July 2023

Rachael Dwyer (Australia), Karla Estela Rivera (USA) & Rachael Jacobs (Australia)

Anti-Racist Practices for Teaching Artists

Session Synopsis

In this transformative Think Tank session, teaching artists and activists gathered to reflect on their work's impact, creating spaces that are joyful, equitable, and welcoming for marginalized communities. The backdrop of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests served as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for racial justice in the arts.

The session began with a heartfelt acknowledgement of the First Nations' land and sovereignty, emphasizing the vital role of arts in fostering meaningful connections and cultural learning for all students. Expertise in project management and research communication strategy provided valuable insights on advocating for social change through arts education.

Throughout the day, participants delved into lived experiences of marginalization in the arts, exploring evocative artworks and engaging in a powerful collaborative poetry writing exercise. The 'brave space' provided a safe and supportive environment for honest conversations about anti-racist teaching artistry, encouraging a collective commitment to progress.

The Think Tank culminated with the introduction of a valuable resource guiding teaching artists to ask critical questions of themselves and their practices. This resource aimed to move beyond superficial 'statements of solidarity' and pave the way towards creating artistic spaces that embraced equity and belonging for all.

Following the session, the hosts extended a warm invitation to the teaching artists to participate in a pilot process towards anti-racist practice. This process will involve reading, creative responses, critical prompt questions, and reflections, accommodating various time zones to ensure broad participation. The collective feedback from this working group will be crucial in refining processes, and with permission, selected examples will be included in a shared resources to inspire and empower others.

This unforgettable event sparked meaningful dialogues and galvanized a community of teaching artists committed to driving positive change through the arts. As they departed, Rachael Jacob stated the following: “the people who need this most are the ones not here,” which inspired participants to continue their journey towards creating a more inclusive and anti-racist artistic landscape, knowing that together, they could make a lasting impact on the world.

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