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Click HERE to see documentation from the conference.




Dear Colleagues,

We are looking forward to seeing you this weekend at the Imagining Art + Social Change Conference! We have two full days ahead of us, as well as a very full attendance roster – essentially beyond capacity. We are thrilled to bring so many of you together in Providence and ask in advance for your flexibility, cooperation, and support as we move around the city together!

A few logistical details:


We will begin at AS220 (as220.org), 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI 02903, promptly at 9:30AM. Registration will open at 9AM. Please arrive early to register. Leave extra time to park if you are unfamiliar with the area.

Transportation (on buses) will be provided between conference sites. As we are beginning and ending our day downtown, if you would like to leave a car downtown all day, the best parking option is the Rhode Island Convention Center which charges a flat fee of $9 if you arrive after 9AM and leave before 12AM. The Convention Center is located at 1 Sabin Street, Providence, RI 02903 and is a very short walk to AS220.

More information about the Convention Center can be found here.


We will be at Providence CityArts for Youth, 891 Broad Street, Providence, RI 02907, all day (www.providencecityarts.org).

The closest all day street parking is on Lexington Avenue (off of Broad Street, just before the CityArts building if you are coming from downtown), and on Niagara Street (behind CityArts). Please do not park in the Compare Foods lot across the street.

As with Friday, please arrive early and leave enough time to find parking. If Lexington and Niagra Streets are full, there are several other residential streets where you can park. We will start promptly at 9AM (registration, for those attending Saturday only, and continental breakfast for all will take place from 8:30-9AM).

Click here to see a map of all conference locations.


Inspired by the transformative teachings of American philosopher Maxine Greene, Community MusicWorks will host a two-day conference to gather artists, educators, and organizers committed to investigating the intersection between the arts and working for social change. Imagining Art + Social Change will feature groups who have curricula, concert programs, or other programmatic means of applying art to social change values and vice versa. The conference comes at a time when Community MusicWorks is completing the first two-year cycle of its Fellowship Program, and is looking to other communities to help seed similar programs.

Imagining Art + Social Change is generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Maxine Greene, and the Providence Youth Arts Collaborative.


Maxine Greene. From the Maxine Greene Foundation website: "Through inquiries into sociology, history, and especially philosophy and literature, Maxine Greene explores living in awareness and "wide-awakeness" in order to advance social justice. Her thinking about existence and the power of imagination have been brought to life through her study, academic appointments, essays and books. In her teaching, she desires to educate those who speak, write, and resist in their own voices, rather than mimic her ideas and language.


Shirley Brice Heath
is a linguistic anthropologist whose research has centered on the out-of-school lives of young people in underserved communities. Key themes in her work are adolescents' language and symbolic representations of themselves, as well as their leadership and initiative in identifying and solving what they see as community problems. Central in her current research is later language and multi-media literacy development (for learners between the ages of 8 and 28) and the voluntary engagement of young people in long-term projects that center in the arts, environmental sustainability, and social justice. She has carried out research in Mexico, Guatemala, South Africa, the United States, England, Germany, and Sweden. Her publications range across four major areas: language socialization, organizational learning, youth culture, and language planning. Beyond academic publications, she is also dedicated to providing research for a wide audience in video/film, photographic exhibitions, and popular journals. She has produced and directed several documentary films, and she writes regularly for youth arts magazines.


Dennie Palmer Wolf.
Senior Scholar at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Dennie Palmer Wolf examines excellence and equity issues related to opportunity to learn and outcomes for students in K–12 urban systems. Prior to coming to the Annenburg Institute, she taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-directed the Harvard Institute for School Leadership. Her areas of interest include standards, assessment, and school reform and cultural policy for youth. Recently, she has pioneered evaluation studies that build the capacities of organizations, funders, and the communities they serve, co-authoring /More Than Measuring/, a longitudinal study of the effects of arts-based learning.


Robbie McCauley
is a celebrated performance artist and theater director whose personal vision has consistently explored the "herstory" of Black women. She has been an active presence in American avant-garde theater for more than three decades. Her early work in New York included performances in plays by Lanford Wilson at Cafe Cino and by Adrienne Kennedy at the New York Shakespeare Festival. On Broadway, she appeared in the original cast of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. In the 1990s, she received both an OBIE Award (Best Play) and a New York Dance and Performance (BESSIE) Award for Sally’s Rape, which she wrote, directed and performed in many locations nationally and internationally. Among the many other important works she has written and directed are a number of community-based theater productions exploring issues of race and class in this country and in the Czech Republic. She is currently associate professor of theater at Emerson College in Boston.


John Blake, Jr.
is world renowned for his unique and exciting sound as a jazz violinist. He is regarded as a consummate musician and yet displays equal dedication in his role as an educator. John has worked with some of the most distinguished names in jazz, including McCoy Tyner, Cecil McBee, and Grover Washington, Jr., and has appeared on more than twenty albums. He has co-authored a jazz string method book, entitled "Jazz Improvisation Made Easy", and has been recognized in Down Beat magazine as one of the top jazz violinists in America.


Tyler Denmead is presently a graduate student working toward a MPhil in Education (Arts, Culture, and Education) at Cambridge University through the support of an Antonio Cirino Art Education Fellowship from the Rhode Island Foundation. Denmead launched New Urban Arts, a nationally recognized interdisciplinary arts studio for high school students in Providence, Rhode Island, while a senior at Brown University in 1997. He resigned in 2007. He was also instrumental in founding the Providence Youth Arts Collaborative through the belief that shared learning opportunities across emerging youth arts organizations are vital to their development. Denmead was awarded an echoing green Fellowship in 1997, recognized as Rhode Island’s best ‘role model’ in 2003, and received a congressional proclamation in 2007. Research for his MPhil will focus on the educational and work histories of English artist educators who teach in and outside schools to provide a contextual understanding of the evolving arts education field.


