Three representatives of the Community Arts Team went to Washington, DC in February to attend the Any Given Child Exchange. Seventeen community teams were represented from Alaska to Florida, including first-year participants and a seventh-year participant. It was two days of lively and informative exchanges of ideas and best practices for arts integration in the schools. Our team included Dr. Yvonne Stokes, Director of Research & Evaluation at Indianapolis Public Schools; Gail Thomas Strong, Vice President for Community Engagement for WFYI-PBS; and myself as Director of Grant Services and Arts Education at the Arts Council of Indianapolis.
We learned from one another’s encounters, and built relationships with our peers around the country. We heard from policy makers and funders such as Dr. Ayanna Hudson from the National Endowment for the Arts, and others from across the country. Exchange participants learned about new rubrics for measuring student success; and we heard examples of innovative approaches to professional development for teachers. My biggest takeaway from the Exchange was that Indianapolis is now preparing to enter the most intensive phase of this five-year program: the “Capacity Building” phase where we will engage teachers and parents, test new ideas, create plans, link partners, and begin fundraising, too. I am so grateful to the Kennedy Center for bringing this opportunity to Indianapolis, and to the Arts Council of Indianapolis for asking me to be part of creating this change.
Ernest Disney-Britton, Arts Council of Indianapolis, Director of Grant Services & Arts Education