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Bartol Blog

Learn what is happening in the field of arts education and teaching artistry. Past blog posts with links to resources can be found by searching or by clicking on a category below. Check in often as we update our blog and link to local and national resources.

“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 info@teachingartistry.org 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: www.koreshdance.org

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.

Chaat.

 

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. 

Popcorn.

 

“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.

 

“Learn how to be not just consumers but creators of their own media” – Interview with Gretjen Clausing, Executive Director of PhillyCAM

Photo courtesy of Gretjen Clausing.

At the Bartol Foundation, we strive to connect teaching artists with resources to help them develop their skills and build valuable relationships within the community. 2018 Bartol grantee PhillyCAM is a community media center that brings together the people of Philadelphia to make and share media that promotes creative expression, democratic values, and civic participation.

Read our interview with Gretjen Clausing, Executive Director, to learn more about PhillyCAM’s resources and how you can get involved.

 

Can you tell us a bit about PhillyCAM?

PhillyCAM is a community media center. We operate the public access television channels for the city of Philadelphia, and we also are the license holder of an FM radio station, WPPM 106.5. At the core of what we do is providing Philadelphians—particularly those who have not typically had access—with opportunities to express themselves, tell their stories, or cover an issue in their community through media.

We offer training and access to folks who are interested in learning how to use video or audio to create their own non-commercial content, to then be shared on our cable channels or radio station. We offer classes in video, television, and audio production. People can learn how to operate a television studio, how to edit video using Adobe Premiere, or how to be a radio show producer. We also have an after-school youth media program that is open to young people age 14 to 21. Participants can take classes in media-making, and they also get introduced to media literacy concepts and learn how to be not just consumers but creators of their own media.

 

What types of resources are available to PhillyCAM community members, and what’s the process for accessing them?

PhillyCAM is a membership organization. We have over 800 members, both individuals and nonprofit organizations. To become a member, we ask that folks attend a free info session to tour our facilities, which is kind of like a “first date” to see if it’s something that you’re interested in. An individual membership is $30 per year, and a nonprofit membership is on a sliding scale based on budget ranging from $40 to $275 per year. Once PhillyCAM members have gone through the introductory Community Media Workshop, they then have access to our programs and resources, including three television studios and a media lab where folks can learn how to edit their own projects.

It’s important to note that all of the spaces and equipment that our members have access to are in support of them creating content for PhillyCAM’s television channel or radio station. But it is your content, so the exciting thing is that you can then use [the content you produce for PhillyCAM] however you want. We help our organizational members produce content to feature their organization, such as a public service announcement or a documentation of a performance. In addition to building capacity within your organization by teaching staff how to make their own media, we are supporting you in creating something that you can share on your website or social media to demonstrate your work.

 

What are some of the ways that teaching artists can use PhillyCAM’s resources in their practice? How can interested teaching artists learn more?

I think teaching artists would be able to benefit from being part of a creative community. The thing that’s really unique about PhillyCAM is that you have these volunteers who are incredibly passionate about using media to express their ideas, and media is inherently something that you need to do with other people. Folks are oftentimes looking for a crew and support on their projects, and then in turn they can also support you in creating your projects. We really try to create a learning community amongst all of our members.

What I think would be exciting is if teaching artists use our facilities to demonstrate their practice and share that with our viewing and listening audiences. To get a better idea of our resources, I would encourage teaching artists to visit the Watch and Listen sections of our website to acquaint themselves with the content that our members have created. Around 80% of our members identify as creating content related to arts and culture, so there are a lot of really tremendous performances and interviews with Philadelphia-based artists.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Warrior Writers

Photo credit: Warrior Writers on Facebook.

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Warrior Writers works to create a culture that articulates veterans’ experiences, build a collaborative community for artistic expression, and bear witness to war and the full range of military experiences. They received a $7,500 Bartol grant for their Veterans and Iraqis video project.

These questions were answered by Lovella Calica, founder and director of Warrior Writers.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

When people keep coming back, when people are excited about it, when there’s smiles and laughter and friendship growing.

 

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

This organization/community saved/saves my life.

 

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

Believe in them, struggle with them, grow with them, keep working at it even when it’s hard.

 

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

Take care of yourself, model it, teach it, do it with each other and participants. Think about and do and embody community care and self-care.

 

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

More money of course – more staff, programming, less stress and worry!

 

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

The Philippines with my whole family, still dreaming…

 

Best.  Snack. Ever.

Fresh cold cherries and mangos.

“I realized just how transformative performance could be” – Interview with New Bartol Board Member Catzie Vilayphonh

Photo courtesy of Catzie Vilayphonh.

