Author: Kimberly Olsen

The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Elects Seven New Board Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                       

June 23, 2021

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable is pleased to announce the election of seven new members to the Board of Directors: Asari Beale, Leena Bhutta, Keith Kaminski, Meredith Kirchheimer, Sara Morgulis, Purple S. Norris, and Alexander Santiago-Jirau.

“The Roundtable is delighted to welcome an amazing slate of new directors to our board,” says Board Co-Chair Sobha Kavanakudiyil. “I look forward to continuing the work of the Roundtable with our Board and new Executive Committee.”

The Roundtable has appointed Gary Padmore as Board Co-Chair, Traci Lester as Vice Chair, and KeriAnne Murphy as Treasurer effective July 1, 2021. Former Board Co-Chair Jennifer DiBella will transition into the role of Emeritus after an incredible three years of leadership in partnership with Co-Chair Sobha Kavanakuidyil.

“As the Roundtable enters its 30th year of service to NYC’s arts in education community, I look forward to partnering with these incredible leaders in deepening our impact and driving our mission forward,” says Kimberly Olsen, Executive Director of the Roundtable. “We are excited to channel Asari, Alex, Keith, Leena, Meredith, Purple, and Sara’s expertise and energy into the collective work to improve and advance arts education across the five boroughs.”

With gratitude and admiration, the Roundtable also announces the departure of David Shookhoff (founding Board Member), Piper Anderson, and Bryan Powell who will each have completed their Board term limits as of June 30, 2021. We thank them for the critical role in the development and success of the organization. Their inspirational leadership and dedicated service have forever changed the organization.

Please click here for a complete list of the Roundtable’s Board of Directors.

Meet Our New Board Members

Asari Beale
is an Afro-Latina writer, educator, and leader deeply committed to children’s literacy. She is the Executive Director of Teachers and Writers Collaborative, one of the nation’s oldest writers-in-the-schools programs, and a steering committee member of LitNet, a network serving America’s literary community. She has taught literature and creative writing at Hunter College, Brooklyn College, and Fordham University. Prior to joining Teachers & Writers, she worked with LSA Family Health Service and Reach Out and Read of Greater New York, both organizations which center early childhood literacy. She holds a BA from New York University and an MFA from Brooklyn College, and lives with her family in Harlem, New York City.


Leena Bhutta is the Deputy Chief Investment Officer for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation where she oversees the foundation’s portfolio across the various asset classes it is invested in. Doris Duke Charitable Foundation gives grants in the areas of the Environments, the Arts, Medical Research and Child Well Being. Before joining DDCF in 2019, Leena served as Director of Alternative Investments at the Hollyhock Foundation. Prior to that role, Leena was an investment professional at Joho Capital, an Asia-focused hedge fund. She started her career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. Leena earned her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and her BA in Economics from Wellesley College. Leena grew up in Lahore, Pakistan and she lives in Westchester County with her husband, three kids and a cat!


Keith Kaminski is a queer, Brooklyn-based nonprofit professional with sixteen years of experience in community-focused arts, education, and equity work. He currently serves as BRIC’s director of education, overseeing youth and family programs in partnership with over forty Brooklyn public schools. He holds a BFA in art education from Syracuse University and is pursuing an MPA with a concentration in nonprofit administration at CUNY Baruch College in the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. In his spare time, Kaminski is also a multimedia artist, DJ, and podcaster.


Meredith Kirchheimer currently serves as Global Marketing Manager for Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consulting firm developing solutions to transform companies, industries, and society. She helps drive the growth and development of BCG’s content programming and marketing capabilities. Meredith joined BCG in 2016 and is currently based in New York. Prior to BCG, she supported Business Development for Cambridge Associates, a global investment consulting firm. Meredith received an MPA, concentrating in Social Impact, from American University and a BA in History and Political Science from Villanova University.


Sara Morgulis is an educator, theatremaker, and consultant. She is the Director of Education at New York City Children’s Theater, where she leads with her personal mission of engaging New York City students through accessible and inclusive theatre practices. She is an Adjunct Faculty Member for the M.F.A Performing Arts Management Program at Brooklyn College, and the M.A. Applied Theatre program at CUNY, where she graduated from in 2013. Her Master’s thesis research about training young people to be peer facilitators was published in RIDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. In 2015, Sara received the TYA/USA Ann Shaw Fellowship Award, which funded a trip to London to visit Oily Cart Theatre and learn about their play development process. Sara used that research to co-create FIVE, a multi-sensory touring musical designed for students with disabilities, which has now toured to over 10,000 students in schools across NYC. Sara also serves as Director of Programs at Actionplay, where she curates self-advocacy focused theatre, film and music programming for and with Disabled artists. Sara has served on panels and presented workshops on accessible arts education at many conferences, including the American Alliance for Theatre and Education Conference and the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability Conference. She acts as an Accessibility and Disability Inclusion Consultant for nonprofits nationwide.


