South African Cultural Observatory

ACT | UJ unlearns how to conference

BY 26.06.17

#CreativeUprising, the 5th ACT | UJ Creative Conference will engage with South African Art Education in its current state and possible future.

This iteration of the conference is about unlearning and rethinking how we do things and present things. From curating a conference to how we talk about art education in South Africa, the aim of ACT | UJ Conference has been to share knowledge with the view of enabling, advancing and inspiring creative South Africa.

“There are many conferences and symposiums this year that are investigating art education. We see this as an indication that this content is pertinent to our industry and that we are in a position to add to this conversation,” shares Anastasia Pather, the conference Project Manager. “The conference is not about repetition or making bold claims. We will be recapping and reporting on previous conferences like NEPAD and ASSITEJ with the view to give our delegates a refresher on what has already been discussed so they can share that information in their networks and establish how they can progress those ideas further.”

To ensure there is no ranking of content, each engagement has been carefully curated and is equally valuable and as such the conference will have no keynote speakers. The conference organisers feel that there is no room for hierarchy when talking about modernising colonial knowledge systems with an aim for it to be appropriate and inclusive to all its users. Instead, #CreativeUprising will be presented by Ashraf Jamal, Puleng Plessie, David Andrew, Alison Kearney, Thuli Gamedze, Nike Romano, Prof Mzob Mboya, and Motsumi Makhene, among a list of art education specialists, thought provocateurs and industry leaders.

“The conference is not about the customary PowerPoint or lengthy panel discussions, it is about Art Education which comes in many shapes and forms,” Pather imparts. “Art Education happens in a classroom, in a community centre, on the street, in a book, on the stage, in a protest, on museum walls, and through people. “CreativeUprising is a creative conference about capturing the evolving and stimulating nature of Art Education. We have paired academics and educators with performance artists so their arguments have the room to jump off the screen and live on our stage and that delegates are not left with small fonts and bullet points to try and decipher,” she elucidates.

Pather continued that the conference would not dedicate resources and time to artisanal lunches and elaborate conference printouts. Resources will be employed to facilitate engaging presentations and keeping the ticket price affordable. In addition to this, the needs of the participants have been taken into account, especially in lieu of the timing. Understanding that students and educators would not be able to take two full days off, they have structured the programme to make it feasible for delegates to attend selected presentations, attend between classes or after school.

Full conference passes will be are available for R300, while those attending only selected presentations purchase the R150 pass. Student prices will be half of that and there is an option to purchase lunch at R60 per day. Alternatively, delegates are welcome to pack their own lunch. “This conference is about contributing to the betterment of Art Education and not about bells, whistles or profit,” explains Pather.

The Arts & Culture Trust is sponsoring fifty passes to attend the ACT | UJ Creative Conference, as ACT acknowledges the difficulty that some students, creative practitioners and arts educators face in being able to attend the conference. Please note that preference will be given to young female arts educators and arts education students. Recipients of sponsored registrations will be entrusted to make the most of their conference attendance in terms of gathering information, networking, learning and interchanging ideas with other delegates with the view of making a contribution to their careers, businesses and organisations and the creative sector in general.

The #CreativeUprising will focus on providing a platform for students and educators to talk about how Art Education needs to change and how to achieve it. Workshops in visual literacy, learning STEM subjects through the arts and entrepreneurial skills will be offered at the conference. “We want to stimulate conversation so that educators can collaborate with art centres and artists already changing the face of art education to refresh what we teach and how we teach,” Pather shares. Through the presentation of performance art as an educational tool, and presenting a case for Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Xhosa and sign language to be used to discuss ethical African leadership, this will be a visually stimulating, interactive and provocative offering.

“Questions need to be asked about whether art curriculums should include basic entrepreneurial skills to empower artists and graduates after school and students and educators should have equal opportunity to contribute to the discourse in order for it to hold a sustainable relevance for its future users,” says Pather.

The conference will offer a platform to collect input and offer a place for delegates to ask questions and get answers from various role players such as the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Arts & Culture. The goal is for decision makers, students, art educators and professional creatives to be in the same room to envisage a workable plan for the future.

#CreativeUprising will take place at the UJ Arts Centre on their Kingsway campus from the 27th – 28th July and is for educators looking to expand their practice, art educators from formal and non-formal institutions and centres, academics and art learners. To buy a ticket click on this link, and to view our conference programme click here. To find out more about the sponsored conference passes please click here. Successful applicants will be notified by email no later than 10 July 2017.

The 2017 ACT | UJ Creative Conference is presented by the Arts & Culture Trust and UJ Arts & Culture in partnership with SAMRO Foundation and Drama for Life.

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