Philadelphia Young Playwrights learning through play writing.

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.

“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.

 

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.

 

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.

Launching Bartol’s New Training Series: “Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists”

Photo credit: Tezarah Wilkins.

Early on a Saturday morning, 12 teaching artists gathered to begin 20 hours of training over five weeks in trauma-informed practice for teaching artists. These artists were selected from 44 applicants and reflect everything that teaching artists look like—a range of perspectives based on artistic discipline, career stage, race, and gender/gender identity.  Each committed not only to attend the training, but also to read, do homework, and engage with the concepts in a deep way. At the end, they will submit a trauma-informed lesson plan in their discipline and receive a stipend of $200.

Designed and facilitated by Mindy Early, Director of Education for Philadelphia Young Playwrights, the first session dug right into the effect of persistent adversity on the brain—poverty, violence, housing, food insecurity…the list goes on. Guest speaker Mike O’Bryan gave this analogy, “If you put a seed in the ground and pour bleach on it, you know it will grow damaged if it grows at all. No one blames the seed.”

Each session will mix theory and practice, including self-care for teaching artists who can themselves suffer from secondary trauma from bringing their wholehearted selves to their work. Here are a few of the teaching artists’ takeaways from Week 1 that they plan to apply to their practice.

  • Say hello to students using their names.
  • I plan to check in with the “How do you feel today” sheet, and be more intentional about design in regards to teaching.
  • I need to be better about doing a consistent closing ritual.
  • Understand/deconstruct personal bias to practice designing for “well being.”
  • I hope to use some of the self-care tips to reduce levels of stress and vicarious trauma.
  • Always planning low-impact activities instead of thinking of them last minute.
  • Use brain breaks. Consider/recognize heightened brain states.

Stay tuned for updates as the training continues.  And for your own self-care, try this five-minute meditation video.

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: ArtWell

Photo courtesy of ArtWell.

 

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. ArtWell was founded in 2000 to respond to the chronic community violence in Philadelphia by introducing a preventive, educational, arts-oriented approach to reach underserved communities and youth facing discrimination, poverty, violence, and the everyday challenges of growing up. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant for general operating support.

These questions were answered by Rae Pagliarulo, Development Director (with help from the rest of the ArtWell team).

 

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

Our students. We don’t get to see them every day, and sometimes it’s hard to schedule a site visit among all the meetings and reports and administrative wonderment that awaits us each day, but when we do get to visit a classroom – wow. There are these little moments that occur – blink and you might miss them – of discovery or trust or release or excitement, and witnessing one is just about the best thing in the world. I know they happen more often than I realize, and if you stack them up over a few months or years…that’s where the magic happens. That’s where a young person realizes they’re capable of anything they can dream of. There’s literally nothing better.

I also really love coming to work and just being with the team – we did a lot of work over the past couple of years to identify and confirm our core values as an organization (Imagination, Spirituality, Social Justice, Healing, Community, and Love) and have shared those values with our students, our board – anyone who will listen! They keep us focused on what’s really important and connect us to each other in exciting and meaningful ways, and it’s just a blast to spend time with and work hard with people who are so aligned with each other.

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

The reality of what it’s like to be a young person in the world right now. Aside from the particulars of each person’s journey, I think just the act of growing up itself is really challenging. You’re learning new things every day, trying to assert your independence, trying to figure out boundaries with your peers or family members, experiencing frustration when adults don’t take you seriously, and constantly being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Along with all of that, thanks to the current state of affairs in our country, young people today are also struggling with feelings of isolation, and receiving messages of xenophobia and racism from all angles. And to boot – social media complicates everything. It’s got to be really hard to figure out who you are and what you’re passionate about when you’re living in a world full of questions and challenges that seem so difficult to resolve.

I know that we can only address a tiny portion of those issues when we enter a classroom. I know that when our students leave the classroom, there is so much that we can’t control. That handful of hours we spend with them each week has to be enough. Those moments when they feel more connected to each other and themselves have to be enough.

 

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

Give them interesting, adaptable, and thoughtful tools, and be present and available to them! Each teaching artist is unique, not just in their artistic background, but in their communication style, their leadership tendencies, their emotional intelligence…you name it! The best thing we can do is tap into what makes each person best suited to help usher our students into moments of creative discovery, and then give them everything they need to do it. Our monthly skill-building sessions are a major part of that. We cover topics that our teaching artists have told us they want to learn about: mindfulness, active listening, improvisation, trauma-informed facilitation. Beyond that, it’s almost inevitable that something (big or small) will go awry during the year, and when it does, we are there for them in whatever way they need. Whether it’s mediating a conversation, advocating for additional training, or working directly with school administrators, it’s vital for our teaching artists to know that when they’re in the classroom, we are right behind them.

