Smithtown East’s High School Musical Production!

Beauty & the Beast

If there’s EVER any doubt about the value and educational impact of The Arts, then revisit a high school production. The confidence, charisma, and charm of Smithtown HS East’s cast of Beauty & the Beast is all that & then some. Be swept away by its message: beauty lies from within — this is the powerful potential of The Arts’ nurturing capacity to transform the soul of any community. Invest in The Arts! Invest in the future of our humanity!

The First 100 Stories

Testimonial #11:  Ronni Hubbard

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

In high school I was a chameleon. I would mold into whatever I felt would make me more interesting and likeable. I had no passion , goals or dreams. I went with the flow . . . until I discovered theatre. I took theatre just because I thought it would be fun and easy. It was fun and easy; again I went with the flow, never giving it my all or trying very hard . A circumstance happened that would change my life and path forever. The class was putting on a production of “Vanities”;  one of the leads in the 3 person play was unable to perform. The play opened in less than a week and I was asked to step in and perform. I was told by my teacher I could do it; she had faith in me. She worked with me right up until opening night . She believed in me like no one ever had. She told me I had talent. I actually believe her. I stood on the stage opening night, listening to the applause and had a feeling like no other . My teacher told me I needed to keep going with this. I was different. Again, I believed her. I had all intentions of going to a NY state school, playing a sport I had been given a scholarship for and majoring in ummmmmm “NO CLUE”. I decided just for the heck of it I would audition for a theatre school . This amazing teacher helped me pick out monologues, work on the monologues, pick a song and gave me the self confidence to go and audition for a top theatre school. Every student auditioning was from performing arts high schools. Every student had a resume that had numerous productions. I had 1 show and no training but I had a little voice that said, ” I was different.” I got in and graduated with my BFA in Theatre arts from The University Of The Arts in Philadelphia. I am a 42 year old woman today that is not currently participating in the theatre; however my experience with the arts has changed me, gave me a self confidence, a voice, an identity and made me into the best version of me . I know I will participate again one day in theatre . I know this because a wise teacher told me ” I was different and I could do anything I put my mind to.” This amazing woman, teacher, was Frances McGarry.

First Online With Fran Episode 5: Best Writing Advice!

On Feb. 8th, 2012, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Paula Vogel spoke at the Drama Bookshop in Manhattan. This five part series will feature clips that highlight topics of her discussion. The first of the series is called “The Great American Bake Off.”

First On-Line With Fran” was shot and edited by Brandon York Productions with special thanks to Nancy Reardon and the Drama Bookshop in Manhattan!

Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize winning play “How I Learned to Drive,” played on Broadway’s Second Stage Theatre, and was the first professional NYC production of the play since its premiere 15 years ago.

Learn more about Fran at


Sherrie Nickol: Capturing Real People With a Click of her Camera

What started out as an artistic project became the seed for an exciting business enterprise.  Award-winning photographers Sherrie Nickol and David Katzenstein were intrigued by capturing every day people in their every day moments: on the subway, the streets of New York, any location imaginable where ordinary people went about their typical day.  When the economic crisis hit in 2008-2009, the husband and wife team decided to use their recently created cache of studio photos of 100 people and turn it into a commercial venture.  A business plan was drawn up; investors were solicited and they created and launched the stock photo agency Citizen Stock. Today, the real people photographed for the collection number more than 2,500!

CitizenStock was launched in May 2010 as a source of fresh, new Rights Managed stock photography images featuring real people. The models aren’t models at all, but children, moms, dads, grandparents, skateboarders, lawyers, teachers, musicians, chefs, artists, office workers, clothing designers, shop clerks and small business owners, to name a few.

In addition to homegrown New Yorkers, the real people who model for Citizen Stock originate from many parts of the U.S. and from a diverse group of countries all over the world. Photographed against a white background, and in a series of activities and clothing, the real models offer a unique and accessible collection of images for the advertising, design and media industries. Citizen Stock offers a consistent blend of emotion and style and a depth of unique, high quality imagery.

