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 Micro-Grantee: Candy Gonzalez

While you originally applied to the Bartol Foundation Teaching Artist Micro-Grant for a specific project, we realized this project likely was postponed or perhaps changed altogether.  How are you adapting your project or using this grant differently to support your teaching artist practice?

When I applied to Bartol’s Teaching Artist Micro-Grant, the student leaders of Allianza Latinx and Black Student Union at MCAD and I were organizing an art critique for students of color. I was in the process of developing a trauma-informed, facilitator-led critique model that could be used at that event. This project was born out of a serious need for healthy, thoughtful and productive critique spaces for student artists. This event was, of course, canceled due to the quarantine but the heart of the project, the radical re-imagination of critique spaces, stills beats strong. I am continuing to develop the critique model I proposed in my application and will be creating a toolkit that art students can use to create/maintain healthy student organizations and to host trauma-informed critiques themselves.

Has the quarantine resulted opportunities to take your practice online in any way?  If so, tell us about it.

These days, I am feeling grateful that I have been able to start a trauma-competency certification program through the Lakeside Global Institute online, as well as the opportunity to complete the Group Facilitation course I started before the quarantine. I am taking this time as an opportunity to polish the tools I need to help create sustainable support systems for art students of color. Additionally, I am continuing to teach visual art online, which presents a unique set of challenges–the result of which has been me learning to be more clear with verbal directions during art demos. 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

The current challenges for freelancers and contract workers are great. With the unemployment rate higher than it has ever been, with small organizations being gravely impacted by the COVID-19 quarantine, with a society the systemically undervalues the arts, the art community at-large will have to fight tooth and nail for the financial support it deserves. Freelance artists and teaching artists will be uniquely affected at a time when art has proven to sustain emotional health but is still not given the recognition it deserves. Art is not a commodity, it’s a necessity. Access to the arts should not be a privilege when it should be a fundamental right. Where challenges abound so does enlightenment. Personally, I am taking this time radically re-envision art education. I know I am not alone in this endeavor.

There is also value in sharing challenges.  If you are comfortable doing this, what are some of the challenges that you are dealing with? Short-term? Long-term? Who knows?

The current challenges for freelancers and contract workers are great. With the unemployment rate higher than it has ever been, with small organizations being gravely impacted by the COVID-19 quarantine, with a society the systemically undervalues the arts, the art community at-large will have to fight tooth and nail for the financial support it deserves. Freelance artists and teaching artists will be uniquely affected at a time when art has proven to sustain emotional health but is still not given the recognition it deserves. Art is not a commodity, it’s a necessity. Access to the arts should not be a privilege when it should be a fundamental right. Where challenges abound so does enlightenment. Personally, I am taking this time radically re-envision art education. I know I am not alone in this endeavor.

Have you found moments of creativity or grace in the past few months?

The imposed stillness of the past couple of months made space for tenderness to rise to the surface. Rather than run away from the tenderness as I am wont to do, I chose to sit with it. This experience made clear the stories that I need to share with others and effectively planted some creative seeds. 

And always our favorite question.  Best. (Quarantine) Snack. Ever.

Takis with a sprinkle of lime.

 

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2020 Bartol Micro-Grantees.

Get to Know the Micro-Grantee: Karen Singer

In 2020, we made our selections for the micro-grant winners just as the COVID-19 pandemic closed all schools and community programs. In recognition of these difficult circumstances, we enabled each teaching artist to define how they could use the micro-grant funds to strengthen their teaching artist practice during the shutdown (e.g. developing curriculum, delivering remote programs, creating a website) and sent the grants immediately. Check out how one of the recipients, Karen Singer, is adjusting their art practice during the pandemic.

While you originally applied to the Bartol Foundation Teaching Artist Micro-Grant for a specific project, we realized this project likely was postponed or perhaps changed altogether.  How are you adapting your project or using this grant differently to support your teaching artist practice?

My original plan was to do a project in collaboration with Kelly Green, a local organization connected with the Kelly School, that has a long history of gardening and greening projects that involve Kelly School students, parents and faculty as well as community residents. Our plan was to do a ceramic house number workshop that would culminate in a series of house number plaques installed throughout the neighborhood that would help people identify each house, clarify the connection to Kelly Green and foster community engagement through a collaborative art activity.

Because of the pandemic, this activity is not happening, although the interest in making it happen is still there. I am still engaged in discussions with the Kelly Green folks about how this might happen or how we might expand upon it.

