Testimonial #43: Julie Angelos, Staff Writer at Jbulie’s blog/an Online Journal

How are the arts re-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your local schools?

When I was just a kid, like second grade, my teacher assigned me the role of Sue the Eskimo. I had to rub noses with the male lead. I tell you, to this day, I’m shy. Even though every semblance you’d see of me points otherwise, I have to admit I was so honored to have been chosen for one of the two leads.  I was a handed a script with lines. I didn’t really know better but I figured it would be a good idea to memorize them. Then, came the day we had to say our lines in front of the class. I was shocked and let down that nobody else did the same; that is, learn their lines by heart.  They read their lines! I was bored to tears.  My teacher just about jumped out of her chair with happiness that someone cared enough to make her efforts live. I hadn’t thought twice about  it. It was one of those moments that you just live.

My mom was and is an art teacher. Remember the moment in class when the teacher asks everyone to hold up their drawings for the rest of the class to see? The first or second time is no big deal, but as I grew, I sometimes, and some of the other kids shrugged away from sharing their innermost.  The problem was that we made mistakes and didn’t always know how to correct them. Do you know what I’m talking about? That minute, where you just want to take your paper and throw it in the trash? Well, my mom had this way of telling me:   “Julie, you can always fix it.”  I didn’t quite get what she meant but she helped me to see the same painting in a new light, maybe by making other lines thicker or coming up with a new drawing that integrates the old one.

They say that everyone is creative. I agree. I think all of us have that light in us that wants to shine but it can sometimes be dimmed by circumstance; however, to answer your question above, Fran, how the arts are re-igniting my community, the answer is that I’ve taken my mom’s advice and applied it to my paintings — the never-give-up, it-can-be-fixed attitude. Lately, I painted three murals for our baseball team, on my own, I’d like to say, in the morning, early hours, on a Saturday, armed with a bike, paintbrush and fun music on my earphones. I just wrote the name of my city in Coca Cola styled logo and the word, baseball. Now we have over 60 players. We started with four. That’s my story. Thank you for putting the question out there. Love it.

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?

Indelibly touched by a teacher, breaking the mold.  My gut response is what I wrote above, the lesson about never giving up. But actually, if you have a second, I’d love to tell you about Mr. C. It’s really quick. Basically, I was just a simple student going to school in my sophomore year of high school, when Dr. C. called me into his office to ask me where I had planned on going to university.  It sounds so cliché or ridiculous, but I had never actually had to answer that question to anyone before.  He gave the packet of university applications with a map that later completely changed my course of life.

Thanks again, Fran! That was fun.

Creator Julie Angelos is proof positive a great idea can come to fruition if you believe in it. Julie developed jbule’s blog with $99 of her own money on a whim.

Friends and family were quick to come aboard. Today jbulie’s blog can boast a 40k visitor base growing steadily to 100,000 endorsed by scores of red carpet readers just like you.

Eager to pay it forward, Julie contributes to meaningful causes as well as happily helping friends and family. 

Ask me anything.

Testimonial #42: David Morehead, Executive Director, Calling From The Dream

“I did not have a teacher that influenced me to actually pursue the arts. My decision to do so was pretty much pre-determined genetically at an early age. Music, acting, and the arts were a major part of my life growing up. Unfortunately though, the school system I attended, though not devoid of support for the arts, the focus and dollars were geared toward athletic programs and most specifically football.”

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?

My life was indelibly touched by an art teacher as a sophomore in high school. His name is Robert K. Haselier and it is a rather long and amusing story of where we started almost 45 years ago to where we are today as friends. I believe we both started at the high school I attended the same time; he, as a teacher and I as a student. If he did not leave the year I did after graduating, then he left the following year. My first encounter with him was when I entered his classroom for a drawing class. We had an assignment that required the use of scissors of which I did not have. I approached his desk and asked the question,” Where are the scissors at ?” ….This opened a lecture of how one does not use “at” at the end a sentence or end it with any preposition, blah,blah,blah….. Me being a 15 year old kid with attitude, I suppose it is easy to imagine my restrained thought of commenting “Kiss my …” followed with several choice expletives ending with my desire for him to return his to New Jersey. Fortunately, I did not. I had him for several classes the next 3 years all focusing on the arts, be it fine arts, foreign languages, humanities, etc. Eventually, we grew a tolerance [for each other] which developed into an acceptance, and avoided any confrontational situations. Towards the end of my senior year, he overheard a conversation I was having with a classmate about a stage production of “Tommy” that I had seen the night before. Long story short, he told me that he could allow extra credit points with a ticket stub and a written review if I wanted to submit. I found out that would have also been permitted for any class that I had taken from him e.g. a trip to an art museum for an art class, a concert for music appreciation, etc. With my backyard and stomping grounds being Sarasota , St. Petersburg, Tampa to Orlando and Daytona Beach and my love for the performing arts, had I known….I would have skipped classes a lot more than I did and actually came out ahead rather than being penalized. After I graduated from high school, we crossed paths a couple years later when he and his band mates came into a night club I was working, which featured live rock bands. We reconnected and saw each other frequently the next few years until I finally moved to the west coast. We did not see each other for a number of years. We did however touch base every few years, and then with the advent of Facebook and other social media avenues, are up to par again. Though we may not communicate daily, I do feel confident that he also feels that mutually reaching out to each other would bring a welcoming reception.
How are the arts re-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your local schools?

