Tennessee and Arts Education in Philadelphia


From Dani Brown, Arts Education Special Projects Coordinator —

Welcome to Philadelphia Last week, I was honored to attend the 2015 National Guild Conference for Community Arts Education held in Philadelphia. This conference was designed to bring together staff, teaching artists, trustees, students and supporters of the arts. They had their biggest turn out yet with over 800 delegates from all over the world. Together we explored innovative ideas and practical strategies for growing programs, increasing impact, participation, securing financial support and ensuring equality.

Over the four days of the conference I attended many sessions and have come back with shared best practices,  tips and actionable projects to advance the teaching artist field. We will continue building these projects as a collective to make substantive changes to the arts learning ecosystem. I also attended a leadership track session on how to make principled decisions big or small, acknowledging strategic considerations and core values of the decision maker and organization, as well as the impact of these decisions.

Rich HarwoodThe national guild conference had four keynote speakers and I had the opportunity to sit in on most of them. One that resonated with me was given by Rich Harwood. Founder and president of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, Rich’s transformational work has reached thousands of communities nationally and worldwide through concrete methods he has crafted and polished for more than 25 years.

His keynote was a great experience and I’m glad we will have Rich join us for our Collective Impact Conference here in Tennessee in June. Rich’s speech inspired us all to ask ourselves this important question: “Am I turned out today?” This opened a great dialog and theme for the rest of the conference. He spoke with us about turning towards our communities to have a greater impact and to move beyond our own walls. This taught us to align our vision, goals and key services with the aspirations of our communities and “how we can authentically do good.”

I had a great experience in one of our nation’s oldest cities and would look to sharing all of my experiences with you.

Fact about Philly: They don’t call them “Philly” Cheese Steaks here—just plain Cheese Steaks.