How Art Transforms the Life of Homeless Teen

It’s already a tough time when you’re teen. But imagine that you’re an undocumented teen. Without a home or father around. Helping your mom, who you constantly fight with and taking care of three younger brothers. For Inocente Izucar, a 15-year-old undocumented homeless teen, this was her life. Until her art transformed her life. It’s all captured in the mind-blowing documentary, “Inocente.”

First Online With Fran wants to hear your story

First Online With Fran wants to hear your story: what would your life have been like without that art class? play production? musical instrument? choral experience? dance class? Give me your testimonial and I’ll send it to Arts Education Partnerships during Arts Advocacy Week September 9-15, 2012!!
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First Online with Fran Series Trailer

The Arts continue to be cut from school curriculums across the nation. Despite arts advocacy groups’ efforts to prevent the decline of arts inclusion, the budgetary solution remains to be that the arts are perceived as extra-curricular and disposable. First on Line with Fran will offer opportunities for other artists to join me in discussions on how ordinary people are doing extraordinary things in The Arts to make our world a richer, deeper, better place to live.

First On-Line With Fran” was shot and edited by Brandon York Productions

Learn more about Fran at



Lorna Kneeland on the blog of 4Culture [cultural services agency for King County, WA], 7/30/12
In the past few years, there has been a fair amount of public attention (but not enough) on the dire state and inequity of arts learning for K-12 students. The expectation that arts are an essential aspect to student education has been lost. This year in Seattle, not a single arts organization was deemed qualified for the Families and Education Levy. This is surprising given the great deal of research demonstrating the strong link that arts education has to academic success and social development. Now, let me turn this depressing train of thought around…Despite the cuts, I strongly feel that we are approaching a tipping point that has the possibility of pushing this train in the other direction. Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book The Tipping Point
“… in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first…The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”
Nationally and locally, big and small collaborative movements are happening that are generating momentum to put arts learning back on track. Perhaps the largest local movement on this front is the Seattle K-12 Arts Learning Collaborative. The goal of this citywide effort is that all students in all Seattle Public Schools (SPS) have opportunities to learn through the arts, to succeed in school and in life. The community has come together in a powerful way — driven by the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and SPS with parents, the funding community and arts leaders such as Arts Corps, ArtsEd Washington, Arts Impact, PONCHO [Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations] and Seattle Art Museum leading and owning the charge.
First Online With Fran: The First 100 Stories Campaign National Arts in Education Week, September 11-17

In July 2010, Congress designated the second week of September as National Arts In Education Week (add link) to promote and showcase the immense role arts education has in producing engaged, successful, and college and career-ready students. To that end, First Online with Fran is launching The First 100 Stories Campaign.

The Arts continue to be cut from school curriculums across the nation. Despite arts advocacy groups’ efforts to prevent the decline of arts inclusion, the budgetary solution remains to be that the arts are perceived as extra-curricular and disposable. In Chris Cleave’s novel Little Bee, the central character decided to right a wrong by collecting stories: “One story makes you weak. But as soon as we have one-hundred stories, you will be strong.” Similarly, we can do the same for the Arts. Here’s how: 

Let’s hear it from you: Teachers! Students! Graduates! Parents! Artists!
Fill out the form to submit your testimonial!

A Review of Cougar The Musical

I hesitated to see a  musical called Cougar The Musical.  REALLY?  Anotherstereotypical stylized sterilization of menopausal women (AGAIN, already???) seeking satisfaction through their conquest of young men; in fact, this is FAR from the truth.  Last night, I attended a performance of Cougar The Musical  and if you’re on the prowl for a fun, engaging 90-minute musical, then you’re in for a treat at St. Luke’s Theater.  Cougar The Musical  is exactly everything that you wouldn’t  think it would be – a play of substance delivering a message with clarity and characters whose paths intersect at critical crossroads.
As a jaded New York theater goer, tired of the spectacle star-centered mega-shows, I’m constantly searching for some simple, honest dramatic stories that take risks and offers intellectual challenges for both the players and the audience.  Granted, I’m delighted to have found the work being done at TheSignature Theater as well as Second Stage Theater stimulating.  But who would have thought that a musical about Cougars, a pejorative term to describe older women having flings with young men would be among those stories to refresh my soul?
And soul this musical has—from its Charlie’s Angels trench coat trio opening number On The Prowl (for more than young men) the three women, Lily (Catherine Porter),Clarity (Brenda Braxton), and Mary-Marie (Babs Winn) create an ensemble worth going to see just for their authentic performances.  The characters are all at life transitions:  Mary Marie’s solo investment of a Cougar-themed bar, Lily’s recent divorce, and Clarity’s career changing crisis.  All 3 struggle with their roles as daughters, wives (or the denial of one in Clarity’s case), and mothers seeking that balancing act of  WOMAN-WOMEN –WOMYN.
 What’s so refreshing is how the arc of the play takes you through each of the dilemmas without patronizing or compromising the integrity of the conflict – combining comedy with pathos ( I was moved by Mother’s Love) without the sappy sentiment.  Each song, each scene, raised the stakes and engaged your brain, pulled heart strings and elicited laugh-out-loud responses to life’s conundrums AKA the double-standard.  Danny Bernardy, the fourth and ambidextrous member of the cast played all the male characters; although, my favorite was Eve, the Oriental manicurist whose polish would make them all Shiny & New.
Don’t go to see this show if you’re looking for flash, and special effects both literal and metaphorical with its pap outcomes.  But if you want to be entertained and leave the house feeling your funny-bone was tickled and your soul uplifted, then Cougar The Musical  is a purrr-fect choice! 

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