During the month of July, nearly 300 educators, artists, and arts activists travel from all over the world to attend Lincoln Center Education's flagship professional development program, Summer Forum. Mingled among swing dancers, Mozart aficionados, Afropop enthusiasts, and other arts lovers who gather on Lincoln Center’s campus throughout the summer, Summer Forum participants experience hands-on workshops led by renowned teaching artists, inspiring presentations by leaders in the field, engaging discussions with colleagues from around the world, and, of course, world-class Lincoln Center performances—which provide the foundation of the Summer Forum curriculum.

Fundamental to Summer Forum is the belief that the arts empower students to think critically, collaborate, and express themselves freely. What makes the program unique is its connection to Lincoln Center’s robust campus. Learning is never confined to the classroom—it also takes place in David Geffen Hall, Clark Studio Theater, the dance floor in Damrosch Park, and New York City Ballet’s studios, among other places. Acting Executive Director of Lincoln Center Education Alex Sarian explains, "Summer at Lincoln Center sees the presentation of some of the finest and most relevant work for a wide range of audiences. Each Summer Forum workshop is framed around the richness of the Lincoln Center campus and the talent we present on our stages. The partnership that develops across disciplines and spaces just builds on what makes summer at Lincoln Center truly special."

This year’s Summer Forum, which runs through July 26, welcomes dancers, musicians, actors, visual artists, classroom and specialized teachers, curriculum developers, and principals from over 20 states and 10 countries, spanning five continents. Workshop offerings are organized in three tracks—for artists, educators, and arts advocates. Artists develop their teaching artist practice in fundamental areas including design, facilitation, student engagement, and leadership. Educators learn how to incorporate Lincoln Center Education’s inquiry-based approach into their teaching practice. And arts advocates explore current and emerging trends in the fields of arts education and community engagement, with workshops such as this summer's Inclusive Teaching Techniques for Individuals with Dementia and Caregivers and Action Research Around the Arts: Practices from Inside Schools.

Describing her experience at the first week of this year's Summer Forum, Myriam Lalumière, from Montreal, Canada, says, "I feel fortunate to be at Lincoln Center. Having the opportunity to collaborate with a cohort of educators from all over the world, I have evolved personally and professionally. I previously had some experience working with Lincoln Center Education's pedagogy, but I think I now have the understanding and tools to really help teaching artists at my institution back home."

Most days begin with a keynote speaker reflecting on the focus of the week’s workshops. This year’s speakers include #HipHopEd social media movement founder Dr. Christopher Emdin; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer and choreographer Hope Boykin; and Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin. Later in the day, participants attend world-class performances that entertain and inspire. They see works created for young audiences and families, such as The Peculiar Patriot, Liza Jessie Peterson's solo show which grapples with the systemic injustice and human impact of mass incarceration in the United States. In the evening, participants step out under the stars in Damrosch Park for Midsummer Night Swing or into one of Lincoln Center’s concert halls for the Mostly Mozart Festival, which this year includes the richly reimagined production of The Magic Flute and the virtuosic Mark Morris Dance Group. Says Ehrenkranz Artistic Director Jane Moss, "We are delighted to welcome Summer Forum participants as they enjoy and engage with this summer's vibrant programming. Artists, educators, and arts advocates will have the rare opportunity to see the work they are studying in their workshops come alive on Lincoln Center’s stages."

Experiencing Lincoln Center Education’s holistic approach to arts education and community engagement first-hand, participants immerse themselves in workshops, performances, and presentations—and in the process build community with one another. Sarian sums up the experience: "Summer Forum participants have the opportunity to experience ongoing collaboration across the Lincoln Center campus. We help participants deepen their practice, supporting them as they become advocates for this work in their own classrooms, studios, and communities."

Learn more about professional development opportunities at Summer Forum.

For more information about Lincoln Center Education, visit LincolnCenterEducation.org.

Laurel Toyofuku is Manager of Global Partnerships at Lincoln Center Education.