Power Street Theatre Company is home to a collective of multicultural and multidisciplinary artists.

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.

Get to Know the Grantee: University City Arts League

“…when your students surpass your expectations and teach you…”

Founded more than 50 years ago, people at the University City Arts League never stop learning and thinking of news ways to reach their West Philly community. Executive Director Annette Monnier shares thoughts from their community in their answers to our questions of the day.

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

Working with a community of people who are just as excited about art as I am.

When do you know your work is making a difference?

There are a thousand ways we know our work is making a difference; when the single mother thanks us for working with her to provide arts programs for her kids, when a child spends an hour on a 15-minute pop-up art activity and then comes back to the table to make another, when a teaching artist comes into the office for advice on how to handle a teaching situation, when the staff spends a morning working out how to make people feel more comfortable and welcomed in the space, when a parent thanks you for handling a tough situation just right, when your students surpass your expectations and teach you, when you see a unicorn cat at a dance party with dinosaurs (children’s drawing), when you walk into a classroom and students are working out the mechanics of an elevator for an art project, when your pottery classes have a waitlist, when laughter is often the background soundtrack. . .

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

“I’m at work today and had a free moment and I just wanted to drop a note to say how much Darnell and I appreciate the opportunity of having the Arts League available to Ekwueme and Idawa and in the past, our eldest daughter, Zoey.  All our children have benefitted greatly from the sense of community and opportunity to be creative on a daily basis that the Arts League fosters. Both creativity and community are important values that we hold and it is invaluable to have a space where our children can enjoy activities that reflect these values when they are away from us. When there are half days, both Ekwueme and Idawa will ask if they can go to the Arts League. During our evening dinner time, what happened at the Arts League comes up regularly- what piece of pottery they are creating or what new piece of knowledge they gained, how an argument was handled that made sense.

When I pick up my kids from the Arts League, I have had the opportunity to observe staff interacting with youth and it has been kind, appropriate and patient. I also want to say as a parent it’s really good feeling to know that staff enjoy interacting with your children and feel comfortable that they are safe and cared for. I love that you guys include children in the pick-up time activities – reflecting that they are a part of this community. Your communication with me as a parent feels like a partnership. I appreciate that greatly!”

-UCAL Arts After School parent, Julee Tweh

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

“UCAL is an Oasis for the artists it teaches and employs, I love being a part of the supportive artist community UCAL offers myself and my 5 yr old son. As a single parent in Philadelphia UCAL has both welcomed and supported us, we both feel like valued members of a wider artist family, the family is a community which works to engage and inspire artists of all ages.”


-UCAL After School teaching Artist and Arts After-School Parent, Olivia Rodriguez


We hire great artists but only ever have part-time work for them. The single most important thing we do is take that into account. Realistically UCAL (the University City Arts League) can’t be a full-time job but we can support artists in other ways, hopefully making their lives easier and freeing up the necessary time to teach.

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Wagner Free Institute of Science

Students involved in the Science, Nature and Art Program are more likely to be academic risk takers.”

If you haven’t been to the Wagner Free Institute of Science just off Temple’s Campus, you are missing something that is one-of-a-kind.   Bringing together science and art is just one aspect of this mid-19th century science museum and Executive Director Susan Glassman told us more about their work.

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

This is from one of the classroom teachers who had SNAP in his class for several years – we love his observation that the program encourages risk-taking and students diving into things in new ways:

“After doing this for two years now I’ve noticed that students involved in the SNAP program are more likely to be academic risk takers. What I mean by this is where shy students would normally sit back and not try something out of fear of being “wrong,” instead are willing to put themselves out there, to try something new. The SNAP projects the students make are visual representations of this risk taking. “


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

We handle all the logistics for SNAP  (i.e. ordering supplies, administration, etc.) so that our teaching artists can focus fully on teaching, developing the lessons and investing their energy in their work with students in the classroom.

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

We would make SNAP a year-long program instead of than 8 weeks.  Everyone would love to have it for the full year!

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

Rachel Carson’s A Sense of Wonder (it informs our whole approach to teaching and learning)

Best.  Snack. Ever.

               Rock cycle fudge (we make it with GeoKids classes)!

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Danse4Nia

“…develop a teaching style that can speak to all learning abilities…”



We are excited to hear from our first-time grantee Danse4Nia, a multi-cultural contemporary modern dance company committed to using dance to foster personal, cultural and social change.   Founder, CEO and Artistic Director Antoinette Coward-Gilmore shared some insights with her answers to our questions of the day.