I am sure this is not quite the response you were anticipating as I did not have a teacher that influenced me to actually pursue the arts. My decision to do so was pretty much pre-determined genetically at an early age. Music, acting, and the arts were a major part of my life growing up. Unfortunately though, the school system I attended, though not devoid of support for the arts, the focus and dollars were geared toward athletic programs and most specifically football. One does not miss what is not available and besides this was something to have fun with, but not to be a chosen profession desired by my parents for me. When I was 16, I attended a Moody Blues concert with a friend and made the prophetic announcement that this was what I wanted to do with my life. Four years later, I was in a nightclub conversing with a keyboardist while he was on break and discovered that he, too, had a similar epiphany. Before he went back on stage, we had a laugh and decided we knew what we wanted; now, we had to just figure out how to make money doing so. Here I am today still trying to find the answer. If and when I do, my legacy will be to create a scholarship for students pursuing a career in performing arts. If it’s really successful, I will build a K-12 performing arts academy inclusive of a medium size theatre for the students’ performances. Hopefully, when she does appear at the end of my life, the fat lady who sings, will be a graduate of the academy and a recipient of a scholarship!

Testimonial #41: Joseph Crawford, Creative Producer/Artist

“The reality of the Arts as an industry is that you will be made to work hard, adapt to foreign situations, work for free (for a bit), and take your fair share of rejections… but it’s worth every minute when you see YOUR idea turn into a reality. “

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?

Mark, my English Literature teacher at Birkenhead Sixth Form College, taught me more than just an appreciation of history’s greatest written works – he also taught me that creativity is a choice, and it needs tending to if it is to blossom. Mark was a spell-binding individual; pony-tailed, long-bearded, and walked with the aid of his tree-branch staff (taken from the tree Wordsworth liked to sit under) – the definition of a romanticist. He would finish lessons 30 minutes before their time, and invite us to spend the rest of the time writing poetry. It was my own choice, and pleasure, to stay behind constructing sonnets while most of the classroom left. Through Mark’s lessons, I realized that I was not going to follow the same path as the majority. Nowadays I am surrounded by inspirational figures; Charlotte Corrie/Christina Grogan – Open Culture, Chris/Kaya Carney – Threshold, Alex McCorkindale, Director of Flux Liverpool (to name just a few) – Liverpool’s cultural icons who invest their time and energy into making the Arts a sustainable industry, and to inspire the next generation of Creatives. If I have a creative idea, I know where to begin in order to set the wheels in motion – never forgetting the realities, the costs, and the rewards of this harmonious community. Without mentors, young people in the arts will simply make the same mistakes as their predecessors, and in an increasingly difficult economic environment, we need all the help we can get. Cultural education starts in the Arts, and leads to bigger things than you can imagine.

How are the arts re-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your local schools?

 Since recognizing that the Arts is a nurturing community, I have encountered a body of wonderful people, discovered mind-blowing talent, and found true purpose. At the start of my third year of university after wading miserably through another “student-night” in a cesspool of night-clubs, I cried out ‘There has to be more than this!’ Two terms later I dusted off my guitar and began practicing again, eventually performing in the SU bar. By the end the following year, Lancaster had shown me a whole family of musicians, artists, actors, (and bar-staff) who genuinely cared about each other, and who helped me forge the tools for a career in the arts. Thanks to their tuition and support, I now perform across Merseyside – expressing my irrepressible creativity, and even getting paid for it. Now in Liverpool, I’ve found the same formula applies – a new family of supportive people who simply love to create. And it’s nowhere near as breezy, pie-in-the-sky as some people told me – it’s a commercially viable industry: the difference is that you are never left to fend for yourself! I have since learned the value of communications, marketing & PR, recognizing what a real team looks like, relationship-building, and so many more transferable skills! Like any industry though, there still exist odd barriers. Young people in the arts tend to be viewed as expendable commodities – an ornament used only for image, and rubber stamping ‘young’ ideas. Again, it all depends on who you’re working with; but the reality of the Arts as an industry is that you will be made to work hard, adapt to foreign situations, work for free (for a bit), and take your fair share of rejections… but it’s worth every minute when you see YOUR idea turn into a reality. Keep the Arts in schools – the future of the next generation of Creatives depends on it!

