Kent Stoll Marianne

Voices of Belonging

Idyllwild Arts Academy has a tradition of holding community events on election day to honor the democratic process. In past years, students have made posters to promote ballot propositions, given speeches, and held debates.
 
This year, our emphasis was on post-election rather than election day itself because the election brought a level of uncertainty that might have left students and other community members craving a safe place to voice their concerns, fears, and hopes. The months preceding the election had brought major shifts to our country, impacting our lives with civil unrest linked to the coronavirus, to racial injustice, and more. And travel bans have deeply affected our international families. 

During election week we facilitated both in-person and online discussions of the Election from an International Perspective, the Artist’s Role in a Divided World, and Truth and Lies in Media. We also facilitated open discussions that were not topic-driven. In the group that I led, we ended up talking about reaching across ideological lines to create dialogue and find common ground.  

The post-election groups were part of the ongoing discussions that the Idyllwild Arts community has been having since the start of the school year. We are focused on making sure that all voices in our community get heard and that they have space to speak honestly and openly about feelings of inclusion or exclusion. Idyllwild Arts Academy prides itself on embracing diverse cultures, different nations, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. But full inclusion requires deep humility and intentional listening to and by all community members.
 Thus, our “Belonging” webinar last month broadened the sense of who is important to the community by including Chris Stroud (Director of Dining Services) and Mercedes Guzman (Custodial, Lead, Housekeeping) among the speakers. The webinar launched our AIM (Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism) survey and initiated thoughtful conversations to advance our work on diversity, equity, and inclusion.   

As an arts community, our ability to use our creativity to listen, heal, and effect change is a gift. We continue to flourish as a community dedicated to encouraging and educating young artists to resist the fears that can inhibit their power to open the world to new possibilities.

Marianne Kent-Stoll
Head of School, Idyllwild Arts Academy

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