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.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Asian Arts Initiative

Photo courtesy of Asian Arts Initiative.

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

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

 

Best. Snack. Ever.

Chaat.

 

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

Jjimjilbang (Korean spa).

 

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

The students of our youth program.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

When students give speeches about their experience here.

 

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

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

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

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

 

I grew…

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

 

I take away…

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

 

I question…

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

 

I seek…

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

 

I resolve…

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

 

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Taller Puertorriqueño

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

 

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

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

 

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

At Taller we are motivated constantly by three things:

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

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

  

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Please. Puerto Rico, of course!

 

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

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

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

 

Best.  Snack. Ever.

Rice & Beans.

 

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

Photo courtesy of Lauren Scharf.

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Anything else you would like to tell us?

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO)

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

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

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

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?  

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference? 

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

 

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

“I’m determined.”

 

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

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

 

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

Be consistent.

 

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

Make it eternally sustainable.

 

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

Visiting a foreign country and learning about a new culture.

 

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

It hasn’t been written yet.

 

Best. Snack. Ever. 

Popcorn.

 

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

Photo courtesy of Shavon Norris.

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

How do you see movement as a path towards healing?

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

 

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

Photo courtesy of Gretjen Clausing.

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

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

 

Can you tell us a bit about PhillyCAM?

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Warrior Writers

Photo credit: Warrior Writers on Facebook.

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

This organization/community saved/saves my life.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

The Philippines with my whole family, still dreaming…

 

Best.  Snack. Ever.

Fresh cold cherries and mangos.

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

Photo courtesy of Catzie Vilayphonh.

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Power Street Theatre Company

Photo credit: powerstreettheatre.com.

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

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

 

Best. Snack. Ever.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Photo courtesy of New Victory Theater.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Tibetan Association of Philadelphia

Photo credit: Tibetan Association of Philadelphia on Facebook.

 

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Books and Words: Bookbinding and Poetry Workshop

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Stop Motion Animation: Creating Community with Animation

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

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

 

Building your Teaching Artist Pathway

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

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

 

Marketing: Teaching Artist Statement

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

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

 

Teaching Artist Play Date: Drumming your Story

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

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

 

Trauma-Informed Practice: Movement as Healing

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

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

 

Marketing Yourself as a Teaching Artist: Creating your Signature Lessons

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Musicopia

Photo courtesy of Musicopia.

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

These questions were answered by Drumlines Director Jesse Mell.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tattoos on the Heart, by Gregory Boyle

 

Grassroots Fundraising for Dollars and Engagement

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Kulu Mele

Photo credit: www.kulumele.org.

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

These questions were answered by David Harrison, Executive Director.

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Best.  Snack. Ever. 

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Young Playwrights

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

These questions were answered by several PYP staff members.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two teaching artists in every classroom!

Best. Snack. Ever.

Chocolate. Covered. Pretzels.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Enchantment Theatre Company

Photo credit: enchantmenttheatre.org.

 

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: 1812 Productions

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

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

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

Best. Snack. Ever.

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

Trauma-Informed Practice for Teaching Artists: Week 3 Reflections

So sometimes, we cry.

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

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

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

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

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

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Photo Arts Center

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

 

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

Listen to your students.

 

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

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

 

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

Oaxaca, Mexico.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

This year, the Bartol Foundation announced a new partnership with Small But Mighty Arts to award micro-grants to teaching artists working on community-based projects. Yinka Orafidiya, a socially engaged ceramic artist, is one of the grantees from our first round of awards last spring. Meet Yinka in our Q&A!

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Anything else youd like to add?

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

 

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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.

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