Sheikia S. Norris, lyrically known as Purple was born in The Bronx. Currently residing in Newark, NJ & is in the Graduate program at Goddard College. Purple’s performance or classroom experience is dynamic & unforgettable! This independent international Emcee rocks with funk & soul, naturally connect with ease using a voice that inspires audience movement.  Enthusiasts appreciated her energy, her impeccable flow, and a clever deliverance of truth. Haze has mastered her own rich style of spitting lyrics with both power and substance. She is recognized as a skilled performer, presenter & leader in Hip Hop Educator. Acknowledgments from participating as a “Lady’s First Fund” grant recipient, NJPAC’s Hip Hop Art & Culture Program Director, Next Level Program U.S. Cultural Diplomat, Hip Hop Culture Center in Harlem, and as a presenter facilitating curator conversations for Hip Hop art, culture & performance. Purp is a diversified talent poised for success in a host of areas.


Alexander Santiago-Jirau (he/él) is Director of Education at New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW). In this role, he oversees all of NYTW’s education and engagement initiatives, including the Mind the Gap (MTG) intergenerational theatre program, student matinees, in-school teaching artist residencies, after-school programs, master classes, administrative fellowships, and community-based programs. Some of his favorite work at NYTW has included developing educational materials and curating programming for the world premiere of David Bowie’s and Enda Walsh’s Lazarus directed by Ivo van Hove, the world premiere of Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin, a production of Othello directed by Sam Gold featuring Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo, Heidi Shreck’s What the Constitution Means to Me, and Jeremy O. Harris’s Slave Play. Recent work has included facilitation of MTG devising intensive workshops in London, Chile, and North Carolina, and the creation of NYTW’s Youth Artistic Instigators program.

A Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) practitioner who studied and worked with Augusto Boal, Alex has facilitated many workshops throughout his career, particularly with youth, educators and immigrant communities. He is Past-President of the Board of Directors of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc., a national organization devoted to the work of liberatory educators, activists, artists, and community organizers.

Alex has presented his work at numerous conferences and his writing has appeared in American Theatre, The IndypendentTYA TodayThe Cross Border Project Blog (Spain), the anthology “Come Closer”: Critical Perspectives on Theatre of the Oppressed, The Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed and Applied Theatre with Youth: Education, Engagement, Activism. He has taught Latin American and Latinx Theatre at Drew University and also teaches TO for the Department of Drama at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

He holds a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and an M.A. in Educational Theatre from NYU Steinhardt.



About the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable improves, advances, and advocates for arts education in New York City. We are a community of organizations and individuals that shares information, provides professional development, and communicates with the public to promote our work in schools and beyond. Founded in 1992, the Roundtable produces a major annual conference, Face to Face; monthly professional development programs; a destination website; and other activities, in addition to ongoing advocacy and communications efforts for over 1,000 individuals and member organizations.

For more information please visit:

Walking with Maxine: Noticing and reflecting on a year of change

by Christopher Gross


“…treating the world as predefined and given, as simply there, is quite separate and different from applying an initiating, constructing mind or consciousness to the world.”—Maxine Greene


One of the silver linings of the past year has been getting to spend more time with my three-year-old daughter. It’s not always easy, but I love that I’ve been able to see her so closely at this stage in her life, to notice who she is becoming, and to appreciate the spirit of the three-year-old mind. 

We love to read together and the Pete the Cat series is a favorite. She loves one story in particular, called Construction Destruction. It goes like this:

Pete the Cat goes outside for recess and discovers a dilapidated playground. He makes plans to build a new playground, and his friends help. They begin to build. Halfway through they decide to make an even cooler playground. The best playground ever. They get to work. The new playground is amazing and everyone is excited!

Until it collapses and falls.

Everyone is disappointed…..but not Pete! They build a different playground, and this one is full of surprises and new places to explore. Everyone is thrilled. The new playground is the best playground ever. “Sometimes you’ve got to dare to dream big!” says Pete.

