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: Allens Lane Art Center

“Sustainability.”

 

 

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

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Best.  Snack. Ever.

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

 

 

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Project 440

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

 

 

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

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

ALL OF THE EMAILS.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Best.  Snack. Ever.

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

 

 

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

 

Get to Know the Grantee: Theatre Exile

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

 

 

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

 

Deborah Block

 

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

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

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Steve Gravelle 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 Best.  Snack. Ever.

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

 

 

 

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Big Picture Alliance

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

 

 

 

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

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

“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.