Nick Rabkin
directs the Chicago Center for Arts Policy at Columbia College Chicago. His work, broadly, is about understanding how the arts can best contribute to the development of a genuinely democratic society and rich community life. In his writing (Putting the Arts in the Picture: Reframing Education in the 21st Century), he has linked the pioneering work of artists in education with new learning theory and research to construct a new kind of case for the arts in the education of all children. The Center's current main project is the Teaching Artist Research Project, which seeks to understand how teaching artists can be supported to do their very best work. He has worked in arts philanthropy for the MacArthur Foundation, as deputy commissioner of cultural affairs for Chicago, and as a theater producer.


Sebastian Ruth
, Founder and Artistic Director of Community MusicWorks, is a professional musician and educator committed to exploring connections between the arts and social change. Mr. Ruth graduated from Brown University in 1997, where he worked closely with education scholars Theodore Sizer, Mary Ann Clark, and Reginald Archambault on a thesis project exploring the relationship between the philosophy of moral education and music.

Over the past ten years, he has assembled musicians and community organizers to build Community MusicWorks, a "revolutionary organization" (The New Yorker) that provides transformative social and musical experiences to at-risk youth and families in urban communities of Providence, Rhode Island.


Community MusicWorks introduced a Fellowship Program in September 2006 through which young professional musicians join us in Providence for a period of two years to teach, perform with members of the Providence String Quartet as the Community MusicWorks Players, and acquire firsthand knowledge about our model for community arts education.


The Providence Youth Arts Collaborative (PYAC) is a partnership of non-profit community-based arts organizations using arts education as a strategy to empower the youth of the Providence and greater Rhode Island. The Providence Youth Arts Collaborative consists of 6 organizations that provide over 8,000 hours of free arts education to over 1,600 youth each year.



Schedule of Events

Friday March 28
Transportation will be provided between locations; information about downtown parking will be emailed to registrants.

9:30AM - 12:00PM
Seminar: Exploring the History and Definitions of Art and Social Change, featuring Providence Youth Arts Collaborative Founders' Panel
Location: AS220, 115 Empire Street

12PM - 1:30PM
Lunch (Taqueria Pacifica at AS220)
Site Visit: Studio tour and conversation with youth participants
Location: AS220 Broad Street Studio, 115 Empire Street

Conference participants will visit Broad Street Studio in shifts.

2PM - 4:15PM
Site Visit: Studio tour and participatory visual and literary arts workshop led by alumni and mentors
Locations: New Urban Arts, 743 Westminster Street

Site Visit: Facility tour and gallery project kickoff
Locations: CityArts, 891 Broad Street

Half of the conference group will visit New Urban Arts first and half will visit CityArts; the groups will switch sites at 3PM.

Conference-wide snack
Location: Met School, 362 Dexter Street

5PM - 6:15PM
Site Visit: Community MusicWorks Musical Workshop with jazz violinist John Blake
Location: Met School, 362 Dexter Street

7PM - 8:15PM
Site Visit: Friday Night Live!
Location: Everett Dance Theatre at the Carriage House, 7 Duncan Avenue

8:45PM - 10PM
Dinner and Improvisational Jazz/AfroSonic with John Blake, Jr., Jumaane Smith, and guests
Location: the Providence Black Repertory Company, 276 Westminister Street

Saturday March 29

CityArts, 891 Broad Street, Providence, RI 02907

8:30AM - 9AM
Continental breakfast and registration

9AM - 9:30AM
Group Session with Robbie McCauley

9:30AM - 11AM
Dennie Palmer Wolf: Participatory Research and New Forms of Evaluation
Using the example of evaluation, this session will focus on opportunities for integrating youth into the workings of organizations and on how this can be done in organizations with limited resources. Additional attention will be given to ensuring evaluation yields back to those involved in the process, including youth, families, and organizations. Providence Youth Arts Collaborative youth will participate in this session.

11AM - 11:30AM
Break and Introduction of Conference-wide Gallery Project

11:30AM - 12:45PM
Keynote Address by Maxine Greene, Introduction by Sebastian Ruth

12:45PM - 1:30PM

1:30PM - 2PM
Group Session with Robbie McCauley

2PM - 2:45PM
Community MusicWorks Fellows
Teams of fellows andstaff will present their experiences working with Community MusicWorks and engage conference participants in dialogue about program models and other topics of interest to participants.

2:45PM - 3PM

3PM - 4:30PM
Shirley Brice Heath, Tyler Denmead, Nick Rabkin, and a panel of teaching artists

4:30PM - 5PM
Closing, featuring conference video


Click here to download a pdf registration form. Please print this form and mail it with your registration fee* to:

Community MusicWorks
1392 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02909
Attn: Conference

* If you are representing an organization, your registration fee is:
$100 (one day only) / $160 (March 28-29)

* If you are a student or an independent artist or professional, your registration fee is:
$50 (one day only) / $80 (March 28-29)

Meals are included in the cost of registration:
- March 28: lunch & dinner
- March 29: breakfast & lunch

Please note: The deadline for registration has past.


Many conference participants are staying at the Hotel Providence. Please contact us if would like to make a reservation as we have a conference rate. Other recommended hotels in the downtown Providence area include the Westin and the Hilton.

Other recommended lodging options include the Edgewood Manor Bed & Breakfast and the Gothic Guesthouse (please mention the Community MusicWorks conference when reserving).



If you have questions or would like to receive conference updates by email, contact Jori Ketten, Community MusicWorks Special Projects Coordinator.




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