Testimonial #26: Tanisha Christie, Owner/Producer/Director at Aya Arts and Media

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?

The arts saved my life. I was a latch-key kid, an only child growing up in the city. Participating in choirs and theater in after-school programs not only kept me busy, but also helped me excel in school. Knowing as a young student that my good grades, gave me access to special field trips with the choir was an added incentive.

In high school, my English teacher, Mrs. Loucks, was also the Speech/Debate and Theater teacher. It is through her guidance, that I learned the value of leadership ( I was President of both groups) and was able to hone my creative abilities. Without that experience, that teachers support, those high school programs that were supported by the Principal and the School Board – I WOULD NOT BE WHO AM I TODAY. Those creative experiences during the tumult of teenage maturation, ground me and gave me an outlet that is of value to this day.

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

In the community of Brooklyn artists are abundant; however, the role of arts within lower income public schools are quickly diminishing. Now that we’re fully ensconced in the digital age, we’ve allowed technology to replace the idea that culture access is a fundamental part of critical thinking and engaged learning. Occasionally, a group of artists will ignite a small program, like a pop-up exhibition of visual artists in the neighborhood, but these initiatives are becoming less and less. But when it does happen, you’ll see young and old, from all different backgrounds congregating and participating in whatever activities are offered. Rarely is any event meagerly attended.

Aya Arts and Media
Against the backdrop of historical moments of social change, Walk With Me follows three women who use theater to inspire, stir and animate our democracy. While at work in prisons, schools, and community centers, the film reveals that one person – one artist – can make a difference.