 

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

Listen. Listen hard, listen all the time, listen without your ego, listen when all you want to do is talk, listen when you think there’s nothing worth hearing. Listen because the amount of things you still don’t know in this world, no matter how old or educated or experienced or wise you are, will floor you. Listen because no matter how many amazing ideas you have about what kind of programs or supports will help a student or a school or a community, I guarantee you, your constituents know better. This can be hard, not just because the act of listening is hard, but because there aren’t always methods or opportunities for the people who need to be heard to speak. But that just means it’s up to us to create those opportunities and open those spaces. To create safety and acceptance wherever we can.

 

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

We’re always dreaming about ways that we can work together within the nonprofit sector to inspire more funding that addresses our core missions and speaks to the issue of collaboration. Every classroom and every student deserves a chance at experiencing sanctuary, to express themselves in a safe space, to grow their power, and to learn how to live and lead from that place. We have no shortage of teaching artists who want to work with us, and no shortage of schools who want us to come in and provide programming. But we do experience the ongoing challenge of finding the right resources to fund not just our programs, but meaningful collaborations – true partnerships that will help service providers evolve into a safety net for our students.

So, I guess to specifically answer the question of what single thing I’d magically change, it would be capacity. I would make our capacity unlimited. All the time, all the resources (human and financial), all the hours in all the days, and no threat of burnout. Can you imagine?

 

Best.  Snack. Ever.

Popcorn that’s both sweet AND salty – sometimes I think it’s the only snack our entire staff can agree on! (And I’m happy to eschew the ever-present nonprofit answer of “hummus,” because frankly, I think we can do better. I mean, have you ever HAD baba ganoush?)

“Easy to apply for, easy to use” – Interview with Bartol/SBMA Micro-Grantee Chris Coyle

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. Chris Coyle is one of five winners from our first round of awards last spring. He is a bassist, composer, and music educator.

Meet Chris in our Q&A!

 

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

I have been teaching music performance, theory, and project-based topics for the last twelve years. In addition to private instruction and classroom teaching at schools and colleges, I have begun to focus on hands-on performance and critical listening workshops and presentations as well. This has led me to design and conduct some unique and fun programming for organizations like Art-Reach and Musicopia, and for art programs that serve adults with disabilities. Much of this is done through a project I started in 2012 called Outside Sound and we’ve been fortunate enough to receive funding through a handful of grants and arts organizations. I bring a wealth of experiences to educational situations – aside from being an active performer (double bass, guitar, percussion), I am a writer (music and text), a traveler, and am active in other mediums/arts aside from music.

 

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

The micro-grant funds have been used to purchase some new and used gear/instruments and to repair some instruments. All of these items will be used in workshops with school students, with art programs that I partner with, and in Outside Sound activities. The grant has gone a long way in improving the materials that I have at my disposal to work with students and participants in every teaching situation!

 

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

It is refreshing to find a funding opportunity that is easy to apply for, easy to use, and also brings together other artists and arts administrators in a community setting!

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you to SBMA! I look forward to sharing specifics about how this grant has impacted upcoming teaching engagements, and I hope to participate in an SBMA event in the near future to talk about my work, approach, and vision for sharing creative music.

Please give me a visit online at www.chriscoylemusbic.com or at www.outsidesound.net

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Sister Cities Girlchoir

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Sister Cities Girlchoir serves communities in Philadelphia, Camden, and Baltimore through a comprehensive choral training academy that empowers girls by building resilience, leadership, mastery, and connection. They received a $7,500 grant for their Saturday Girlchoir Academy.

Sister Cities Girlchoir was also selected for the 2018 George Bartol Arts Education Award! This prestigious award is given to one Bartol grantee each year in recognition of outstanding arts education achievement. Read the full announcement here.

These questions were answered by Alysia Lee, Founder and Artistic Director of Sister Cities Girlchoir.

 

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

The most important thing I do to help the Sister Cities Girlchoir teaching artists succeed is remind them of their power. It is so easy to get into the weeds of teaching artistry – collecting permission slips, slipping in formative assessments, making seating charts, remembering brain break activities, and so many names to remember. And all of that is important – but at the center this work is about the power of creativity and passion.

 

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

My tip is to check in with the participants for feedback, often. Even daily! Don’t leave anything to chance – ask the youth that engage in your program what is working well and what is not. Eliminate your blind spots by seeing your program through multiple viewpoints.

 

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

My favorite SCG field trip was last season’s tour with The Philadelphia Orchestra to perform at Carnegie Hall. Following months of working with composer Tod Machover to contribute to his mammoth ode to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, “Philadelphia Voices.” After a few weeks of rehearsals 30 girls traveled to NYC to perform on one of the world’s greatest stages. Seeing the girls confidently take the stage and the roaring applause and ovation from the audience left us all in a state of bliss for weeks! Hard work and consistency pays off!

 

Best. Snack. Ever.

A purplelicious treat: Purple Grapes!

