By Khalida Sarwari
The Montalvo Arts Center is offering a conference for artists, educators, administrators and anyone interested in learning how art and creativity can enhance their professional or personal development.
Titled “Arts in Your Classroom,” the conference takes place March 3 and will examine how the arts can build tangible connections and cultivate empathy in today’s world. According to Montalvo’s Director of Education Charlee Wagner, the theme “Bridging the Gap: Transforming Perceptions of Division” piggybacks on the topic of last year’s conference, “Art as Activism.”
“It seems a lot of voices were merging around discontentment or the marginalization of what seemed to be everyone and we responded to that,” she said. “But, we wanted to move past kind of the anger and discontentment of activism as a standalone and asked, what can we put out as a conversation for the community that looks at bringing people together? Where do we give folks the opportunity to have conversations that look at improving some of the difficulties that our communities face?”
At the one-day conference, participants will have an opportunity to delve into relevant sub-themes through workshops led by thought leaders in the visual, performing, literary and musical arts. Each session will address the duality between seemingly divided social constructs, such as self and other, art and academics, school and community, teacher and learner, and technology and analog applications.
“Essentially what we wanted to really shine a light on here is that oftentimes we feel certain themes are disparate and very separate when, in fact, not only they hold valuable relationships but… looking at these subjects that we think are opposite of one another and realize actually are not as much.”
The keynote speech will be given by Jeff Chang, an American Book Award-winning author and executive director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. Chang has written extensively on culture, politics, the arts and music. His latest book, “We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation” was named the Northern California non-fiction book of the year.
Montalvo is offering the conference in partnership with Santa Clara County Artspiration, San Jose State University and the Arts Council Santa Cruz County. This is the 16th year the organization has held the event. Sonya Stamper, a social worker who works with victims of sex trafficking across the Bay Area, attended last year’s conference, and said there were many takeaways that she has since applied to her work.
“I was blown away and inspired by everything I experienced, from Dahlak (Brathwaite)’s opening performance to Martha (Diaz)’s keynote,” she said.
The conference takes place March 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga.
The cost to attend is $25. Participants can register online at montalvoarts.org or by calling 408-961-5858.