Delaware Arts Summit at Dover Downs

Yesterday I traveled down to the state capital for the 2011 Delaware Arts Summit. I was pleased to make the effort to attend this event. The Delaware Division of the Arts seems to be a generous organization, befitting the state’s small but vibrant size. Attendees were informed that this state is in superior arts-support/fiscal health shape, as opposed to our immediate neighbors. I’ve also gotten the impression over the past two months that the arts here are not immediately visible, yet still vibrant and active. They – and their representatives – are certainly very cheerful and welcoming when I/you do find them.

In the morning breakout session, I especially enjoyed being a part of this workshop:
Ready, Set, Engage: Harnessing the Power of the Arts to Change Your Community

Presented by ANIMATING DEMOCRACY, a program of Americans for the Arts
Find new meaning and purpose in your work as an arts administrator and/or artist. Join this session to learn how to address larger community issues through the arts by building relationships and engaging new partners. You’ll also be asked to consider a new view of arts engagement and ways the arts help develop social, human, and community capital. Whether you’re an arts administrator or an artist, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the power and potential of your work and new practical tools for engaging a wider audience. Facilitated by David Bradley, Theater Director, Arts Educator, Consultant, Philadelphia.

Mr. Bradley’s energetic facilitation, and the game attitude displayed by everyone else in the room, helped to awaken that proactive theatre/arts approach that I always appreciate. It didn’t seem like anyone was holding back their thoughts or opinions, and there was a very genuine display of enthusiasm and creativity throughout the session.

In the afternoon, I attended a workshop on social networking for artists. While I enjoyed this session too and thought it offered useful skills and pointers, there was one issue that continues to stand out for me. FACEBOOK IS NOT A NEW MEDIA TOOL. As someone who’s had his account since 2004, and misses the days when the site was a little-known underground phenomenon locked to only college students, I feel strongly about this. It seems that the wider public often treats the website as if it came out of nowhere a few years ago and has taken over the world. On a different note, I was amused to see that the facilitator chose a celebrity based in Marin (musician Zoe Keating) to spotlight how someone well-known spreads themselves across social networks.

While events like this may often have crisis or urgency as underlying words in their activities, I take the opposite approach and consistently find them inspiring and energizing to meet like-minded individuals and feel supported in creative crafts.


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