Involving parents as learners and advocates in community arts education can enhance student participation, cultivate greater demand for the arts, and increase community support for arts learning. In September, we spoke with Gigi Antoni, President/CEO of Big Thought (Dallas, TX), about her organization’s efforts to empower and unite children and their communities through education, arts and cultural partnerships that engage parents as key assets. In addition to providing arts learning experiences, Big Thought is a managing partner of Thriving Minds (formerly the Dallas Arts Learning Initiative), a groundbreaking systemic endeavor which provides children
and families with an extensive web of creative learning opportunities. Through Big Thought, parents take lessons and classes, participate actively in program planning and implementation, and lead advocacy efforts. In this interview, Ms. Antoni discusses how parent engagement is central to community arts education, explains her own successes and challenges, and offers advice for how other community arts education providers can motivate parents to get involved on multiple levels in a sustainable way.