Philadelphia Young Playwrights learning through play writing.

Bartol Blog

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

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Photo Arts Center

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

 

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

Listen to your students.

 

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

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

 

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

Oaxaca, Mexico.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Anything else youd like to add?

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

 

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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

Photo credit: Tezarah Wilkins.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: ArtWell

Photo courtesy of ArtWell.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Best.  Snack. Ever.

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

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

This year, the Bartol Foundation announced a new partnership with Small But Mighty Arts to award micro-grants to teaching artists working on community-based projects. Chris Coyle is one of five winners from our first round of awards last spring. He is a bassist, composer, and music educator.

Meet Chris in our Q&A!

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

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

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Sister Cities Girlchoir

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Best. Snack. Ever.

A purplelicious treat: Purple Grapes!

2018 Bartol Award Announced: Sister Cities Girlchoir

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 18, 2018

CONTACT:

Beth Feldman Brandt

Executive Director

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

bfbrandt@bartol.org

 

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

Award Honors Artistic Excellence and Commitment to Community

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

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

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

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

 

About Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation

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

 

About Sister Cities Girlchoir

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

 

The list of past award winners is available here.

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

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wilkerson.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

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

 

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Art Sphere Inc.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Best. Snack. Ever.

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

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

Photo Credit: www.smallbutmightyarts.org.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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

Photo courtesy of ArtWell.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Anything else youd like to add?

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Announcing the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 Grantees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 24, 2018

CONTACT:

Beth Feldman Brandt

Executive Director

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

bfbrandt@bartol.org

 

STOCKTON RUSH BARTOL FOUNDATION AWARDS

22 GRANTS TO PHILADELPHIA ARTS AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS

 

Five Micro-grants Also Awarded to Teaching Artists through 

New Partnership with Small But Mighty Arts

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Photo courtesy of Stephanie N. Walters.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Why were you interested in attending the symposium?

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

 

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

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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

Photo courtesy of Angela Arrey-Wastavino.

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Why were you interested in attending the symposium?

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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

Photo courtesy of Sannii Crespina-flores.

 

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

 

“I don’t believe in starving artists”—Interview with Bartol Administrator Melissa Talley-Palmer

Photo courtesy of Melissa Talley-Palmer.

 

As part of an ongoing Q&A series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s artistic community. Melissa Talley-Palmer is Administrator at the Bartol Foundation, joining the team in November 2017. Outside of her work at Bartol, Melissa is Administrative Assistant at Philadelphia Jazz Project, and an event planner and dance teacher.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your role at the Bartol Foundation?

My role here at the Bartol Foundation as the Administrator is primarily to support the Executive Director in granting applications, organizing teaching artist workshops, and general office support. I also like to do a lot of outreach, just letting the whole world know what’s happening at Bartol and extending it to new audiences.

As a dancer and teaching artist, what is most meaningful for your work in the community?

What’s most exciting for me as a teaching artist is the education component in the communities where I live and work. I’m passionate about preserving the history and culture of dance in our communities, particularly the African-American community where I learned to dance, and where that is such a deep connection to my history and family traditions. It’s really important for me to spread that joy, because it was such a joyful experience for me. With all that’s happening around the world through media, there’s such a divide amongst people. And for me, that’s disheartening. If we don’t teach our children the importance of humanity, then they lose a really valuable experience, especially when they’re young.

The demand for teaching dance in the community actually came from a lot of my peers inquiring during social events—like class reunions, family reunions—that I teach them the dances that my children and I were doing. My husband loves music and he DJs our dance classes, and my sons grew up learning how to dance, and we dance together all the time at social functions. I was taught how to dance back in my childhood in the 60s—so imagine how far back that goes for me. It takes me to my youth, and I like to give that to other people.

What would you like to contribute to the work of the Bartol Foundation?

I’m looking forward to expanding Bartol’s audience, and applying my administrative and technical skills to figuring out how we can deepen the experience for people at Bartol—whether that’s through a workshop, a grant that they receive, or whether that’s through teaching a workshop. It’s very exciting.

The Bartol Foundation experience, for me, is a new approach to the work that I’ve been doing for the last 20 years. I started doing nonprofit community arts and education work as a volunteer back in 1997 at the Village of Arts and Humanities. As a certified arts administrator, I think the work at Bartol puts me in a position to be able to make Bartol’s resources more known to a wider community. There are a lot of people who know of the Bartol Foundation, but I’m not sure if they all understand what are the ways they can engage in its resources. So, sharing the information about Bartol’s resources with the teaching artists I know.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am a two-time Art and Change Grantee with the Leeway Foundation. Because of the similarities to Bartol’s work, that’s another resource that I can bring to teaching artists, as an opportunity for them to consider applying for money to support their interests. All of these things are interconnected, and I’m looking forward to how that supports Bartol in fulfilling its mission to build teaching artists who can be more economically sound in their work—and not starve. I don’t believe in starving artists.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“Becoming trauma-informed is a journey”—Interview with Teaching Artist Mindy A. Early

In the fall of 2018, the Bartol Foundation will be piloting a new series of trauma-informed training workshops for teaching artists. Mindy A. Early is the lead designer and facilitator for this series. She is also Director for Education and Program Services at Philadelphia Young Playwrights, where she manages in-class residences, out-of-school programs and special projects, and productions.

To learn more about Bartol’s upcoming trauma workshops, read our Q&A with Mindy.

 

How did you become aware of the impact of trauma on the students you were working with?

There’s a twofold answer to that question. The first, which may be the more obvious one, is that my teaching artists and myself would go into classrooms and use playwriting and monologue writing as a vehicle to encourage students to use and express their voices. As an organization, Young Playwrights never censors students, so they are allowed to write about whatever they would like, from completely fictional all the way through biographical. So, as you can imagine, many of our students take that opportunity to write about things that touch their lives directly, and some of those topics suggested that they had intersected with some trauma in their lives.

