Get to Know the Grantee: Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

This week, we are in conversation with Katie Moore, Business Director at Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (KYL/D) about how they have pivoted their school residencies in the virtual classroom. You can also check out their short mindful movement videos here.

Your CHI Dance program focuses on mindfulness through movement, primarily for elementary school children. You have created a really robust program since COVID moved programs online, led by your Education Coordinator, Sophie Malin. How are you navigating through five schools, all with different needs?

Teaching virtually is definitely different – program development and delivery takes longer to accomplish and technology can be tricky. We had to figure out what was essential to each class we would usually teach in person, and how we could capture that online. We had to keep our focus on mindfulness which is the core of our program and so important right now.

Sophie did an incredible job developing several different components to the program to make for a robust online experience. All of the content is available through a password protected network of pages on our website. On the homepage, there is a survey for students to complete to ensure they set-up a safe dance space with visuals for context. There is also easy access to supplemental content, such as short meditation videos, called CHI Time videos (linked above). Sophie engaged KYL/D dance artists, some of whom are CHI Dance teachers and some of whom are not, to create these additional videos that provide a mindfulness break that a teacher or student can use any time. Then, the website allows the user to select their school to access their classroom specific content.

Prior to starting the fall session, school partners were given the option to pick from three program offerings: 1) all pre-recorded classes for 9 weeks; 2) a hybrid of 6 pre-recorded classes and 3 live classes; or, 3) 9 live classes. Alongside this weekly class content, we also provide a weekly workbook that directly relates to that week’s lesson, which a teacher can use as they like. To provide additional context, teachers are also given a workbook guide.

How did you coordinate all this with the school?

Sophie set-up meetings with principals, teachers and other school administrators at each partner school to explain the three program options in detail to determine each school’s needs before the fall session started. We already had a plan in place for the curriculum to focus on one of KYL/D’s recent works, Fish & Girl, but allowed flexibility within learning sections of the choreography and inspiration behind the piece to also include components that reinforce classroom topics.

The CHI Dance Workbook provides a different method to engage students with dance and mindfulness. Each week contains pages with emotion check-ins, education tips, guided meditations, mindfulness activities, challenges, coloring pages, journal prompts and free thinking pages. The workbook was edited by retired Elementary School Principal, Teacher and Editor, Sheila Lunger. Sheila helped Sophie develop grade specific versions for our two main age groups Grades K-2 and Grades 3-5 along with the teacher guide book that helps classroom teachers understand the intention behind each exercise and how to adapt it for their needs.

Since our program takes place during the school day, we are using Google Classroom and other online platforms which involves getting permissions for KYL/D’s teaching artists to access the virtual classroom. It helps that the classroom teacher is there to refocus children as needed and to provide their own classroom structure to our work. We were also able to do a survey with our 4th grade students that the teacher assigned to them, which has given us great insights into what type of online learning students feel most comfortable with, what their interests are and feedback on how to improve the program next session. Surveys are also provided to teachers before and after each session to help serve as part of our program evaluation. Sophie has frequent check-ins with teachers and principals throughout the course of each session to ensure that the program is meeting everyone’s expectations.

What did you do out of necessity during COVD that you may keep even after COVID has passed?

Our biggest challenge is that we have a long waitlist of classroom teachers within our current partner schools, let alone other schools who want the program; however, we have a limited amount of human resources and internal capacity with our staff and teaching artists.  We are thinking about how we can expand the pre-recorded video program to facilitate in nourishing engagement with our current partner schools and providing an entry point into a potential partnership with a new school. The recorded content could be used as the first step before having classes in person, or maybe be combined with a group of students coming to one of the company’s performances or rehearsals. We all know that the purpose of dancing is to be and move together but maybe these virtual programs are a way to begin to deepen current relationships, build new relationships and expand our reach.

How are you caring for yourself and your teaching artists during this time?

The amazing thing about CHI Dance is that the focus on mindfulness requires you to focus on mindfulness, which is a stress relief tool in and of itself. The videos Sophie and the other dance artists have been developing I’m starting to watch more consistently to provide my own meditation breaks throughout the work day.

Our work requires a lot of collaboration and openness. With CHI Dance sessions, the first step is to always check-in with our teaching artists and have an honest conversation about how many classes they would like to teach and understanding their thoughts on how to improve the curriculum each year. For the digital programs, we understand there will be opportunities to learn how to deliver the program better with more experience. We stay open minded and in frequent communication with each other. Also, I provide Sophie with flexibility to adapt the programs if there is too much on her checklist or if we realize another approach works best. We have a weekly phone call to debrief and learn about what’s going on outside of CHI Dance too. This year, Sophie and I are working on developing more movement training and professional development opportunities in connection with her youth education work. For the other staff and dance artists, I am planning on programs to also focus on training and wellness.

Best. (COVID) Snack. Ever.

Salted pumpkin seeds.


Part of a continuing series featuring our 2020 Bartol Grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Young Artist Program

We are excited to share news from our grantees as they continue to provide great programs despite all the challenges we are facing.  This week, we welcome Kristin Hill, an alumni of the YAP program who runs the instagram account @theyoungartistprogram.