As part of an ongoing Q&A series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s artistic community. Catzie Vilayphonh is an award-winning writer, spoken word poet, and multi-media artist. We welcomed Catzie to the Bartol team in January 2019 as part of our cohort of three new board members. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram to learn more about her work.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your background in the arts?

I began my career as an artist when I was 18 and had just graduated from high school. My first foray into the arts outside of school was through a workshop at Asian Arts Initiative (a longtime Bartol grantee) where we wrote monologues based on our own stories and performed them on stage. Once I performed as part of that group, I would go to more practice groups or anything improv or theatre arts-related, and we also got to perform at Fringe Festival. That experience was an eye-opener in terms of what performing arts could be, because in my mind it was always just acting, rather than actually writing our own scripts. I realized just how transformative performance could be for a person. That experience set the trajectory of me constantly finding different art forms to express whatever I was trying to say at the time.

When I was growing up, there also wasn’t a lot of representation of Asian-Americans in media, so it was really empowering to be able to share my story with audiences. I felt a responsibility to do my part to make sure the stories that are told about us are authentic and true to ourselves and by real people.

 

What attracted you to becoming involved with the Bartol Foundation as a board member?

I had been following along with the Bartol Foundation’s email newsletter for a while. I learned that Bartol was looking for new board members through Gayle Isa, who, up until recently, was the Executive Director of the Asian Arts Initiative. Gayle is somebody who I’ve known for a long, long time and was one of the first people I met when I became involved in the arts, and knowing that this was something she recommended made me want to participate. Being an artist who sometimes has to work another job, I’m not able to be involved in the arts as much as I would like. Participating with Bartol is a great way for me to stay connected to that network and learn more about the kind of support that’s out there for artists, even if it doesn’t come from Bartol directly.

 

What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in your time on the Bartol board?

I’m looking forward to learning more about the different organizations in Philadelphia and seeing what they have to offer, regardless of whether or not they get the grants. As someone who runs an art organization myself, I’m always interested in learning what other organizations are doing. I’m looking forward to seeing how teachers teach a hands-on class, how organizations offer youth and adult programs, or even what kinds of art forms are being highlighted.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m really happy to be part of this group of women. I’m looking forward to it.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Power Street Theatre Company

Photo credit: powerstreettheatre.com.

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Power Street Theatre Company is home to a collective of fierce, multicultural and multidisciplinary artists dedicated to the mission of empowering marginalized artists and communities of color throughout Philadelphia and beyond. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant for their free theatre program for diverse adults.

These questions were answered by Gabriela Sanchez, Founder and Managing Director, and Erlina Ortiz, Playwright, Performer, and Director.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

Gabriela: As the founder of Power Street Theatre Company, I produced our first production MinorityLand, an experimental piece in response to overwhelming gentrification occurring on Temple’s campus. To encourage new theatre audiences to engage with this work around gentrification, I canvassed the surrounding neighborhoods and built relationships with other social-justice organizations within the community to bring their participants to see the play, and through these actions, I opened conversations around what theatre is and could or should be. Stay tuned for MinorityLand 2019!

Erlina: I know my work is making a difference when a group of young Latinas came up to me after one of my shows, and they were all so emotional and excited to see a show that showcased their lives and their struggle in an honest and humorous way.

 

Best. Snack. Ever.

Gabriela: Carrot cake from the Carrot Cake Man in West Philly.

 

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

Erlina: Sometimes when I wake up in the morning the characters from my plays are just freely talking to me. Most of it won’t end up in the play, but it helps me get to know them better. So sometimes, it is just exciting to wake up and listen, then that perfect moment will make itself clear, and I hop out of bed to my computer and write it down.

 

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

Erlina: My favorite field trip would be a trip to Mars! On the way there, we would have required readings on Space and Time and Science, and we’d stay for a week on the planet writing and learning how to be an alien before we head back.

 

“Mapping the careers of teaching artists requires a very complex system” – Interview with WT McRae, New Victory Theater Teaching Artist

Photo courtesy of New Victory Theater.

Plan the next steps in your career with the Bartol Foundation! On Monday, February 11, our colleagues from the nationally recognized New Victory Theater will be traveling down from New York City to share their Teaching Artist Pathways Tool with us.

Read our Q&A with one of the workshop leaders, WT McRae, to learn more about how this tool can serve your TA practice. More info and registration details can be found on our workshops page.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your work with New Victory Theater?

I’ve been a teaching artist with The New Victory Theater since 2008. During that time, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching ages 0-100, doing audience engagement in various public settings, and developing curriculums in collaborative ways for a number of programs. The New Vic is a remarkable organization! They have really embraced the talents of teaching artists and apply our work to programs at all levels. Some examples include administrative think tank (enrichment team), internal training and professional development design and facilitation, research strategy planners, and arts education field research. I feel lucky to be in a place where my artistry, expertise, and intellect are valued in such an exciting way.

