Germaine Ingram is an activist and tap dancer as well as the keynote speaker for ’DEIS Impact. She spoke with Cindy Cohen, the director of Brandeis’ Peacebuilding and the Arts program, about the importance of art in the midst of conflict on Wednesday, Feb. 3. The conversation centered around Ingram’s experience as the head of a legal team in the Philadelphia school district.
According to Ingram, the school district faced a consistent problem in terms of effective schooling. This problem, like many other issues in terms of education, arose from a lack of funding on the part of the state. Ingram and her legal team sued the state of Pennsylvania in state courts and federal courts for increased school funding. These efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
However, Ingram’s passion for improving the district extended outside the courtroom. Ingram and Cohen discussed positive artistic programs that she was able to implement in the district. She used discretionary funding to pay for resident artists in a particularly troublesome middle school. Though it’s hard to quantify these artists’ impacts, Ingram feels that they positively influenced the students at the school. They facilitated conversations between students and teachers that would not otherwise have taken place. Throughout her conversation, Ingram indicated that she hopes art will be used in the future as a way of expression and creativity, particularly in times of conflict.