This article analyzes the ways that a rhetoric of “community” can reproduce the very racial and economic inequalities community-based arts practitioners seek to address in their practice. Based on multi-sited ethnographic data, this article presents three examples of racialized conflict in community-based art settings to discuss some of the central challenges for predominantly White community-based arts educators as well as formal training programs. The question of how to build classroom community across social difference suggests that silencing dissent or difference in the name of “community” does more harm than good. Deliberate training around power and praxis could help community-based arts educators name and transform lived inequalities in their classrooms and beyond. Best practices include teacher self-education outside of the classroom, and ongoing collaboration with community stakeholders.


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pp. 96-110
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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