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New Paltz to host national conference on art education: Collaboration links school districts and community arts organizations

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The Art Education program at the State University of New York at New Paltz will explore the collaborations between school districts and community arts organizations at a national conference, titled “Youth and Community Development: How the Arts Serve Economically Impoverished Communities,” June 11-13, on the New Paltz campus.

Throughout the weekend, leading researchers, educators and artists from around the nation will make presentations about their research, serve as panelists in group discussions, and offer step-by-step advice toward creating and implementing similar ideas in local school districts in the Hudson Valley. Community arts organizations from Ulster, Orange and Dutchess counties will present workshops and seminars for conference participants, developing greater awareness of the work that these organizations are currently engaged in with children and adolescents.

The conference is intended for students, art educators, school administrators, artists, arts organizations, and the general public who may be interested in developing new projects.

Keynote speakers include:
• Shirley Brice Heath, producer of the documentary, “ArtShow,” which explores four youth-based arts organizations in New York, Boston and rural communities of Kentucky and northern California. Heath is professor of English and dramatic literature, and a linguistic anthropologist at Stanford University;
• Glen Coutts, International Society of Education through Art (InSEA) world councilor and reader in art and design education at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, specializes in community programs and presents them in his new book, “Art, Community and Environment: Educational Perspectives,” co-edited with Timo Jokela, University of Chicago Press;
• Elizabeth Delacruz, 2009 recipient of the June King McFee Award and the National Art Education Association’s Art Educator of the Year Award. Delacruz’s research focuses on the interface of visual arts education with contemporary art practices, social theory, multicultural education and community, and new media/technology. She is Associate Professor of Art Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Editor of Visual Arts Research.

Early-registration fee for the three-day conference is $100 ($85 for United States Society for Education Through Art (USSEA) and InSEA members) and ends on May 1. After the deadline, conference fees increase by $15 in each category. For more information and to register, visit the USSEA registration page,

Coordinator of the conference, Dr. Alice Wexler, associate professor of art education at New Paltz and chairperson for the USSEA Outreach Committee, and David Cavallaro, assistant to the dean of Fine and Performing arts said that, in the current economic climate, school districts are forced to make deep cuts in programming and to place limited financial assets in service to standardized tests. This policy leaves few resources for arts education, which run the risk of being labeled non-essential and even an extravagance. Yet more and more, studies link education in the arts to powerful modes of thinking that is rarely developed elsewhere in the curriculum. Seeking to introduce innovative opportunities within these constraints, art educators and school districts have established successful partnerships with community arts organizations to achieve remarkable outcomes, they concluded.

The conference is co-sponsored by the United States Society for Education Through Art (USSEA) and its international equivalent, International Society of Education through Art (InSEA).