Bartol/Small But Mighty Arts Micro-Grants: Teaching Artistry Meets Community

*Bartol’s 2019 micro-grant application is open online through Sunday, August 25. Learn more about how to apply:


In early 2018, the Bartol Foundation partnered with Small But Mighty Arts (SBMA) to award micro-grants to teaching artists working on community-based projects. Although it may be called a “micro-grant,” the impact on teaching artists is anything but small! Keep reading to learn more about the TAs who have benefitted from this program.

Throughout 2018, Bartol/SBMA awarded 10 micro-grants totaling $5,000 to teaching artists in a range of artistic disciplines, including creative writing, dance, fabric and textile, film and video, music performance, interactive design, printmaking, and theater, among more. These teaching artists have been working in Philadelphia for an average of 18 years in communities ranging from West Philadelphia to Germantown to South Philadelphia.

Of our 2018 micro-grantees, 30% had never received a grant before. (In fact, this number is unusually low for SBMA’s grantees; typically, around 60% of their grantees are first-time grant recipients.) Around 80% were funding project expenses out of pocket—either with personal savings or money earned from a job—at an average of $483 spent per month for creative expenses. These micro-grants provide important support for teaching artists, making these projects financially feasible.

Micro-grantees have used their awards to fund various project expenses. The majority (70%) have used their grants to pay for supplies and materials, and half have been able to pay for staff support on projects. For artists who are in the middle of a project, the most important resources needed are equipment, space, and online support.


To learn more about this program, be sure to check out interviews with some of our past micro-grantees:

Chris Coyle

Alexandra Espinoza

Yinka Orafidiya

Ellen Reynolds

Rose Benson

Misty Sol

“Art is a living, breathing part of any community” – Interview with Bartol/SBMA Micro-Grantee Misty Sol

Photo courtesy of Misty Sol.

Last year, the Bartol Foundation announced a new partnership with Small But Mighty Arts to award micro-grants to teaching artists working on community-based projects. Misty Sol, a writer and visual and mixed media artist, is one of our grantees from our fall 2018 round of awards. Learn about Misty’s work in this Q&A, and check out her artist profile and Instagram to see more.

Our 2019 micro-grant application will open online on August 1st! Visit this link to learn how you can apply.


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as a teaching artist?

I believe that art is functional. Art is a living, breathing part of any community or ecosystem, and it’s an active form of wellness. As a teaching artist, I try to remind people that we have those tools. I specialize in promoting literacy – not just for language, but also eco and visual literacy. I also deal a lot with history and storytelling. A lot of my work is about positioning ourselves to tell our own stories and find the healing and wellness in that practice.


What will you be doing with the micro-grant you received from SBMA/Bartol?

I used the micro-grant for an event called The Fine Art of Wellness, which is an environment for exploring the idea of wellness. I feel like there are a lot of places you can go if you want someone to tell you how to be healthy, but I just wanted to get folks to be in a place where they could ask questions and begin to think about those things on their own. We had an art party where we did painting, ate really good food, listened to cultural music, and watched projections of Soul Train. It was like a paint and sip with a healthy twist.

This was a new idea I had, and the event was a great opportunity to move my practice forward and experiment. I am also very grateful to my partners at Art Sanctuary and The Tiny Farm Wagon.


What would you tell other teaching artists and artists working in the community about applying for a micro-grant?

Like with any grant, I really appreciate the opportunity to share my work with the community by not only getting the grant, but also with the grant panelists and Small But Mighty Arts and Bartol, and other idea-makers. I would say to other artists, please apply.

I would also say that the SBMA/Bartol grant is a good fit for you if you have a real philosophy as a teaching artist, some kind of guiding principles that are beyond just craft. And I really appreciate the way both organizations support artists and advancing culture in that way.


Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.


“Artistic expression promotes holistic wellness” – Interview with Bartol/SBMA Micro-Grantee Rose Benson

All photos courtesy of Rose Benson.

In March 2018, the Bartol Foundation announced a new partnership with Small But Mighty Arts to award micro-grants to teaching artists working on community-based projects. Rose Benson, a printmaking and drawing artist, is one of the awardees from our fall 2018 class of grantees. Read our Q&A with Rose to learn more about her work and the impact of this opportunity on her career.

We’ll be announcing the details of our fall 2019 application cycle later this summer. Stay tuned!


Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself as a teaching artist?

My career in the arts has always been as a working artist. After first completing my BFA in painting and ceramics, I completed my education and training as a nurse. My professional work as a nurse in both civilian and military settings has fueled my artistic vision, not just financially, but in terms of content as well. One of my primary goals as a nurse is to provide holistic care to all patients I come into contact with. One of my primary goals as a teaching artist is to inspire and affirm that artistic expression promotes holistic wellness through resiliency.

What will you be doing with the micro-grant you received from SBMA/Bartol?

