Leveraging Theatre for Social Good

Before it was fashionable to be an advocate or activist, my acquaintance Jessie Fahay invited me to join her very new theatre group. She had a vision to pair advocacy with theatrical productions, taking on socially relevant topics.

Jessica Jennings, Development Director of Ripple Effect Artists proudly talks about how they have stayed attuned to the most relevant issues pulling on the collective social conscience of all Americans:

That was in 2010. Seven years later, I could not be more proud of our endeavors and accomplishments at Ripple Effect Artists. Aside from the administrative feats, like becoming a 501(c)3 and earning grant funds, I mean that I am proud that we have stayed tuned to the most relevant issues pulling on the collective social conscience of all Americans. For example, we presented Tea & Sympathy, a play from the 50s about the bullying of homosexuals, and raised funds for the Trevor Project’s suicide prevention call center.

With each of our productions we both raise awareness with our audience, and make a financial donation toward an advocacy organization. We have worked with 11 different organizations on issues of heath care, suicide prevention, hospice, marriage equality, women’s rights, technology unemployment, sex trafficking, and now we will be looking at racism.

Our productions are paired with audience engagements such as talk-backs. While our dramas are wonderful for getting people curious about issues, real-world information and solutions from experts leave the audience empowered, informed, and pointed in a direction of taking action. Our audiences have reported taking these actions after our events: volunteering, signing petitions, conversing about these challenging issues in their own communities, and ending their participation in buying sex.

I am honored to have my work with Ripple Effect Artists as part of my artistic legacy. I like to say, in the spirit of Martha Graham, that there is no higher calling than to be fully used by our art.

Please get to know us better! We have a FREE event on May 11th, and a fundraiser on May 30th. Details and links are below.

Guarding the Bridge

May 11th @7pm

250 Park Ave., People’s United Bank.

FREE reading of Chuck Gorden’s GUARDING THE BRIDGE

Click here to RSVP

The Edge of Everyday

May 30th @ 8pm

Elektra Theatre, 300 W. 43rd St.

$45-$60 Tickets 

Rippleeffect.Jennings@gmail.com

 

Re-Defining the Teaching Artist: the Marriage of Pedagogy and Artistry

 

What does it mean to be a practicing artist?  

I started as a teaching artist in the spring of 2001.  I didn’t even know what a Teaching Artist really was. I was sometimes referred to as a Workshop Leader, a Visiting Artist, an Artist Educator or a Teaching Artist and I often wondered – what did all these things mean? Was it just semantics?

Are there really necessary skills to support the work that I do? Is it really a practice?

I was in grad school and still learning.

Often I have prospective graduate students come to the City College Educational Theatre program, not really knowing what a Teaching Artist is.  I speak to emerging practitioners in the field who have no idea how to develop a career, artists who did not seem to reach their desired level of success in their artistry and think that being a Teaching Artist will buy them some time until the big break. How hard could it be? My need for a definition emerged. Read more

Sobha Kavanakudiyil is Faculty in the Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at The City College of New as well as an Arts Education Consultant. She is currently on the Board of Directors for the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable and a Co-Chair for their Teaching Artist Affairs Committee.

 

 

The arts boost student learning,

The data is in: The arts boost student learning, particularly for English Language Learners

Posted by Marna Stalcup On September – 10 – 2014

 Arts instruction has long been used as a tool for reaching English Language Learners. In fact, the origins of the children’s theatre genre lie in the Settlement Houses of Chicago in the early Twentieth Century, where Jane Addams utilized theatre and poetry to help students learn English (this tradition can be seen today in the plethora of children’s books adapted for the stage.)

There is a wealth of information available today about the usefulness of the arts for reaching multiple learning styles but there are few studies that directly link arts integration with student test scores (particularly long-term, richly collaborative integration models). Read more…

National Arts Advocacy Day

National Arts Advocacy Day is on Tuesday, April 9. Americans for the Arts Action Fund is in the final stages of preparing to welcome more than 500 arts advocates to Capitol Hill. Now here’s where we need your help.

Even though you cannot attend in person, you can help your state arts advocacy delegation members who are coming to DC. We need you to write to your Members of Congress by this Friday, April 5th at noon. We are going to tally all of these letters so that your state arts advocacy captain can walk in each Congressional office and say, “Today is Arts Advocacy Day and I want to add my voice to the number of other constituents who have already e-mailed you about the importance of the arts and arts education in our state.”

Take two minutes to send a pre-written, customizable Arts Advocacy Day letter to your members of Congress.