Equity Through the Arts 2020


Perpich Center hosts an annual conference for Minnesota educators each year. This year, our conference will be moving to an online format and is for arts educators who want to better support learners of all abilities. The conference will include a keynote presentation from Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd, Professor of Art Education at Pennsylvania State University, as well as additional video sessions by Amy Furman, Deborah Karp, Jennifer Wirz, and Young Dance’s All Abilities program. CEUs will be provided after each video session. Additionally, a book list of Special Education Professional Resources from the Perpich Library is provided. Enjoy!

Pivoting in a Pandemic

In response to COVID-19, we had to quickly adapt to a new way of working. Acknowledging that there may be many new concerns and shifting areas of focus, we have moved to an asynchronous alternative to our face-to-face conference. We hope that this substitute allows educators to access and return to these resources in a way that meets their professional and personal needs. We are very grateful to the presenters who graciously pivoted with us into this format.

Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd
Professor of Art Education at Pennsylvania State University

For CEU’s for this presentation, please complete this brief survey

“Crip Creativity: Decentering Normal, Centering Difference”

The concept of measuring up to social norms has much to do with the development of statistics applied to human features. Through cultural and material productions of difference, Crip theory challenges societal parameters of the normative informed by histories of racism, imperialism, colonialism and related assemblages of hierarchical power. Crip theory is a transdisciplinary theory of disability justice that is formed from intersections of critical disability, feminist, queer, and critical race/ethnic studies. What does including difference mean to you? Inclusion? Difference? Who is marked as different and in what context? How is exclusion and inclusion sustained or disrupted? Who has power and privilege to be unmarked (that is race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability are not an issue)—and in what context? How is disability marked or signified? Whose theories, ideas, beliefs, art, histories, lives are integral to what and how and who you teach through the arts? These questions are at the heart of the Equity through the Arts keynote presentation.

Karen Keifer-Boyd, Ph.D., is the Professor of Art Education and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Pennsylvania State University. She has co-authored several books: Including Difference (NAEA, 2013); InCITE, InSIGHT, InSITE (NAEA, 2008); Engaging Visual Culture (Davis, 2007); co-edited Real-World Readings in Art Education: Things Your Professors Never Told You (Falmer, 2000); and has numerous journal publications. In her chapter “Creativity, Disability, Diversity and Inclusion” in the Handbook of Arts Education and Special Education (Routledge, 2018), she draws on Disabilities Studies theory and practices that change attitudes and environments and you can create an inclusive world of difference.

Co-founder and editor of Visual Culture & Gender, Karen has received Fulbright Awards and several National Art Education Association (NAEA) awards including the Eisner Lifetime Achievement Award (2020) and the VSA Gerber Special Needs Lifetime Achievement Award (2018). She is an NAEA Distinguished Fellow (2013) and a consultant to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts serving on the VSA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; the Council for Policy Studies; and the NAEA Data Visualization research commission think tank. She served on the NAEA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Taskforce (2018-19).

Karen’s lifetime work is based on her deep belief that visual art is integral to forming subjectivity, community, agency, and enacting social change.


The following sessions include topics specific to the arts areas of Dance, Music, and Theater. Although a session may focus on one topic, we encourage you to explore them all. The information shared can be applied to all learning environments.

Amy Furman – “Strategies for Success in the Inclusive Music Classroom” – PART ONE

Amy Furman – “Strategies for Success in the Inclusive Music Classroom” – PART TWO

Amy Furman – “Strategies for Success in the Inclusive Music Classroom” – PART THREE

For CEU’s for this presentation, please complete this brief survey

Currently, there are over 6 million students in the U.S. ages 3 through 21 who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Most public school teachers have students with special needs in their classes. As educators, we want to be prepared to successfully include these students in the music classroom.

This session will briefly address issues that music educators will find useful in their day to day teaching:

  • Universal Design for Learning in the music classroom including students with disabilities
  • Working with special education assistants
  • Prompt Hierarchy to support independence


AMY FURMAN, MM, MT-BC a music therapist and music educator, is the lead music therapist with the Minneapolis Public Schools. Her specialties include students with ASD, English Language Learners, and inclusion/mainstreaming in the music classroom. She served as a state mentor for Minnesota Music Educators in the areas of urban education and special needs students. A Past President of the American Music Therapy Association, she has written articles for a variety of professional journals and music therapy monographs. She has presented nationally and internationally on music and special learners for a variety of organizations including World Federation of Music Therapy, International Society for Music Education, and American Orff Schulwerk.