 The SBMA/Bartol micro-grant is an amazing opportunity that has allowed me to produce a 50-book edition that tells the story of Ms. M.W., a female survivor of gun violence living in Philadelphia. After meeting with Ms. M.W. over a period of several weeks, we decided to print her work of prose that speaks specifically to what she calls her “silent battle” in the years following a violent encounter that forever changed her life. Ms. M.W. (the author) and I (the printmaker) were able to create a unique, hand-printed edition of books that will be returned to the community to further open up discussion of and recovery for the ongoing issues surrounding women experiencing gun violence in Philadelphia. This SBMA/Bartol grant has helped to inspire a larger research project surrounding this same topic within the Department of Anesthesiology at Temple University Hospital, entitled “Women Experiencing Violence: The Role of Support and Resiliency in Recovery.”

What would you tell other teaching artists working in the community about applying for a micro-grant?

This grant was the first funding award I received after graduating with my MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in May 2017. Undoubtedly, this opportunity really became the single impetus I needed to redefine myself as a working and teaching artist in the Philadelphia community after graduate school. The application process was easy to understand and easy to complete. The work of finding a partner in the community has led to a future long-term teaching artist project at Temple University Hospital where I work now. The follow-up support provided from SBMA and Bartol has been truly unprecedented in my career as an artist. This project has been, and will continue to be, a pivotal moment that has changed the trajectory of both my artistic and nursing professional work.

The following statement is from Dr. Ashish Sinha, MD PhD DABA MBA, Professor of Anesthesiology and Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Temple University Hospital. By partnering with him as the primary investigator of a long-term departmental research project entitled, ‘Women Experiencing Trauma: The Role of Support and Resiliency in Recovery,’ we will continue to investigate art as a tool for resiliency in the process of recovery from violent trauma.

I have wondered about what happens to my patients after they receive their anesthesia care from my team? Usual anesthesia interaction is an hour on each end of the procedure; maybe an hour before and another after their recovery from anesthesia drugs. They are then returned into the care of their surgeon. How well, especially the trauma cases, are able to integrate back into their ‘old’ life is a serious question we need to answer. Ms. M.W. could have been just such a case, but then I asked her “What is your story?” and “How did you end up here?” Every patient is more than their symptoms. I was shocked at the challenges she had faced in integrating back into life and how she was coping.

Ms. Benson and I had discussed starting a study about resiliency in recovery and the penny dropped on my head! Ms. M.W. is the perfect starter case for what we were planning in studying: the role of resiliency in recovery with trauma victims, especially women. Ms. M.W.’s story underscores that recovery of a patient, especially a trauma patient, does not end with body healing, as best as that might be possible, but the mind has to be healed as well. Society, both within the medical profession and out of it, has done a suboptimal job at addressing this issue. Once out of my sight (or care), are you also out of my mind? Before your mind has had a chance to heal? We hope that our study will create a blue print for recovery that might be applicable to women who experience significant trauma. We hope that we are able to educate both ourselves and other care givers in this journey.


Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.


“The arts are inherent to who we are” – Interview with Courtney J. Boddie, Creator and Host of Teaching Artistry Podcast

Photo courtesy of Courtney J. Boddie.

Last summer, our Executive Director Beth Feldman Brandt served on the selection committee for the 3Arts Awards for Chicago’s artists. While there, we connected with fellow judge Courtney J. Boddie, Director of Education/School Engagement at the New Victory Theater in New York City. Courtney runs her own podcast, Teaching Artistry, where she interviews teaching artists and arts educators nationwide to highlight the impact of teaching artistry in different communities. Read our Q&A with Courtney to learn all about this wonderful resource and her experience creating this podcast.

In season 3 of the podcast, one of Courtney’s guests will be Mindy Early, lead facilitator of Bartol’s trauma-informed training for teaching artists – be on the lookout for this interview in the fall! Be sure to also check out our past blog interview with Mindy about this program if you haven’t read it yet.


Can you tell us a bit about your background in the arts? How did you wind up starting a podcast?

I’m an actor and theater maker, and I have a graduate degree in Educational Theatre from NYU. When I started working at The New Victory Theater, I was charged with growing our new school outreach program. Up until that point, most of our student and teacher programs were held here at the theater, but now we were actually going to have a set group of teaching artists to work in classrooms. Over time, our teaching artist roster has grown larger and larger to be able to serve more schools. Full-time staff at the New Victory were also involved in teaching these programs in classrooms, which really helped cultivate my skill set as a teacher. In my heart of hearts, I’m really a teaching artist, even though I’m a Director of Education.