Testimonial #40: Jennifer Lavern, CEO of AURAA UNLIMITED

“These women, I give voice to, because their voice is my voice.  Their voice is our voice. They have broken traditions, fought to express themselves and because they’re fierce like that, they “don’t look like what they’ve been through.”

 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?

As a little girl growing up on a small island in the Caribbean, I, at once, hewed to and despised some of the more stringent traditions. At the time, the word sexist was not in vogue but somewhere deep within me I knew that my soul was being robbed of its fullest expression.

Being the eldest sibling my role as a leader was secure but the inner me rebelled at the very thought of gender submission.  It is not that I was personally subjugated. I attended an all-girl high school which was presided over by a formidable head mistress. Many of my teachers were women and the few people that I elevated to role model status were female.  Yet, there was a restlessness within, an unspoken but unrelenting whisper which kept beckoning me to seek grander pursuits.

Limited by geography as well as opportunity, I chose to explore a world unknown through reading. I read whatever I could get my hands on. Through the pages of the mystery books, sans illustrations, I could be whoever I chose to be. I could travel to any continent in the world and I could control my destiny just as the authors of my favorite tomes did.  As I got older and became familiar with different genres, I would engage the author in a battle of wits, racing ahead with a self-styled version of the conclusion, one that I conjured to suit my fancy. Often, we would wind up on the same page, author, protagonist and audience; audience of one.

The more I read, the more I came to understand the power of the pen. The power of the pen soon gave way to the power of the written word. The written word became my escape from the confines of the edited spoken word.

My mind could freely wander away from the dictates of the patriarchal systems of education, religion and culture. I could easily segue from adventurer to jet setter, from hall monitor to strip teaser all the while maintaining the demeanor that won me an award for comportment. I could create roles for myself that would shock the establishment but would fill my fanciful world with excitement. Through my early writings my teachers came to know the person behind the pressed school uniform, the passion beneath the pirate hat, but only as much as I allowed. Hints of my quiet rebellion would emerge but could be discerned by only the most careful observer.

Years later, a college professor, Dr. Shine, broke the code as she discovered that my opinion pieces were particularly pithy, betraying a more than casual observer. She encouraged me to enroll in an advanced English class which tackled themes that questioned the very core of my belief systems. There I learned to wrestle with the status quo. It was in that class that I came to appreciate the plight of “Everyman,” the constant struggle of our higher consciousness to subdue our lower nature. It was the thinking developed in that setting which taught me that the gender war is timeless, universal and that without great sacrifice there could never be great victory.  It was there I discovered that the most brilliant diamond needs undergo tremendous pressure to release its shine.  Then, it was all theory. Now, it is a living truth.

I have watched individuals face insurmountable odds and eventually triumph at the very brink of defeat. I have seen women fearlessly brave crushing challenges and cave at the onset of moderate pressure only to rise again at the edge of their mortal strength.  These women, have become for me, icons of virtue by virtue of their resilience. These women, have become the women I admire and whose cause I am honored to champion. These are the women who inspire me and whose stories I am now chronicling in my upcoming book titled, “A Quote She Wrote.”

These women, I give voice to, because their voice is my voice.  Their voice is our voice. They have broken traditions, fought to express themselves and because they’re fierce like that, they “don’t look like what they’ve been through.”

For consideration to contribute to the book, “A Quote She Wrote,” please visit www.AQuoteSheWrote.com

 

Testimonial #39: David McGinnis, Theatre Professor

I would never have finished high school without it. Period. I have no idea what I would be doing without theatre.”

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?

To be blunt, I only finished high school because of arts, and I definitely only pursued postsecondary and further education because arts were an option. Focusing on high school, though, I was not what you might call the “well-behaved” student…or even the usually present one. I attended when I felt like it and did what work I felt like until I discovered the interconnectedness of the arts with other disciplines. I then studied physics in high school because I wanted to learn how to build better set pieces and operate/repair lighting equipment. I buckled down and focused on my writing and literary studies because I kept stumbling upon references in the theatre and I wanted to understand them more fully. I worked harder on math because of its usefulness in the shop. I even began to care more about PE because I needed to stay fit in order to keep performing some of the work that the theatre required. I found myself more interested in my economics and civics studies because of the prevalence of such thought in theatrical literature, and beginning my 11th grade year, I even began to opt into courses like psychology for no more reason than the curiosity that I developed because of arts, theatre in particular. I would never have finished high school without it. Period. I have no idea what I would be doing without theatre, but because of what I gained from it, I am now a theatre professor, and I find that what I received is not at all an uncommon gift. Education without arts quite literally is education without passion, and education without passion prepares the learned arm for bondage.