Deriving extreme enjoyment from “taking a good picture of someone,” Sherrie delights in people’s reactions.  She recalled one man who was awed by his picture on the monitor. “Wow, is that me?” he exclaimed.  Using a conversational approach with each of her subjects, Sherrie gets her models to share a great deal about themselves.  “One of the models told me that no one has paid this much attention to him in 20 years!” she said. Impressed with the quality and quantity of photos, the man returned for a repeat session with his two young daughters. Emotionally empowering her subjects by allowing them the opportunity to express themselves in any way they choose, Sherrie often finds herself playing the role of “photo-therapist.”  

And what makes Sherrie special in other respects is that her talent goes beyond her work at Citizen Stock.  Crowd Scapes was an exhibit at Temple University in 2010.  “My husband and I have traveled a lot and done all sorts of photography.  A lot of it has to do with people and their interactions, either being by themselves or with a group of people.”  With each of her works, she hopes to elicit memories, “a special time in their life . . . something warm.”  And this takes skill. Not everybody can be a photographer:  “You have to have an eye.  You have to capture that moment, the shape of the face, or the body or what they’re trying to tell you.”  She is grateful to her teacher, Jerry Stratton at the University of Cincinnati.  “He kept encouraging me.” Eventually, she risked all odds and went to New York to seek her fame and fortune without any knowledge of what that entailed.  Coming from Osceola, Arkansas, a small town, Sherrie didn’t know any better except for the fact that this was the right course for her to follow.  Holding a camera “just felt right. I still receive so much pleasure from taking pictures.”

As for The Arts, Sherrie is adamant about its value:  “Photography is a different kind of art.  It’s a wonderful tool to communicate feelings or emotions…. It’s freeing for people.  Everybody has a story; everybody has a love, a desire. The Arts help you to communicate everything about life from the happy to the very sad.”

And as for Sherrie’s mission, it gives Citizen Stock’s models their 15 minutes of fame…and then some. Click!

Featured in The Wall Street Journal The Wall Street JournalNew York Culture:  The Everyman’s Photo Op

Like Citizen Stock on Facebook!

National Arts Advocacy Day

Support Arts Advocacy Day 2012!

Today, hundreds of dedicated arts supporters from across the country have come together in Washington, DC for National Arts Advocacy Day, a united effort to tell Capitol Hill how important culture is to our communities, how much arts education means to our children, and how much the arts improve our daily lives. 87 NationalCoSponsors have helped us shape this united arts message to Congress. The 25th annual Arts Advocacy Day is organized by Americans for the Arts and is presented this year in partnership with Ovation, the only multi-platform network celebrating all forms of artistic expression.

Arts Advocacy Day begins with a Kickoff event at the U.S. House of Representatives. We are very pleased that Americans for the Arts President & CEO Robert Lynch will be joined by several other national leaders in the arts, including Alec Baldwin, Hill Harper, Nigel Lythgoe, Ben Folds, Clay Walker, Tiffani Thiessen, Pierre Dulaine, Melina Kanakaredes, Omar Benson Miller, and Jonathan Schaech.

Even if you’re not able to join us in Washington, you can still participate in Arts Advocacy Day by asking your Members of Congress to support the arts. Visit our E-Advocacy Center, and you’ll be able to send a message in less than two minutes directly to your Representative and Senators telling them why the arts are important to you and your community. We urge you to send your message to Congress today to coincide with our office visits to the Hill.

Need more information? Browse the 2012 Congressional ArtsHandbook for issue briefs, voting records, latest arts research and trends, relevant Congressional committees, and Congressional contact lists.

On Twitter? Follow @Americans4Artsand track all the action in Washington, DC at #AAD12!

Help us continue this important work by becoming an official member of the Arts Action Fund. If you are not already a member play your part by joining the ArtsAction Fund today — it’s free and simple.