Using Cultural-Regional Arts Scenes to Frame and Understand Out-Of-School Time Arts Programs

WCER Working Paper No 2023-2

Erica Halverson, Caitlin Martin, Jalessa Bryant, Katherine Norman, Caleb Probst, Stephanie Richards, Kailea Saplan, Andy Stoiber, and Jonathan Tunstall

March 2023, 37 pp.

ABSTRACT: A wealth of literature shows positive outcomes and experiences from arts learning, yet youth access to arts education has become significantly more inequitable over the past 30 years. Alongside the growing discourse around arts learning and equity issues, there is a recognized and persistent need for more research. We conducted a critical, qualitative study of out-of-school time (OST) arts organizations across the United States. Our primary research questions were: (1) How do community youth arts organizational leaders, teaching artists, and participants describe the leading ideas and practices in OST youth arts programming? (2) How can OST youth arts work center the cultural, historical, and geographic resources that artists and arts organizations bring to arts programming? We first developed a theoretical framework for understanding arts practices in education and summarize key learning outcomes associated with youth participation in the arts. We then talked with OST arts education experts across the United States to understand how their programs support and center youth in arts learning, particularly Black youth, Indigenous youth, and youth of color (BIPOC youth), youth from low-income backgrounds, and LGBTQIA+ youth. This report offers the concept of “cultural-regional scenes” to describe the critical, qualitative case studies we developed of OST youth arts practice. We describe four unique cultural-regional scenes—the Urban Midwest, the Bay Area, Texas-Mexico Border Towns, and the Indigenous Southwest—and provide examples of youth arts practice in each scene. We conclude with ideas that stretch across scenes and suggest that researchers and practitioners can take up this approach in the study of OST youth arts programs.

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keywords: Arts education, Community arts, Informal education, Out-of-school time, Youth arts, Youth work