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

Photo courtesy of Lauren Scharf.

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Anything else you would like to tell us?

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

 

“I realized just how transformative performance could be” – Interview with New Bartol Board Member Catzie Vilayphonh

Photo courtesy of Catzie Vilayphonh.

As part of an ongoing Q&A series, we will be learning more about the Bartol Foundation’s artistic community. Catzie Vilayphonh is an award-winning writer, spoken word poet, and multi-media artist. We welcomed Catzie to the Bartol team in January 2019 as part of our cohort of three new board members. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram to learn more about her work.

 

Can you tell me a bit about your background in the arts?

I began my career as an artist when I was 18 and had just graduated from high school. My first foray into the arts outside of school was through a workshop at Asian Arts Initiative (a longtime Bartol grantee) where we wrote monologues based on our own stories and performed them on stage. Once I performed as part of that group, I would go to more practice groups or anything improv or theatre arts-related, and we also got to perform at Fringe Festival. That experience was an eye-opener in terms of what performing arts could be, because in my mind it was always just acting, rather than actually writing our own scripts. I realized just how transformative performance could be for a person. That experience set the trajectory of me constantly finding different art forms to express whatever I was trying to say at the time.

When I was growing up, there also wasn’t a lot of representation of Asian-Americans in media, so it was really empowering to be able to share my story with audiences. I felt a responsibility to do my part to make sure the stories that are told about us are authentic and true to ourselves and by real people.

 

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

I had been following along with the Bartol Foundation’s email newsletter for a while. I learned that Bartol was looking for new board members through Gayle Isa, who, up until recently, was the Executive Director of the Asian Arts Initiative. Gayle is somebody who I’ve known for a long, long time and was one of the first people I met when I became involved in the arts, and knowing that this was something she recommended made me want to participate. Being an artist who sometimes has to work another job, I’m not able to be involved in the arts as much as I would like. Participating with Bartol is a great way for me to stay connected to that network and learn more about the kind of support that’s out there for artists, even if it doesn’t come from Bartol directly.

 

What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in your time on the Bartol board?

I’m looking forward to learning more about the different organizations in Philadelphia and seeing what they have to offer, regardless of whether or not they get the grants. As someone who runs an art organization myself, I’m always interested in learning what other organizations are doing. I’m looking forward to seeing how teachers teach a hands-on class, how organizations offer youth and adult programs, or even what kinds of art forms are being highlighted.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m really happy to be part of this group of women. I’m looking forward to it.

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

 

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

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wilkerson.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

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

 

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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

Photo courtesy of Sannii Crespina-flores.

 

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

 

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

Photo courtesy of Melissa Talley-Palmer.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anything else you’d like to add?

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

 

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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

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

Meet Tezarah in today’s Q&A!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you hoping to learn from this fellowship?

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

 

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anything else you’d like to add?

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

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

Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity