All this week, I’m away from ASFA-CW attending the annual Arts Schools Network conference. This year, the conference is being held in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and today, conference attendees visited several arts schools and conservatories in the Twin Cities metroplex. The first school I visited this morning was PiM — the Performing Institute of Minnesota Arts High School, in nearby Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
It’s tempting — too tempting — to think of a school like ASFA as a one-of-a-kind, Hogwarts type of place: half secret society, half Island of Misfit Toys, half Parris Island of specialty education (yes: [at least] three halves; it’s just that kind of place). And in some respects (the best respects) ASFA truly is unique. In fact, the state of Alabama expects nothing less: it’s ostensibly mandated that ASFA offers unique instruction in its six specialty areas, instruction that young Alabama creatives can’t really get anywhere else.
A short visit to a school like PiM puts a different slant of light on things, though. The big takeaway, for me, is that we’re not alone in the world. There are other schools of witchcraft and wizardry in Harry Potter; likewise, there are other passionate people — students, teachers, school administrators — building and nurturing dynamic creative communities full of possibility and imagination. Everywhere. That’s, like, a Thing, in the world. And it means we ASFAns are not alone in fighting this good fight, which I (for one) find very empowering, very encouraging — and very, very inspiring.