 

Can you explain what the Teaching Artist Pathways Tool is and how it can benefit teaching artists?

A few years ago, I participated in a convening on the Sustainability of the Teaching Artist, led by Eric Booth and hosted by the National Guild for Community Arts Education. Working alongside people from all over the country engaged in this work, we took on the particular task of mapping career trajectories for teaching artists. We found that teaching artists come into the field from so many different backgrounds and entry points—and teaching artistry has always been housed in different institutional settings, funded for different purposes, and called so many different things—that mapping the careers of teaching artists requires a very complex system.

What we developed is the Teaching Artist Pathways Tool, which is somewhat like a professional development board game and coloring page. We imagined a tool that could function like a map of their careers—teaching artists could map out where they’ve been and plan where they were going next. This effort helps them understand their work as a career, instead of a series of discrete experiences. The tool has now been through several stages of iterative design, and we’ve had the opportunity to run many groups of artists through the process. What we’ve found is that early-career artists find that the tool illuminates where they can go, while more experienced artists really enjoy piecing their career path together, talking about common trajectories, and dreaming for their own future.

 

What is the most surprising or interesting thing that can happen when teaching artists consider their careers using the TAP Tool?

Immediately? They can start to see their work as a career. That alone can be a transformative experience for many people who have found themselves doing mission-driven work that is often not exactly what they’d planned to do in their careers. But it really develops a sense of community. It allows you to see how your colleagues and friends have moved through the field to arrive at this point of adjacency, and to hone strategies for dreaming, collaborative accountability, and advocating for ourselves and each other in the organizations we work with.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Tibetan Association of Philadelphia

Photo credit: Tibetan Association of Philadelphia on Facebook.

 

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. The Tibetan Association of Philadelphia strives to preserve and promote the unique Tibetan culture, traditions, and language within the Tibetan Community and further the just cause of Tibet. They received a $7,500 Bartol grant for their Tibetan cultural dance and song program.

These questions were answered by the Tibetan Association’s Sunday School teachers and directors.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

When the kids perform well on the quizzes and when they seem enthusiastic about learning Tibetan.

 

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

When the students said, “It is so fun. Need to do again.”

 

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

To provide good resources and create a positive and healthy environment. I make sure to give them assignments regularly and also switch up the teaching methods often such as giving them an art projects or tests or assignments, discussions and such. This ensures that they are not bored with the monotony of the traditional method of teachers talking and students listening.

 

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

Have fun, learn, and enjoy. Having fun while learning helps to retain information better because the process is enjoyable and memorable. Keep the students engaged. Keep it interesting. Give them breaks. The average span of attention these young children is very short so trying to drill information for hours on end will not be successful. Find ways to encourage them whether it be in encouraging words, little toys, or treats (these do not have be expansive). If they can relate to you and like you, they will listen and learn.

 

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

Having a community center will help with the effectiveness and quality of all the programs that we undertake. More resources and more hands-on projects.

 

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

My favorite field trip was a Sunday School field trip to Wissahickon Valley Park Trail during summer camp. Children got to learn about the environment and its related words in the Tibetan language. They got to play and learn.

 

Save the Dates! Announcing Bartol’s Winter-Spring 2019 Workshops

You asked and we delivered! Check out the Bartol Foundation’s upcoming workshops. Registration opens 4-6 weeks in advance – sign up for our email newsletter and like us on Facebook and be the first to know when you can register.

 

Books and Words: Bookbinding and Poetry Workshop

Tuesday, January 22, 2019, 9:30am-12pm

Join Candy Alexandra González (a Latinx papermaker, printmaker, book artist and young poet) for this hands-on session for teaching artists who want to incorporate simple bookbinding and poetry writing into their teaching practice. Register here.

 

TA Play Date: Let’s Put on a Show! Theatre in 60 Minutes

Monday, January 28, 2019, 5:30-7:00pm

Led by master teaching artist, Maureen Sweeney and tech teaching artist, Raven Buck, this session will share quick (and cheap) strategies to create a theatre piece in 60 minutes. Register here. 

 

Stop Motion Animation: Creating Community with Animation

Wednesday, February 6, 2019, 5:30pm-8pm

Back by popular demand, media artist Jennie Thwing will lead this workshop focused on simple techniques used to run a community workshop in stop motion animation. Register here.

 

Building your Teaching Artist Pathway

Monday, February 11, 2019, 10am-12pm

In this hands-on, reflective session, you will investigate where you are now in your career and how to intentionally plan for a career for a teaching artist that suits you as an artist and educator. Register here.