2018 Bartol Award Announced: Sister Cities Girlchoir

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 18, 2018

CONTACT:

Beth Feldman Brandt

Executive Director

267-519-5311 (office); 610-513-2668 (cell)

bfbrandt@bartol.org

 

STOCKTON RUSH BARTOL FOUNDATION SELECTS SISTER CITIES GIRLCHOIR AS THE RECIPIENT OF THE 2018 GEORGE BARTOL ARTS EDUCATION AWARD

Award Honors Artistic Excellence and Commitment to Community

Philadelphia, PA—The Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation has selected Sister Cities Girlchoir (SCG) as the winner of the 2018 George Bartol Arts Education Award. The Award is given to an organization that provides sustained, meaningful exposure and participation in the arts; that demonstrates an active engagement in the lives of its students and community; and that maintains high artistic standards for its faculty and students.

The George Bartol Arts Education Award was established in 2001 to recognize outstanding arts education programs by a non-profit cultural organization. Each year, a grant of $5,000 is made in memory of George Bartol, founder of the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation, who believed that the key to a thriving arts community was an investment in arts education for its children. As part of its annual grant review process, the Foundation designates one grantee to receive this additional award of $5,000 to further support its arts education programs. This year’s award is made possible in part through gifts from Mr. Bartol’s children.

Beth Feldman Brandt, Executive Director of the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation says, “With the vision and energy of its founder, Alysia Lee, Sister Cities Girlchoir is fully committed to helping girls achieve their potential by helping them to literally and figuratively raise their voices.  We are grateful to be able to support such inspiring work.”

“Sister Cities is built on the premise that artists are vital to communities and that every young girl deserves access to all that the arts can teach. We are proud of the teaching artist team at SCG which embodies our mission to share the power of the arts to transform young women into not just artists, but leaders,” said Ms. Lee. “We are grateful to be recognized for this work by the George Bartol Arts Education Award.”

 

About Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation

The Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation works at the intersection of arts, education, community and philanthropy, grounded in our belief that deeply meaningful arts experiences strengthen people and communities. The Bartol Foundation advocates for and facilitates partnerships in which cultural organizations, teaching artists, community partners, and funders work toward the common goal of providing high-caliber, equitable arts education to people in Philadelphia, especially those in the most under-resourced or under-served communities. We utilize our knowledge and resources to create to generate more resources and opportunities for all.

 

About Sister Cities Girlchoir

Sister Cities Girlchoir (SCG) empowers girls by building resilience, leadership, mastery and connection through a comprehensive choral training academy that invests in the unique potential of girls to improve our world. The program is research-based, and uses music as a girl empowerment tool.  SCG is modeled on the powerful impact that investments in the lives of girls make for a city block, a neighborhood, a city….for the world.SCG is modeled after El Sistema, Venezuela’s music education program that is transforming lives and communities around the world. SCG Founder, Alysia Lee spent a year studying El Sistema and visiting programs in Venezuela and throughout the U.S. through the Sistema Fellowship at the New England Conservatory.

 

The list of past award winners is available here.

“Everybody deserves to experience the arts” – Interview with Bartol Board Vice-Chair Elizabeth Wilkerson

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wilkerson.

 

As part of an ongoing Q&A series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s artistic community. Elizabeth Wilkerson is a writer, digital content strategist, and accessibility advocate. She is currently Vice-Chair of Bartol’s board, and has served on the board for four years.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your work in the Philadelphia arts community?

My involvement is that I work directly in the Philadelphia arts community. I am on the Bartol board, and so I meet a lot of different arts organizations. My sister has lived in Philadelphia for about 40 years and is very involved in the arts here, so I’ve met a lot of people through her. I have also worked with some disability rights activists in the area who, among other things, are active in seeing accessibility extend into arts organizations and artistic events.

 

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

I love everything about the board of the Bartol Foundation, and the way that it’s managed, and the way it’s impacting the city and the community. When I joined the board, I was especially attracted to Bartol’s approach to funding underrepresented groups and organizations. I used to work for startup companies in Silicon Valley who were always talking to venture capitalists and trying to get angel financing and seed financing to launch new ventures. Bartol’s orientation just reminds me so much of how angel investors approach finding organizations, sourcing ideas and people who seem promising, and then giving them the resources, connections, support, and encouragement to help them grow. I just was really attracted by the fact that this seemed to be a big part of the Bartol Foundation’s approach in funding up-and-coming organizations. I thought that was way cool, and I still do.

 

What’s been the most rewarding moment from your time working with the Bartol Foundation?

