March 20-21, 2017
Over this past weekend I had the honor of attending the Americans for the Arts, Arts Advocacy Day conference down in Washington D.C. with a few of my lovely classmates. Originally this trip was for a class called Making a Case for the Arts, one that I’m not in, but luckily there was an empty slot that I was happy to fill. Though a short trip, it was truly inspiring and has pushed me to keep fighting for my passion like it is my job (which hopefully, it will be).
Sitting it a conference room, with 700 of my closest friends, noshing on croissants and muffins, we eagerly sat down to start our day. The main topic was the future of the NEA and NEH, a topic I’ve discussed here before. My class mates and I already had a handle on a lot of the policies, facts, statistics, and laws that were being discussed throughout the morning but it was good to know that so many of us felt so passionate about supporting the arts. Along with that, we discussed arts education which has always been a favorite topic of mine.
My arts education in elementary-highschool was slim to none. We had few music courses and even fewer arts classes as the years went on. Schedules were tight so not everyone was able to explore certain areas of the arts like photography of videography. Having an arts education is crucial and is valuable in a multitude of ways. Creativity is now one of the top skills looked for in jobs today and the arts are a perfect gateway for that. It was comforting to know that everyone at this conference agreed with that. But my biggest issue was, okay so they know that we need more classes devoted to the arts, and more accessible programs offered to a range of students everywhere, but what about who is teaching those programs? Often times, the teachers of the arts may be experienced artists but can’t teach what they know. Or you can get the flip side of that, which is a teacher who preaches what they can’t practice. My biggest hope is that we can focus on having an equal balance of tacking and artistic experience which will allow for a better connection between student and teacher.
After the conference, we broke off for free time and of course, I went with some friends to see the glorious monuments. Now I had already seen these back when I was a senior in high school but my one friend had not and honestly I was thrilled to be going back. We walked along the river side until we go to the Lincoln Memorial which also faces the Washington Monument. We all were just stunned at how beautiful everything was. As my friend Abby said, “You can feel the history, you guys.” and for a moment, it just felt surreal. Here we were in Washington D.C. advocating for the arts as the only undergraduate students in the conference, surrounded by history. I felt like I was really a part of something, like I was home.
We ended our evening with the Nancy Hanks lecture featuring special guest, Darren Walker in the Kennedy Center. His speech was breath taking and filled my heart with hope for a better future of the arts and the world. He was honest, articulate, and filled with a passion that touched us all. It was beautiful, and exactly what I needed. It made me proud to be an artist, arts advocate, undergrad, arts manager, and millennial. I just know there is so much I can do for my self and for the arts, and I can’t wait to go forth and do it.
See ya soon,