P.S. Art 2014: Student Artworks at The Met

PSArt01[1] As a teacher I have witnessed firsthand the transformative powers of The Arts.  Students learn to express themselves in ways that could never be accomplished through an algorithm or literary analysis.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers P.S. Art, an annual exhibition of work by talented young artists from New York City’s public schools, showcases the creativity of prekindergarten through grade 12 students from all five boroughs. The seventy-seven artworks include paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media works, collages, drawings, and video. Read more…

 

 

A Work Based Learning Program at Vital Theatre

“What I learned is I can’t go through my life silent. Everybody has something in them.”
Caitlin Perkins, Grade 11
Brooklyn Theatre Arts High School

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How Theater for Young People Could Save the World

Windmill Theatre's Wizard of Oz. Jude Henshall. Photo by Tony Lewis.

Windmill Theatre’s Wizard of Oz. Jude Henshall. Photo by Tony Lewis.

Dramatist and theater essayist

by Lauren Gunderson, Dramatist and theater essayist

March 20th is World Theater for Children and Young People Day. Some of you might be thinking, “Oh lord, why do we need a day to celebrate actors being silly, wearing bright colors and singing obnoxiously at squirming kiddos and bored parents?”

But if you think that’s what Theatre for Young People is, you’re missing out on truly powerful, hilarious, bold, engaging, surprising theater that might just save the world.

Around the world artists are creating a new stripe of Theatre for Young People that combines the elegance of dance, the innovation of devised theater, the freshness of new plays, the magnetism of puppetry and the inciting energy of new musicals. Kids have access to more and more mature theatrical visions premiering from Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center to Atlanta’s Synchronicity Theatre to San Francisco’s Handful Players to Ireland to Adelaide to Kosovo to Cape Town.

These plays range from re-imagined fairy tales and adaptations of favorite books to brand-new plays and electric new musicals about everything from physics to bullying to the American Civil War.

But how could theater, especially theater for young people, really matter in a world as fraught and disparity-scattered as ours?
Not to sound overly grand (too late), but so much of the toxicity in this world comes from a collective draining of empathy. We don’t understand each other, and we don’t want to. But theater invites us — no, forces us — to empathize.

As my friend Bill English of San Francisco’s SF Playhouse says, theater is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people’s actions. We practice caring.

Kids need this kind of practice even more than adults do. This is going to be their planet and they’ve got more time to apply that empathy and make a difference. Buddhist roshi Joan Halifax challenges us to actively and specifically teach children (and vote for presidents with) empathy. Why not take your child to the theater to do just that.

In fact “Take A Child to the Theatre Today” is the campaign theme of The International Association of Theaters for Young Audiences for the next three years.

If you take a child to the theater, not only will they practice empathy, they might also laugh uproariously, or come home singing about science, or want to know more about history, or tell you what happened at school today, or spend all dinner discussing music, or learn how to handle conflict, or start becoming future patrons of the arts.

On March 20th, take a child to the theater. Take them all the time. And don’t “sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.” Lean forward, engage and start changing the world for the better.

Not to sound overly grand (too late), but so much of the toxicity in this world comes from a collective draining of empathy. We don’t understand each other, and we don’t want to. But theater invites us — no, forces us — to empathize.

As my friend Bill English of San Francisco’s SF Playhouse says, theater is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people’s actions. We practice caring.

Kids need this kind of practice even more than adults do. This is going to be their planet and they’ve got more time to apply that empathy and make a difference. Buddhist roshi Joan Halifax challenges us to actively and specifically teach children (and vote for presidents with) empathy. Why not take your child to the theater to do just that.

In fact “Take A Child to the Theatre Today” is the campaign theme of The International Association of Theaters for Young Audiences for the next three years.

If you take a child to the theater, not only will they practice empathy, they might also laugh uproariously, or come home singing about science, or want to know more about history, or tell you what happened at school today, or spend all dinner discussing music, or learn how to handle conflict, or start becoming future patrons of the arts.

