Young Audiences National Conference 2024

 In The CAPE Blog

Earlier this month CAPE hosted the Young Audiences National Conference, which brought to Chicago over 200 teaching artists and arts administrators from across the Young Audiences national network. CAPE President of the Board of Directors Kyle Johnson opened the conference by sharing passion for the work, read his post here.

Thank you to keynote speaker Jim Duignan and plenary speaker Edra Soto for their powerful framings of community, contexts, and being.

Keynote Speaker Jim Duignan

Plenary speaker Edra Soto with Amy Rasmussen, Executive Director, and Mark Diaz, Associate Director of Education, In-school Programs and Exhibitions, at Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education

Following a land acknowledgement by North American Indigenous artist from the Klamath, Modoc, and Paiute tribes of Oregon and Nevada (and former CAPE staff) Noelle Garcia, conference attendees shared strategies for sustaining partnerships, strengthening programming in their respective organizations, and expanding on culturally responsive curriculum and projects.

Telpochcalli Orchestra led by teaching artist Renato Ceron

To kick off the conference, attendees were moved by a student performance by the Telpochcalli Orchestra led by teaching artist Renato Ceron, and a first time live music collaboration between teaching artists Jason Roebke and Lional (Brother El) Freeman got everyone off their seats!

Teaching artists Jason Roebke and Lional (Brother El) Freeman performing together for the first time at theWit Hotel

Erin Preston, Research Consultant, Mark Diaz, Associate Director of Education, and Brandon Phouybanhdyt, Program Coordinator at CAPE offered a chat focused on Arts Education and Materiality, which posed the question: What new understandings about art education, in light of learning spaces infiltrated with arts practices, are possible when the agency is reframed as tied to materials?

In addition to the conference’s panel discussions and presentations, attendees enjoyed outings to art spaces throughout the city. Thank you to the Hyde Park Art Center, The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, Southside Community Art Center, and the Chicago Cultural Center for hosting tours of their current exhibits.

Several CAPE partnerships featured their projects and offered interactive activities: teaching artist Jordan Knecht with New Sullivan Elementary community members Charles Bessett and Sophia Ulloa, and teaching artist Jessica Mueller with New Sullivan Elementary teacher Tracy Netter. Artists Niema Qureshi and Betsy Zacsek shared an experimental sound and drawing reflection station developed during our first WORKROOM at CAPE last summer.

Teaching artist Jordan Knecht showing conference attendees the rust-dying technique he and his Community Class participants use at New Sullivan Elementary

Conference attendees interacting with Niema Qureshi and Betsy Zacsek’s reflection station through sound and drawing

We were delighted to invite attendees to sample the zeitgeist of CAPE teaching artists, teachers, and students in yet more spaces. First they joined the creative energy at New Sullivan Elementary, welcomed with a rousing performance by Drumline before participating in three different CAPE classes: teaching artist Shenequa and Leticia Pineda’s in-school Artist/Researcher Partners Program class, and two after-school classes, African Dance led by Cheretta Hill-Botchwey (from Muntu Dance Theatre) and Carolyn Nicholson, and Visual Arts led by teaching artist Jelisa Davis and Tracy Netter.

Then we gathered at the CAPE space in Bridgeport, for an evening of live performances by our teaching artists and students alongside Perspective(s), an exhibition featuring elementary and high school student artworks from our after-school programs in Chicago and West Chicago public schools.

Through performances, teaching artists exhibited their creative practices, some collaborating together for the first time: Ayako Kato and Norman Long performed a dance and sound duo, then Norman joined Jason Roebke and Nick Meryhew for a noise set. Nick’s after-school Music Club students at North-Grand High School, with teachers Ms. Livas and Mr. Lopez, performed bossa nova classics as well as original songs as IceBreakerz!

Teaching artists Ayako Kato and Norman Long performing a dance and sound duo

IceBreakerz at CAPE! a student band from the CAPE Music Club at North-Grand High School, led by teaching artist Nick Meryhew and teachers Michelle Livas and Fabian Lopez

Thank you to our teachers, artists, and students for contributing their creativity in this survey of CAPE’s network for the Young Audiences National Conference.

Thank you Young Audiences National for giving us the opportunity to host the event. We enjoyed hosting this convening, and to be in intense conversations with our affiliates. We look forward to implementing new ideas into our work and keeping connected.

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