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

The first time Danse4Nia Repertory Ensemble showcased in Pittsburgh, PA. at the Bynum Theatre, during the PA Presenters Conference, one of the dancers thanked us for giving her the opportunity to perform and to fly Pittsburgh.  she had never been on an airplane before. She was 20 years old. I personally felt proud that Danse4Nia could provide that first time experience through dance.


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

The best tip I could give someone doing arts education would be to develop a teaching style that can speak to all learning abilities. l would also suggest having a sensitivity to various cultural and ethnic backgrounds which can  also play a part in a student’s learning capability.  


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

A favorite field trip would be Jacob’s Pillow, the mecca of modern dance founded by the father of modern dance Ted Shawn.  


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

Many books I have read helped to shape how I think about my work.  The one book that comes to mind is the Biography of Lester Horton, the founder of the Horton Technique.  The biography details the creation of his technique, the origins of the first dance theatre and the origins of the first interracial dance company.



Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Norris Square Neighborhood Projects

“… I was the only adult in their life that they have truly trusted.”

Norris Square Neighborhood Projects believes in art inside and out.  With a social justice lens, NSNP is committed to the people and surroundings of their community.  

When do you know your work is making a difference?

I know my work is making a difference when I begin to see the positive impacts on the youth that I serve. This could be an academic achievement of theirs or a personal challenge they have overcome.

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

The coolest thing a participant has said to me was that I was the only adult in their life that they have truly trusted. 

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

The best tip that I can give someone doing arts education is that you must meet the youth where they are at. This means that you must drop any preconceived expectations about the youth that you are working with. Remember that youth run on their time and work at their pace.  

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

My favorite field trip has to be when my org was able to take our youth canoeing in the summer!!! What a blast!

Best.  Snack. Ever.

THE BEST SNACK EVER!!! Is of course the Nutty Buddy!

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Allens Lane Art Center




Allens Lane Art Center is the 2019 winner of the George Bartol Arts Education Award for their Vision Thru Art program but that is only part of their story.  Executive Director Craig Stover filled us in on the rest (and his love of tacos) with his answers to our questions of the day.


What about your work keeps you up at night?

In a word: sustainability.  Running an art center that has been around since 1953 presents certain challenges (and big shoes to fill).  Although we do make new classes, exhibitions, productions and other events all the time, the challenge for us is to make things that our community wants and needs while making sure that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year.  Making sure that the things we offer are well funded, well marketed and responds to the community’s needs that can withstand the test of time is often harder than it looks.


When do you know your work is making a difference?

When I see the smile on a kids face when they arrive for camp, when I see a student who throws a new pot on the wheel, when I see an actor take a bow on opening night, when I see and artist being the center of attention during a reception, that’s when I know that my job makes a real difference.  At Allens Lane Art Center, everyone who works at the center is an artist in their own right, from the instructors down to the administrators, and we’re all here because we believe that we can all help people by introducing them to the arts or by helping support their artistic dreams.


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

When I took over as Executive Director in 2008, the center had just gone under a major renovation of the building and unfortunately, a good number of our constituents didn’t return.  During that first year or so, it was a real struggle trying to build back our audiences, especially in light of the recession that just started. Eventually, we found our footing and our programs all came back to life.  This was reinforced by an artist who was working in our ceramics program one evening and came to me and said “Last night I was working in the studio and took a break and walked through the center. It was amazing that there was something going on in every room of the building.  Actors were rehearsing on the stage, dancers were practicing in the dance studio, and an artist was giving a talk in the gallery. It was amazing to see the center come to life.”


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

Try it all!  It’s extremely helpful when administrators know first-hand what the program is like so taking that class, seeing that show or participating in program events really helps.  A better understanding of those who are running the program not only give you a clearer picture of how to support it, it also helps build a stronger bond between the administration and the artists and those bonds help make for lasting relationships.


Best.  Snack. Ever.

Tacos.  They’re a snack and a meal.  I’d be very wary of any who turns one down.



Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Project 440

“Because music is there for you when people aren’t.”



Project 440’s “Doing Good” program is a 30-session intensive after-school entrepreneurial program that provides guidance to high school musicians who want to positively impact their communities.  A first time grantee, Project 440 uses music as a jumping off point to strengthen identity and build community. Program Director and Lead Teaching Artist Susanna Loewy stepped up to answer our questions of the day.


What about your work keeps you up at night?