On March 20th, take a child to the theater. Take them all the time. And don’t “sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.” Lean forward, engage and start changing the world for the better.

Not to sound overly grand (too late), but so much of the toxicity in this world comes from a collective draining of empathy. We don’t understand each other, and we don’t want to. But theater invites us — no, forces us — to empathize.

As my friend Bill English of San Francisco’s SF Playhouse says, theater is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people’s actions. We practice caring.

Kids need this kind of practice even more than adults do. This is going to be their planet and they’ve got more time to apply that empathy and make a difference. Buddhist roshi Joan Halifax challenges us to actively and specifically teach children (and vote for presidents with) empathy. Why not take your child to the theater to do just that.

In fact “Take A Child to the Theatre Today” is the campaign theme of The International Association of Theaters for Young Audiences for the next three years.

If you take a child to the theater, not only will they practice empathy, they might also laugh uproariously, or come home singing about science, or want to know more about history, or tell you what happened at school today, or spend all dinner discussing music, or learn how to handle conflict, or start becoming future patrons of the arts.

On March 20th, take a child to the theater. Take them all the time. And don’t “sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.” Lean forward, engage and start changing the world for the better.

Not to sound overly grand (too late), but so much of the toxicity in this world comes from a collective draining of empathy. We don’t understand each other, and we don’t want to. But theater invites us — no, forces us — to empathize.

As my friend Bill English of San Francisco’s SF Playhouse says, theater is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people’s actions. We practice caring.

Kids need this kind of practice even more than adults do. This is going to be their planet and they’ve got more time to apply that empathy and make a difference. Buddhist roshi Joan Halifax challenges us to actively and specifically teach children (and vote for presidents with) empathy. Why not take your child to the theater to do just that.

In fact “Take A Child to the Theatre Today” is the campaign theme of The International Association of Theaters for Young Audiences for the next three years.

If you take a child to the theater, not only will they practice empathy, they might also laugh uproariously, or come home singing about science, or want to know more about history, or tell you what happened at school today, or spend all dinner discussing music, or learn how to handle conflict, or start becoming future patrons of the arts.

On March 20th, take a child to the theater. Take them all the time. And don’t “sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.” Lean forward, engage and start changing the world for the better.

Every Child in Every School: A Vision for Arts and Creativity

City Arts Leaders push de Blasio on Instruction Promise

By Eliza Shapiro
More than 90 influential arts and culture groups are pushing Mayor Bill de Blasio to stick to his promise of providing arts education to every public school child in the city.

During the campaign, de Blasio said he would establish a four-year goal to ensure every child would receive arts education up to the state education department’s standards, with instruction by certified arts teachers. In her first few public appearances, chancellor Carmen Fariña has also said the city’s schools need more arts instruction. Last week, during her first official school visit to M.S. 223 in the South Bronx, Fariña praised the school’s principal Ramon Gonzalez for his work to help turn the middle school around, which included increasing arts instruction with federal funding through the Center for Arts Education’s School Arts Support Initiative.

City arts advocates say the new administration’s support for the arts, coupled with a new law requiring the Department of Education to provide data on arts instruction, signal a new era in the city’s schools.

Some of the city’s most powerful arts and education advocacy figures signed the statement, including Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children who served as a member of de Blasio’s transition team; N.Y.C.L.U president Donna Lieberman; executive director of Alliance for Quality Education Billy Easton; and Karen Brooks Hopkins and Matthew Van Besien, the heads of the Brooklyn Academy of Music and New York Philharmonic, respectively.

The statement specifically calls for instruction in visual arts, dance, music, and theater by certified arts teachers, along with dedicated funding for facilities and supplies. “Far too many of our city’s public school students are not being provided access to a rich and engaging curriculum that includes the arts instruction they deserve and is required by law,” the statement reads.

“Every Child in Every School: A Vision for Arts and Creativity in New York City Public Schools” –is one part of a continued advocacy effort to ensure arts education is a priority for the new administration.

Art and Music Are Professions Worth Fighting for

Blake Morgan,Recording artist, producer, and label owner.

