AAAE 2021 Virtual Conference...
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Thursday, May 6 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
2 PM ET: Youth Volunteers Changing the Future while Sharing the Past

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Living history museums are spaces where the past propels communities into the future. Animated by interpreters in period dress who represent the past, and perform historically located arts, crafts, and daily life skills, living history museums offer a glimpse of the area’s local social life in the past. Yet for youth volunteers who perform these interpretive roles, these opportunities prepare them for the future, while giving young people the opportunity to analyze the past and change the future of the community in which they live. Drawing on interviews with current and recent youth volunteers at a living history museum in Canada that represents local settler and Indigenous life in 1846, 1885, 1905, and 1920, we discuss three key issues that came out of our conversations with young people. First, we discuss how working in a place that represents the past develops highly relevant contemporary skills. Second, we discuss the power of youth mentorship and youth volunteer programming in the lives of these young people. And finally, we discuss how young volunteers can shape narratives about the past in order to influence their community’s future.

Inspired by youth-centred qualitative and ethnographic methods espoused by Jo-Anne Dillabough and Jacqueline Kennelly, and by Kathleen Gallagher, we were not able to conduct on-site interviews because of both museum renovations and COVID-19. Instead, we either met in person or by video chat, and developed a process of listening influenced by girl-studies rights-based scholars who demand that researchers be attentive to claims of how their work creates social change (Caron 122), and pay attention to young people’s expressions of “tangible everyday moments of advocacy” and “nuanced examples of resistance and survivance” (de Finney and Saraceno 125). Our analysis of the mentorship and skill-building aspects of the program takes into account the museum’s dynamic ACE policy: Authenticity (historical and cultural integrity, quality of research, intentionality in choices of representation); Collaboration (incorporating community voices, multiple perspectives, dialogue with the visitors, considering how guests impact the experience); and Experiential (immersive, sensory, participatory, active), and explores how volunteerism relates to community engagement and interventions. The work of volunteers connects to politicized questions raised by Laura Ishiguro concerning young settlers and settler futurity, and by Leanne Betasamosoke Simpson regarding Indigenous resurgence. More recently we have been influenced by LaTanya S. Autry and the #MuseumsAreNotNeutral movement, and see how her work resonates within the Canadian context, and with the development of the volunteer programming here.

Our analysis suggests that when young people represent the past in these intentional, thoughtful, supported ways, they have significant opportunities for meaningful skill development, to build powerful relationships, and to agentically shape their communities according to the ideas and issues they see as meaningful.

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Meeting ID: 811 8266 8092
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International Task Force Session
AAAE's International Task Force continues the Association's work to promote and support international connections for its predominantly US-based membership. The task force is led by AAAE Board Members Prof. Anne Frost of Humber College, Canada, and Prof. Daniel Green of Carnegie Mellon University, in the U.S. The task force comprises AAAE members who explore international activities and initiatives that will benefit our learners, our pedagogy, and our profession.

In the 2021 conference schedule, the International Task Force aims to highlight presenters, presentations and subject areas from outside the United States. These have been labeled “International Task Force Session” in the conference program, for ease of reference by those who are keen to explore models and paradigms with arts management educators around the world. We invite you to consider attending these sessions, and look forward to further communication.

avatar for Heather Fitzsimmons Frey, MacEwan University, Assistant Professor

Heather Fitzsimmons Frey, MacEwan University, Assistant Professor

Heather Fitzsimmons Frey is an Assistant Professor of Arts and Cultural Management at MacEwan University in Edmonton. Using archives, qualitative research, performance-based historiography, and practice-based methodologies, her research focuses on the arts young people. She is principal... Read More →

Sean Herbert, MacEwan University, Student

Sean Herbert is a musician from Edmonton, Alberta who decided to pursue his career with a more serious approach by enrolling in the Arts & Cultural Management program at MacEwan University. He began work on the “Young People are the Future” as a Research Assistant in January of... Read More →

Tania Gigliotti, Executive Director of Drawn to Books

Tania Gigliotti is the Executive Director of Drawn to Books, a non-profit organization in Edmonton, AB helping youth create comics. She has been a Research Assistant on the Young People Are the Future project since 2019. She received her diploma in Arts & Cultural Management at MacEwan... Read More →

Thursday May 6, 2021 2:00pm - 2:30pm EDT
Online - please register