For CEU’s for this presentation, please complete this brief survey

Deborah Karp – “Dance & Dis/Ability: Building Artistry, Engagement and Inclusion for Students with Disabilities”

This presentation offers key tips and strategies for teaching dance to students with disabilities in grades K–12. Participants will have the opportunity to watch, listen, and dance throughout the session. The presentation is meant to be a living, shifting document; a springboard for thought and conversation to promote and share ideas from practice. The session leads participants through a look at the over-representation of students of color in Special Education, addressing trauma and the nervous system, then goes on to examine practitioners’ underlying values, norms, and expectations of both their students and themselves in the dance classroom, offers tips and strategies for teaching dance to students with a variety of needs, extends curricular ideas and suggestions to use in teaching, and concludes with reflection time and a list of resources meant for participants to further their dance teaching practices in order to address dance and disability, and promote inclusion.

Deborah Karp is a dance educator and the Artistic Director of Deborah Karp Dance Projects. For six years, she was on faculty with Luna Dance Institute in Berkeley, CA, teaching dance classes to students with and without special needs, focused on full inclusion through embodied artistic rigor and creative practice. During this time, Deborah was lead teacher on the Dance Inclusion Project, in which students with and without disabilities came together to dance, be creative, and build empathy. Deborah has also taught with San Francisco Ballet’s Dance In Schools and Communities program and Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion©, where she worked side-by-side with public high school teachers to teach academic curriculum through dance. Her writing has been published in In Dance and the National Dance Education Organization’s Behind the Curtain blog. Conference presentations include National Dance Education Organization, CA Dance Educators Association, and Kennedy Center-VSA Intersections Conference. Deborah was a seven-year company member with Nancy Meehan Dance Company (NYC) and has also performed the work of Mariangela Lopez/Accidental Movement (NYC), Leyya Tawil DANCE ELIXIR (SF, CA), and Megan Nicely Dance (SF, CA). Her company has performed on both coasts of the United States and been funded by the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Clorox Company Foundation, and Dancers’ Group CA$H award. She holds a Master’s in Arts Education with a licensure in dance from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

For CEU’s for this presentation, please complete this brief survey

Jennifer Wirz – “In this Together: Equity Through Theatre”

This session will cover some basics in making your theatre program more inclusive and equitable for students, specifically addressing issues of mental health and ability. We will share some strategies, tools, and resources, as well as some common struggles for students who may wish to participate in our programs. The session will be presented by video, with a digital handout available, and optional follow-up offered.

In this video, Jennifer Wirz:

  • contextualizes her role as a Special Education teacher and a theater educator and director, as well as her school’s involvement in equity, inclusion, and access to theater arts opportunities;
  • discusses the principle of Universal Design and its practical application in creating an inclusive theater environment;
  • includes a guest speaker with vision impairment who speaks to specific accommodations and assistive devices for students with low vision;
  • addresses considerations for welcoming and including students with Down Syndrome in theater productions and processes;
  • discusses ways to create open, supportive, and responsive environments for students with learning disabilities, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder to fully participate;
  • includes practical tools for creating a successful rehearsal and production process.


Jennifer Wirz (M.S. in Counseling, M.A.T. in Special Education) has worked for Paynesville Area School District since 2010 as a Special Education teacher, licensed in Specific Learning Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders. She currently serves as the PBIS Coach (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports), Climate and Culture committee co-chair, and as an instructor of Social-Emotional learning at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. This year, Jennifer created a middle school class that allows students to integrate theatre concepts, multiculturalism, and life skills.

Jennifer has been involved in community and educational theatre since 2010. She has directed over 20 plays for students, grades 1-12, has written 5 original scripts for young actors, and has produced educational theatre projects for under-served populations in rural areas. Jennifer is committed to equity, access, and inclusion in theatre arts, both for audience members and for participants. She serves on the Board of Directors of Great Northern Theatre Company and is a member of the Paynesville Area Arts Council.

For CEU’s for this presentation, please complete this brief survey

Young Dance – All Abilities Program

About Young Dance:
Since 1987, Young Dance has been working toward our mission to transform lives through movement, providing a safe space for young people to grow as individuals and in community through embodied self-expression and collaboration.

Today, Young Dance serves over 450 youth annually through classes, a youth performing company, and community partnerships. Across their programming, individuals with and without disabilities integrate as equal participants in the exploration, creation, and performance of dance. Their classes include Creative Movement, Modern Dance, Choreography, Ballet, Hip Hop, and World Dance. The Young Dance Company, for ages 7-18, frames its annual season around a theme that immerses dancers in artistic inquiry, working with professional and peer choreographers, and produces high quality, innovative performances. Through additional partnerships with community organizations and government institutions, including special education programs in St. Paul and Minneapolis schools, Dakota, Washington, and Ramsey County Libraries, and Hennepin and Ramsey County Juvenile Corrections, we bring dance classes to diverse groups, supporting and empowering youth to improve their lives and strengthen communities.

For more information on Young Dance, please visit their website: http://www.youngdance.org/


All books now available in the Perpich Library!

Thank you for virtually attending this year’s EQUITY THrough The Arts!

Please reach out to any Perpich Professional Development staff member for more information on content or follow up.

Email: PDR-Questions@pcae.k12.mn.us