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

When asked “Why is music important to you?” a student responded “Because music is there for you when people aren’t.” I think that perfectly sums it up, and want to posit the question: What if everyone had access to such an important tool? Music has the capability of changing lives for the better, and every young person should have those life-altering possibilities.


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

Can we have 40 hours in a day, please? But, not everyone else — just our staff.


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

Steinbeck’s East of Eden always reminds me that all of our choices are just that: choices. We are human because of this ability to choose, and keeping in mind that humanity that we all possess — the good choices and the not-as-good ones — keeps us both humble and motivated. 


Best.  Snack. Ever.

CEREAL WITH WHOLE MILK… any kind of cereal. really… any. kind.



Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.


Get to Know the Grantee: Theatre Exile

“…whatever is going on in your life, try to bring your best self to class.”



Theatre Exile is committed to theatre, especially in its South Philly neighborhood. Paper Wings is Theatre Exile’s in-school residency outreach program.  Experienced, professional teaching artists go into the classroom once a week and work with students to help them find their voices, build confidence, work collaboratively, and engage with the world in an empowered way.  Deb Block, Executive Director, and Steve Gravelle, Teaching Artist, weighed in with their answers to our questions of the day.


Deborah Block


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

I truly believe that what we do makes our world a better place.  But in the most immediate way, it’s the wonderful people that I work with.  Me being my best, helps others do the wonderful work that they’re doing. 


What about your work keeps you up at night?

The lists of things to do.  Being afraid of forgetting something important. 


When do you know your work is making a difference?

It’s usually after the fact.  When I get a personal note that is not just thanks for being there or doing that, but when they tell me something about themselves that has significantly changed because of the experience. Sometimes these come from teachers who write about how a student has grown in direct response to our program.  I have had a handful of really monumental notes like that. Just one, would have made all of my work worthwhile. 


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

Trust, listen, and guide when necessary.  Hopefully in that order.


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

Be adaptable.  Listen to the kids.  Feel what they need. Always engage. And if that last one is difficult, take some time to remember why you are doing it.  Take a nap, because you’re probably over worked. Take care of yourself, so you can take care of them. It’s hard work. But it is so meaningful. 


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

I’d go all Christmas Carol on the students and visit their future selves with creativity in their lives and them living in their strengths, and their future selves without it. 



Steve Gravelle 


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

“When I first started this work, I was afraid to talk in front of people.  Drama was scary at first, but now I’m more confident in my public speaking.  Thanks Mr Steve!” – Denise, Grade 8


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

When you’re a TA, you typically only get one brief interaction per week… whatever is going on in your life, try to bring your best self to class.  It will make the students feel more successful if you bring positive energy with you!  


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

Three things: 1) Show up on time.  2) Work hard and accomplish the tasks given to you.  3) Be nice to people. It never ceases to amaze me how few working artists can manage all three things.  If you can stay steady on these three fundamentals, you’ll never want for work.  


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

Taking a large group of summer campers to the Please Touch Museum.  They went just crazy in a museum specifically designed for them to play with everything.  It’s my favorite museum by a wide margin.  


 Best.  Snack. Ever.

Cheez-its, straight out of the box.  Trying not to eat an entire box at a time is the biggest struggle.




Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Big Picture Alliance

“It’s like I’m becoming the person I always wanted to be, but never thought I could.”




Big Picture Alliance participants make movies…and much more.  Students learn to collaborate, express their ideas and persevere bring a vision to reality.   We asked Executive Director Aleks Martray our questions of the day about their work.


When do you know your work is making a difference?

When our youth film fest hosts lead an impromptu self-affirmation with an audience of 100 people and everyone participates in unison. 


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

“It’s like I’m becoming the person I always wanted to be, but never thought I could.”

“I never realized how many skills go into making a film, but now when I watch a movie I can’t unsee it!”


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

To model experiencing the process from both sides, as teacher & learner. 


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

Listen to your youth!..Their instincts, insights, and feedback are often the most valuable tools in shaping programs and projects.  


Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

The Story of Destiny | Introducing our New Social Media Coordinator

We are so excited to introduce our new Social Media Coordinator, Destiny Washington. Destiny makes sure we spread the word about Bartol’s opportunities, workshops and resources. She also celebrates our grantees and community members making a difference.

Tell us about how your journey to having your own social media business, Destiny / Design Co.