 

Marketing: Teaching Artist Statement

Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 9:30am-12pm

Led by Michelle Angela Ortiz, former Program Manager at the Bartol Foundation and experienced Teaching Artist, you will draft a teaching artist statement that reflects your unique point of view and the ‘product’ you will be marketing to your potential audience. Register here.

 

Teaching Artist Play Date: Drumming your Story

Monday, March 11, 2019, 5:30pm-7pm

In this drumming workshop participants will explore the power of musical expression, build community, acquire tools for coping with stress, and be granted permission to create and succeed in a fun and safe space without the pressure being perfect. Register here.

 

Trauma-Informed Practice: Movement as Healing

Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 9:30am-12pm

Teaching artist Shavon Norris will lead us through a fully-participatory workshop to experience how to incorporate movement in your lessons in ways that meet the needs and abilities of your participants. Register here.

 

Marketing Yourself as a Teaching Artist: Creating your Signature Lessons

Wednesday, April 10, 2019, 9:30am-12pm

Led by Michelle Angela Ortiz, former Program Manager at the Bartol Foundation and experienced Teaching Artist, you will choose your signature lesson and learn to communicate clearly your curriculum goals, identify your themes, and select your target audience. Register here.

 

Marketing Yourself as a Teaching Artist: Let’s Talk Money

Tuesday, April 24, 2019, 10am-12pm

This session will work through how to set fair prices for your teaching artist activities, budget for all parts of a project, and develop ‘what if’ scenarios to make budgeting a useful tool in your teaching artist life. Register here.

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Musicopia

Photo courtesy of Musicopia.

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Musicopia reaches thousands of children each year through educational music enrichment programs in schools and communities throughout the Philadelphia Region. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant for their Percussion Network program.

These questions were answered by Drumlines Director Jesse Mell.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

When kids approach me with questions about their music practice or life strategies.

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

Happy Father’s Day!  (I have no biological or adopted children)

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

Provide plenty of information when giving constructive criticism; when they succeed, congratulate them in that moment with plenty of smiles!

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

Clear your schedule 🙂 Be ready to dedicate as much time as it takes to lead effectively.

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

Tattoos on the Heart, by Gregory Boyle

 

Grassroots Fundraising for Dollars and Engagement

For many community-based organizations, robust individual giving may seem like something only large organizations with wealthy board members can attain. On December 11, 80 grantees of eight foundations joined together to learn from their nonprofit colleagues who shared strategies for community-driven fundraising that brings in both dollars and engagement. Their work was based in practices of community organizing, advocacy and entrepreneurship.

In a panel moderated by Denise Beek of the Leeway Foundation, each presenter shared their strategy for generating income from sources other than foundations. Kirtrina Baxter from Soil Generation Coalition is experimenting with collective funding methods, including service and product fees as a supplement to foundation funding, representing people of color who are often under-resourced. Jonathan Bix from Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson (New York) built $200,000, 3,000-donor annual grassroots fundraising program in 5 years based on volunteer fundraisers making direct, personalized asks of their networks. Aarati Kasturirangan from the Bread and Roses Community Fund’s The Giving Project trained and supported five, twenty-person cross-race, cross-class groups in personal network-based, direct-ask fundraising resulting in close to $1,000,000 raised from 2100 donors since June 2016. Rapheal Randall at Youth United for Change trained and supported young people who conduct seasonal neighborhood canvassing efforts focused on identifying new supporters and monthly sustainers for community organizing groups.

While each had a different approach, there were some common themes:

  • each initiative involved extensive training to get at underlying issues with talking about or asking for money so that people instead felt that it is powerful and righteous to ask for money that benefits their community;
  • it was important to have leaders from within the communities they were serving, including young people, people of color; and coalitions of people with common interests;
  • conflicts arose and it was important that everyone was accountable and grew together through the process; and,
  • it was a time-consuming process that required keeping an eye on the prize – revisiting the intention as well as the outcome.

After the panel, participants had the opportunity to dig deeply into two of the initiatives, learning more about the nuts and bolts of implementation.  With the help of artist Rodney Camarce, we ended the day with a visual map of the conversation (above) that emphasized the loop of relationships and networks that led to success. 

Thanks to our colleagues who collaborated to provide this free professional development event including the Barra Foundation, Claneil Foundation, Douty Foundation, Seybert Foundation, New Century Trust, Nelson Foundation, Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation and The Philadelphia Foundation.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Kulu Mele

Photo credit: www.kulumele.org.

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble preserves and presents the traditional dance and music of Africa and the African Diaspora, and celebrates contemporary African American culture. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant for general operating support.

These questions were answered by David Harrison, Executive Director.

