At the Crossroads: A Community Arts and Development Convening took place March 25 – 27, 2010

Please see the Resources section: more notes, photos and video documentation!


Presented by the Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute and the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission at RAC Cultural Resource Center
St. Louis, Missouri

Funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and with support from the Whitaker Foundation, National City-Now part of PNC, and Incarnate Word Foundation.

Be a part of the conversation about art and social change

The Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute at the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC) hosted At the Crossroads: A Community Arts and Development Convening March 25 – 27, 2010 for practitioners and their partners in arts based community development programs and collaborations. Over 150 participated in a dynamic conference and a pre-conference workshop* designed to examine new paths and crossways for the arts in these changing times. For more information, please call 314/863-5811 or email Convening coordinator Roseann Weiss at roseann@stlrac.org .

Among the participants for “At the Crossroads” were Bill Cleveland, of the Center for the Study of Art and Community in Seattle, WA; Arlene Goldbard, from the San Francisco area and author of New Creative Community; Marty Pottenger, director of The Police Poetry Project, Portland, Maine; and Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza, co-directors of Animating Democracy in Washington, D.C., a program sponsored by Americans for the Arts (AFTA). In addition, there were sessions with Mat Schwarzman, of the New Orleans Crossroads Project for Arts, Learning and Community; Ed Carroll, Chair of the Kaunas Biennial; Con Christeson, director of the arts collaborative at Peter & Paul Community Services, Barbara Kerr, author of Smart Boys; Mel Watkin and Chinyere Oteh of the PPRC Photography Project; Janis Timm-Bottos of Kitchen Table Arts, artist Theaster Gates and many more.

New strategies and provocative thinking

At the Crossroads: A Community Arts and Development Convening drew a cross section of leaders to serve as invited speakers, selected presenters and participants focused on new strategies and provocative thinking for the future of community arts development. Commissioned papers, presentations and documentation of discussions are being collected in the Resources section as an easily accessible post-conference published document to build on the field’s knowledge base.

The Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute is an innovative program centered on the belief that art has the power to be an agent for social change. Founded in 1997, the CAT Institute fosters successful, sustainable partnerships among artists, social workers, educators and community activists.

Characterized by its credibility, creativity and longevity as a sustained community arts training program active for over thirteen years, the CAT Institute at the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission is uniquely positioned to bring together a convening of community arts leaders. At the Crossroads: A Community Arts and Development Convening in March 2010 was the first time such a conference has been organized in this region.

Artists and Community Partners from multiple sectors coming together

In keeping with the national model the CAT Institute presents, practitioners from the arts sectors, community organizing sectors and the human services sectors were invited to participate.

Community Arts and Development Convening goals

  • Creating a venue that amplifies the ideas and experiences for artists and their community partners working to build caring and capable communities
  • Building a network and focusing on the work of participants from St. Louis, the Midwest and central U.S. corridor
  • Presenting papers, presentations, dialogues, and workshops from exemplary practitioners, leaders and great thinkers in the field
  • Working with an Advisory Committee of national, regional and local leaders to organize and extend the impact of the Convening
  • Constructing an energetic learning environment where arts and community practitioners connect, collaborate and exchange.

Most of the meetings, discussions and presentations took place at the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) Cultural Resource Center in a vibrant urban neighborhood near an affordable conference hotel. RAC is located on Delmar Boulevard near the University City “Loop” which was named one of the top 10 “Great Streets” by The American Planning Association.