 

Your organization works with a small group of young people from the LGBT community over multiple years.  How were you able celebrate your graduates last year and then to reach out and engage new participants for your new cohort during COVID?

Sadly, we had to celebrate separately because of COVID, but Mel and Sam (Lead Teaching Artists at the time) did drive-bys with decorated cars and lots of honking. Each of us got flowers, balloons and a little goodie bag of gifts with self care items. We took socially distant photos in our caps and gowns..it was cute! 

Recruiting primarily happened over social media, particuarlying instagram. Our hope is that our caring and kindness for others would shine through on our social media–and it did! We were able to recruit and get a whole new cohort of 8 students.


What approaches are you using to create community among these new folx in our socially-distant/virtual universe?

We still hold the program on zoom from Tuesday-Friday, which is a space where people can come to play games, work on their individual and group art projects, and connect with each other. Mental Health Mondays; a story series where we ask questions in our stories to our followers and respond and share back, has been a great way too. We really want people to know that we care about them and that we’re always open to chat, so we started asking our followers questions about self-care and mental health on Mondays. It’s been really good to hear people’s answers and to help us all feel like none of us are in this alone. 

Having to do things virtually has also brought us some really fun new ideas! We’re currently doing a virtual art auction, something we probably never would have done if there wasn’t a pandemic. We had an opening night over zoom and played games and shared space virtually with the community, it was so fun and sweet!


What have you learned during COVID that you will use even after COVID has passed?

It’s still possible to find connections and to care for people virtually. Virtual hugs are still valid!

How are you caring for yourself and other program members during this time?

For myself, I try to take at least one day a week for myself. That can mean making art and jewelry or watching Bob’s Burgers. I’m trying to maintain some sense of normalcy and make sure I’m living the life that I want. 

We’re all really trying to do our best to care for people over text and zoom calls. I think compliments go a long way! I try to uplift everyone in the program and spread the love and joy. 


Best.  Snack.  Ever.

Dominos Lava Crunch Cakes with a little ice cream on top.. Best thing in the world! I encourage everyone to try it 🙂

 


Part of a continuing series featuring our 2020 Bartol Grantees.

Design for Social Media: Basics

In the ever-changing world of technology, social media has now become a requirement to sustain relevancy and engagement for most businesses and organizations. While things continue to develop at lightning speed, there are essential, foundational graphic design basics that can be utilized on any platform or website. These skills when learned and applied will make your organization’s graphics engaging and accessible.

Join us on Wednesday, Jan 13th, 2021 to learn graphic design principles and the importance of design in social media while learning how to design your own graphics using Canva, a free online design platform. This workshop will be led by Destiny Washington, the Bartol Foundation’s Social Media Coordinator. Destiny Washington is the owner and head designer of Destiny / Design Co. which specializes in building unique brand and social media strategies for clients big and small. Destiny is a Brooklyn native, a proud self-taught artist and grateful resident of Philadelphia, PA.

  • Supplies needed: Computer/Internet Access
  • Free or Professional Canva.com account
  • Notebook/scratchpaper and pen/marker for notetaking

Get to Know the Grantee: ArtWell

We are excited to welcome Briana Clarke as the new Program Manager at ArtWell. Check out this interview to learn more about her journey.

Tell us a bit about your journey that brought you to become the new Program Manager at ArtWell.

My background consists of diverse community and arts involvement independently and within Philadelphia organizations, including Providence Center, Spiral Q, FAB Youth Philly, and Camp Sojourner Girl Leadership Camp. I’ve been involved with ArtWell since 2016. I started as a Teaching Artist, then Artwell experienced organizational changes, and the Program Coordinator position opened. Because I truly believed in the work of Artwell, there was a strong foundation and sense of community, and I was committed to supporting youth, Teaching Artists, and my community, I  wanted to support the strengthening of the organization. So, I applied for the position to have a greater leadership role and impact on ArtWells growth and direction. I was later promoted to Program Manager, and the journey so far has been fulfilling.


You have had to adapt your programs to teach different disciplines virtually in your school residencies.  What has worked well and what has been challenging?

Overall, trial and error, shifting expectations, and operating with the sense that business is personal and allowing human connection to exist in the workspace has helped and has been the driving force. Our school partnerships are extremely relational, and it played a big factor in adapting our programs. We have centered our teaching around social justice, identity, and the social-emotional learning component of our program during this time. We have coordinated supply distribution to as many partners as possible. The art is still happening virtually; however, students’ opportunities to participate in dialogue about topics they care about, connect, and express have been crucial and our priority.

It was challenging to move forward with some of our school partners this year due to schools and teachers adapting themselves. And although we have seen an increase over the months, and students express excitement for classes, student engagement is still one of our challenges. Youth are Zoomed out!  


We are hearing from our grantees that some things you did out of necessity during COVID, you will continue to do even after COVID has passed.  What might you continue to do even after COVID?