This might sound weird, but I really enjoy the board meetings. I am so excited to be in a room of highly energetic, smart, engaged, and experienced women who talk through issues at a really deep level. We disagree, but not disagreeably. And we don’t exactly come to a consensus, but we take an issue and just examine it from so many different perspectives to make decisions, strategic or otherwise. It’s so thoughtful and heartfelt that I’m just really proud to be a member of the board. Beth couldn’t be a more dynamic and impactful Executive Director, so the Foundation is lucky that she’s been the ED for as long as she has. And to see how big an impact our little grants have throughout the city. We’ve become, in a sense, the seal of approval for the bigger granters who see that an organization got Bartol money and know there’s a certain level of quality behind their work, and therefore will think about funding them as well.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Another thing I like about Bartol is that, as long as we’ve been around, there’s still a certain amount of fluidity in the way we approach problems. We’re not set in stone in the way we do things. To the extent that we’re looking to partner with organizations—not even necessarily arts organizations—if we can all come to the same goal or final endpoint, which is that we are helping to bring the arts to everybody in Philadelphia, because everybody deserves to experience the arts or the creative process that’s important to them. I think the Foundation is focusing more on getting ourselves out there nationally as well as here in Philadelphia, so that people know what we do and the impact that we’re having beyond even just Philly.

 

To learn more about Elizabeth’s work, visit http://elizabethwilkerson.com/.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Art Sphere Inc.

Students create watercolors and wax resist rubbings of famous paintings and drawings. (Photo courtesy of Art Sphere Inc.)

 

As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. Art Sphere Inc. was established in 1998 to bring arts education to low-income youth through after-school programs, collaborative public murals, community art events, and much more. They received a $5,000 Bartol grant for general operating support.

These questions were answered by four ASI staff members: Gab (Office Coordinator), Yujing (Graphic Designer), Sadie (Teaching Assistant), and Kristin (Executive Director). The team had so much fun answering the questions that they posted the full interview on their blog. Below is a selection of their responses.

 

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

  • A student that was sad about the summer program ending and already excited about and planning what we will be doing next year has got me thinking about next summer already!
  • Being able to work independently on a project, given a task then asked and believed in to be able to complete it and my efforts being recognized as very valuable.
  • The excitement to design a different handout for a new teaching assignment and posting it on the blog for our teachers, partners and the world to share.
  • Feeling a sense of purpose and knowing little things can make a big difference. (Always having something to do!)

 

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

  • When excited students shared how happy they were to make puppets and flowers.
  • The director sharing that she was so impressed with my fabulous work that she was sharing handouts to the partner because it expressed our curriculum goals better than words.
  • When a new member was excited about volunteering and had all her paperwork submitted and wanted to start helping immediately!
  • When a grandmother called and said even though no one in their family liked school or graduated high school, that our program inspired her grandson to go to college and he would be the first of his family to do so and how proud she was.

 

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

  • Tap into the passion and creativity of all staff.
  • Embrace the spirit of Kaizen – continuous self-improvement!
  • Develop a site-specific curriculum that really interests and inspires students and staff member partners. Make art relevant by connecting art curriculum themes with current events.
  • Provide learning materials not already available to your youth that combine ideas from other subject areas.

 

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

  • We have had awesome nature walks in our urban neighborhoods where we have collected insects and leaves to draw and identify native and non-native plants and trees. Students are often amazed at “all that cool stuff we didn’t even notice before” right on their own block.
  • We regularly used to take students with sketchbooks, bird identification books, binoculars, and backpacks with art materials to draw ducks, turtles, and landscapes directly from nature (with the details to make the different species identifiable) in John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. One field trip there topped them all, as a student overcame her very real fear of “killer turtles” and extreme dangers of animals not living in this region. It has been nicknamed our “Ninja Turtle” story, which we have shared and chuckled about ever since, and points out the importance of learning. It is so easy for youth to fear what they don’t know and for youth to believe what they see on TV and social media.

 

Best. Snack. Ever.

  • Kind bars, chocolate covered expresso beans, and grapes – it’s grain, protein, caffeine, hydration, and dessert that can fit in a small side pouch of a backpack.
  • Homemade Lemon Ricotta cookies.
  • Seaweed Crackers.
  • Blueberry Muffins.

“It shouldn’t be this difficult for artists to thrive” – Interview with Erica Hawthorne-Manon, Founder and Managing Director of Small But Mighty Arts

Photo Credit: www.smallbutmightyarts.org.

 

This past spring, the Bartol Foundation announced a new partnership with Small But Mighty Arts (SBMA) to award ten $500 micro-grants to Philadelphia-based teaching artists. As part of our ongoing Q&A series, we spoke with Erica Hawthorne-Manon, Founder and Managing Director of SBMA, to learn more about her work with the Philadelphia arts community and SBMA’s new partnership with the Bartol Foundation.

SBMA is now accepting applications to award five more micro-grants to teaching artists working on community-based projects. The application will close Sunday, September 9. Access the online application here.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your background in the arts? How did you decide to found Small But Mighty Arts?

I came to Philadelphia as a creative myself. My background is in theatre, writing, and spoken word, which is kind of like a marriage between theatre and poetry. I also have a professional background in public relations and business. I did a lot of “starving artist” things and did my art on the side of my full-time job, even though I wanted to do more. I realized just how challenging it was to be an artist on many different levels, whether it was finding opportunities or being able to expand my skills beyond just performance. I didn’t understand why my peers and I were having such a difficult time—we had talent and skills, but we were always struggling to find the next opportunity. I felt that it shouldn’t be this difficult for artists to thrive, knowing how important the arts are to the community, education, and the creative economy.

