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CANuniversity is being developed as a resource for people involved or interested in community arts training. CANu looks at college and university programs and courses and at the university-community partnerships and faculty- and student-led projects that enhance that training and put it into practice.

CANu includes:

  • Writings by or about this topic by practitioners, educators and students
  • Places To Study: A directory of college and university courses in degree and nondegree programs. Also internships, fellowships, apprenticeships, certificate programs, workshops and institutes, for credit or not. Updated frequently.
  • Syllabi, Curricula and Teaching Topics from past and continuing courses around the world
  • A Discussion group hosted on Yahoo groups
  • And more. The project is open-ended and will continue to grow, possibly generating CAN textbook publications and CAN training courses online.

Why CANu?

The field of community arts is growing rapidly, attracting practitioners, thinkers and participants around the world. And when the arts intersect with education, community development, healthcare, environmental concerns, religion, politics — in fact in any sensitive area of community activity — skills are required that have never been a part of a traditional arts education.

Training in these skills is not yet the field norm. Certainly many practitioners have no formal training whatsoever, relying primarily on peer advice and lessons learned "on the job." Only now as the field matures are formal training opportunities becoming available, often taught by those pioneers whose wisdom comes from years of practice.

Universities are beginning to offer degree programs in community arts, usually as a minor or a concentration within an art degree. But even as this kind of education proliferates, it is still flying below the radar, tucked into arts departments like theater, dance, performance studies or public art, under rubrics like "applied theater" and "art for development." But it's also showing up in programs like public administration, business management, social work, social justice, education, community development, public dialogue, social sculpture, architecture, citizenship, public policy, even tourism. This diffusion is partly because its proponents have to use every trick in the book to squeeze this work into the severely protected fiefdoms of academia. But it's also happening for a healthy reason: As artists collaborate with – and even become part of – other fields, the professionals in those fields are demanding adapted training programs too.

Teachers at a number of campuses in the U.S. are offering imaginative community-arts courses with the hope of sparking deeper interest in the subject at their institutions. Still others partner with artists in significant nationwide arts initiatives like the Animating Democracy Initiative or the campus-community project Imagining America. Some colleges and universities have created special offices or programs to interface their arts students with the communities surrounding the school.

CAN users are encouraged to contribute to this treasure-house of wisdom around training in community arts. Send us your syllabi and your bibliographies. Send us your special stories about student experiences in the community. We can all help each other build the field.

CANu Resources


CAN Oval

The Community Arts Network (CAN) promotes information exchange, research and critical dialogue within the field of community-based arts. The CAN web site is managed by Art in the Public Interest.
©1999-2010 Community Arts Network

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