The secondary reason is that, for a long time, my teaching artists and I have believed that some of the behaviors encountered in classrooms that would be labeled as “unwanted” or “challenging” aren’t coming from a place of the students rebelling against the artist who’s in the classroom. A lot of these responses are coming from a different place. We were looking towards trying to find a model that could reframe our views of that behavior, and also equip us better to meet students where they were and to help them rather than discipline them.

 

What does it mean for teaching artists to be trauma-informed, and how were you trained in these practices?

The majority of my training comes through the Lakeside Global Institute. They have a three-part, 72-hour training for people who work with potentially trauma-impacted populations. I took those three courses in addition to some other readings and professional development sessions that I’ve attended.

Being a trauma-informed teaching artist is a process. The first step is realizing what trauma is, its causes, and its effect on the brain, body, and behavior. And then what its potential impact is on a person’s ability to forge positive relationships, to trust, or to be able to comfortably learn because of where they’re at in their brain state.

The second part is being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma based on exhibited behaviors. This involves looking at how they interact, how they forge relationships, and how they’re responding physically, emotionally, and socially.

The final part is responding by fully applying knowledge about trauma into workshop practices and student encounters and, by so doing, seeking to actively resist re-traumatization. In other words, choosing responses that, rather than discipline or punish the individual, actually help to calm them and give them tools to heal, to build resiliency, and to learn how to develop positive relationships and other things that can help them through the impact of their trauma.

 

As the lead facilitator for the Bartol Foundation’s new training in trauma-informed practice for teaching artists, can you tell us about this training and what you hope it will achieve?

This training is interdisciplinary—artists of any art form can take this training and find the information valuable and directly applicable to their work.

The training will start in trauma theory—looking at what causes trauma and how it affects the brain, behavior, and ability to learn. You can’t talk about trauma without talking about the theories and getting a little scientific, so you really understand what it’s doing to the brain and body.

The training will then segue into how we can shift our practices as teaching artists. So, looking at what the considerations are as we plan our lessons, give directions, facilitate the classroom and transitions, and give students assignments and guideposts. As we’re teaching this portion of the workshop, we’re also teaching class facilitation practices—how to deal with students one-on-one and as a group.

We’re hoping to close out the sessions by looking at vicarious trauma and how to integrate self-care even in your busiest moments. Teaching artists who are working with trauma-impacted students on a daily basis are having a lot of heavy conversations, which can be a lot to take on. This has been coming up frequently as I’m in trauma-informed spaces as a teaching artist.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

The act of becoming trauma-informed is definitely a journey and a process. In order to be truly trauma-informed, you have to be willing to dig into a lot of theory and reading. And then as you apply it to your practices, you have to be willing to dig into yourself—your biases, habits,strengths, and weaknesses—and really commit yourself to a bit of a paradigm shift and maybe letting some things go that have been part of your practice for many years. So, it is hard work and rigorous work, but it’s really important work. And it’s really rewarding when you have a workshop or a one-on-one interaction when you see that these principles make a huge difference and impact.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“Work that changes people’s lives”—Interview with Bartol Board Chair Toni Shapiro-Phim

As part of an ongoing Q&A series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s artistic community. Toni Shapiro-Phim is Director of Programs at the Philadelphia Folklore Project. She is currently chair of the Bartol Foundation’s board, and is beginning her second three-year term on the board after taking a break while living in Cambodia.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your work at Philadelphia Folklore Project?

Philadelphia Folklore Project is a nonprofit arts and social justice organization. We work to sustain vital and diverse cultural heritage in our communities through collaborative projects, research, documentation, and education. We prioritize folk and traditional arts in service of social change. To that end, we identify local traditional artists and community organizations and support their artistic growth. We produce public programs (exhibitions, performances, forums, workshops, etc.) advancing cultural traditions significant to Philadelphia communities, and we also document outstanding practitioners and practices.

We’re particularly committed, at the moment, to engaging in informed, respectful, and sensitive ways with community members who have experienced trauma given their histories of displacement, violence, and loss, or even their current circumstances here in Philadelphia. Part of what keeps communities strong and vital is their local cultural knowledge. This is reflected in traditional cultural practices including rituals, food, and stories shared through performance, words, images, etc. So, each of the communities with which we engage has valued ways of making meaning in the world that, with some nurturing from our collaborative efforts, might help deepen and expand community cohesion and constructive action in the face of pressing local concerns.

 

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

Philanthropy, I believe, has the potential to have a profoundly constructive impact. I also believe in the Bartol Foundation’s mission, and I’ve long appreciated the respectful way in which Bartol staff engages with communities in Philadelphia, and with applicants for and recipients of Bartol funding. The Folklore Project has been a recipient of Bartol funding, so I’ve had the experience from that end.

The Bartol Foundation has a unique niche here. It’s in a position to recognize and support organizations doing work on the ground—work that changes people’s lives through creation of and participation in meaningful arts programs and activities—and also to provide thought-provoking and skill-building professional development trainings for teaching artists and others working in community-focused arts in our city.

 

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

My experience thus far at the Bartol Foundation has been packed full of so many rewarding moments, it’s hard to choose just one. But here’s an example: I went on a site visit to observe a choir program for second and third graders coordinated by a local arts organization. The organization offered a truly inspiring and holistic approach, interpreting the term “instrument” to be voice, in terms of sounds and utterances that come out of one’s mouth, and also in terms of say or presence in the world. They also interpret “instrument” to be one’s entire body and one’s demeanor as well. So, in addition to the development of singing skills, the focus is on understanding that one has control over how one proceeds and presents oneself in the world, and that that matters—that the say/presence/self-presentation of each of them all matter. The students were engaged wholeheartedly, from the start of the classes to the end. Brilliant. It was truly rewarding to see innovative arts education in action.

 

To learn more about Philadelphia Folklore Project, visit www.folkloreproject.org.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Project Stream Grant (deadline June 20)—Interview with Allison Vanyur, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance

Photo: People’s Emergency Center, 2016 Project Stream grantee. (Courtesy of Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance)

 

The Philadelphia region offers a wide range of funding opportunities for community-based artists and organizations. One example is Project Stream, a grant administered by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. Learn more and get application tips in our Q&A with Allison Vanyur, Grants & Events Manager at the Cultural Alliance.

 

Can you explain a bit of background information about the Project Stream Grant?

Project Stream is a program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA), a state government agency. They run a number of different arts funding opportunities, but two of them—Project Stream and Program Stream—are facilitated by regional partner organizations, so this gives the decision-making power to local communities. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance facilitates Project Stream in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties. This opportunity is open to any individual, nonprofit organization, or fiscally sponsored organization in Pennsylvania. The grants support any type of arts-specific projects, including exhibitions, performances, poetry readings, and art education programs. The maximum amount you can request is $2,500, and the deadline to apply is June 20th.

 

Do individuals need to have a fiscal sponsor or can anyone apply?

Individuals do not need to have fiscal sponsors. Any individual over the age of 18 who lives in the five-county Philadelphia region can apply. If an organization wants to apply and they do not have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, then they would need a fiscal sponsor.

 

What impact do you hope that Project Stream will have on Philadelphia’s cultural landscape?

The main goal of Project Stream is to promote access to the arts in every county in Pennsylvania. The PCA distributes Project Stream grants in every county of Pennsylvania. So, our goal is always that the pool of applicants represents the diverse communities that make up the region. Every Project Stream grant must have a public component of some sort—such as an exhibition or something that the public can come to—so that anyone in the community can experience or participate in the project.

I think another thing that makes Project Stream really unique is that it’s open to organizations that don’t necessarily have a specific arts focus. So, a church or a community center that does not typically present arts programming can apply for the same opportunity as a ballet company or a museum.

 

What advice would you give someone applying for the first time?

I think the most important thing to remember when you’re writing a Project Stream application is that these proposals are reviewed by a volunteer panel of your peers. Anyone who lives in the region can volunteer to serve as a panelist, and they all have varying degrees of arts expertise. We really want the stakeholders in the community to have a voice in what is presented in their communities. For this reason, I always tell people to assume that panelists are not familiar with your work, or even with your artistic discipline—to really over-articulate and be very, very clear when you’re describing your project and identifying the goals you hope to reach.

 

How can interested individuals learn more information?

More information can be found on our website, or by emailing me at allisonv@philaculture.org. We are also partnering with Vision Driven Artists to present a free information session and grant writing workshop for interested applicants on May 30th. You can RSVP to either attend in person or to receive a recording of the presentation. The first half of the session will be just me explaining how to apply, eligibility requirements and such, and then the second half will be Vision Driven Artists presenting a hands-on grant writing workshop.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“As artists, you never stop learning”—Interview with Teaching Artist Gigi McGraw

As part of an ongoing Q&A series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s artistic community. Gigi McGraw is an author, teaching artist, and creative entrepreneur. She holds an M.A. in Theatre from Villanova University, and has over 15 years of experience in community outreach and learning development, with particular focus on intergenerational programming.

 

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

I see myself as putting myself out in the world as an author and social artist. I use multidisciplinary arts practices to address social issues, or even just universal themes like love, legacy, and family. With the social issues, the focus is more on Philadelphia and what’s going on in some of our marginalized communities, such as gun violence and mass incarceration. I see myself as using art to engage, entertain, and inform, but also to connect with the community.

With my intergenerational programming, a current area of interest is using my art to create Memory Cafes, which are creative experiences that help mature adults who are dealing with dementia and memory loss. The cafes are little sit-downs that might have different objects, music, or newspaper clippings from a certain time period. The purpose is to have the individuals interact with the objects, pick them up, talk about them—and the hope is that it will spark a memory. A lot of times with people who are dealing with memory issues or cognitive decline, something that makes them think of their childhood can initiate conversation and spark memories, even though they might not remember what they did a couple of hours ago. So, I’m really interested in seeing how I can use social art to address this issue in a creative way.


You attend a lot of professional development opportunities at Bartol and other organizations. What would you tell other teaching artists about how this supports your work as a teaching artist and entrepreneur?

The fact that Bartol is providing this free resource for artists is a wonderful thing! I also look at these workshops as a wonderful networking opportunity. Not only are you being connected to experts in the field, but you’re also meeting fellow peers in the arts from all kinds of disciplines—dancers, rappers, poets, authors. A beautiful thing is that after the workshop, the facilitator will send out a list of everyone’s contact information so you expand your base of contacts and people that you know. It’s an opportunity to create friendships with people who are like-minded.

As people, and especially as artists, you never stop learning. As teachers, educators, and artists, you should always be looking for ways to evolve. I think that the Bartol workshops give you that opportunity. They’re really interested in finding unique or clever workshops, or just giving people foundational tips and advice—all of it is really good.

 

What do you see in the future for your teaching artist work in the community? How do Bartol’s professional development workshops feed your growth as a teaching artist?

For my future, I really want to get serious with my social art and have that be my primary source of revenue. I want to be able to connect and engage not only with the community, but with movers and shakers around the world. What I see for my future is really establishing my brand, but also fine-tuning my model of creating an artistic project around a theme or issue.