I am a self-taught artist and designer from Brooklyn, NY, and I really embrace the Do-It-Yourself ethos. Sometimes the art world has barriers to entry, but I never let that stop me from pursuing art and a creative career. I decided to start my own design business in that same emotional space of wanting to forge a path for myself. I love collaborating with others and being a part of and in control of projects that we create together! In addition to graphic and visual design services, I offer social media management to my clients because I believe a cohesive brand/organization’s message includes social media platforms and the language that you use. In non-profits, social media is often an underutilized space, but people want to hear your stories and see your work!

What drew you to working with the Bartol Foundation and how do you think Bartol can make a difference through its social media?

I love working with non-profit and artist organizations because I am an artist myself. I am newer to the Philadelphia area and was very excited to learn about the work that Bartol Foundation does with artists and funding their projects around the city. Being a part of a team at an organization that I believe in is a huge plus and I am very excited about the work we’ve started together. Bartol can make a difference through its social media by building others up and continuing to further our message of helping and supporting teaching artists. We have begun to shine more light on our micro-grantees, and feature other workshops and organizations on our platforms that we believe in and support. Bartol Foundation’s social media has goals of continuing to further our reach as well as strengthening our growing community of teaching artists.

What advice would you give to artists and arts organizations trying to develop their social media presence?

– Quality over Quantity

– Show works in progress (People like to see your process and your inner workings)

– Play around with themes (Ex: Posting only in one color, recurring hashtags)

– Find the balance between personal and professional.

What are the two (or three) apps you can’t live without?

I love Pinterest! My mind has 30+ open tabs on a regular basis, so being able to neatly organize and categorize my thoughts, projects and ideas is a godsend. Although it’s got its share of issues, Instagram is a great app! It has helped me connect with many other creatives, artists and design entrepreneurs I would have never known before. Their inspiration goes a long way for me. Your work on social media can do the same for others. I also really enjoy the Repost App, which makes it very easy to share the work of others you collaborate with or admire! It easily copies the media and text from an Instagram post to your phone for your use. Artists and Organizations can use this to help spread each other’s messages!

And our always favorite question. Best. Snack. Ever.

There’s nothing better than a ripe mango!


Destiny Washington is a visual designer based in Philadelphia who focuses on brand strategy and social media. Find more about her and her work here.


Telling Stories Part 2 | Learning Together

Telling Our Stories

In our last blog post, we shared some statistics about the teaching artist eco-system.  Our 2019 Teaching Artist Survey also asked you specifically about what kinds of programs would help support your teaching practice.  As we reviewed your ideas and started making plans, we noticed a theme emerging in our fall and winter workshops.

We believe, as you do, that everyone’s story has value and deserves to be lifted into the light.  We believe that members of our community whose stories are often silenced or marginalized should instead have their stories amplified.  Many of you, as teaching artists, do this every day through your distinct art forms.

This fall and winter, we will be presenting workshops that spotlight how different teaching artists engage with communities to listen to their stories and provide a creative space for community members to put words, movement, and art to these stories.

On October 21st, we collaborated on a workshop focusing on how contemporary artists can give insight into the particular history and story of their world view with visual artist Lisa Volta and playwright Marissa Kennedy.  On October 30, Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project and Live Connections shared strategies for parents to give their stories to their children.  On November 14, Jennifer Turnbull from Spiral Q will combine their approach to turning story circles into movement.

Later in the fall and winter, we will be presenting workshops focused on how to tell stories with a trauma-informed lens when Dr. Meagan Corrado shares her Storiez process on January 14, 2020, and how a zine can help a community maps its assets and document its stories.

Join us and expand your teaching practice within and beyond your art form. We are waiting to hear more stories!

Telling Stories Part 1 | Teaching Artists Survey 2019

What we know about teaching artists…from you! 

It seems like ages ago that we sent out our annual Teaching Artist Survey – and 170 of you answered!  Like many of you, we said goodbye to summer and dove right into buying our school supplies, looking for our long-sleeved t-shirts and planning our fall programs.  But we wanted to say thank you to all who participated and tell you what we learned.

Here’s what we learned from you –

Where You Work:  You continue to work in Philadelphia public schools (38%) although fewer are working in other schools (33% down from 41% in 2018).  More of you are working with cultural organizations and with other kinds of nonprofit organizations.

Who You Work With: The greatest percentage of you work with elementary and middle school age students (56%) with about half of you working with teens and adults.  Less than a quarter of you work with pre-K students and one-third work with senior adults.

What Kinds of Programs You Present:  Half of you present multiple-visit programs in a school, down from almost 60% last year.  You are presenting fewer one-time programs in schools (26%) and more one-time programs at cultural organizations than last year (29% up from 19%).