In the meantime, I have launched something I am calling “Ceramics To Go”, a ceramics kit that has been provided to individuals and families in the neighborhood to enable them to do ceramic work at home with my guidance. For example, I have worked with a 10 and 11 year old who are making furniture for their “fairy house”, and a 4 year old who made beads and plaques with her mom. I am also continuing work with 2 adult students, one of whom has tried “sculpting in plein air”, a technique I have taught that involves people working outside on a wet clay slab, sculpting a ceramic tile directly from what they observe.

Has the quarantine resulted opportunities to take your practice online in any way?  If so, tell us about it.

I have been posting photos about my own creative work on social media, and engaging directly with the people who comment. We have also featured the “Ceramics to Go” on our enewsletter, which resulted in expanded interest. I have done a little Zoom teaching with one workshop, and may be doing more.

When do you know your work is making a difference?

Watching the strides the children make in their artwork is always rewarding. We love seeing how proud they are of their accomplishments and how these accomplishments create a bond between the children and their families. 

There is also value in sharing challenges.  If you are comfortable doing this, what are some of the challenges that you are dealing with? Short-term? Long-term? Who knows?

Challenges – there are lots of them, including much more alone time, loss of income, learning a lot about Zoom and other video platforms. I think the big challenge is figuring out what matters most to each of us, and how we arrange our life to incorporate what matters, even in the face of big challenges. I think that artists are uniquely qualified to help all of us look at this. I believe that creativity and appreciation for it are at the forefront of our ability to move forward, maintain a sense of hope and possibility, and make new solutions possible.

Have you found moments of creativity or grace in the past few months?

I am making a lot more artwork with no particular client in mind. This is different for me, because I am usually working on multiple commissions projects. I am doing both sculpting and painting in plein air, and loving it. It feels wonderful to hear the birds, watch the changes in the gardens and arboreta I am working in and to see the amazing feedback this work is getting from people who see it on line.

And always our favorite question.  Best. (Quarantine) Snack. Ever.

Making lots of fruit and nut smoothies – a great snack to bring along on a plein air trip!

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2020 Bartol Micro-Grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Portside Arts Center

“The Children. Everything we do here is for them. We get to watch them grow and turn into amazing people.”

Portside Arts Center provides a creative and nurturing environment that empowers the artists of tomorrow and creates lifelong patrons of the arts. Director Kim Creighton told us more about their work.

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

The Children. Everything we do here is for them. We get to watch them grow and turn into amazing people. 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

As with any nonprofit, financial health is always a concern. However, we also worry about the children and all of the things they are going through big and small. 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

Watching the strides the children make in their artwork is always rewarding. We love seeing how proud they are of their accomplishments and how these accomplishments create a bond between the children and their families. 

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

Sometimes it’s not what is said. Sometimes it’s what is not said. When we first opened we could not afford heating and people came in their coats to create art Not one person mentioned the lack of heat. That’s how I knew there was something special here. 

Best. Snack. Ever.

Dark Chocolate

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Rock to the Future

“. When children and teens are given the opportunity to learn and grow through music, we see incredible things happen.”

 

Rock to the Future provides student-driven music programs in a safe and supportive environment at no cost for Philadelphia youth. Here are some enthusiastic and affirming words from this Bartol grantee in answer to our questions of the day.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?
 
At the beginning of this school year, teachers at one of the schools we work in said, “Don’t let [student] into your program. He just causes trouble” and other similar comments. We let the student join our after school program. This same student continues to show up each program day after school, excited to play bass guitar, and is playing with his band at his first showcase in December. We even gave him a bass guitar to keep at home. He hasn’t received detention in the past couple of weeks at school. This past Veteran’s Day, when schools were closed, we had our annual college and trade school visitation trip. This student showed up at 8am on a day that he wasn’t required to go to school or do anything school related to visit the 5 local colleges with the other Rock to the Future students. He’s also started bringing his friends to the program. When children and teens are given the opportunity to learn and grow through music, we see incredible things happen.
 
 
 
What is the coolest thing a participant in your program ever said to you?
 
I received a DM recently from a student that graduated a few years ago. “I want you to know that I look back and really appreciate what you taught me. I’ll be back home in November and I’d love to talk to the kids about what I’ve learned from RTTF. And also the fact that I wish I was more thankful to you guys when I had the chance. Miss you guys –thank you so much. Sending hella love.” Working with teens is challenging (I know I was a terrible teen and sometimes think this is karma!), and we don’t do this work for gratitude. It’s still a nice reminder that the young people we work with appreciate their time at Rock to the Future many years after they’ve graduated.
 