I also want to make sure that I continue to engage with the community, whether it be over issues like gun violence and mass incarceration, or dealing with mature adults with Memory Cafes. I don’t think that my projects and activities will always be this large, grandiose thing. A lot of the work will be on the micro level, and I think that you can definitely make change even if you’re starting from a small place with a group of 20 or 30 people—that can grow and have a ripple effect.

Bartol’s professional development workshops will not only give me the support that I need, but it also encourages me. You’re around other people who understand the importance of the work that you’re doing. I also hope that with my background as a workshop and professional trainer, that in the future I may be able to offer Bartol some workshops for other teaching artists. I’ve received so many wonderful opportunities from Bartol, and I would like to be able to give that back in the form of presenting workshops and trainings.

 

To learn more about Gigi’s work, visit https://1cupofcoffeeblog.wordpress.com/.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

 

“Creative and Engaging”—Interview with Bartol/SBMA Artist Engagement Fellow Tezarah Wilkins

As part of the Bartol Foundation’s new partnership with Small But Mighty Arts, we recently brought on board Tezarah Wilkins as Artist Engagement Fellow. Tezarah will be working jointly with Bartol and SBMA to profile the work of teaching artists in the community through video interviews, assist with networking events, and raise awareness of the resources provided by these two organizations. Be sure to follow Bartol’s Facebook page to stay updated as this exciting new partnership unfolds!

Meet Tezarah in today’s Q&A!

 

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

I’ve always been an artist, and I’ve transitioned through different genres of art at different stages in my life. I started out as a visual artist doing illustration, and then I trained as a theatre actor for a while. In college, I started doing spoken word, pairing my theatre background with poetry to give it that performance element. Now I’ve transitioned into photography and film, which I’ve been doing for the longest—for about the last eight years or so.

What do you focus on when creating a short film to profile an artist’s work in the community? What techniques do you use visually and in the interviews to tell their story?

I try to think about everyone as a character, showcasing the emotion through the interactions between the teaching artist and their community. I like to include aspects of fun as well, because a lot of what we do as artists is creative and engaging and relatable. So, if an artist is at a school, I focus on getting the ambiance, seeing what their community looks like, and creating imagery that showcases their interactions with students—smiles, laughter—and how they engage with their community.

You will be out in all kinds of places that bring artists together, telling them more about resources through Bartol and SBMA (e.g. grants, professional development, networking). What do you think is the most important thing you can tell artists about why they should connect with these resources?

I think artists are always going to benefit from organizations that are trying to cultivate their skills and provide additional opportunities for them. Organizations like the Bartol Foundation provide a lot of professional development opportunities where artists can hone certain skills. Granting organizations are always wonderful to be attached to for the financial support as well, just so that artists can continue to grow their work and have the resources to reach out to a greater audience.

What are you hoping to learn from this fellowship?

I’m looking for the same things, honestly. I’m definitely looking forward to this fellowship and using it as a way to grow myself as an artist—getting feedback from other people who are working as artists every day, being around their energy, and being motivated by the work that they do. Ultimately, I want to use the fellowship as a platform for networking with other organizations and individuals that I can partner with to grow the arts in Philadelphia.

 

To view Tezarah’s work as a photographer, visit https://www.instagram.com/tezarah/.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol and Small But Mighty Arts Announce Partnership

The Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation today announced a partnership with Small But Mighty Arts of CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia (SBMA) to award ten $500 micro-grants to Philadelphia-based teaching artists.

Small But Mighty Arts is a connector organization that creates career-enhancing opportunities for artists. This micro-grant program is designed to give teaching artists the jumpstart they need to advance or complete a creative project in the community.

“By partnering with Small But Mighty Arts, the Bartol Foundation can amplify our impact and directly support individual artists who are working in communities,” said Beth Feldman Brandt, Executive Director of the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation. “Bartol and SBMA share the same ‘can do’ attitude, and both our strengths lie in our networks and our knowledge of the communities we serve, as well as our shared belief that small can be powerful.”

“Ultimately artists win when we partner. By cross-promoting, resource-sharing, and collaborating based on each of organizations’ programmatic strengths, we’re able to shorten the distance between artists and the opportunities that will help them to thrive,” says Erica Hawthorne-Manon, Executive Director of Small But Mighty Arts. As a ‘small but mighty’ organization in an ever-changing non-profit landscape, partnerships are also critical to our sustainability.”

Both Feldman Brandt and Hawthorne-Manon are pleased to be modeling a partnership program, something they and other funders often suggest to the small non-profits they fund.

“As a funder, we often tell our grantees to partner with each other for greater impact,” says Brandt. “Now funders and grantees alike can see how that looks in action. Small But Mighty Arts and Bartol share goals that are aligned and have complimentary resources. We realized we each could benefit from this partnership, as would our grantees.”

Micro-grant guidelines and info session registration will be available the week of March 19, 2018.Applications will be open April 2 – 14, 2018. Grant recipients will be announced the week of May 21, 2018. For more information visit www.smallbutmightyarts.org/sbma-grant.

 

The Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation works at the intersection of arts, education, community and philanthropy, grounded in our belief that deeply meaningful arts experiences strengthen people and communities. The Bartol Foundation serves as a hub through which cultural organizations, teaching artists, community partners, and funders work toward the common goal of providing high-caliber, equitable arts education to people in Philadelphia, especially those in the most under-resourced or under-served Through grantmaking, professional development programs and arts advocacy, we utilize our knowledge and resources to create collaborations within and across our own and other networks to generate more resources and opportunities for all.