Since 2011, I’ve also taught a class in NYU’s Educational Theatre program called “The Teaching Artist.” When I first started, most of the information available for teaching artists was theoretical. There wasn’t a whole lot that was praxis and process-based that was geared towards helping teaching artists actually get jobs. Over time, the amount of content and resources has grown, but a lot of teaching artists still feel like they’re in silos and not necessarily part of the broader community. I felt like the podcast could be a place for hearing about other people’s stories and ways of working. There are so many different ways of coming to this work, and the field is so vast that it can feel overwhelming sometimes. The podcast is a place for us to all have a conversation and listen to one another.


What’s the most interesting or surprising thing that you’ve learned about teaching artistry through your podcast?

I started this podcast because I wanted to learn why teaching artists do this work. I’m starting to realize that people do it for a lot of different reasons, but ultimately because we think that art creates hope, and we need to spread hope. For me, the most interesting thing is that the conversation about teaching artistry is constantly evolving. No matter whom I’m talking with or what we’re talking about, the conversations flow into each other in terms of ideas they’re thinking about or questions they’re asking. At the heart of it all, we do this work because we have a great deal of passion for sharing our artistry and our art with others. The arts are inherent to who we are, and there’s something grounding about opening up space and opportunities for others. And I think teaching artists understand that we possess that responsibility—it’s sort of a treasure/burden, but we take it on.


What’s your main goal in producing this podcast? Who’s your audience and what do you hope that they’ll get out of listening?

There are a couple of goals of the podcast. One is to have interesting conversations about teaching artist work that can help the listener better understand different pathways into this work. Another goal is to be a bridge to connect the different teaching artist networks across the nation—for instance, helping larger entities and institutions reach teaching artists that are beyond their own constituents.

The main audience right now is artists and teaching artists, and people who work in the arts and arts education field. What I’ve been told that people are getting out of it is that they really love hearing the personal journeys of each of the guests. I want to vary who the guests are so we’re getting a broader range of experiences. I started out interviewing just my friends and people that I know, and I’m trying to broaden that out. We’re also working on building partnerships with other entities. We have a partnership with Teaching Artists Guild and partnered with the International Teaching Artist Conference and the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable to hold a live podcast event as part of the 2019 global conference.


Anything else you’d like to add?

Season 3 of the podcast is underway, and we would love to hear from people. What do you want to know? What do you want to hear about? Who do you want to be interviewed? It’s something that’s interesting to us, to continue to evolve what this podcast can be for the listeners.

Listen to the podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. You can get in touch by emailing or connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Koresh Kids Dance

Photo credit:

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Koresh Kids Dance is a community outreach program run by Koresh Dance Company that provides free in-school, year-round dance programs in Philadelphia public schools. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant to support this program.

These questions were answered by Loren Groenendaal, teacher for Koresh Kids Dance.


What revs you up to go to work in the morning?

I am excited to get out of bed in the morning when I think about helping children unleash their creativity through movement and seeing the joy that process brings them.


What about your work keeps you up at night?

Sometimes, I actually do lose sleep thinking about the optimal lesson plan flow. This starts with me feeling excited to go to work the next day and the plan that I made. Then I’m thinking through my plan and I start reconsidering because I always want to be the best that I can be. If I get hung up on something, it is usually rethinking what the best transition will be from one part to another part.


When do you know your work is making a difference?

This question is actually kind of hard. I think my work has more impact than is ever voiced or proven to me, but it’s difficult to prove the impact of creative dance education, especially working with children. Kids often say, “You are the best teacher ever!” And while this superlative is flattering, I don’t know if it’s true. However, I am confident that if they are giving such an extreme compliment, I must be doing most things well and making a great impact on them.

When I see that children are growing and changing from one week to the next, I know my work is having a great impact. One way I can see this is when the children are ready to take on more complexity. It is incredibly satisfying to see students collaborate with partners or in small groups and following my instructions to complete the task, which means they have a deeper understanding of the dance concept, they have the physical skill to complete it, and they are regulating their own interests with their partners, meaning they have negotiated while collaborating. This is aesthetically satisfying, but also it’s wonderful to know that children are building their 21st century skills of collaboration.

Sometimes, I am lucky enough to receive details journal entries and thank-you notes from the children explaining how much fun they had, what a great teacher they think I am, or what they learned.


What is the coolest thing a participant in your program ever said to you?

“That was fun! Can we do that again?” (in class)

“Thank you for letting me dance my way.” (in a journal – not an exact quote but something like that)


What is the most important thing you do to help your teaching artists do their best work?

As a teaching artist and working with my assistants, I think the most important thing that we do is find a balance between teaching technical skills and crafting opportunities for freedom and open exploration. Free play is a really important part of childhood development, but class should not be a complete free-for-all because it could easily become chaotic. As a dance educator, I have a different responsibility – to provide skills and structure in addition to freedom.


What is the best tip you can give to someone doing arts education programs like yours? 

Teaching can be lonely. Find a trusted colleague to discuss difficulties and celebrate successes with.


If you could magically change one thing to make your program better, what would it be?