Earlier this year, I was invited back to my high school to participate in their annual career day — a day where during school hours, students learn about different professions and vocations. I was asked to join a panel about the arts, and to share some insight on what I’ve experienced as an artist and musician.

It was great seeing all the bright young faces, reconnecting with teachers I’d had, searching for my old locker. There were classmates of mine I hadn’t seen for a long time as well, each representing their own careers in medicine or law, human resources or computer programming, marketing, advertising.

Each of us went into separate classrooms, and I was met by my fellow panelists — an animator, an actor and a singer — along with the teacher who would moderate the panel, and perhaps a dozen or so students. I’d been thinking about what I could share, and about what I would have found helpful to hear when I was just such a student and so hopeful, excited and scared.

I watched the faces of the high-schoolers as they listened to the other panelists, and I found myself marveling at the courage these kids were showing just to sit in this room. To choose this room, and not the others. They’d answered a calling from deep inside themselves — however loud or soft — and done so at least enough to show up here on this day, in this room and give these possibilities a chance.

When my turn came, I said something different than what I’d planned.

I told the students that I’d bet each of them had experienced something specific right up to the moment they’d arrived in that room. And most likely, they’d continue to experience it the moment after they left. I said I’d bet they were already hearing the murmurs from countless voices about how pursuing art or music isn’t practical. It isn’t realistic. That maybe it isn’t even a worthy pursuit. Or possible.

I said, “Unfortunately, in one way or another the world is going to tell you every day that you shouldn’t try to be an artist. But for three minutes here today, I want to tell you that you should. I hope you do it. With everything you have.”

The students’ faces lit up with curiosity. I added, “I hope you don’t listen to those other voices. I hope instead you listen to your own. That voice from inside you that guided you here today. I hope you go for it, with abandon and furious joy, and that you do so without a Plan B.”

Immediately, the teacher stood up and said, “No, no no…that’s wrong. You should always have a Plan B. Don’t listen to him, that’s not right.” She walked towards me to cut me off from speaking, and I said, “You see? Even here, in the arts and music room on career day, you’re being discouraged from answering your calling. From fully and freely going for this as a career choice.” I looked at the teacher and asked her, “Do you think the kids in the ‘doctor room’ are being told to have a Plan B? Or the kids in the ‘lawyer room?’ Or the ‘marketing room?’ No, they aren’t. And by doing so here, you’re telling these kids that this is a profession less deserving of pursuit. Less deserving of hope. Or necessity. Or respect.”

Every profession has daunting risks. And yet I’ve never heard of anyone who’s been successful in any profession who went for it half way. We artists and musicians have the right to expect from our profession what others expect from their professions. That through hard work and determination, perspiration and inspiration, we’ll have the same fair shot to realize our dreams, answer our callings, support our families. With commitment and respect, for Plan A.

In music specifically, 2013 has been a year unlike any other in recent memory. It’s been a year that has seen musicians stand up and speak out on behalf of their profession like never before. And the results have been historic. Internet radio giant Pandora has announced it’s abandoning its pursuit of legislation that would lower artists’ royalties. Congress is now taking another look at copyright reform. Spotify has responded to broad criticism and made their operations more transparent. And perhaps most significant, music lovers are now standing with music makers to help push these issues forward.

For the first time in a long time, there’s a lot to be hopeful about if you’re a musician. There are tremendous fights ahead, against powerful forces, on many fronts. But we have something those forces don’t have. We have something worth fighting for.

A few weeks after that career day, one of the students who’d attended came to a concert of mine in New York City, accompanied by her mother. She found me after the show, and proudly handed me her newly-completed five-song CD. She said, “I wanted you to know that I’m going for it. I’m going to do it.” And smiling tearfully, her mother added, “Yes. We’re going to do it.”

I deeply admire and respect that young artist. And her mother, for standing with her.

My New Year’s resolution is to stand up more, and speak more.

I respect my profession. I respect artists.

I respect music.

Follow Blake Morgan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/theblakemorgan