Small But Mighty Arts of CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia (SBMA) deepens engagement between artists and the community through the facilitation of partnership programs, resource connections, information-sharing, funding, and advising. FOR ARTISTS: SBMA provides artists with the “spark” they need to continue or complete projects, maintain creative momentum, and put more work into the community through connecting & informing artists about career-enhancing opportunities, offering access to funding through micro-grants, and providing a range of advisory services. FOR ORGANIZATIONS: SBMA works with organizations and institutions to help them reach their creative project goals through connection and engagement with emerging and established artists.

Are You Covered? Insurance 101 for Teaching Artists – Interview with Holly Fisher

As a teaching artist, you are also your own small business manager. It’s important to think through the responsibilities and liabilities you take on when going into the community to do work—or even in your own studio.

Today on the Bartol blog, we bring you an interview with Holly Fisher. Holly is Program Lead for Insurance and Visas at Fractured Atlas, a New York-based nonprofit that works with artists, arts organizations, and cultural stakeholders nationwide to provide affordable and accessible insurance coverage.

 

What kinds of insurance are most essential for teaching artists?

It varies based on what each individual teaching artist is doing and where they are in their career. The most common type of insurance we see by far is liability insurance, usually with abuse and molestation coverage. Sometimes we’ll have teaching artists request student accident coverage, or inland marine or property insurance for expensive materials or equipments. Workers’ compensation we see a lot, and then there’s volunteer accident coverage if an artist works with volunteers who need to be covered.

When does it make sense for a teaching artist to get insurance?

We don’t, by default, say “yes, you need coverage.” But if you’re working with entities—like granting organizations, the city, schools, or a landlord—that require you to have insurance, obviously that’s a reason to get coverage. It’s going to give you access to more opportunities. Another reason to get coverage is if you are looking to lend credibility to your organization or yourself as a teaching artist. Parents are going to feel more secure, for instance, if you have coverage for abuse and molestation, knowing that you’ve crossed all of your t’s and dotted your i’s. Ask if it financially makes sense for you. Sometimes insurance is expensive, so it doesn’t make financial sense. If it’s going to be super expensive and you don’t really have anyone requiring you to have insurance, it may not yet be the time.

What are some strategies for teaching artists to secure insurance?

With somebody starting out looking for insurance, I would recommend that they first do some research on insurance providers that specialize in the arts and apply to as many as possible. It’s a really good idea to get quotes to compare. I would also say that it’s a good idea to have any insurance requirements or contracts for the coming year at the ready to give to a broker or agent so they can make sure that the artist is really getting the insurance that they need.

What are the specific concerns teaching artists should be aware of when purchasing insurance? What questions should they ask?

If you’re looking at different companies and wondering where to start, a good idea is to make sure that the insurance companies are A-rated by A.M. Best—that just means that they’re reputable companies that are financially secure. And that’s going to be important. It’s something that a lot of different institutions might require. If you’re working with a landlord or with a granting organization, they may want you to have insurance with a reputable company.

Another thing to look for is that the limits of the coverage are going to match what you need for requirements to your landlord or from a grant. For liability insurance, best practice is usually that your policy has a minimum of a million dollars per occurrence and two million dollars aggregate. Something that is less than that is going to be lower than the requirements for a lot of different institutions.

I would also make sure that the artists are going through their third party contracts to see if there are any special requirements. It can be tough if you’re about to start a really cool opportunity and find out that your insurance doesn’t meet a certain tiny little requirement, which would prevent you from getting that grant or working with this school, for instance.

Checking the quote itself is important to see what exclusions are on the policy. That’s something that you definitely want to ask a broker or agent—for example, if there’s a deductible. For most liability policies, that’s not going to be the case, but certainly for an equipment insurance policy, or if you’re covering your materials, that would be something that might come up.

Additional insured coverage is important if you’re working with other entities. If possible, it’s great to get blanket additional insured coverage so that anybody who needs a certificate of insurance or proof of your coverage can get it.

 

To learn more about insurance opportunities for teaching artists, visit https://fracturedatlasinsurance.org.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

8 Tips to a Strong (Bartol) Grant Proposal – Deadline May 1, 2018!

Bartol’s 2018 grant application is officially open online. For more information about the process, visit https://bartol.org/apply-for-grants/.

At the Bartol Foundation, we want to consider your strongest proposal.  After many years and reading many, many proposals, we encourage organizations to use these tips when creating your request.

  1. No Need to Preach to the Choir: At the Bartol Foundation, we understand the importance of arts education, the creative process and community-based programs.  Focus your proposal on your specific needs and goals rather than extensively quoting research on the importance of the arts.
  2. Be Concrete and Specific: We want to invest in programs that are clear in their goals and their implementation.  Provide us with concrete details that show you have the components of your proposal well planned out.  For example, give us a timeline of activities, the date and the venue of a community performance, and/or include a support letter from your partner school. Make sure to provide a sample curriculum as part of the required attachments for an arts education request.
  3. Define your Terms:  What is a “ten-week residency”?  Once a week for ten weeks?  All-day, every day for ten weeks?  Forty-five minute sessions or three-hour sessions?  The same students every time or different?  Twelve students in a class or 200?  Again, be specific.
  4. But what if I don’t know the details?  We understand that sometimes our deadline doesn’t quite mesh with your planning.  In that case, tell us the process that you will use to make important decisions or to identify your prospective partners or artists.  Tell us about your track record with work similar to what you are proposing.  But more details always result in a stronger proposal.  Sometimes the best thing is to wait until next year if your plans are not fully formed yet.
  5. Don’t Cite Partners without Telling Them. We expect that you have spoken with any person or organization that you are naming as a potential partner.  Make sure that they are not also applying to the Foundation for a similar or conflicting request.  It’s always good to provide a letter of support that demonstrates a potential partner is on board.
  6. Evaluation can be simple.  We want to know that you have a system for assessing how you are doing and adapting as you go.  This can be as simple as, “We had no enrollment on Mondays.  We asked the parents and found out that Monday was karate day.  We switched the class to Thursdays and now it’s full.”    In any case, please do answer the question about evaluation with one concrete example.
  7. Why now? We tend to fund about one-half of the proposals we receive.  Often those that receive funding make a compelling case as to why this is something that needs to happen now.  Why does this project or this year’s general operating programs represent an important step for your organization artistically or organizationally?  Many of you have long-range plans.  Tell us (briefly and concretely) how your request will move your plans forward.
  8. You can’t be new and vague. For organizations that are new to us, or just plain new, convince us that you have the capacity to pull off what you are proposing.  Again, do this by being concrete and specific when describing your program.

