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CAP Casebook

This casebook offers the first inside view into the philosophy, underlying values, and practices pioneered in Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) programs created in 1999 with Wallace Foundation funding at six institutions of higher education across the United States.

A unique educational resource, this book can be used by students of community arts, as well as by educational and community organizations seeking insights into the field. In addition to case studies from CAP programs at California State University, Monterey Bay, Columbia College Chicago, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Xavier University of Louisiana, the book includes an introduction by Arlene Goldbard, which illuminates the rich history of the community arts field, a brief history of the CAPs, an afterward by Amalia Mesa-Bains, as well as commentary by Karen Lee Carroll, Sandi McFadden, and Tomie Arai. Published by Maryland Institute College of Art and Columbia College Chicago, with support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hard copies will be available for purchase from Columbia College Chicago.

MICA's Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) program and the College's new MA program in Community Arts enlist the talents and energies of MICA students to provide the Baltimore community with enriching art-based educational experiences. A respect for the individual and community "voice" is at the heart of both the form and function of CAP programming. Youth and adults in the community are encouraged through CAP programs to express their feelings, ideas, and opinions about the world in which they live. This emphasis on engaging the interests, talents, and needs of community members of all ages highlights the role of the community arts as a legitimate complement to traditional in-school arts education.

The CAP program also provides MICA students to build skills and experiences that can serve them well throughout their lives-building important career and life competencies; applying leadership skills to real situations; working collaboratively with others; solving complex problems; and effectively navigating issues related to cultural and socioeconomic diversity. CAP encourages MICA students to transcend campus life and elevate their critical and social consciousness; to garner a greater understanding of the community in which they live; and to build close, long-term relationships with the communities they serve. CAP students participate in innovative learning experiences outside the classroom and experiment with new strategies for making art, teaching, and otherwise engaging the world. CAP offers the structure, support, and supervision necessary for MICA students to develop and effectively apply their special abilities to the larger community.

In addition to CAP, MICA students may participate in a range of other community-related courses, internships, and extracurricular projects. These initiatives range from community-based mural projects associated with an illustration class to an ongoing partnership between student designers and public health researchers developing strategies for communicating important health messages to an urban population. The multi-semester Exhibition Development Seminar provides students with hands-on experience mounting a major exhibition linking specially designed cultural programs with underserved communities.

Each CAP project puts to work the energy and talents of 4-5 MICA students and is designed, in part, to facilitate the development of the MICA students' leadership abilities. Each team has one or two student leaders of proven skill and experience who serve as project leaders. CAP projects provide the space and time for students to plan out, test, and reevaluate the many decisions a leader must make. Each team works with a group of 12-15 children, youth, or adults and is supervised by a CAP staff member or professional community artist. CAP teams meets twice a week for 20, 2-hour sessions and implement hands-on art experiences tailored to serve the specific needs of the host community. CAP sites range from after-school programs, in-school elementary and middle school settings, community centers, and housing for the elderly. Program activities are located in areas not well served by school-based arts programs or other arts-related service providers.

Within an academic setting, there are limited opportunities for college students to engage the life and spirit of community. Considering the tremendously positive impact this work may have on a student, the CAP staff encourages all MICA students to give CAP a try.

Questions about the CAP program can be submitted to:

Community Arts Partnerships (CAP)
Maryland Institute College of Art
Bunting Center, 2nd Floor, Suite 200
Baltimore, MD 21217

Please note: the services provided by the Community Arts Partnership program are not a part of the services provided by the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development.