AMAZING Arts Empower MEGA Conference

I am one lucky art teacher – last week I got to attend the first ever Arts Empower MEGA Conference for San Diego County arts educators. It was flat-out AMAZING. There were 400 educators in all the arts disciplines – visual arts, theatre, dance and music. Our conference was in San Diego’s gorgeous Balboa Park, home to so many San Diego arts institutions.

Balboa Park is the home to many San Diego arts institutions

The San Diego Museum of Art in beautiful Balboa Park. Photo:

Our keynote session included an interview with young artist Inocente, subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Inocente. As a homeless teen in San Diego, Inocente discovered painting through a program at ARTS: A Reason to Survive. She and Matt D’Arrigo, founder of ARTS talked about the impact of the arts on young people

An interview with Inocente was a highlight of our morning keynote address. Photo source:

An interview with formerly homeless young artist Inocente was a highlight of our morning keynote address. Photo:

We had our choice of a huge variety of breakout sessions.  Guess what? You could attend any session, even if it wasn’t in your specialty.  Options included 3D theatre set design, teaching dance improvisation, and teaching music with an iPad. It was a great opportunity to ‘cross pollinate’ ideas across specialities.

Blended marker scratch foam print from Michelle Breyer's workshop

Blended marker scratch foam print from Michelle Breyer’s workshop

I presented for the very first time – one of my best sculpture lesson plans, ‘3D Olympic Sport Sculptures’. It went really well – we were able to create mounted sport trophies in under an hour! Even if you missed the session, you can still make your own trophy.  Click here for the trophy lesson plan.

Making trophy sculptures at my workshop

Gymnastics sports trophy

Local art teacher making a sport trophy sculpture

Local art teacher making a sport trophy sculpture

That’s me holding a sculpture made by a 5th grader. It matches my clothes!

Our dynamic closing session featured a live painting performance Stephen Fishwick set to student music and choreography, followed by a reception accompanied by jazz from San Diego Unified School District music teachers.

What a perfect day!

Thanks a million to Russ Sperling and the amazing folks at the San Diego County Office of Education, Arts Empower San Diego,  Art Pulse, Blick, Artists and Craftsmen, the San Diego Museum of ArtMingei MuseumMuseum of Photographic Arts and the Timken MuseumAERO (Art Education Resource Organization), Balboa Park Commons, SDCAEA, our local arts education associations and area museums for a wonderful conference.

Bonus: Here is a video of performance painter Stephen Fishwick!



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