 

A reminder that you cannot apply to the Foundation without a site visit prior to the deadline. Site visits must be scheduled by April 6, 2018 and must take place by May 1, 2018.

Any questions?  Call or email us.  The lines are open.

info@bartol.org

267-519-5310

“Feedback that makes you want to go back to work, rather than go back to bed” – Interview with Elizabeth “EJ” Johnson

As part of an occasional series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s board members and teaching artists. Elizabeth “EJ” Johnson is Associate Artistic Director/Partnerships at Dance Exchange. She is a choreographer, dancer, and educator with a focus in socially engaged dance practices.

On Sunday, March 25, 2018, EJ will be leading a Bartol workshop, Feedback that Nurtures: Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process. Register for this workshop here: http://bit.ly/2EabXw4.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your work at Dance Exchange?

I have been a part of the company since 1998, so going into my 20th anniversary season. I was the Associate Artistic Director when Liz Lerman, our founding Artistic Director, was here—I was with her for 12 years dancing in the company, directing the Teen Exchange program, and facilitating workshops. And then as she was departing, I left my full-time post to go work at Arizona State University to develop a new program for socially engaged practice and to get my Master of Fine Arts. And then I came back to work more fully with the organization in 2015. Basically, I’ve been at Dance Exchange for a long, long time, with a brief stint in the desert.

 

Why was Critical Response Process developed and what are its key elements?

The key elements of Critical Response is that it’s feedback that makes you want to go back to work, rather than go back to bed. When defensiveness starts, listening stops. And so, this is a structured way of being able to give and receive helpful feedback that is about the artist making their best work for their own vision, rather than us as outside responders imposing our vision on the artist’s work.

Critical Response Process was developed by Liz Lerman when a few key things were happening in her life and at the Dance Exchange. One, she was teaching university students, and she was wondering on what grounds she was evaluating their choreography. And she recognized that she could not do that without a dialogue being a key point of the process. She was also, as an artist, creating very political work and work that was with performers across generations that didn’t necessarily look like a lot of the work that was already out there. And she found that she really dreaded those post-show backstage conversations with people, and also the critics—she felt like she, as an artist, needed a voice in how her work was being critiqued.

She recognizes, too—and this is something that I completely relate to—that there’s a cultural narrative that artists should just toughen up and get a thicker skin to be able to “take brutally honest feedback.” Her question is, why does honesty have to be brutal? Is there a better way? Can you be honest, and can you give feedback, in a way that doesn’t make you just want to give up? So, this is a system that has helped her to maintain her own thin skin. Because as artists who work in communities, the capacity to have thin skin is an asset—to be able to feel, to be able to connect. We don’t want to get rid of our thin skin, we just want to be able to work in a way that we don’t have to “toughen up” to take it. That there is a more productive and humane way to be in a dialogue about work in progress.

 

How can Critical Response Process be used by teaching artists in their work in the community?

I think that there are multiple ways. There are certain values that underpin the Critical Response Process that can be used in the teaching practice. It’s about generosity, about curiosity, about being invested in somebody else’s success in the ways that the process can be used for peer-to-peer feedback—that the teacher doesn’t have to be the only person in the room with the knowledge and power. It provides a structure where many, many people can have the capacity to help grow each other’s work.

In the formal process, there are some elements that are really important. There are four key steps.

Step 1: Statements of Meaning. What was valuable, meaningful, evocative, surprising, curious, memorable, exciting, effective about the work that was created? Being able to have that spirit of working from what’s working is an incredible asset to bring to any learning environment.

Step 2: Artist as Questioner. In a learning environment for somebody who is creating, to have the opportunity to articulate what are their struggles and desires. It allows a person to really create their own vision and voice.

Step 3: Neutral Questions. These are questions that have no opinion embedded inside. So, instead of saying “Why is your lighting so dark?” we’d ask something like “What informed your lighting choices?” This allows people, without defensiveness, to be able to explore why they’re making the choices that they are.

Step 4: Opinion Time. These permissioned opinions. For instance, “I have an opinion about your lighting choices, would you like to hear it?” If somebody has gone through the process of creating, people usually want to know those opinions. But it just allows us to prepare for the opinions, to allow ourselves to receive it.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think that the Critical Response Process has so much to offer people of different fields and domains. We’ve done it with people who do marketing, people who do grant proposals, people who do lesson plans. Although this grew out of a dance organization, it’s been used very widely in the visual arts, in theatre arts, and then also with business. So, I think it has a broad range of applicability.

I also think that you don’t need to be an expert to be able to have something of value to contribute. When I’ve done Critical Response with faculty and students, it kind of democratizes the playing field—that somebody’s response to somebody’s work can be about the chord progression, but it can also be a comment like “it reminds me of being outside in my grandmother’s yard.” And that those both have value in the room. So, I think that there’s a usefulness to it, but then there’s also a process about it that can help cultivate community as we invest in each other’s success.