Around this same time, a friend suggested I apply for a grant to fund ideas. I pitched three of my ideas, and one was selected—to provide artists with smaller funds during a critical time window. When I was working on my album, I had the experience of being short about $500-1,000 to finish the technical production of the project. I had done the bulk of the work and just needed a little bit of funding so that I wouldn’t have to stop. I pitched this idea to small firms and got awarded a challenge grant, and that’s what brought me to start Small But Mighty Arts.

 

What is most meaningful to you about SBMA’s work in the community?

The ability to make connections, especially connections that turn into real, tangible opportunities. For me, that’s the whole point of SBMA. Even though we started with micro-grant programs, the purpose is to shorten the distance between an artist and their next career-enhancing opportunity, whether that’s professional development, funding, or marketing and promotion.

Our partnerships with other organizations and programs have also been very valuable. We would not be able to thrive without our partnerships. Many of the artists that we fund through micro-grants we’ve also connected to our partner organizations and other paid opportunities. We always think about what it means to be able to share mission and goals when we partner with organizations in a way that’s powerful for both of us. I think the fact that people are willing to partner with us, even though we’re small, continues to help us expand what we’re able to give back to artists.

 

What’s been the most rewarding moment from your work with SBMA?

It changes, but right now it’s getting emails from artists that we’ve worked with or funded and hearing that our work with them led them to another opportunity or kept their momentum going. We got an email from one of our 2017 grantees, Irina Varina, who worked on a film that premiered at a film festival in New York, and part of the micro-grant funding that we gave her allowed her to finish that project. Another grantee from 2017 is Amy Schofield, who’s a flamenco dancer. We were able to book her for a performance at the Barnes Foundation, and then the Barnes reached out and wanted to book her again. It’s those types of moments that are really powerful for me. Sometimes we also hear that an SBMA grant is the first one an artist has received, and that grant gives them inspiration to apply for other opportunities. That’s the whole point—that they don’t give up and they’re able to persist, and we make it possible for artists to do that right here in Philadelphia.

 

SBMA recently partnered with the Bartol Foundation to award micro-grants to teaching artists and to share a staff Artist Engagement Fellow. What drew you to this collaboration with Bartol?

It started with us first supporting each other’s work and sharing information with our networks. We realized that we have very similar missions and goals. We also saw the value in being able to inform our artists, who are not teaching artists, of the opportunity to develop that skill. Bartol was reimagining their focus, and when they reached out to us it made a lot of sense to work together toward a shared mission goal. Through sharing an Artist Engagement Fellow, we’re able to highlight the artists that we’ve funded, and to make sure that there’s shared information between the two organizations about other opportunities for artists.

This partnership has been five years in the making. Not every partnership takes that long, but I will say that our best partnerships have been the ones that we’ve built over time. That’s encouragement to others who are thinking about building partnerships. You are probably already starting by the relationships you are creating. It’s worth building all levels of partnerships—they get very valuable work done for the communities that we serve.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Program Assessment 101—Interview with Dr. Samantha Matlin, Scattergood Foundation

Photo courtesy of ArtWell.

 

This fall, the Bartol Foundation will be piloting a new series of trauma-informed training workshops for teaching artists. We’ve partnered with our co-working neighbors at the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation to plan assessment tools for this program. Read our Q&A with Dr. Samantha Matlin, Director of Evaluation and Community Impact at the Scattergood Foundation, to learn about the considerations involved in planning a program assessment.

In case you missed it, be sure to also check out this interview with Mindy A. Early, lead facilitator of our upcoming trauma training pilot series.

 

Tell us a little bit about the Scattergood Foundation. How did you come to work with the Bartol Foundation to plan assessment of the pilot on traumainformed practice for teaching artists?

The Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation has been a health conversion foundation since 2005. We’ve had a long-term commitment around behavioral health and the moral treatment of individuals. Really since the beginning of the Foundation, we’ve had a focus on trauma, and later specifically more on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Over the last few years, we’ve been doing more of this work as more people have become aware of the significant prevalence and impact of ACEs and trauma. We have also been part of the Philadelphia Adverse Childhood Experience Task Force and other community coalitions.

A few years ago, we worked with Bartol on some smaller trauma-informed training workshops for artists. Since that time, we have been an advisor and partner around these conversations. In terms of this specific pilot project, it’s really an extension of that history of working together in this area. With my role around evaluation and program planning, through conversations between the leaders of Bartol and Scattergood we talked about how we could support this pilot.

 

When thinking about how to assess a pilot program, what are the first questions you ask?

Pilot programs should be thought of as a learning opportunity, first and foremost. The focus should include the initial impact that you are hoping the program will achieve, but more about understanding what you are working to implement, and how that can be documented and understood so it can be improved upon in the future.

