There are many interlocutors that take their place at the tables of our vast conversations about art education. They lend their voices to the important issues that they feel determine our success as a future civilization, sometimes overlapping their view points and therefore lending to influence social change. However, the focus on two of these interlocutors, mainly the TED Conference (www.ted.com) and The Figge Art Museum (www.figgeart.org) may be a helpful start in determining one side of the geometric art education equation.
“Becoming a TED partner means you share in our mission of spreading ideas that might change the world,” states the group’s partnership page. TED, a conference that started in 1984 with the initial focus of bringing three conversations together, technology, entertainment and design, has become broader in its scope becoming “a beacon for thought leaders across every demographic.” Through video broadcasts of some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers, the group’s goal is to “tackle humanity's toughest questions, answering with innovation, enterprise and enduring optimism”, one of their many topics including art education and the importance of creativity in our schools.
TED’s major sponsors and contributors come from rather hard hitters in today’s market, including The Coca-Cola Company, GE and AT&T just to name a few, which only says that what the TED group is doing for the world is bringing a more intelligent conversation to the table and one in which these organizations admire. The TED videos of their conference topics are made available to anyone with an internet connection and a computer, thereby sharing their knowledge with anyone seeking to further develop their personal or professional selves.
While TED has made these conversations accessible, so are many museums around the country that realize the impact of the internet on the learning and interest of humanity. The Figge Art Museum, located in Davenport, Iowa, established in 2005, a predecessor of the Davenport Art Association, founded in 1878, “actively serves the public by promoting appreciation and creation of visual art through education,” enriching the lives of the community.”
Their launching of programs such as the Midwest Art Education Center, where studio space, lectures and workshops are provided for local colleges and universities, “allowing them to expand their humanities and arts education programs,” and their partnership Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Graduate Museum Studies Program, act as “a laboratory for learning through direct experience,” placing them “at the forefront of developing future museum professionals.” Their interested investors include local industries like that of John Deere, working artists and various others including the vast majority of colleges and universities near by.
With the investments from larger bodies and that of their patron supporters, these two organizations have been able to spread their scope in lending opportunities for the discussion and implementation of the arts and education in their immediate area and to the world. By sharing their voices, they could together reach an impact that could help reform education as we know it, leading by example into a better future.