The Arts to Empower

Saturday, May 1st 12:00 - 1:30pm

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Session Description

The Power of the Arts as a Place for Stealth Learning

When designed with intention, the arts provide a powerful pathway into young people’s ability to find meaning and voice. In this session, you will hear about the research behind learning through arts, examples of programs that have mastered incorporating SEL into the arts, and youth attending this session will share their art with you!

Numerous studies also assert that participation in the arts promotes positive outcomes in academics, social development, and cognitive capacity and that learning in the arts helps shape motivation, self-discipline, confidence, and perseverance.

Rather than declaring the behavior of struggling youth outrage and filling our correctional institutions with discarded young lives, supporting creative programs is a positive and vastly more effective approach. The best way we can show our commitment to youth is to empower them to live healthy and productive lives. If young people feel heard and respected, if they develop a sense of self that is not based on the messages of failure they have received, and if they can relate to the struggles and dreams of others, they can begin to create a positive future for themselves and for their communities.

Speaker Info

Erica Halverson 

Professor of Curriculum & Instruction 

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Erica Rosenfeld Halverson is a Professor of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has spent the past 15 years studying how people learn in and through the arts across a range of art spaces including youth-based arts organizations, museums, libraries, and maker spaces. Erica’s book, “How the Arts Can Save Education,” is coming out this summer from Teachers College Press and discusses how arts practices can remake what good teaching, learning, and the design of learning environments look like both in and out of schools. Her current research project is funded by the Wallace Foundation and is looking at promising practices and challenges in out-of-school-time arts organizations that work with young people who have historically been marginalized from mainstream institutions. She is also the mayor of Whoopensocker, a community youth arts program in Madison, Wisconsin focused on creative expression through writing, improv, and performance.

Speaker Info

Clare Ann Harff 

Executive Director 

MAPS Media Institute

Clare Ann joined MAPS in 2013. She holds a BFA from the University of Montana and has dedicated much of her career to non-profit arts management and fostering creative opportunities for youth. Past positions include co-founder/Executive Director the Clay Studio of Missoula, co-founder of 4 Ravens Gallery, and serving on numerous art and education non-profit board of directors. She is a professional daydreamer whose preferred office is outside.

Speaker Info

Theo Wilson 

Community Liason 

Art from Ashes

Theo Wilson, a.k.a slam poet, Lucifury, is a founding member of the Denver Slam Nuba team, who won the National Poetry Slam in 2011. He began his speaking career in the N.A.A.C.P. at the age of 15 and has always had a passion for social justice. Theo attended Florida A&M University, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Theater Performance. He returned to Denver and is now the Executive Director of Shop Talk Live, inc. The organization uses the barbershop as a staging ground for community dialogue and healing. After viral video success beginning in 2015, Theo grew his social media following to well over 68,000 people. Due to audience demand, he published his first book in 2017, “The Law of Action.” The book addresses some of the misconceptions about the law of attraction, and the role direct action plays in manifestation. In 2017, his TED Talk entitled, “A Black Man Goes Undercover in the Alt-Right,” was seen worldwide, amassing a total of over 12 million views. He has been featured on BuzzFeed, CNN, Good Day Canada, and TV One. Theo started volunteering at Art from Ashes in 2007. He has been a guest poet in the youth workshops and an advocate for our program for many years. Theo says he loves working with Art from Ashes because it’s a place to see art change young lives in real-time, altering destinies, saving relationships, and rectifying trauma.