It’s also very important to consider who your participants are, especially when you’re implementing a program for the first time. You consider who are the participants, what is the contact going to look like, what methods will you be using to track any information—but more initially on the implementation side than on the outcomes. Some people talk about that as more of a formative evaluation, really asking questions and figuring out what kind of information you need to be able to understand how to improve the program and then track outcomes.

 

What are some ways to incorporate assessment into a pilot program that are not too cumbersome for a small organization?

I think assessment has to do with both the size of the organization and the size of the program. Sometimes pilots are smaller in scale even at large organizations, so it may not make sense to do something that’s too cumbersome then either.

Understanding who your program participants are is critical, but it doesn’t have to mean doing large-scale surveys. Assessment could take the form of asking questions in the beginning to understand participants’ baseline knowledge: How familiar are they with the topic? What kind of training have they experienced in the past? Or, in the case of teaching artists, how many students do they potentially reach through their teaching, or do they already have exposure to these kinds of concepts? This type of information can really shape what a program can look like and help you understand what kinds of changes to anticipate, that then can be measured.

In determining what type of data will be most useful, it’s important to consider how you plan to use the information. It’s often good to have some measurements and scales on quantitative surveys so that you can look at averages and even change over time, but I think that has to depend on the culture of the program participants and the organization. Qualitative data and narrative is really important, and this may be sufficient with a smaller group and even help inform learning with a larger program.

 

When can an organization do its own assessment of a pilot program, and when/for what purposes should they hire outside assistance?

That’s a great question, and I don’t think there is a black-and-white answer. A lot of it depends on why an organization is doing an assessment, and what kind of capacity they have to it themselves. If an organization has staff that are able to do an assessment, then that could make a lot of sense. It is important for an organization to be able to assess their programs as part of their work. But if the goal of the assessment of the program involves more rigorous evaluation research, that could be a reason to hire externally. There are still benefits of having someone do assessment that is part of that organization and closer to a program, because they can really understand that program in a different way.

 

Anything else youd like to add?

We’re really excited to be involved. It’s fantastic that Bartol is using the available information and training around trauma and ACEs to think about the benefit that can bring to teaching artists and students. Our role in helping to support learning around that is a pleasure to do.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Announcing the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 Grantees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 24, 2018

CONTACT:

Beth Feldman Brandt

Executive Director

256-519-5311 (office); 610-513-2668 (cell)

bfbrandt@bartol.org

 

STOCKTON RUSH BARTOL FOUNDATION AWARDS

22 GRANTS TO PHILADELPHIA ARTS AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS

 

Five Micro-grants Also Awarded to Teaching Artists through 

New Partnership with Small But Mighty Arts

 

Philadelphia, PA—The Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation announced today that it will distribute $125,000 in grants to 22 Philadelphia arts and cultural organizations. The Foundation supports organizations in a range of artistic disciplines with an emphasis on arts education and community-based arts programs. A complete list with information on each grantee is available here.

In addition, the Foundation approved $2,500 in its first of two rounds of micro-grants. Grants of $500 each were awarded to five individual teaching artists through a new partnership with Small But Mighty Arts (SBMA.) SBMA supports members of the creative community by connecting artists directly with resources and networks. Information on these grantees is available here.

The 2018 roster of grantees reflects the Bartol Foundation’s commitment to supporting cultural organizations that provide exceptional, sustained arts experiences to children, teens and adults throughout Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. The Bartol Foundation supports diverse organizations from large to small, established and emerging. The Foundation made 18 grants of $5,000 each.  Four grants of $7,500 each were made to:

  • Sister Cities Girlchoir for their Saturday Girlchoir Academy that builds singers and leaders;
  • PhillyCAM for their development of “people-powered media”;
  • The Tibetan Association of Greater Philadelphia for programs which preserve traditional Tibetan dance, music and song; and,
  • Warrior Writers to bring together veterans and members of the Iraqi community to collaborate.

Three first-time grantees bring new perspectives and audiences to the roster of grantees:

  • ArtSphere for their pre-school program in Philadelphia neighborhoods;
  • Dehkontee Artists Theatre serves the Liberian community with a project that will address issues of domestic and gun violence; and,
  • Power Street Theatre Company, a collective of multicultural and multidisciplinary artists that empowers marginalized artists and communities of color.

“Bartol has a new strategic vision through which we are re-affirming our commitment to organizations which engage and amplify voices that might otherwise be marginalized or silenced,” said Toni Shapiro-Phim, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Director of Programs for the Philadelphia Folklore Project.  “We are also pursuing new partnerships such as our micro-grant program with SBMA that will increase our impact through collaborations.”

“There are many organizations, especially representing communities of color, that have a vibrant cultural life but do not have the same access to resources,” added Beth Feldman Brandt, Executive Director of the Foundation. “We are committed to supporting the organizations and teaching artists who are part of these communities.”

The $5,000 George Bartol Arts Education Award, given annually to an organization that exemplifies the Foundation’s priorities, will be announced in the fall of 2018.

