Symposium Delivered (and Reslience Tested!)

Connecting audience with sustainability data
and content through the heart. -Arlene Birt

Today we delivered our symposium "Artists as Partners in Infrastructure Education" at the the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) 2018: The Science, Business, and Education of Sustainable Infrastructure: January 23-25, 2018, Washington, D.C.

Cathy Abene via video: posing the idea that perhaps engineering
students should have more exposure to the arts in their
education so they can be more oriented to the
possibilities in art-infra collaborations.
It was a close call, testing the panel's resilience to weather and technology challenges. With over a foot of snow at the Minneapolis-St.Paul Airport delaying flights, two of our panelists, Shanai Matteson and Cathy Abene couldn't get their flights rescheduled in time and joined the symposium via video, to join Jonee Brigham, Arlene Birt, and Anna Eleria in DC.

Thanks to the participants who came to our session, we had a lively discussion about the practice of engaging artists in infrastructure and science work, and discussed challenges and questions. "How do artists' roles get funded on these projects?" We discussed multiple models, including building time for artists into capital improvement projects, grants, consulting, and more.

Anna noted that sometimes the artist's role supports public outreach budget categories that already exist. Another participant asked, "How do you foster meaningful collaboration between scientists or technical professionals and artists in a way that is mutually respectful?" Several of the artists and attendees noted that setting up a situation where there is ample time to learn each others' area of knowledge and ways of thinking is important, as well as time to build relationships. Shanai also pointed to the importance of bringing artists in early, - as they can help shape the questions that the science team is asking. --Artists can then be collaborative in conception of  a project, not just translation of its results. Another participant asked "Should we -or how can we,
Shanai's Water Bar presentation "We serve water," is a literal
practice (serving different tap waters to foster dialogue)
as well as the mission to serve water resources and
the communities associated with them.
apply science to the question of how artists and scientists can collaborate and what the outcomes are?" Shanai noted work she's done with a social scientist to try to inform that question and also noted that Artplace organization is looking at quantifying art-environment benefits. But this one is trickier to answer, perhaps because this work is still evolving and changing rapidly. Perhaps together, in an extended conversation on this website, we can address how to inform and improve best practices in art-infra (and art-sci) collaborations, and get at the benefits in order to support more of this work of collaborative innovation toward sustainability.

So thank you to our participants, and again, please contact us (see the about page) and enter comments, questions, and contributions to this website.
PDFs of our presentations are now posted on the NCSE Symposium page.
-Jonee and the Art-Infra panel.


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