I would multiply myself, and my brilliant colleagues and I would have dance be valued as much as all other school subjects. Dance class would be part of the regular curriculum in all pre-K to 5th grade classrooms and an option for 6th-12th graders in all public schools in the country! These Creative Dance courses would be complete with appropriate facilities, allotted time, fair wages, class sizes, and developmental progression in skills from day to day and year to year. The courses would also have a loose curriculum with a conceptual framework that could be tailored to teachers’ skills, students’ interests, school culture, and more.


What is your favorite fieldtrip? (Real or imagined.)

I love when we take the 3rd through 6th graders in various partner public schools to the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Center City to see the Koresh Dance Company and Youth Ensemble perform. Just going to this site is an out of the ordinary day for most of these kids. Then they get to see some of the most talented dancers in the city (and maybe even the country) perform in a beautiful auditorium complete with exciting lights and a hefty sound system. The kids find the Youth Ensemble particularly inspiring – to see dancers just a few years older than them dancing so well.

Last year, we added a new tradition: All of the participating students perform a dance from their seats. I think it’s exciting for the kids to say they got to perform at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre with the Koresh Dance Company as their audience.


Share a book you read that changed how you think about your work.

Brain-Compatible Dance Education by Anne Green Gilbert. Her work helps me have a through line in my lesson plan, so that the introduction that day directly serves the creativity to follow, instead of having a generic warm up.


Best. Snack. Ever. 

Molasses and almond butter on a banana. Looks gross, but tastes great and gives me what I need to dance hard.


Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc.

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) educates and entertains the public on African arts and culture through Afrocentric and ideological literacy, and via visual, audio, and performing arts. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant for their theatre program based in the Liberian community.

These questions were answered by Dr. Joe Gbaba, Founder of DATI.


What about your work keeps you up at night?

Most times, my wife says I don’t sleep at night because I wake up in the middle of the night to write articles or plays and/or to communicate with my fans on social media. This is because directing, acting, teaching literature, and other art forms I practice are not just a means to an end. For me, it is a vocation. My artistic career began with a vision forty-four years ago as a senior at a Christian boarding school in Liberia. That vision inspired me to write a play whose theme was “Integration and Unification.” These themes were divinely inspired because during my childhood days in Liberia, there was a great political divide between the haves and have-nots.

The political divide based on ethnicity in Liberia inspired me to write my first drama, entitled “Life Story of Kekula.” The play is set in an Americo-Liberian settlement. Kekula’s father was a local farmer that befriended the Americo-Liberian family whose daughter named Sussie fell in love with an Indigenous Liberian named Kekula. Sussie got pregnant and her parents insisted that they both get married because they did not want their first grandchild to be born out of wedlock. Hence, consummating the first marriage between an Americo-Liberian and Native Liberian symbolically began the integration.

Nine years later, I as a Native Liberian whose descendants were ancient African Jews from East Africa also married an Americo-Liberian, my wife of thirty-five years! So, the story I was inspired to write was all about my future. Over the decades, more Liberians have intermarried and had children who are now considered the “core lineage” because they are related to both sides of the political spectra of Liberia. In essence, my work has deep historical and political roots. For the past forty-four years, my calling as a Liberian playwright propelled me to educate and entertain Liberians and the international community about the history and culture of Africa and Liberia. Waking up at night to write and/or communicate with my support base is a sense of obligation to the task God has inspired me to undertake throughout my life on earth.


What is the coolest thing a participant in your program ever said to you?

One of the coolest things a participant in a recent theatre production said was:

“Dr. Joseph Gbaba, you’re the man Sir who make people ‘break legs’ we pledge our unflinching commitment to DATI under you stewardship. God bless you daddy.” (Culled from Facebook.)

I felt grateful and self-fulfilled that I could help to harness the talent of someone who had never acted before prior to his being cast in my production!


When do you know your work is making a difference?

I know my work is making a difference when I do self-appraisal or when I read feedback from my readers and fans on social media. For instance, Facebook alerts me about the responses of my fans and followers. Over the past year and a half, most of my articles I have published on Facebook on the Dehkontee Artists Theatre Timeline get more than five to six thousand views per week. Many of my fans from around the globe contact me to express their satisfaction regarding the type of services I provide globally, and this helps me realize I am making a difference in the lives of millions of people who read my posts on the internet and/or watch my outreach programs on YouTube or the DATI website.


What is the most important thing you do to help your teaching artists do their best work?

I help my teaching artists most of the time by modeling and by making them the center of their own learning experiences. I use inquiry-based teaching techniques to make sure they are truly grounded in the teaching and learning processes we engage in with our students and participants. I do this to show them I appreciate the fund of knowledge they bring to the teaching and learning arena and I submit myself as a student would to help my colleagues realize that I learn from them as well.


Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

Children perform a classical Indian dance at the Al-Bustan End of Summer Camp Celebration. (Photo credit: Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture on Facebook.)


As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture is dedicated to presenting and teaching Arab culture through the arts and language. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant for general operating support.

These questions were answered by Megan Madison, Public Education Manager, and Aimee Knaus, Marketing and Events Coordinator.


What revs you up to go to work in the morning?

Megan: Seeing my colleagues…and COFFEE!


What about your work keeps you up at night?

Megan: Depends on the day – anything from logistics for an upcoming event to remembering to take something to a student the next time I see them. Every day is something new!


When do you know your work is making a difference?

Aimee: When I see relationships being formed between participants in our programs. This week that meant watching a nurse at Penn translate for a high schooler from El-Salvador in our community percussion ensemble, introducing a food blogger from Baltimore to a Syrian chef with a stand at Reading Terminal Market at our Marhaba Series, and a mother from our program like my sister’s comment on our Instagram post.


What is the coolest thing a participant in your program ever said to you?

Megan: I honestly cannot remember a specific comment, but a number of program participants have sat down with me and just started telling me their personal stories of migration and identity. Those moments are truly memorable and meaningful.


What is the most important thing you do to help your teaching artists do their best work?

Megan: Provide a forum in which they not only feel valued as artists but heard and supported as teachers. I think a lot of that has to do with showing up and being present. If you just send them to do the work but you don’t show up yourself it is more difficult to truly provide meaningful support.


What is the best tip you can give to someone doing arts education programs like yours?

Megan: Be patient and remember the big picture. Sometimes we run into challenges with resources, partnerships, logistics and the bigger picture is lost in a sea of details. Remember the larger goals and outcomes and don’t forget that what you are doing is making a difference in someone’s life. Be patient and with time you will see the benefit the program and work you are doing is yielding.


If you could magically change one thing to make your program better, what would it be?

Aimee: Bring more participants to our programs! Our teaching artist Hafez Kotain often says that his dream is for every person in Philadelphia to know and experience Arabic percussion. I fully agree with him that anyone and everyone would enjoy learning to play Arabic rhythms. As Marketing Coordinator, it is easy for me to want to promote our events and programs because I wholeheartedly believe that people will love them!


What is your favorite field trip?

Aimee: Our team took a trip to Longwood Gardens one day in the fall which was fun! My favorite part was sharing a mushroom popsicle at a mushroom farm in Kennet Square. Team bonding and content for our Insta-story!


Best snack ever.

Megan: Anything in our office. Our office culture really promotes snacks so we all take turns bringing special treats in to share, and our director even makes us homemade Arabic meals! If I had to choose, maybe zaatar and jibneh mana’eesh.


Partnering for Community Engagement – Recapping the PHENND Conference on Trauma & the Arts

Three staff members, one board member, and nine teaching artists from the Bartol Foundation recently had the pleasure of joining PHENND (Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development) for their 30th anniversary conference on Trauma and the Arts. We attended a jam-packed two days of workshops and talks by innovative thinkers in arts, higher education, and behavioral health organizations about strategies for working with trauma-impacted populations. Towards the end of the conference, the conversation shifted towards a critical, ever-complicated question: How can we take these ideas to scale to provide resources for a broader population?

At Bartol, we’ve been working to address this question over the past year. In the fall of 2018, we launched a new intensive 20-hour training on trauma-informed practice for teaching artists. So far, we’ve graduated two cohorts of 12 teaching artists each from this program. Our first class estimates they will work with 1,700 young people at 40 locations this year. They will take this training with them wherever they go, furthering their impact on Philadelphia’s communities.

The individuals who accompanied us at this conference enjoyed making connections and furthering their thinking around what it means to be trauma-informed. Read below for some of their reactions.


Guest Facilitator for our training program, Shavon Norris, observed the value of spending time in spaces with like-minded advocates for the arts and healing.

“I am an Artist. Educator. Facilitator. Often times I find myself in spaces where my working and doing is unlike others around me. I don’t mind this. I love what I do. And this unlikeness tends to lead to conversations and experiences that expand my perspective and the perspective of others.  

At the conference, I was like a lot of the humans in the room. The language used. The methods of working. The reflection and celebration of art as healing and restoration and communal. The reasons for being in collaboration and learning with communities. It was affirming and inspiring and refreshing to be in space with others like me.”


Trauma training grad Caitlin Antram took away something interesting from multiple workshops.

“- The importance of reaching out to the community you wish to serve as a collaborator and partner.

 – The significance of process and play in healing arts methodology, social support and relationship building over ‘skills.’

 – A huge insight from the ‘Storiez’ workshop (Dr. Meagan Corrado) about the relative unimportance of considering where you’ve been vs. where you are going.”



Bartol Foundation Administrator Melissa Talley-Palmer led the group in connecting with others at the conference.