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

Knowing that we will never have enough resources to positively impact the lives of all the children who could benefit from engagement with Kulu Mele. But I comfort myself with this story: Every day an old man walked to the shore, where sometimes thousands of starfish lay beached by the strong currents. One by one, he tossed them back into the water. One day a young jogger stopped to talk to the old man. The jogger said, “There are thousands of star fish on this beach. What does it matter if you save a few of them?” The old man threw another fish. “It mattered to that one,” he said.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

I hear from teachers all the time that even one single Kulu Mele event such as a workshop or a school assembly performance has a lasting impact on students. Teachers tell me that for days or even weeks after a Kulu Mele service, they can document improvements in attendance, participation/engagement, behavior, attitude, and retention of information.

 

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

The Bartol Foundation does a great job of both programming its own professional development opportunities AND passing along information about other learning opportunities as well. I always pass along any information I receive to our teaching artists. Thankfully, many of the opportunities are no or low cost. The biggest barrier to participation for my artists is time. Many of my teaching artists have full-time jobs (some as teachers) and the rest have to cobble together many different gigs in order to support themselves and their families as working artists, but everyone is always grateful to know how much support exists for the work that they do.

 

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

“Listen hard, change fast.” — Ben Chestnut, CEO, MailChimp.

 

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

Without magic but with much thanks to the Youth Arts Enrichment program at the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Kulu Mele was able to hire a very accomplished arts education consultant (Ira Bond, M.Ed., founder of the Cultural Enrichment Institute and Male Rite of Passage Facilitator at Imhotep Institute Charter High School) to conduct a formative and summative evaluation of Kulu Mele’s in-school curriculum and classroom management practices. Upon completion of his research, Bond will revise/improve Kulu Mele’s curriculum and recommend management changes based on his findings. The evaluation process will occur throughout the school year in collaboration with Community Partnership School (CPS), a highly successful private school in North Philadelphia which serves some of the very most economically disadvantaged families in all of Pennsylvania. Kulu Mele has worked in residence at CPS for more than five years. This year Kulu Mele will conduct two 24-week residencies at CPS (traditional West African dance and drumming, and hip hop).

 

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

As a kid growing up in Los Angeles I got to take several field trips to the La Brea Tar Pits, which became the burial grounds for umpteen animals over many millennia, including dinosaurs who got trapped in the sticky tar that acted like quicksand. It still fascinates me to think I could walk on the same ground as such majestic prehistoric giants.

 

Best.  Snack. Ever. 

Kiddie-sized twist cone at Rita’s. (Which is plenty big even for a big kiddie like me.)

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Young Playwrights

As part of an ongoing Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Since 1987, Philadelphia Young Playwrights (PYP) has partnered with educators to bring the transformative power of playwriting into classrooms and community settings across Greater Philadelphia. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant to support their core program of in-classroom playwriting residencies.

These questions were answered by several PYP staff members.

 

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

Knowing the impact this work has on young people, who much like me, needed something different to help them achieve.

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

At the end of Summer Playwrights Community—an advanced playwriting workshop here at PYP—a student shared, “Thanks for helping me realize what I want to do with my life.” Last year another said, “Resident Playwrights saved my life.” Our students like to make me cry.

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

Our trainings in trauma-informed practice. Our students often right about really hard-hitting issues, and often personal issues, so we need to look at their pieces from a human lens as well as a dramaturgical lens. Some of our students really dig into the craft and structure of playwriting, but others need to get their narrative down on the page and have it seen, heard, and affirmed. It’s critical that our teaching artists are able to tell the difference.

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

Allow the student creator to frame and lead their own feedback process. When the creator begins the feedback session by sharing their goal and the questions they already have, it immediately shifts the mindset of those giving feedback to a place of helping to serve that creator rather than offer forward ideas that match their own interests and aesthetic.

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

Two teaching artists in every classroom!

Best. Snack. Ever.

Chocolate. Covered. Pretzels.

Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists—Wrapping Up, Moving Forward

  • I grew my understanding of trauma, its symptoms, and art as a space and process of healing.
  • I take away strategies to face challenging behavior with consistent compassion.
  • I question how we can “normalize” these trauma-informed techniques so that they are simply best practice.
  • I resolve to always begin with my own healing.

These were a few of the reflections from the first class of teaching artists as they completed 20 hours of training in trauma-informed practice. We continued to work with teaching artists who incorporate these practices into their teaching. Josh Robinson, who helps people cope with grief through drumming, led us in creating “tribute rhythms” to people who had lost. It was somehow poignant and uplifting at the same time.

Our last class continued to focus on strategies of self-care for teaching artists. Participants shared their own methods including journaling, being in nature, yoga…and sometimes just venting to someone who will listen.

In the end, each teaching artist shared the value of the training and made suggestions for improving it. As we suspected, we were asking them to take in and process a tremendous amount of information in what turned out to be a short period of time. (We thought 20 hours was a lot!) We are already revising the curriculum to incorporate many of their suggestions in preparation for the next class that will run in March/April of 2019.

