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

Bartol Blog

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

Get to Know the Grantee: Big Picture Alliance

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

 

 

 

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

 

  • When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

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

Photo courtesy of Misty Sol.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

 

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

All photos courtesy of Rose Benson.

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

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Koresh Kids Dance

Photo credit: www.koreshdance.org

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

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

  

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

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

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Best. Snack. Ever. 

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc.

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

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

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

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

 

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

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

  

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

Megan: Seeing my colleagues…and COFFEE!

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

  

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

  

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

What is your favorite field trip?

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

 

Best snack ever.

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Asian Arts Initiative

Photo courtesy of Asian Arts Initiative.

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

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

 

Best. Snack. Ever.

Chaat.

 

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

Jjimjilbang (Korean spa).

 

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

The students of our youth program.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

When students give speeches about their experience here.

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Taller Puertorriqueño

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

 

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

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

 

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

At Taller we are motivated constantly by three things:

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

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

  

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Please. Puerto Rico, of course!

 

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

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

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

 

Best.  Snack. Ever.

Rice & Beans.

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO)

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

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

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

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?  

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference? 

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

 

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

“I’m determined.”

 

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

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

 

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

Be consistent.

 

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

Make it eternally sustainable.

 

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

Visiting a foreign country and learning about a new culture.

 

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

It hasn’t been written yet.

 

Best. Snack. Ever. 

Popcorn.

 

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

Photo courtesy of Gretjen Clausing.

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

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

 

Can you tell us a bit about PhillyCAM?

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Warrior Writers

Photo credit: Warrior Writers on Facebook.

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

This organization/community saved/saves my life.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

The Philippines with my whole family, still dreaming…

 

Best.  Snack. Ever.

Fresh cold cherries and mangos.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Power Street Theatre Company

Photo credit: powerstreettheatre.com.

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

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

 

Best. Snack. Ever.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Tibetan Association of Philadelphia

Photo credit: Tibetan Association of Philadelphia on Facebook.

 

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Musicopia

Photo courtesy of Musicopia.

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

These questions were answered by Drumlines Director Jesse Mell.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tattoos on the Heart, by Gregory Boyle

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Kulu Mele

Photo credit: www.kulumele.org.

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

These questions were answered by David Harrison, Executive Director.

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Best.  Snack. Ever. 

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

 

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Young Playwrights

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

These questions were answered by several PYP staff members.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two teaching artists in every classroom!

Best. Snack. Ever.

Chocolate. Covered. Pretzels.

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: Enchantment Theatre Company

Photo credit: enchantmenttheatre.org.

 

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

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Bartol Grantee Spotlight: 1812 Productions

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

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

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

Best. Snack. Ever.

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

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.

“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.

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!

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.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

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

Join 682 other subscribers