 
 
What is the most important thing you do to help your teaching artists do their best work?
 
As we’ve grown from a volunteer based organization, we’ve invested our resources back into our team. To get the best from our staff, we work hard to show we value them. We no longer have our program staff classified at contractors –they are now employees of the organization. Rock to the Future provides professional development opportunities for all of our staff members. This year we provided over 10 hours of training on trauma informed approaches, cultural competencies, differentiated learning, and restorative practices. All staff members –including part-time –receive accrued paid time off, pay for snow closures, and paid trainings. In our recent strategic planning process, all staff were invited to participate and were paid for their time.
 
 
 
If you could magically change one thing to make your program better, what would it be?
 
Facilities are always one of our greatest challenges. Because we specifically host our programs in neighborhood schools, we have to frequently “make it work” with what is available. ::::**MAGIC**:::: We have heat and air conditioning, spacious lesson rooms that we can also store our equipment in, functioning WiFi, electrical outlets, windows, auditorium lights, sound systems, and clean and unlocked bathrooms.
 
 
 
Best. Snack. Ever.
 
Homemade jalapeno poppers.

 


Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Power Street Theatre Company

“It feels good to be represented…”

Power Street Theatre Company makes theatre that represents people whose stories are not seen on the stage – and presents to sold-out houses in their community.  Here are some wise words from this Bartol grantee in answer to our questions of the day.

 

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

Knowing that I am lucky to be working on something I love. Even when the work is hard, or I am exhausted, I know that what I’m doing makes a difference and that excites me. 

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

Sustainability. Not knowing what my income looks like, not knowing if we will be able to pay everyone what they deserve. Hating that we have to try to survive in capitalism. 

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

At our community events when folx tell us how much the gathering, production, workshop etc has impacted them. Personal testimonies are the biggest indicator for me of what really matters in the work. 

 

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

Recently an older Latino man struggled to find the words to express what it felt like to see his people and his stories on stage. He was so struck by the feeling of being seen he could hardly transfer that feeling into words, but once we understood what he was trying to say “It feels good to be represented” it really left an impression and reminded us of the importance of the work. 

 

Best.  Snack. Ever.

Pastelito/Pastelillo/Empanadas




Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Philadanco

“Cultivate an engaged listening and learning process…”

A joyful shout-out to Philadelphia Dance Company in honor of the 50th anniversary and a warm welcome to their new Interim Executive Director Gaynell Sherrod.   We are excited to hear her thoughtful vision with her answers to our questions of the day.

 

 

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

I am always inspired by the art form; for me, dance is a transformative and restorative embodied practice to experience – both visually and physically. And, when I lean into that personal awareness combined with the organization’s mission and vision in support of that, then I am excited about going to work every day.

 

What about your work keeps you up at night?

Sometimes at night I ponder about issues and concerns carried over from the day, such as figuring out ways (plans) to build on the staff’s ideas and best processes to manifest buoyant ideas for expanding the organization’s programming and reach. And, thinking about best practices for cultivating community within and outside of the organization.

 

When do you know your work is making a difference?

I know that my work is making a difference when, a) I hear a testimony about how the work shifted a person’s thinking, b) I see a definitive ripple effect based on a practice that was implemented under my guidance, and c) people around me are inspired to do more expansive work.

 

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

I think my best advice to someone doing work in dance education programs is two-fold, a) always be prepared and steeped in a clear understanding of the work, and b) cultivate an engaged listening and learning process with your client base.

 

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

I’d like to share two books: The Source of Self-regard by Toni Morrison

Stony Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

 

Best. Snack. Ever.

I thoroughly enjoy snacking on a bowl of freshly popped popcorn seasoned with “Complete Herbal” and cayenne seasonings. Yummy.


Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: University City Arts League

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

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

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

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

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

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

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

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

-UCAL Arts After School parent, Julee Tweh

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

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

 

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

 

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

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Wagner Free Institute of Science

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best.  Snack. Ever.

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

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Danse4Nia

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Norris Square Neighborhood Projects

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

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

When do you know your work is making a difference?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best.  Snack. Ever.

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

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2019 Bartol grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Allens Lane Art Center

“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.