When the pandemic hit, and through the racial unrest, we reached out to our partners and connected with them individually to determine what supports they needed. In response, we began customizing engagements. This involved lots of meetings with principals, classroom teachers, teaching artists, and other community partners. We worked to involve everyone as much as possible throughout the process, which we already do; however, I believe there is a higher level of grace and involvement. For some of our partners, we are carrying out our traditional programs virtually. However, for other partners, we have gone deeper. We are offering additional program supports like clubs, office hours, and school-wide town halls. We have also offered virtual engagements for the general public during COVID. This time has highlighted the deeper involvement we can have from our community. Not just at the beginning and end, but throughout. We hope to preserve this level of community involvement post-COVID.

You have your own creative practice outside of your work with ArtWell.  Tell us more!

Yes, I’m a painter who primarily focuses on highlighting the joy and pain connected to Black Lives through vibrant colors, juxtaposition, metaphors, and symbolism. I also spend time designing social media graphics and fliers.

How are you caring for yourself and your teaching artists during this time?

Checking in with Teaching Artists personally, professionally, and consistently. Holding more team meetings, having compassion, patience, calling, texting, and allowing people to just be sometimes. In addition to one on one check-ins, we have monthly skill builds for our Teaching Artists. This has been an important time to connect, preserve the sense of community virtually, enhance online teaching toolkits, play, and promote self and collective care. 

As far as me, I try to paint as much as I can. It’s unfortunate because we rely on technology more than ever to stay connected to people; however, I also try to take breaks from social media, texts, and calls for brain breaks and self-care. Youtube rabbit holes and music, period. 

Best. Snack. Ever.

Not a healthy one, but I love salami! Cured meats…a well-made charcuterie board, is loooove.  

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2020 Bartol Grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

In 2020, we made our selections for the grantee winners just as the COVID-19 pandemic closed all schools and community programs. In recognition of these difficult circumstances, we enabled each organization to define how they could use the funding to strengthen their programming during the shutdown (e.g. developing curriculum, delivering remote programs, etc).

We are excited to welcome Mohannad Ghawanmeh as the new Executive Director of Al-Bustan.  Mohannad will be the second Executive Director of Al-Bustan, taking over from its founder Hazami Sayed. 

Tell us a bit about your journey that brought you to become the new Executive Director of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture.

The journey began with cofounding the Twin Cities Arab Film Festival in 2002, in response to the Sep 11 attacks, as an effort to affirm the breadth and complexity of Arab culture and to defy malign and then intensely propagated stereotypes of Arab and Muslim people. Thus the festival was founded in the same year as Al-Bustan and was motivated by similar impulses and was programmed by Mizna an Arab American Arts organization that does work similar to Al-Bustan’s. I went on to direct/curate four editions of this festival and led the first edition of two others, including the film festival organized by the Arab American National Museum. I continued to work with both of these Arab cultural organizations for years to come, including as I attended PhD school for a degree in Cinema and Media Studies, which I acquired in June.

You moved from California to take on this role. What drew you all the way across the country to become part of Al-Bustan?

Al-Bustan is such an accomplished, impactful organization and I am so committed to cultural production that empowers and inspires that applying to lead Al-Bustan, to succeed its venerated Founding Director Hazami Sayed was an “all-brainer”!

What are you most excited to do or learn in the next year?

Arts and education programming is the facet that most excites me about my work, I do admit. However, guiding Al-Bustan through the unpredictable, choppy waters of the months to come and preparing the organization for a transition to serving a constituency no longer threatened by COVID19 is what commands my attention most.

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2020 Bartol Grantees.

Get to Know the Grantee: Power Street Theatre

In 2020, we made our selections for the grantee winners just as the COVID-19 pandemic closed all schools and community programs. In recognition of these difficult circumstances, we enabled each organization to define how they could use the funding to strengthen their programming during the shutdown (e.g. developing curriculum, delivering remote programs, etc). Erlina Ortiz, playwright and play maker for Power Street Theatre, describes how their organization adapted to these unprecedented times: 

How are you adapting your project or organization during quarantine/this political moment?
 
We have moved everything online. Our classes will be going online in the Spring and we are doing A LOT of brainstorming on how to make that a successful venture that serves our mission and values. 
 
 
Has the quarantine resulted in opportunities to take your practice online in any way?  If so, tell us about it.
 
We had a Children’s Festival that went virtual and was a success, a Digital Rally for Philly Arts that took over social media for two days, and we’ll be doing an online reading series and community discussions this fall.
 
 
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 way we have connected with our North Philly community has been by knocking on doors, going to bodegas, talking to folks in the park, sharing a meal – it’s being in the community. Being IN community. That’s basically against the law right now so figuring out how to stay connected with our base of supporters safely is a real challenge. 
 
 
Have you found moments of creativity or grace in the past few months?
 
I have, thankfully, though I can only speak for myself. I’ve been writing a lot mostly which has actually always been my coping mechanism through rough times. I also took the Yale free online Science of Well Being class and that was very enlightening. I’ve been using the skills I learned to keep me balanced. 
 
 
And always our favorite question.  Best. (Quarantine) Snack. Ever.
 
 
Is pizza too basic? Nachos? Literally anything greasy or fatty that hides my feelings. Half of Power Street is basically vegan now though so this answer may be controversial.  
 

Part of a continuing series featuring our 2020 Bartol Grantees.