Envisioning "Cultural Workers"

By Vicki Callahan, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Shifting the ground to questions of "norms" and "cultural rights" as several posters have done is incredibly useful as it helps us think about who are our potential partners for engagement strategies that expand creative expression/rights. The critic/historian/artist, Norma Klein, spoke at UW-Milwaukee a few years back about the need for all of us to see ourselves as "cultural workers." In essence, Klein was noting both that everyone has a stake in and responsibility to the arts and that blurring the artist and audience divide (which numerous posts here have discussed) was a necessary first step toward expanded cultural/creative freedoms.  Within academia over last few years, I have been fortunate to work in environments at both UW-Milwaukee and USC's Institute of Multimedia Literacy that worked to develop a new generation of cultural workers by initiating curriculum that focused on theory/practice intersections. Some courses were more successful than others on transforming our old models of artist/audience, but what was most effective in both cases was a linking of creative expression, critical insights, and community partnerships (extending the class outside the university). In other words the deep connections between our daily life, our communities, expression, and citizenship was enacted in classes. The point was not so much about a specific policy - although that often was explicitly addressed - but about initiating conversations, making connections, and building community across diverse groups. The tools of digital world and social media specifically facilitated this conversation, but the challenge is to build this across more areas of the university as well build this out from the localized setting.
July 21, 2010 12:40 PM | | Comments (0) |

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