How You Find Work:  About a third of you work through a cultural organization as an employee and many fewer work as an independent contractor than last year (32% down from 49%).  Most importantly, over 60% of you are securing work on your own.

How You Learn: More of those who participated in the survey came to Bartol workshops (44% up from 37%) and fewer received professional development opportunities from an organization you are affiliated with (36% down from 46%).  Almost a third of you did not participate in any professional development at all.

What’s Next: We take all of this information along with your specific feedback on our programs to design our teaching artist workshops that are kicking off now!  You can see what’s on tap on our website and stay tuned for the next blog post to learn more about what programs we have planned for this fall.

Most importantly, encourage your friends and colleagues to get on our mailing list so more people know about the resources we offer to teaching artists!  Help us spread the word!

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

*Bartol’s 2019 micro-grant application is open online through Sunday, August 25. Learn more about how to apply: https://bartol.org/our-grantees/ta-microgrants/.


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

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

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

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


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

Chris Coyle

Alexandra Espinoza

Yinka Orafidiya

Ellen Reynolds

Rose Benson

Misty Sol

Bartol Foundation Announces 2019 Grantees!

The Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation announced today that it will distribute $95,000 in grants to 18 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.

The 2019 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 16 grants of $5,000 each.  Two grants of $7,500 each were made to:

  • Artistas y Musicos Latino Americanos (AMLA) for their Latin music and culture programs; and,
  • Centro Nueva Creación for their Bomba dance program.

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

  • Danse4Nia for its multicultural, contemporary modern dance company;
  • Portside Arts Center for its after-school visual arts program;
  • Project 440 for Doing Good, its social entrepreneurship program for high school musicians; and,
  • Theatre Exile, Paper Wings, its in-school playwriting program.

“The Bartol Foundation is committed to supporting organizations working at the intersection of arts, education and community,” said Jeri Johnson, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Founder of Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra.  “In this current climate, it is urgent that all of our creative voices have the chance to be heard.  These organizations create safe spaces to learn, share, and connect.”

“This year’s roster of grantees reflects our focus on smaller organizations which are embedded in the communities they serve. Thirteen organizations have budgets under $500,000 and the smallest organization has a budget of $35,000,” added Beth Feldman Brandt, Executive Director of the Foundation. “These organizations often don’t have access to the same resources as larger organizations and Bartol can step in to begin to fill that gap.”

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 2019.

For more information, contact Beth Feldman Brandt.

Photo credit: First-time grantee Danse4Nia full company.

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

Photo courtesy of Misty Sol.

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.


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

All photos courtesy of Rose Benson.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.


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

Photo courtesy of Courtney J. Boddie.

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


Anything else you’d like to add?

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

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


Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Koresh Kids Dance

Photo credit: www.koreshdance.org

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

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


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

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


What about your work keeps you up at night?

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


When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


Best. Snack. Ever. 

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


Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc.

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

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


What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


When do you know your work is making a difference?

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


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

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


Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

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


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

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


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

Megan: Seeing my colleagues…and COFFEE!


What about your work keeps you up at night?

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


When do you know your work is making a difference?

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


What is your favorite field trip?

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


Best snack ever.

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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


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


Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Asian Arts Initiative

Photo courtesy of Asian Arts Initiative.

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

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


Best. Snack. Ever.



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

Jjimjilbang (Korean spa).


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

The students of our youth program.


When do you know your work is making a difference?

When students give speeches about their experience here.


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

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

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

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


I grew…

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


I take away…

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


I question…

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


I seek…

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


I resolve…

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


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


Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Taller Puertorriqueño

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


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

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


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

At Taller we are motivated constantly by three things:

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


What about your work keeps you up at night?

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


When do you know your work is making a difference?

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Please. Puerto Rico, of course!


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

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

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


Best.  Snack. Ever.

Rice & Beans.


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

Photo courtesy of Lauren Scharf.

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Anything else you would like to tell us?

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


Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO)

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

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

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


What about your work keeps you up at night?  

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


When do you know your work is making a difference? 

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


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

“I’m determined.”


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

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


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

Be consistent.


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

Make it eternally sustainable.


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

Visiting a foreign country and learning about a new culture.


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

It hasn’t been written yet.


Best. Snack. Ever. 



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

Photo courtesy of Shavon Norris.

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

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


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

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

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


How do you see movement as a path towards healing?

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

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


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

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

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


Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.


“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.