Grants distributed to organizations this year also include $10,000 in funds from Waterman II Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation.

Updated guidelines and applications for the next round of grants will be available in the winter of 2019 on the Foundation’s website at www.bartol.org with an application deadline of May 1, 2019.

The Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation works at the intersection of arts, education, community and philanthropy, grounded in our belief that deeply meaningful arts experiences strengthen people and communities. The Bartol Foundation advocates for and facilitates partnerships in which cultural organizations, teaching artists, community partners, and funders work toward the common goal of providing high-caliber, equitable arts education to people in Philadelphia, especially those in the most under-resourced or under-served communities. We utilize our knowledge and resources to create to generate more resources and opportunities for all.

 

Organization Brief project description 2018 Grant
1812 Productions In-school theatre residency program $5,000
Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture General operating support $5,000
Art Sphere Inc. General operating support $5,000
Art-Reach General operating support $5,000
ArtWell General operating support $5,000
Asian Arts Initiative General operating support $5,000
Centro Nueva Creacion After-school Bomba Classes $5,000
Dehkontee Artists Theatre Inc Theatre program based in Liberian community $5,000
Enchantment Theatre Company Theatre Residency at PASchool for the Deaf $5,000
Koresh Dance Company Koresh Kids Dance $5,000
Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble General operating support $5,000
Musicopia Musicopia Percussion Network (MPN) $5,000
Philadelphia Folklore Project General operating support $5,000
Philadelphia Photo Arts Center Teen photo program $5,000
Philadelphia Public Access Corp dba PhillyCAM Community Video Training $7,500
Philadelphia Dance Company General operating support $5,000
Philadelphia Young Playwrights Core Program of in-class playwriting residencies $5,000
Power Street Theatre Company Free theatre program for diverse adults. $5,000
Sister Cities Girlchoir Saturday Girlchoir Academy $7,500
Taller Puertorriqueno Arts and cultural education programs $5,000
Tibetan Association Of Philadelphia Tibetan cultural dance and song program $7,500
Warrior Writers of CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia Veterans and Iraqis video project $7,500

“A great exercise for my teacher brain” – Interview with Teaching Artist Stephanie N. Walters

Photo courtesy of Stephanie N. Walters.

 

Last month, the Bartol Foundation awarded scholarships to nine local teaching artists to attend a symposium about teaching in alternative spaces. As part of our ongoing Q&A series, we spoke with one of the scholarship recipients, actress and playwright Stephanie N. Walters, about her work as a teaching artist and experience at the symposium.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your work as a teaching artist? What kinds of spaces have you taught in?

I started teaching theatre in Philadelphia a few years ago. I was working with local theatres and going to visit public elementary schools to discuss children’s theatre. I loved working with students so much that I explored other avenues of educational theatrical engagement. I worked with a southwest Philly high school ELL class to create a theatrical response to a local professional performance. I also have spent a few years working with young adults with autism on writing their own plays.

My biggest joy is working closely with Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Through their Core Residency program, I am able to frequent local high schools to teach playwriting. I have also served as a mentor for the Resident Playwrights at PYP, an application-based group of high school students. Giving personalized feedback and mentorship impacted me so deeply that I explored more opportunities with PYP. This coming fall, I will begin a two-year fellowship as the Special Programs Fellow.

Over the past year, I also began working with a local synagogue preschool/playschool. Working with tiny humans in the mornings and high school students in the afternoons has been my daily routine during the school year, and it’s a great exercise for my teacher brain! During the summers, I teach dance at a local theatre camp with elementary school students—my own version of “play creation”—and playwriting to high schoolers. This year, I will be developing a theatre/play creation camp for preschool-aged students.

 

Why were you interested in attending the symposium?

I was interested in the symposium because I did not go to university for teaching or education, so I saw the symposium as a professional development opportunity. Working for PYP has allowed me to participate in trauma-based professional development. Through these opportunities, I am able to give myself a larger knowledge on the ever-changing pedagogy of teaching.

 

Can you share something you found particularly valuable and/or surprising about the symposium?

One of my favorite aspects of the symposium was the icebreaker/warm up lead by Koresh Dance Company’s teaching artist, Teresa VanDenend Sorge. It was movement-based and completely engaging. I have since adapted the exercise and utilized it with my own students. They have loved it so much and it has proven extremely valuable as their creative autonomy blossoms.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“Teaching opens the door to the arts”—Interview with Teaching Artist Angela Arrey-Wastavino

Photo courtesy of Angela Arrey-Wastavino.

 

Last month, the Bartol Foundation awarded scholarships to nine local teaching artists to attend a symposium about teaching in alternative spaces. As part of our ongoing Q&A series, we spoke with one of the scholarship recipients, visual artist and writer Angela Arrey-Wastavino, about her work as a teaching artist and experience at the symposium.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your work as a teaching artist? What kinds of spaces have you taught in?