Many thanks to the William Penn Foundation for their support of the development and piloting of this training.

 

Applications for the next class are open through Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 5pm.  Read more information and apply here.

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Enchantment Theatre Company

Photo credit: enchantmenttheatre.org.

 

As part of an ongoing Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Enchantment Theatre Company has created original theatre for young audiences and families for more than 35 years, and inspires children to “dream, explore, think, and connect through imaginative storytelling onstage and in the classroom.” They received a $5,000 Bartol grant to support their theatre residency at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.

These questions were answered by Sara Nye, Communications and Development Manager, and Jennifer Blatchley Smith, Artistic Director – Literary and Education.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

Sara: A crucial part of Enchantment Theatre’s Arts in Education Program is our in-school theatre residencies, in which two teaching artists teach a group of approximately 15-20 students over the course of several months. Time and again, we hear stories from our teaching artists about the moment when a particular residency student went from being hesitant or shy to becoming comfortable enough with expressing themselves that they tried a new skill or overcame a challenge. That is when I know we are making a difference in the lives of these children. That we are enabling them to be better communicators and collaborators is one of the program results of which I’m most proud.

 

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

Jennifer: Yearly teaching artist retreats certainly help us do our best work. These retreats get everyone together in one room to share ideas, revisit the theatre modes we use in the classroom, plan for the year ahead, and inspire one another.

 

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

Jennifer: Be prepared but be flexible. Taking the time to listen and adapting to the unexpected can be the best learning experience for everyone—school administrators and teachers, arts organization staff, and teaching artists alike.

 

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

Sara: My favorite field trip is when our Enchantment actors bring an Enchantment Everywhere regional touring production into one of our partner schools. It’s a great way to continue our connection with the students currently engaged in a theatre residency at that school. It’s like a field trip in reverse—we get to come to you!

 

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

Sara: I recently read Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson. This book, which won the Newbery Medal and the Caldecott Honor, reminded me to be a witness for what I think is important in life. It reminded me that our in-school theatre residencies bring so many benefits to a student, and that we need to continue to be a witness for all of them. Here are just a few:

  1. They bring literature alive. Each residency performs a play based on an existing story. 2. They teach social skills. Working on a collaborative project like producing a play for friends and family enables kids to practice skills like communication and compromise.
  2. They are fun! Play is so important to a child’s development.

“The best thing you can do as a teacher is to encourage questioning”—Interview with Sarah Shaw, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Bartol workshop participants show off their free teaching resources from the PMA’s Wachovia Education Resource Center.

 

Earlier this fall, the Bartol Foundation kicked off its 2018–19 workshop season with a fieldtrip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Wachovia Education Resource Center. Here, we met with Sarah Shaw, Resource Center Coordinator, to learn all about the museum’s free resources for teaching artists and other educators—from lesson plans and activities to teaching posters and collection guides. We even had the chance to try out a few of the activities for ourselves and take home some free resources.

Sarah was so enthusiastic about connecting the museum’s resources with Philly’s teaching artists that we reached out to her for a follow-up conversation. Keep reading to learn more about how the visual arts can serve your TA practice in any artistic discipline.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your background in the arts? How did you wind up in your position at the PMA?

I had a bit of a circuitous path to my position, but I think part of why the job is such a great fit for me is that it requires a varied background in both the arts and education. I studied anthropology, archaeology, and art history in undergraduate and graduate school. Eventually, my path led me into elementary education, and I got a master’s degree from Penn’s Graduate School of Education. Once I became a classroom teacher, I found that the most meaningful way to activate all my background knowledge—history, art history, anthropology, literature—was in helping my students make connections across everything they were learning. I’ve found that the best thing you can do as a teacher is to encourage questioning. For instance, saying to a student, “That’s a really interesting question, why don’t we try to find out the answer together?”

My position at the PMA allows me to bring my experience as a classroom educator—and my knowledge of what teachers need to effectively engage students—to the job of making the museum’s collections and resources more accessible to audiences in Philadelphia and beyond.

 

What types of resources and opportunities does the Wachovia Education Resource Center have available for teaching artists?

First off, probably the most important thing for me to say is that I do not pretend to be an expert in art-making. The teaching artists who are Bartol’s audience and beneficiaries are the real experts. What I feel we have to offer is a wide range of teaching strategies to help teaching artists actively engage their audiences—whether youth or adult—in the kind of looking, thinking, discussion, attention to detail, questioning, and investigating that are so important to the creative process. Really looking closely at art that someone else has created and being inspired by the themes, materials, or the way the artist expresses themselves.

