PEACE is the refreshing theme of UNESCO International Arts Education Week for 2022. Entirely appropriately, seeking peace from turmoil cries out to us, from the turmoil of open warfare and pandemics, to the combative hurly burly of the everyday. To counter the horror and strain there are persistent calls for arts educators and teaching artists to make their mark. For example, earlier this month Australia’s peak body, the National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE), called for the ‘funding for teaching artists in schools for existing and future programs, as well as support for arts engagement programs with students’.

 The global community of teaching artists knows how to design and deliver arts engagement programs of merit and substance, including those addressing conflict resolution and peace outcomes. In fact, creating safe spaces in which difference can be identified and interrogated underpins all high-quality community engagement programs with aesthetic significance.  Contemporary approaches used by teaching artists see them restlessly experimenting with digital means to strengthen the work. Four of the key design principles underpinning the safe spaces within which communities can begin to resolve difference, argument and conflict are understood to include:

The Principle of Possibility Thinking

 Creativity theorist Anna Craft developed possibility thinking; a way of approaching everyday challenges in life with a “what if” mindset, transforming “what is” to “what might be”. Also known as horizon thinking, the most effective programs are playful, embrace risk taking and in the words of the influential arts educator Maxine Greene “opens windows in the actual, discloses new perspectives, [and] sheds new light (p.36)”.

 The ‘what if’ mindset is fundamental to digital creativity where we draw on “mathematical principles behind our physical world to create digital worlds”, according to Daniel Shiffman in his Kadenze course The Nature of Code.  Over the past two decades, new and imaginative worlds have opened for us to play out other lives in digital, online environments, from cinema to video games, from virtual reality and augmented reality platforms to hybrid theatrical experiences (drawing on live and digital media).”

The Principle of Place

Creative placemaking, which values the specificities of place (geography, demographics, environment) and the assets of their communities (knowledge, resilience, lived experience, culture and creativity), lies at the heart of effective program design and service delivery in the pursuit of conflict resolution. To dig further, The Places of Teaching Artistry, presented by the Sydney Opera House on shows how place and places serve as an enabling driver of creative projects.

The Principle of Duration

 Points of irritation and difference between communities seldom present as quick fixes. The likelihood of success increases markedly when teaching artists plan and fund long-term engagement and embed arts partnerships within communities, schools and local arts agencies .  The short-termism which accompanies a “fly-in/fly-out mentality” for arts provision makes it difficult for First Nations practitioners especially to broker changed relationships that redress years of colonial thinking to create locally relevant, impactful work. A fine illustration of this principle in action involves Indigenous young people in Roebourne, Western Australia who co-create learning materials with their teachers and then share them online with students at other schools. Designed and delivered by Big hART, this is Neolearning, an initiative built on longevity and duration. 

The Principle of Impact

 Teaching artists know that the impact of their work requires truth telling. The lived experience of individuals, families and communities needs to be told, shared and felt with aesthetic force. Programs need to evidence a comprehensive picture of the “alterations in the quality of life (p.617)” and capture an attribution of both individual and collective impacts across the social, economic, environmental, and cultural dimensions of the circumstances of life in this place, on this planet. 

 Kadenze is collaborating with the International Teaching Artist Collaborative (ITAC) to produce ITAC IMPACT: Climate projects in 2021 and 2022. This work, available soon on, features digital archives of climate case studies and the professional development course Teaching Artistry for Social Impact by Eric Booth and Gowri Savoor.

 The Arts constitute one of the major areas of human endeavour and achievement. They are firmly rooted in the aesthetic, representing a form of knowing which is pre-eminently to do with sensory awareness. A worthwhile arts education, and engagement with teaching artists, needs to be rigorous and demanding as well as creatively satisfying and enjoyable. The COVID-19 pandemic and post-truth culture has exposed a great deal about our societies, our collective wellbeing, and how urgent the policy choices we make now are for our futures.

 To celebrate UNESCO International Arts Education Week, Kadenze, Inc. has a special offer for all arts educators and teaching artists. Study the program The Basics of Teaching Artistry for only $US20 (regular price $US390). This includes one month free Premium Membership (normally $US20) giving free access to selected courses from Kadenze’s extensive course catalog.

To take advantage of this offer, go to The Basics of Teaching Artistry. 

This offer is available from 23 to 29 May 2022.

By Sandra Gattenhof, Professor and Director of Research Training,
School of Creative Practice, Queensland University of Technology


Brad Haseman, Professor Emeritus and Executive Vice President, Kadenze, Inc.

Credit for Image: Sunguk Kim on Unsplash