When Questions are our Best Answers: Responding to the Impact of COVID-19 on Community-based Arts Education Organizations

Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf, Jeff M. Poulin

February 2, 2021

Arts Education Policy Review

A special issue of Arts Education Policy Review

The details of the global COVID-19 pandemic centered on lockdowns, face masks, and video conferences. The larger impacts of the pandemic included facing the profound inequities in civic, health, education, and other policies that multiplied the effects of the disease. Between March and September 2020, the world of community-based arts organizations was hit broadside, stifling the creative activity of young people across the world. Even as youth-centered arts organizations sought to sustain programs of creative skill-building, inquiry, and expression with positive youth development principles, they became by necessity food pantries, hot spots, and curbside sources of legal advice and financial aid for struggling families. In making that transition, old habits and assumptions have given way to fundamental questions about the definitions of art, arts education, community, leadership, funding, and policy.

This introduction summarizes articles that redefine policy as spanning from individual teaching artist practice to municipal and national procedures. Together, they raise basic questions about the new kinds of organizations and practices that could emerge from the crises of early 2020, given the will to seize the insights of the pandemic.

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