We create lesson plans and other free resources that make the artwork in our collection more accessible to educators who are teaching outside of the museum. We conduct free workshops at the Resource Center about these teaching strategies. We also provide one-on-one planning support for any teaching artist or educator who’s interested in brainstorming ideas for lessons.

 

What are some ways that artists from non-visual arts disciplines (e.g. music, dance) can incorporate the visual arts into their teaching practice?

I really love this question. I have a background in dance, and I think that so many of the same principles of composition apply to both disciplines. Musicians, dancers, and visual artists all think about things like rhythm, pattern, movement, and even color. There are so many visual artists whose work is inspired by those aspects of music and dance. The same principle can also apply to theatre. There’s so much narrative in the visual arts, and one of the ways that we take advantage of that is to think about really inhabiting a “character” in an artwork, and imagining what that character is thinking, feeling, how they’re interacting with other characters, and what the artist’s craft is in showing those thoughts, emotions, and interactions. There are so many connections outside of the visual arts, and we really hope that we can work with teaching artists broadly.

 

What has been the coolest or most unexpected use of the PMA’s resources for a curriculum?

For me, the coolest thing is every time I hear that a teacher has not only used one of our resources, but that they’ve adapted the content for their classroom. Every time I hear about the ways that our resources have been adapted for different circumstances, contexts, students of all ages and levels, or materials, it hits home for me that these strategies to teach through art really work. It’s a solid foundation because they can be so flexible for different educational contexts.

 

To schedule an appointment or workshop with the Wachovia Education Resource Center, please email resourcecenter@philamuseum.org or call 215-684-7140.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: 1812 Productions

An 1812 Outreach program at Widener Memorial School. (Photo courtesy of 1812 Productions.)

 

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. 1812 Productions received a $5,000 grant for their in-school theater education program, 1812 Outreach, which serves at-risk students at Philadelphia public schools. This program supplements the academic and life skills curriculum by teaching students the basics of theater, including playwriting, acting, stage presence, and character development in workshops.

These questions were answered by Marla Burkholder, Education Director, and Dave Jadico, External Relations Director.

 

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

People and puzzles energize me. I know that if I get to visit one of our residency classrooms, I am going to have an interaction with a student that will inspire me, make me look at my day differently, or set up a challenge for me. I love puzzling through those challenges: How do you make the most of a residency that happens in a less than ideal space? How do you make students feel both welcomed and challenged in an exercise? What do we uniquely have to offer students?

What about your work keeps you up at night?

Staffing keeps me up at night. In theater, we sometimes say that good directing is 90% casting, and I think the same thing is true for running an arts education program—finding great teaching artists is crucial. I ask myself to examine whether our teachers reflect the demographics of our students, if they bring their best selves to the classroom, if they see teaching artistry as social justice work, and if they are self-aware and rooted in respect.

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

We are sometimes able to bring our residency students on field trips to see 1812 shows. These are always incredible learning experiences for everyone. Sometimes the students are just excited to get to visit Center City, or to see a live play for the first time. Often, they respond to the show in such smart ways that make me see something new. And eating pre-show pizza is just fun, and an opportunity to get to interact with them outside of the classroom and learn more about their lives.

Best. Snack. Ever.

We started a tradition a couple years ago of bringing Insomnia Cookies for a cast party with our students at Widener Memorial School after their year-end performance. It’s a tie for what brings the biggest smiles— performing on the stage or chocolate chip cookies.

Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists: Week 3 Reflections

So sometimes, we cry.

In week three of the Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists training, we focused on student behaviors that can be caused by trauma and how teaching artists can best support the needs of these students. While there is a lot to unpack about facing challenging behavior, the short version is:

  • First, handle yourself. You should have a “pause plan” to shift your perspective from being frustrated or insulted to being compassionate and concerned.
  • Next, build safety for the student by affirming their feelings and offering a physical activity to help them feel present like taking deep breaths together.
  • Then, give them a choice of what they do next which could include a break alone, talking to another teacher, or doing a different activity for a few minutes.
  • Finally, when they are calm is the moment to talk about what happened in a way that refocuses the student and expectations.

We were joined by this week’s guest artist, Josh Robinson (previously featured on a Bartol TA Spotlight), who shared his experiences helping people deal with grief through drumming. He gently touched the steel pan (that you see in the video) and there was a collective inhale as the unexpected soft echo of the notes filled the room. And yes, some cried. Then we created rhythms that built on words for what we missed about someone we had lost. We made music together and had our own small moment of healing.

Some of the teaching artists’ takeaways from this week’s session include:

  • Anchor rhythm to emotions.
  • Ask more caring questions when I see behavior that could be a sign of trauma impact.
  • The use of rhythm in a space with words, feelings, thoughts, and easily accessible ideas for anyone, but more specifically, for students.
  • Noticing space / incorporating self and group rhythm.
  • Trust can be built by creating.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Photo Arts Center

Artwork from PPAC Teen Photo program participant Raemani McKay. (Photo credit: www.philaphotoarts.org.)