“My take away from the conference truly was the number of contacts I was able to make and resources offered up to attendees. It was great to witness all of the content from classes as well as panelists. There were many emotional connections as well as exciting ah-ha moments.”


Learn more about Bartol’s Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists Training. Be sure to also check out our guest blog post on Philanthropy Network talking about our plenary address at PHENND.


Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Asian Arts Initiative

Photo courtesy of Asian Arts Initiative.

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Asian Arts Initiative advances racial equity and understanding, activating artists, youth, and their communities through creative practice and dialogue grounded in the diverse Asian American experience. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant for general operating support.

These questions were answered by Catherine Lee, Development and Communications Manager.


Best. Snack. Ever.



What is your favorite field trip? (Real or imagined.)

Jjimjilbang (Korean spa).


What revs you up to go to work in the morning?

The students of our youth program.


When do you know your work is making a difference?

When students give speeches about their experience here.


Closing Reflections: Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists, Round 2

The class of 12 teaching artists from Bartol’s spring 2019 trauma-informed practice training.

This past weekend, the Bartol Foundation graduated the second cohort of teaching artists from our new trauma-informed practice training. These teaching artists have completed 20 hours of training over five Saturdays, learning about trauma’s effect on the brain, how to recognize signs of trauma, and how to adapt their lesson plans to work with trauma-impacted populations. Over the next year, these artists will work with thousands of students in communities all over Philadelphia, taking this training with them wherever they go.

Keep reading to hear some of the teaching artists’ main takeaways and lessons learned.


I grew…

  • As a teaching artist, as a human being wanting to make a difference in building resilience in youth impacted by trauma.
  • My capacity for empathy and patience in challenging situations, as well as my own emotional intelligence.
  • My perspective, my compassion, my determination.


I take away…

  • The mindset of not feeling like I need to solve a problem to make things better. The fact that I can acknowledge a problem, feeling, or issue is helpful and/or progressive.
  • New tools and community connections with Bartol and fellow TAs that will allow me to broaden my understanding and deepen my commitment to this important work.
  • Many new examples of teaching openers, closers, and lessons plans.


I question…

  • Authority and power structures in our society.
  • How I can enact these principles in times when I’m responsible for so many people.
  • My perceptions of how I think I should support my students.


I seek…

  • More opportunities to apply these practices in more contexts and with varying populations.
  • Methods in practicing these skills with students who do not speak English as their first language.
  • More time to reflect and be meaningful in my practice.


I resolve…

  • I can commit that I will continue to practice and model trauma-informed practice in my class settings to the best of my ability.
  • To (re)focus on the process and expression of art-making rather than the products.
  • To continue to strengthen and prioritize my conviction that trauma-informed practices benefit everyone; myself, my students, other practitioners, and witnesses.


Plans are currently underway to offer this training in fall 2019. Sign up for Bartol’s email newsletter and follow us on social media and be the first to learn how you can apply.


Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Taller Puertorriqueño

A Bomba y Plena performance from Taller’s Summer Camp. (Photo courtesy of Taller Puertorriqueño.)


As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Taller Puertorriqueño preserves, develops, and promotes Puerto Rican arts and culture, grounded in the conviction that embracing one’s cultural heritage is central to community empowerment. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant for arts and cultural education programs.

These questions were answered by Katerina Lydon, Development Associate, and Carmen Febo-San Miguel, Executive Director and CEO.


What revs you up to go to work in the morning?

At Taller we are motivated constantly by three things:

  1. The ever increasing needs our programs fulfill for the children, youth, and community we serve.
  2. The depth of the commitment, friendships and connections that the organizational members have with each other.
  3. The amazing children and the dynamic communities we serve.


What about your work keeps you up at night?

An ongoing concern for us at Taller is that we receive the funding we need and deserve, commensurate to the work that we do and in equal support with other organizations in the city. Equality and diversity in distribution of donations and funds are critical to our mission to provide programming with the best possible execution and implementation methods.


When do you know your work is making a difference?

A few wonderful daily reminders help us stay grounded at Taller, helping us not to forget that our hard work and commitment to our mission is making a daily difference. One is the smiling faces of the parents who come to pick up their children up after school. They walk into Taller’s bright beautiful atrium filled with Latino art, artifacts, crafts and literature. Their contentment reminds us that the children we serve bring the pride in their culture back to their families and communities; communities who oftentimes face encroachments on this sense of pride in their everyday lives. Then, of course, is the laughter we hear every day of the children who are participants in the program. Their confident and happy faces are a daily reminder of the safe space that we provide.


What is the coolest thing a participant in your program ever said to you?

Recently a participant said “I am going to be the first Latino President who has Autism.” This is cool on a few levels, one is that he believes another Latino president may precede him, and the other is that he sees neither his Latino heritage nor his Autism as holding him back or disqualifying him from being president.


What is the most important thing you do to help your teaching artists do their best work?