 

To learn more about EJ’s work, visit http://danceexchange.org/.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Arts Access for Everyone—Interview with Occupational Therapist Roger Ideishi

As part of an occasional series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s board members and teaching artists. Roger Ideishi is Program Director of Occupational Therapy at Temple University. He specializes in working with arts and community-based organizations to develop programs for families and children.

On Thursday, February 15, Roger will be co-teaching a Bartol workshop with Charlie Miller, Deputy Director of Art-Reach. Register for this workshop here: http://bit.ly/2DzuiXd.

 

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as an occupational therapist led you to working with arts organizations?

Working out in the community or working in schools with other occupational therapists, one of the things that we felt was impactful was creative expression. Children seemed to attach themselves very naturally to the creative process. And so, we just started integrating that creative process into the classroom, working with the teachers, working with therapists.

Back in the early 2000s, we happened to come across a dancer from the Pennsylvania Ballet. She was interested in how movement impacted children with developmental disabilities, and she partnered with us to develop a program. When we started doing this program in schools, we began to notice strengths in kids with developmental disabilities that we never saw before. It was very surprising to the teachers and therapists that this experience—dancing, movement experience brought by a professional dancer—really seemed to capture the imagination and exploration of these kids. And we started to pursue that.

This connection between the classroom and the community we felt was really important. That’s a little different than what we often see in classroom experiences for kids who have developmental disabilities. You don’t really see much strong classroom–community connection. So, that’s what sparked this, and then once we started doing that it just snowballed across the country, and a lot of people were asking about the example that was going on in Philadelphia. The Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian reached out to us. Having that connection really brought a lot of validity to the work that we were doing.

 

Why do you believe that it’s important for teaching artists to learn how to adapt their practice to people with disabilities?

I think teaching artists naturally have the skills to do that adaptation. But it’s important that teaching artists have some training because it’s such a broad population. Even as a practicing therapist, I still encounter situations where I’m a little stumped and I need a team around me to help me problem-solve. I think that’s an important message for teaching artists—to recognize that there are lots of people out there who can support them when they’re in new situations and may need some collaborative problem solving. And then to also understand the broad scope of what they may encounter if they haven’t had a lot of experience working with diverse populations with disabilities. Giving teaching artists these resources is one of the most important parts; it helps bring a greater breadth and depth to the work they’re already doing.

 

What’s been the most rewarding moment from your time working with arts organizations?

I remember the first time we did a sensory-friendly Nutcracker ballet with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the feedback we were getting from the families was that this was a first-time experience for their entire family. What families often tell us is that they have split families, where one person stays home with the family member who has a disability, and that they rarely have these community experiences as a whole family.

At the Nutcracker, some of these families were walking out of the theatre just so emotional because they enjoyed the show together; they saw the joy in each other, being a part of the show and having that shared experience. To me, that’s just so touching and so moving to hear the impact that had on families. Parents even said that this was the first time that they didn’t feel like they were being judged, or that they had to be on alert like, “Is my child going to do something that’s going to upset other people?”

Being in an environment where everyone understands and adapts, welcomes, and accepts everybody for who they are, these parents felt validated. Having arts organizations be welcoming and supportive of individuals with diverse abilities and disabilities means a lot to these families. When I hear that feedback from families, it just gets to me that we’re actually meeting a need. I think that’s probably the most rewarding experience that I continue to have. With every initiative that I develop, I hear the same thing from families over and over again.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think it’ll be good for society in general if more of these kinds of initiatives develop, as we have more teaching artists who reach out to these individuals and these families. We’re slowly, fundamentally changing society.

 

To learn more about Roger’s work, visit https://cph.temple.edu/rs/faculty/roger-i-ideishi.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“When we’re writing a letter to our father, we’re really writing a letter to ourselves.” An Interview with Teaching Artist Tina Smith-Brown

As part of an occasional series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s board members and teaching artists. Tina Smith-Brown is a Philadelphia-based writer and teaching artist. For over a decade, she has presented her Letter to My Father workshop to audiences of all ages, which explores the impact of one’s relationship (or lack of a relationship) with their father.

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

Anytime I write, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, it’s very important to me that I’m always trying to share something new or teach something to the reader that they might not have known.My purpose in doing that is to teach African-American history subjects that people have long forgotten about or kids may not have known about. For example, Atlantic City was segregated in the 1950s and 60s, and one section was nicknamed by Caucasians as “Chicken Bone Beach.” All the African-Americans would come to the beach, and since they couldn’t buy food they would all pack fried chicken in baskets, so at the end of the day there would be all these bones left on the beach. I think that’s a great piece of history that our kids don’t know anything about, so that’s one of these short stories. So, I always try to write to entertain, but also to teach.

I always say God lets you do some things, and some things you’re just meant to do—it’s your job. And Letter to My Father is my job. I consider it something that I was supposed to do, I was placed here to do. And that started simply with doing workshops for women, giving them opportunities to write a letter to their father and to express some stuff. I realized that we carry things around that we never got off our chest, whether it’s positive or negative. When we’re writing a letter to our father, we’re really writing a letter to ourselves about where we’re at, why we’re at this place in time. And then I realized by talking to so many women who were older—30, 40, 50, 60—that a lot of women were still living their life by situations that had occurred or didn’t occur in that relationship with their father. So, I considered what if we could start doing this earlier, if kids started addressing some of this stuff? And you find out that it’s okay to talk about this relationship. It’s okay to feel good about it, feel bad about it. It’s okay to express how you feel in your life, if you’re happy, if you’re sad. It’s okay to open that door. And so, then I developed Letter to My Father for kids, and I started doing workshops for kids,

What attracted you to becoming involved with the Bartol Foundation as a workshop leader?

