Memorial Day 2016

 

Lin Manuel Art Advocacy

As we celebrate our bravest of soldiers who gave their ultimate sacrifice to protect our  freedom, I would like you to take some time to reflect on what it means to be An American.  Amid the bitterness and rancor of the 2016 Elections. . .

How haveThe Arts ( Dance, Theatre, Music, Photography, Graphic Arts) prompt a change in your life?

How did it change and/or alter your perspective about a viewpoint?

Share you story with First Online With Fran HERE

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Testimonial #44: Victoria Orvañanos Archer, Writer Televisa

 

“Every time my mother punished me, locked me in my room and hit me yet again, I would listen over and over again to ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ to ‘Music Of The Night’ and I would smile between tears. I just had to find the way to become that beautiful swan just like the Phantom did and turn all my pain into beauty. I was eight-years-old and fell in love with art.”

I am a writer in Televisa, I write telenovelas and tv series and right now I’m breaking into film and theatre. So my story begins when I was six years old…

I am the oldest of four children and the only girl. Music has always inspired me to create great stories and complex characters that can outshine during crisis for what makes a man is what he does when the storm comes. I had a rough childhood and music was always my shelter. One day, my parents came home from a trip to Toronto where they saw Andrew Lloyd Webber’s newest musical “The Phantom of The Opera” and brought me the soundtrack tape and vinyl disc as well as the Playbill of the time; it was 1987. When I first read the story I immediately identified with “The Phantom” a man suffering the cruelty of the world due to a mother’s rejection and was hiding underneath the Opera House where “the monster” grew up to become The Angel of Music. My heart stopped.  My soul was frozen as I was listening to the music and reading the lyrics. How can it be that so much grief could turn into something so magical and fascinating?! That’s when I decided I wanted to become a writer and tell stories that would ease aching hearts such as mine. So every time my mother punished me, locked me in my room and hit me yet again, I would listen over and over again to “The Phantom Of The Opera” to “Music Of The Night” and I would smile between tears. I just had to find the way to become that beautiful swan just like “The Phantom” did and turn all my pain into beauty. I was eight-years-old and fell in love with art.

Years went by and I was never picked for my school’s musicals or plays.  My mother was still in rage by my existence and by this time I was a teenager crying alongside my piano, which I learned quickly to play. I was sent to a boarding school in England for a year where I saw for the first time my beloved disfigured genius “The Phantom Of The Opera” in London!!!!! When I first saw the man behind the mask I found myself crying tears down to my neck as I understood he was but a vulnerable man crying for help, hiding behind a mask of strength, just like me. That was me on stage before the world to see, a wound opened hearted yearning for love exploiting in majestic music! I had to find my mask.  I had to find my strength. I had to find my angel and I did… The Beatles!

Lennon and McCartney’s words empowered me to dream big and aim for the greater goals. I got into UCLA and graduated and then I was offered a job in Televisa for writing the script of an entertainment news and interviews show for Telehit Channel called “Activon Tv”. I was doing great! Finally I was writing about music and art. Paul McCartney came to Mexico City and I got tickets on row number 5!!! It was the best day of my life, I shall never forget the entire stadium singing at the top of their lungs:  “Hey Jude, don’t be afraid, take a sad song and make it better, remember to let it into your heart then you can start to make it better. And any time you feel the pain, Hey Jude reframe, don’t carry the world upon your shoulder.”

And I thought to myself – I will make it through- And I did! When I incorporated the story of my life into a soap opera I was writing at the time, the ratings flew over the roof and I was receiving tweets from fans all over the world telling me how my story was changing their lives and now they were doing amazing things they never thought they could do. I was thriving with joy and suddenly all the grief I had gone through was unexpectedly worth it for it has made me who I am.

I wanted to push myself to the limit and I started writing a musical and created a non- profit organization where I teach orphan children to speak English through Beatles and Broadway songs to lead them to a world of new opportunities to build a prosperous future. These children are now dreaming of being someone great, of becoming a leader of achieving the unachievable! They laugh, they sing, they thirst for knowledge and they have become brothers. Thank God I went through that depression because these boys’ lives are changing with art and music! They want to be actors, singers, and football players and by God they will. I am teaching them to sing because we will form a children’s choir that will perform in schools and small theaters singing in English aiming for one dream: College. Every earnings will be funded to their college education. This is what it feels like to be alive!!!!!! And I would go through it all again a thousand times to find art in my way and do magic with it drawing smiles and planting dreams in lost little souls.

And now, in six months I am moving to New York City to bet on myself I can do it! I will take musical theatre writing and I will become the best writer there ever was. I will produce my musical in Mexico and I will continue to deliver happiness to children through art for as long as I live. Art has always brought up the best in me, has always led me to hope, to regain strength and fight till the end. Art has given me happiness I wish everybody out there could experience, it has given me peace and a higher understanding of life. It has made me the artist I am and the artist I will become. In my world, art has made me My Own Angel Of Music.

And that’s my story.

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

I have done exciting projects with my non- profit organization “Levantémos México” such as:

A photography exposition in The National Museum of Art titled “Black & White” 

I created an art photograph contests in several universities in Mexico: Ibero, Anáhuac and Tec de Monterrey, where students had to capture the different paths one can choose when crisis strikes: “BLACK” turning yourself into drugs, alcohol, prostitution, lust and hated with it’s consequences and “WHITE” Mediation, forgiveness, therapy, strength, faith and art with it’s results.

The project was sponsored by Domecq None profit organization, Kodak and Convivencia Sin Violencia.

KARAOKE NIGHTS FOR HAITI: I invited people to sing songs of praise and hope every Thursday for one month in a karaoke bar called REC. We gathered four thousand US dollars, which I gave to the Haiti Ambassador in Mexico City.

ORPHAN CHILDREN: We teach orphan children to speak English in order to ensure them a better future through the music of The Beatles and Broadway hit songs. These children now want to become actors and singers and are anxious to one travel to New York City and see all Broadway shows, but there are 2 in particular that became quickly very popular among them: “Les Misérables” and “The Phantom Of The Opera”. The children are now hoping, dreaming and finding their own voice and importance in life in a world that had closed the doors to them. Schools across Mexico City are helping sending their students to teach and sing with the children and an environment of joy and hope has been developed in the hearts of every one that take the lessons and teach them as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!