The WAAE or World Alliance for Arts Education held its 6th World Summit on Arts Education in HangZhou China. With over 400 delegates it was easily the largest world summit to date and was attended by national and international delegates. Each session had equal number of Chinese and English speaking presenters with simultaneous translation for the keynotes and contiguous translation during all other sessions. The spectacular opening and closing ceremonies showcased a wealth of talent across all ages and all arts disciplines, from several regions of the country. It was very impressive to say the least – made even more impressive with the outstanding architecture of the three year old campus for the Zhejiang Conservatory of Music. Stunning buildings on an equally stunning site.
WAAE is comprised of four arts education organizations: InSEA, ISME (music), IDEA (drama/theatre) and WDA (dance). Our history goes back to 2006, ten years ago, when UNESCO was holding the first world congress on arts education in Lisbon, Portugal. In preparation for that event, the presidents of InSEA, ISME and IDEA came together to write a response to the UNESCO Road Map. Seeking greater recognition for arts education through UNESCO, WAAE was formed and a year or two later, WDA joined to cover art, music, drama and dance education. A narrative history can be found on the WAAE website at: waae.edcp.educ.ubc.ca Members of these four organizations are automatic members of WAAE. As a result WAAE does not have a membership per se yet is directly linked to InSEA and our sister organizations. WAAE is committed to working with UNESCO foci whenever possible.
Joining a WAAE World Summit for Arts Education offers an opportunity to meet arts educators from across the disciplines interested in UNESCO related themes. The World Summit theme was on “Arts Education for Sustainable Development.” The presentation that stood out the most to me on this theme was InSEA member Ernst Wagner’s keynote where he detailed several case studies from around the world that highlighted one or more of the following dimensions:
a) ecological/environmental dimension [consumption, production, settlements],
b) cultural dimension [diversity, heritage, lifestyle], and
c) social dimension [inclusion, equality, peace]. I found these distinctions instructive as I listened to discussions and sessions during the rest of the congress.
While I was not able to attend all of the InSEA member sessions, several stood out to me. Sue Girak’s (Australia) recycling project demonstrates how recycling materials can be usable and reusable materials for art educators. Local authorities collect materials specifically for use by artists for this project – it is a truly remarkable project that more communities should implement. We should all realize our impact on the environment.
Marta Contrelas Valle (El Salvador) shared a incredible workshop on sustaining cultural practices from her country. Participants danced, made art, and sang as they embodied a method of sustaining ourselves as cultural workers.
Geraldine Burke and Clare Hall (Australia) shared an intergenerational project that demonstrates sustainable creativity for lifelong learning while recognizing our need for health and wellbeing.
Ian Brown (Australia) spoke about assessment that reimagined Bloom’s taxonomy to suit visual literacy – a fascinating study that I hope is shared broadly.
Jun Hu (Canada and China) shared a dynamic model with multiple end points that demonstrates how a/r/tography and related arts based research can be understood through a multidisciplinary lenses.
Sunah Kim (Korea) detailed how Korean society is becoming more multicultural and how arts education is helping to support cultural diversity in this quickly changing society.
Marjan Prevodnik (Slovenia) gave a wonderful drawing workshop that lead everyone through some very good drawing exercises that can stretch us to see differently and perhaps with a more active eye for perception.
I too gave a talk on arts based research practices being used to document and guide mentoring or professional development practices for all educators, but especially arts educators. My example highlighted the use of comic illustration and how it could help to focus our knowledge mobilization efforts.
There were likely other InSEA member’s giving sessions and I wish I could write about their sessions here. I apologize if I have not mentioned you here. Suffice it to say, InSEA was showcased very well at the conference with thought provoking sessions.
Last but not least were all of the Chinese speakers. I learned a tremendous amount about Chinese education, Chinese aesthetics, Chinese curriculum change and Chinese culture through our immersion into this Chinese world congress. It was a fabulous experience and wish more of my InSEA colleagues could have joined us there.
Continue to watch the WAAE website for future announcements. Next November 2017, we will host a World Summit on Arts Education in Auckland, New Zealand. Please plan ahead and join us there!
Rita L. Irwin
WAAE Executive Member (representing InSEA)