Communicating with them. Our programs at Philadelphia schools are dynamic and responsive, in addition to structured and adhering to a curriculum. We constantly communicate with both our teachers and the staff at the schools in which we visit, drawing feedback from our collaborators and implementing it into our activities.


What is the best tip you can give to someone doing arts education programs like yours?

When approaching working with at-risk youth, one thing to keep in mind is to surround them with positive energy and positive people. Everyone at Taller has some experience with the struggles and obstacles that program participants face. What keeps them coming to Taller is the exuberance and positivity that the staff and teachers bring to their classrooms and to their activities.


If you could magically change one thing to make your program better, what would it be?

ABRACADABRA! To increase the visibility of the program so that there would be more exposure for the teachers and curriculums to others in their fields, but also our organization and the community we serve.


What is your favorite field trip? (Real or imagined.)

Please. Puerto Rico, of course!


Share a book you read that changed how you think about your work.

Recently, a staff member read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, a graphic novel that is a memoir of a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, and her and her parents’ ultimate emigration from their turbulent homeland.

The book helped readers to understand the deep ties that cultural experiences can have to peoples identities, the impact of political and diasporic struggles, and also how a child’s viewpoint can have such a poignant and genuine perspective on adult events. It reminds us that knowledge of culture, history, and immigrant and migrant struggles are experienced every day in Philadelphia, and the attention we pay toward nurturing the children who encounter these life paths is the investment we make in the literary, artistic, and leadership currency of our future world.


Best.  Snack. Ever.

Rice & Beans.


“Social media is one of the primary ways that many people receive information” – Interview with Lauren Scharf, Bartol Foundation Social Media Coordinator

Photo courtesy of Lauren Scharf.

For this post, we are going to turn the tables and interview Lauren Scharf, Bartol’s Social Media Coordinator and a recent graduate from the University of the Arts Museum Communication master’s program. 


We found you through an internship fair at UArts a year and a half ago. Can you tell us about your program and why you were interested in working with us?

My program at UArts explores the various audience-building and communication areas of museum work, such as marketing, development and fundraising, audience research/evaluation, and digital media. The program has a strong practical focus; nearly all of our courses involve some sort of hands-on project, often working in collaboration with local museums or cultural organizations.

Back when I first applied to my program, I was specifically interested in learning more about how museums can more effectively serve their surrounding communities. When I learned about the Bartol Foundation, I was immediately drawn to its mission to make the arts accessible to people of all walks of life, funding small organizations that have a big impact on their communities. The position also seemed like a terrific opportunity to hone my social media and digital marketing skills, supplementing my coursework at UArts. Because Bartol is such a small organization, I’ve been given a lot of responsibility and have been able to work on a wide variety of projects—I handle all of Bartol’s social media, I get to attend board meetings, and I even got to work on a big grant application last year.


What role do you see social media playing for a foundation like Bartol? How do you think your work with Bartol has expanded its visibility and impact?

For a small organization, social media is a cost-effective approach to marketing our workshops and events. Social media also allows you to target audiences based on both geographic regions and interests, which provides a fair amount of control in reaching our intended audience—teaching artists in the Philadelphia area. In this day and age, social media is one of the primary ways that many people receive information and stay in the loop, so it’s an important strategy to keep in touch with our audiences.

My predecessor, Elizabeth Clay (a fellow UArts Museum Studies alumna!), did an excellent job setting up all of our social media platforms and establishing guidelines. Since this initial groundwork was done before I got here, my role has been focused on continuing her work and thinking of new strategies to extend Bartol’s impact. As one example, I started an ongoing Q&A series on our blog where we interview different individuals in the broader Bartol community—staff and board members, grantees, teaching artists, workshop leaders, and so forth. This has been a great way of getting to know the Bartol Foundation on a more personal level and communicating the importance of our work.


What advice would you give a teaching artist or grantee who is thinking of expanding their social media presence to spread the word about their programs?

In my Museum Studies courses, we constantly talk about the importance of knowing your audience—and social media is no different. For instance, if you’re using social media to promote your work as an artist or organization, think about who you’re trying to reach and what type of content they’re interested in seeing. Since Bartol’s primary audience is teaching artists, I try to focus on content that will be relevant to their work, such as professional development/job opportunities and resources that they can apply to their teaching practice.

Our fabulous social media consultants at ChatterBlast are also huge advocates for social media as a storytelling platform. If you’re working on a long-term project, it’s important to document the process from start to finish so that your followers have a vested interest in the end result. This doesn’t have to be a hugely time-consuming effort—it can be something as simple as sharing occasional photographs and/or short social media posts over the course of the project.


Anything else you would like to tell us?

Thank you to everyone at Bartol for giving me this amazing opportunity! I’ve immensely enjoyed being a part of the Bartol team over the past year and a half, and I couldn’t have asked for a better learning experience or more collegial work environment.


Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO)

PHILADANCO’s Six-Week Summer Intensive with participants from the Bartol-funded Instruction & Training Program. (Photo credit: PHILADANCO.)

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) builds the skills of emerging and professional dancers and choreographers in a nurturing environment, while increasing the appreciation of dance among its many communities. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant for their Instruction & Training Program.

These questions were answered by Veronica Castillo-Perez, Administrator.


What about your work keeps you up at night?  

The one thing that keeps me up at night is always the lack of funding for the arts especially for the organizations of color that are blatantly excluded from any real funding sources.


When do you know your work is making a difference? 

When a 10-year-old child says she doesn’t mind coming in early because she is determined to be a dancer.


What is the coolest thing a participant in your program ever said to you?

“I’m determined.”


What is the most important thing you do to help your teaching artists do their best work?  

Provide master classes from visiting choreographers that are world-renowned artists in their field.


What is the best tip you can give to someone doing arts education programs like yours?

Be consistent.


If you could magically change one thing to make your program better, what would it be? 

Make it eternally sustainable.


What is your favorite field trip? (Real or imagined.) 

Visiting a foreign country and learning about a new culture.


Share a book you read that changed how you think about your work.

It hasn’t been written yet.


Best. Snack. Ever. 



“Movement allows us to see ourselves in new and different ways” ­– Interview with Shavon Norris, Artist, Educator, Facilitator

Photo courtesy of Shavon Norris.

As part of our effort to create resources for trauma-informed practice, the Bartol Foundation will be hosting two workshops this month that explore artistic expression as a path towards healing. On March 26, teaching artist Shavon Norris will lead a participatory workshop about incorporating movement into lesson plans in ways that meet the needs and abilities of participants.

Read our Q&A with Shavon to learn more about her teaching artist practice and how she views movement as a tool for self-expression and healing.


Can you tell us a bit about your teaching artist practice?

The sharing and exchange of the art with other people informs how I make art. As a teaching artist, I am offering an opportunity for people to have a better understanding or a new experience with themselves, which in turn offers me a lot of information about the type of art I am making and what type of educator I want to be. That teaching moment is an amazing experience for me, and that exchange goes into my art as well. It’s a cyclical relationship, which I really love. I think that I learn just as much from whoever’s in the room with me as I’m trying to offer learning for them.

At the root of my practice, I am interested in creating moments and opportunities of pleasure. I’m always interested in people trying things in ways that feel good for them. A lot of people worry about wanting to please others or do things in the “right” way, and I always counter that by asking them if something feels pleasurable versus uncomfortable.


How do you see movement as a path towards healing?

I love that question, because I believe that there’s a way that our experiences and identities—our history, heritage, and culture—exist on and in our bodies. For me, movement offers an opportunity for us to explore those things and reinvent, rewrite, rearrange, or celebrate them. There are ways that trauma definitely has an impact on our bodies, and offering people an opportunity to move with that gives way to healing.

We have a habit of thinking about ourselves and our bodies in certain ways, and movement allows us to see ourselves in new and different ways, which can then offer healing to past hurt, harm, or trauma. Because then we create a new narrative, and we’re able to experience our bodies in ways we didn’t know was an option for us. I think that moving can help us reprogram, address, or redefine new ways for us to see ourselves, and giving ourselves these new options can offer potential for healing. More options means that I can move towards the pain and/or have a conversation with the pain, and offer myself a new way of moving through it or experiencing it.


So many people are self-conscious about their body and moving. As a teaching artist, how do you create spaces where everyone feels comfortable with movement?

I don’t know if I create spaces where everybody feels comfortable with movement. I think I create invitations for people to participate with permission and freedom to have some agency over their bodies. I try to use language along the lines of “I welcome you, I invite you, I encourage you” so that people feel like they are making a choice to participate and not being forced. I celebrate being goofy or making mistakes so people know that this is okay. When the person in charge is demonstrating the things that are going to be practiced, that really helps put people at ease. I often say things like “trust me when you trust me” so that people know that my expectation is not for them to immediately love or enjoy what we’re doing, but to go on an adventure.

If people are not into moving at that moment, I also give permission for them to sit down and take a moment. Having this option allows people to feel that they have the power to step into the room in ways that feel good for them and take risks in a healthy way. That takes time, and maybe the 45 minutes that I have with a person doesn’t allow for them to feel completely comfortable, but if they have been in the space and stay in the space, then that feels like a win for me. I don’t have a lot of expectations for everyone to do exactly what I’m offering them, and I try to make that clear so that when they do participate, I’m celebrating each step forward. I acknowledge when things might feel uncomfortable or strange, as opposed to having people feel immediate shame or guilt about not liking it or wanting to participate. I welcome all of the feelings, all of the discomfort, all of the joy, all of the humanity.


Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.