Bartol is just a fabulous organization for teaching artists, especially teaching artists that are just starting out. When you’re just starting out, you don’t really know how do I go about this, or what should I charge, or who is my workshop really for? And they help you to narrow down those very important essentials. I take a lot of their courses that have taught me how to market my workshop, how you should set up for your workshop, how to figure out who your audience is, how much to charge for a workshop. I love having Bartol in my life personally, but I also love that they are opening the door to help so many other people. You can come in for advice if you need it, you can come in for conversation—they really lift up the teaching artists. And I am extremely grateful for that.

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

Learning how to make my marketing package [for Letter to My Father]. Because in order to do that, you have to narrow down who you’re advertising to, your audience. And once you’re able to do that, that’s half of the battle. Every workshop is not for everybody. I offer Letter to My Father to adults and kids, but I have a specific workshop for each one. So, when they helped me narrow it down, I realized that I needed two separate workshops, that I needed to look at it in two different ways. I think that was the most powerful workshop I ever attended with them.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think that it’s important that teaching artists apply for grant money, not just for the monetary help, but for the shot in the arm that it gives you. Once I received those grants [from the Leeway Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts], I felt like I was truly recognized. I felt like I was legitimate—like somebody believes enough in me to put money behind me. That just made a huge difference in my life. So, I always like to encourage teaching artists not to give up. If there’s a grant and they think that they can qualify for it, apply for it.

To learn more about Tina’s work, visit https://tsmithbrown.com/.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity

 

“A Single Bracelet Does Not Jingle” — Interview with Teaching Artist and Bartol Board Member Jeannine Osayande

 

As part of an occasional series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s board members and teaching artists. Jeannine Osayande is a teaching artist, choreographer, and performer of West African dance (Mali Empire) for 35 years. She is founder and director of Dunya Performing Arts Company, specializing in Art in Education programs, commissioned choreographic works, lecture demonstrations, and Art for Social Change projects. She is currently in her fourth year as a Bartol Foundation board member.

Can you tell me a bit about your work at Dunya Performing Arts Company?

I’ve been involved in the arts for over 35 years; I’ve done a lot of stage work, stage performance, all of that. One of the things that’s most important for me is a focus on having community right inside of dance and dance inside of community. If you’re looking at West African drum and dance culture, dance is about life itself. It’s not just happening on stage, but showing up where life is happening—funerals, weddings, etc. I like bringing dance into those places so that people know where it’s from.

My work at Dunya has evolved and changed, sometimes based on what the community is asking for, and other times based on where my life is. For example, when I started out years ago, we were more focused on performance. In the last 15 years, the focus has been through two different paths—one of them has been having a choreographic voice, and the other has been through being a teaching artist. Most of our focus has been the teaching artist model where we go into schools and do residencies, typically six weeks. At the end of that residency, the students that we work with—mostly third graders—do a performance alongside the curriculum that we’re working with.

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

Just to be able to do more as an artist, as a person who’s an educator and an artist. Bartol, as a board, is a community of people who are able to come together and do good on both a very large level and small level. That’s what was attractive to me, that I could be sitting there with this board, making decisions on where money could go to supporting the arts in Philadelphia.

How Bartol makes the selection for organizations that receive funding is so thorough and well-thought-out. That also really stood out to me. This is an organization that I want to be with because they’re so thorough and mindful of what they’re doing—and I could maybe learn something, too.

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

The diversity of the board is something that stood out to me. One of the first “wows” was when I had my first board meeting, as the different women were coming into the room and I had the opportunity to meet them. I soon discovered that with the diversity of the women on the board, a lot of work was able to get done, a lot of voices were heard, a lot of discussions were being had—which, I felt, improved all of us as who we were, and added value to the work that we do. And I feel smarter because of it.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I always have my little proverbs. There’s this one African proverb that goes something like “a single bracelet does not jingle.” That’s when I’m thinking about the board and thinking about the Bartol Foundation and the mission that Mr. Bartol had, and moving this mission forward. We’re having all these bracelets added to the wrist; otherwise, the work that we do couldn’t be done so well.

To learn more about Jeannine’s work, visit https://www.facebook.com/MsJeannineDunyaPAC/.

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity

Ideas! Collaboration! Community experience!

Bartol’s 2017 TA Survey (Part II)

Here is what Teaching Artists are saying about our free professional development workshops. And what we have planned for the coming year.

Bartol workshops are hands-on and taught by your peers. Our Teaching Artist Play Dates are 90-minutes of activities in a specific art form, designed for artists to cross disciplines, adapt and share.

  • “I literally copied the entire lesson plan from the recent workshop…with great success.”
  • “I translated the construct that the teaching artist showed for creating their own choreography to music composition. Love learning from other art forms!”

Bartol’s Resource Field Trips connect you with free or low-cost resources to supplement your teaching.

  • “When I attend workshops, I always take away a strategy or approach that I can implement in my teaching practice.”

Bartol’s Marketing Workshops help you develop concrete materials for getting the gig and making sure it is profitable for you and productive for your participants.

  • “I must say the work you and Bartol does is a godsend! I am negotiating this contract and while I bit at the initial happiness of what I thought was a great offer, I would end up losing money on this project. It literally is a classic textbook example of one of your case studies from the financial workshops.”

Bartol tackles the tough issues, including learning more about related fields such as trauma-informed practice and thinking about issues of race. 

  • “I talked with my kindergarten–second grade students about race after the race training [workshop].  I would have otherwise thought them too young.”
  • “I used a lot of the self-care and student-care techniques from the workshop about trauma-informed teaching.”

Bartol workshops are about building connections and community in this profession we call teaching artistry.

  • “Every Bartol workshop I attend leaves me feeling inspired and energized. It makes me feel like I am not alone in the work I do.”

Join us in the coming year. Workshops will be posted up soon.  Click to get on our mailing list to be among the first to hear about new sessions!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 680 other subscribers