I’ve been working with a variety of organizations, but mostly with children—I would say 70% of my participants are all children. I’ve also taught in some more non-traditional settings. For example, years ago I taught at a rehabilitation center for young inmates and first offenders. We were working with what was called Paño Art in the Southwest. It consists of having white handkerchiefs that people draw all over with ink—and that’s it. That was practically the only medium that we could use with inmates because of all the security protocols that we had to go through. At that time, not even pencils were allowed. So, it was very difficult for artists to accommodate their requirements. But it was very interesting and creative. Many inmates were very happy to participate because they had a wonderful talent.

These types of experiences are incredibly satisfying for me. Maybe that’s the reason why I’m so happy to be a teaching artist, because with the people I encounter, I can see the transformation through the arts. It’s incredibly rewarding. People who have never had access to the arts before, and having a first experience that is really positive for them—it’s really transformative. Teaching opens the door to the arts.

 

You first participated in a Bartol teaching artist workshop when they presented their marketing series in NYC. How did you wind up coming to Philadelphia?

I was living in Syracuse, New York at the time, which is a small city relatively close to the border with Canada. I was very active over there, participating in a number of different organizations—I was president of Onondaga Art Guild, I was doing public relations for Associate Artists of Central New York, I was a member of a number of communities supporting youth. But when you are a big city person and you’re living in a place like Syracuse, it can be frustrating.

I went to Bartol’s marketing workshop in New York, and I decided at that time that I had to move from Syracuse. When I became aware of what the Bartol Foundation was doing, I was surprised that it was coming from Philadelphia to be in New York City. And I was very curious. So, I started doing my own personal research regarding what the Foundation was, what it was doing, and I thought that it was really great and I would like to be participating. Therefore, I decided to visit Philadelphia for several days. And after being here and talking to people and visiting places, I felt very much at home from day one. And I decided that this was the place to be. And that was practically because of being informed of the Bartol Foundation. So, I made my decision, and here I am.

 

Why were you interested in attending the symposium?

There were three main reasons why I really wanted to participate: making connections, sharing experiences, and learning from other people. There were also some topics that were of great interest to me—for example, working in alternative spaces. Being new to Philadelphia, I’m actively looking to associate with other artists and to continue learning. And I think I was really welcomed into the community at this program.

 

Can you share something you found particularly valuable and/or surprising about the symposium?    

I was surprised with the figure cited by one of the panelists that 19% of the American population has been diagnosed with some type of disability. It made me think about the percentage who has NOT been diagnosed, adding to the official percentage. These figures preoccupy me. Are teaching artists prepared to effectively integrate special needs people in activities we offer in our communities?

Why it caught my attention is because when I work on projects sometimes, I have to explain that I’m not an occupational therapist—I’m a teaching artist. And being a teaching artist is still a term that the general population is not familiar with. You have to explain that you are not a teacher, you are not a therapist—you are a little bit something in between. I tremendously identified with what the speaker was saying at that point.

 

To learn more about Angela’s work as a teaching artist, visit http://aaartatelier.blogspot.com/.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“Witness, archivist, activist, and creator” – Interview with Bartol Board Member Sannii Crespina-flores

Photo courtesy of Sannii Crespina-flores.

 

As part of an ongoing Q&A series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s artistic community. Sannii Crespina-flores is a teaching artist, advocate, and activist for youth and women. She is a board member of the Bartol Foundation, currently serving in her third year on the board.

  

Can you tell me a bit about your work as a teaching artist?

I’ve been an artist and community activist for over 20 years, both for women and youth. My artwork was birthed as a result of me being a woman of color—specifically a black woman—and my advocacy comes from me being a mother. So, although I use the title “teaching artist,” I’m really an artist that shares a connection to the experiences of the people in my community. As an artist, I have the honor of being a witness, archivist, activist, and creator in my community. And it’s interesting, because my community has grown from just the people that I grew up with—my family and friends—to artists in the city, artists in the country, youth in the country, other advocates and activists, and also globally. I’ve had the privilege to go and share what I’ve learned and experienced with other folks, and then learn from them as well and create something beautiful from it.

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

Fellow board member Rebecca Fabiano actually introduced me to the Bartol Foundation. I really loved the fact that it was a diverse board of women who, individually and collectively, have made changes to the arts education landscape in Philly. How could I not want to be a part of that?

What’s been the most rewarding moment from your time working with the Bartol Foundation?

I think I became a member at a really, really good time in the history of the Bartol Foundation. Because I’ve watched Bartol create this family—this living, breathing entity—by creating a platform for teaching artists and connecting teaching artists to organizations, and then partnering with organizations to grow this movement of art, education, and connectedness. So, that is what I find most rewarding, to be able to be a part of it. I don’t have specific any moments that stick out—I just have one ongoing positive, impactful experience.

 

To learn more about Sannii’s work as an artist, visit http://artistecard.com/SanniiCrespinaflores.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

 

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