 

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) received a $5,000 Bartol grant for their Teen Photo program – a free after-school program open to any Philadelphia public high school student. Over the course of eight months, students receive access to photography equipment and training, go on field trips to art exhibitions around the city, create a book of their photos, and have the chance to exhibit and sell their work in PPAC’s gallery.

These questions were answered by Michelle Wallace, Youth Education Coordinator.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

When a student shares with me an accomplishment, goal, or knowledge they have attained.

 

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

“Whaaat, you just blew my mind!” during a lesson on the grammar of photography.

 

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

Listen to your students.

 

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

A bus to take the students to places that are hard to reach on public transportation. And of course, more funding! 😉

 

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

Oaxaca, Mexico.

Trust Takes Time: Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists, Week 2

The group of 12 teaching artists selected to participate in Bartol’s first trauma training workshop series. (Photo credit: Tezarah Wilkins.)

 

Years ago, a teaching artist said to me, “I thought if I was really organized and had my lesson plans all set that I could move the project along faster.” He was working at a center for adjudicated youth and quickly realized that building the trust needed for these young people to share their stories took time. It took as long as it took for the students to believe that he, as a teaching artist, wasn’t just another adult who came into their lives, usually to tell them why their stories were wrong or not worth listening to. That he would show up every week and honor their voices.

This experience was borne out this week as we talked about the many barriers to building trust with people who have been impacted by trauma. We learned how to spot where students are on the continuum of trust.  The student leaning back in her chair with her hoodie pulled over her eyes is probably not ready to leap into an exercise requiring eye contact, touching or personal disclosures. Great thanks to teaching artist and moving body, Shavon Norris, who showed us ways to speak respectfully to students, meet them where they are in what you are asking them to do, and stating often that you trust them to know their bodies and comfort zone to participate as best they can in any activity. Lead facilitator Mindy Early also shared ways to have different levels of participation, all of which are authentic, real work.  If you can’t write a whole page, write three lines. If you don’t want to dance, be the DJ.

The teaching artists’ takeaways from this week’s class include:

  • Inviting students into the space and allowing them to participate in a manner which feels comfortable to them.
  • That our art can also cause discomfort.
  • “I invite you to” instead of “I want you to.”
  • React wisely and thoughtfully. Invite more often.
  • How my art form can be difficult for students

 

Next week: How Trauma Manifests in Student Behavior. In the meantime, visit www.headspace.com for more mindfulness tips.

“It’s called a micro-grant, but the effects are felt at a macro level” – Interview with Bartol/SBMA Micro-Grantee Yinka Orafidiya

This 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. Yinka Orafidiya, a socially engaged ceramic artist, is one of the grantees from our first round of awards last spring. Meet Yinka in our Q&A!

 

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

Honestly, I didn’t start out as a teaching artist. When I started out, I was just strictly making pots. It was something that I gravitated towards because it was calming and therapeutic and a way for me to meditate in a dynamic way, with my hands being in motion but my mind being still. Over time, I started to transition into projects that had a social engagement component to connect with the community through my artwork. And I realized that the best way to do that was through teaching, demonstrating, and encouraging others to work with the material and engage with these objects that I was making. So, that’s how I started to cultivate a teaching practice in conjunction with my artistic practice.

 

What will you be doing with the microgrant you received from SBMA/Bartol?

Earlier this year, I received a fellowship that took me to Ghana to work with female potters. The micro-grant will be used to support the second half of that project, which is to utilize the experiences and lessons from Ghana to transition that into workshops here in Philly. A series of free workshops are going to take place over the course of two weeks, and I’m inviting black women in the area to join me in making handmade pottery vessels. We’re going to do this communally, building these pots together coil by coil. And the participating women don’t have to pay for anything—the micro-grant will enable me to provide them with all the tools, materials, and supplies they need to participate in these workshops.

 

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

It may sound corny, I would say to just do it. The process is pretty straightforward. I know other artists in my peer group who specifically have this grant on their to-do list every year, but they never apply because they don’t think they’re ready. Honestly, when I decided to apply I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be, but I knew that you have to go through the process to prepare yourself for potentially re-applying for the next cycle. Don’t postpone it—do it now.

 

Anything else youd like to add?

I just want to express gratitude and appreciation for this award. It’s called a micro-grant, but the effects are felt at a macro level. It goes beyond just the award amount—it’s also validation for me as an artist, and confirmation that what I’m doing is relevant. Having a reputable organization support my work in this way is really encouraging for me to press forward and be more bold with my ideas and effort.

 

To learn more about Yinka’s work, visit her website or Instagram.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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