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OAC Staff Present at Professional Development Conferences Across the Midwest

Autumn is always a time of change—school is back in session, the leaves begin to fall, and temperatures start to drop. Autumn at the OAC is no different, as members of our staff have been bustling around the Midwest attending different professional development conferences. Whether they were learning about innovative arts programming opportunities, advocacy ideas for arts education and arts accessibility, or unique Folk and Traditional Arts crossovers, members of the staff have returned home with wonderful ideas for how to kick off the fall season. Here, they highlighted some of the most impactful moments of their trips.  


NASAA Assembly 2016

oac staff at 2016 nasaa conferenceThe National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) met in Grand Rapids, MI, for a busy week talking about some of the topics facing arts agencies around the country. Ken Emerick, artist programs director, attended sessions that focused on the opportunities within Folk and Traditional arts. He also presented on the OAC’s partnership with Dayton’s Think TV and the documentation they are providing for the Ohio Heritage Awards. When asked which presenters he found particularly interesting, he spoke of Jon Kay from Indiana and his book, “’Folk Art & Aging,’ which uses the folk arts to keep older artists and individuals more socially connected, creating supportive communities around them and using their art to engage communities through a variety of story-telling activities which are a natural element of how Folk Arts are passes from generation to generation.”  


Chiquita Mullins Lee, arts learning coordinator, was involved with one of the NASAA programming sub-committees on Arts Education, the Arts Education Working Group. This team developed a guiding plan for the Arts Education Professional Development Institute, which included a number of sessions discussing diversity and inclusion within arts education, performances by some of Michigan’s exciting arts groups, and affinity groups, where individuals could come together and discuss the topics of the week and how they applied to their respective communities. Chiquita said, “I joined the teaching artists affinity group where we discussed artist training, content standards, and innovative approaches used in other states to deliver learning in the arts.” 


2016 Arts & Autism Conference

Brianna Dance, organizational programs coordinator, spoke on a panel at the Arts & Autism Conference in Columbus. “The panel focused on turning plans (of making the arts more accessible for people with autism) into action and identifying resources needed to make it happen: people, spaces, time, and money – the latter of which I discussed since I work with OAC’s organizational grants and the Artists with Disabilities Access grant program.” Attending the conference, she said, was “helpful for me to gain a deeper understanding of those who have a disability (and the organizations that serve them), so I am more in tune with how the OAC can better serve that population.” 


Arts Midwest

brianna and other arts midwest conference attendeesBrianna also attended Arts Midwest, an annual booking conference where presenters connect with agents to discover new acts and start planning their seasons. Brianna said that this conference allows the OAC to “stay connected with the pulse of the performing arts industry and learn from experts at the professional development sessions.” 


2nd Annual Building Access by Design Conference 

Kim Turner, investment associate and accessibility coordinator, and Jim Szekacs, organizational programs coordinator, attended the Building Access by Design Conference. Sessions were designed to open up the conversation about creating accessible programs and facilities. Jim summed it up by saying, “The biggest take away… is that arts and cultural experiences are only as good as the people experiencing them collectively. If you design a facility to broaden the impact and potential of that experience by making a facility accessible to all (regardless of ability), you increase the value of your programming.” 


We’ve certainly had a busy September, and we’re just getting started! We look forward to sharing more exciting new ideas with you as we continue to attend professional development opportunities into the winter months. 

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