, is proven effective) in teaching math, or a way in which neighbors can learn to talk together.
  • The notion of "arts and education" must be considered a lifelong journey.
  • There is a triangle of teacher-artist-learner which should be explicit at all times
  • Generations can teach one another through the arts
  • The arts access several types of "intelligences," all of which are necessary for wholeness
  • We need to create appropriate environments, and the arts can do that
  • The arts honor the wisdom of the entire community
  • The arts can link "school learning" and "home learning"
  • "Artists" and "teachers" have much to learn from one another; this learning should be explicit and ongoing
  • We need to figure out why, it seems, many educators are threatened by artists, and address this
  • The "arts" and "non-arts" sectors need to develop shared language
  • Best practices should be captured and recorded in a commonly-accessed place - a web site perhaps?
  • An explicit art-curriculum link should be articulated and distributed among arts workers and formal educators
  • There are five types of wisdom which an effective arts worker must have in the service of community transformation - innate wisdom about the worth of all people; plus the wisdom that comes of accumulating valuable information from disciplines such as social work, business, political science and synthesizing this information; plus the wisdom growing out of experience; plus the wisdom that comes of being apprenticed to a more experienced or older artist over a period of years; plus the wisdom that comes of reflecting and re-synthesizing all of the previous four. Training opportunities and time must be created for these.

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