My daughter loves this story. She also loves building, tearing down, and building up again. Each new structure is the best ever. But it’s never the last ever. Once it’s up it must come down, and the ensuing tumult is joyful, wild, gleeful. With limbs like Godzilla, bricks careen, playdough smooshes, paper shreds. No metal plaques or marble statues remain here. We’re on to the next plan, and we’ve got to “dare to dream big.” (as Pete would say)



“We also have our social imagination: the capacity to invent visions of what should be and what might be in our deficient society, on the streets where we live, in our schools… That is, we acknowledge the harshness of situations only when we have in mind another state of affairs in which things would be better… And it may be only then that we are moved to choose to repair or to renew.” —Maxine Greene 

I frequently walk through Inwood Park, a thumbnail of land at the northern tip of Manhattan. You hear the traffic but see no people, see no buildings. It feels untouched by the city. Spend enough time here and you’ll find ruins. Abandoned lamp posts from WPA projects line the crumbling pathways. You’ll also find foundations of buildings, shards of pottery, old plumbing, wrought iron fences and stone walls that once belonged to houses and estates—the remnants of a community. There had been small family houses and country estates, a pottery studio, and a large complex that served as an ‘asylum for troubled women’ (a dubious term from the 19th century). And of course, before these buildings stood, the surrounding forest had been home to the Lenape people, land stolen by European colonists.

I often wonder: did the people who lived here ever imagine this space would return to the forest? These walks are a reminder to me that we’re always in flux, an ebb and flow of building up and tearing down. Our cultures and communities are not permanent. I find this fact both terrifying and inspiring—we can only thrive through growth and change. Like Pete the Cat we have to embrace that some things will collapse, but that we can rebuild and make something even better. What we care for may flourish; what we abandon may disappear. Evolution and change, even great change, is not only possible, but inevitable.

Reading Maxine Greene, I am reminded of the ways in which noticing is itself a catalyst for change. From an artistic perspective, we notice what is there—in a painting, in a piece of music, in a poem—and we reflect within ourselves to uncover a deeper truth. The same can be true for how we notice the world. When we engage with the world from an artistic stance we find meaning through careful observation and deep reflection. The past year has compelled me to notice more clearly what is there in the world. To notice more of my own blindspots, to understand my own privileges and prejudices, and to understand more of the hierarchies and systems I participate in and benefit from. As I notice, I evolve. I construct and rebuild, repair and renew.


“We well know that defining this society in terms of the American Dream or in the light of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means nothing if the people in this society do not feel called upon to act upon such ideals and so realize them…..   Of course, questions may be raised about the principles we choose to identify as those defining a democratic space. Are they objective? Are they universal? All we can do is articulate as clearly as possible what we believe and what we share….”—Maxine Greene

When I think of the past that surrounds us, I reflect on what our world will look like to the people walking our streets in 50, or 100 years—when my daughter will be old. What in our society will seem primitive? What will seem wise? Which structures will evolve, and which will fade away?

I would have assumed that Greene, a philosopher, would be more reassuring, more confident, in telling me that “yes, there is objective truth, there are universal values and here they are.” Instead her philosophy is more activist, in the sense of compelling one to action. If we must continually create ourselves and the world, then we must “articulate as clearly as possible what we believe.” As we ourselves become the ancestors of the succeeding generations, we engage in this articulation each day, and sometimes in the smallest ways, the briefest interactions: How do I engage with my family? My neighbor? My students? My community?



“Like community itself, democracy has to always be in the making”—Maxine Greene

March 13. 

It’s a date I always remember. For one, it’s my wife’s birthday. And sometimes it falls on a Friday. But now it marks something else: the day the music, and our world, stopped.

In a way, I was relieved. The 2020 season had been thrilling, full of concerts, teaching, projects out of town, my daughter’s first year of preschool. But I was exhausted ten weeks into the year, and an unexpected pause seemed like it could be a good thing. I’ll get some rest and in a month we’ll be back. Naivety and ignorance were in full effect.

Over a year later, and my pandemic exhaustion intermingles with exuberation. Exuberation for all that has returned and is newly-appreciated: Hugs with friends! Going to a cafe! The wind on one’s face! But exhaustion too because we have all lived through a period of loss and destruction, a stripping away of the normal. Now there’s the pleasure of return, but with the knowledge that much is left undone. 

In spite of these question marks and uncertainty, I am hopeful—in no small part because of the incredible and inspiring work I’ve seen teaching artist friends and colleagues create throughout this past year. There is always the opportunity to create something better, to reconstruct. The pandemic, the fight for racial justice, the election—the past year has been unique in the way it has touched everyone in our world in a visceral and personal way. It makes one notice.  

As teaching artists, we have a unique role in that noticing, helping our students to create themselves and our society. As we work, as we help people reflect and make meaning, we continue to question: 

How do we notice what is present in our society, and how do I reflect on my own place in that society? 

How do we form communities with each other, in our neighborhoods and in our country? 

How do we want to rebuild and renew?


Da Capo Chamber Players

Cellist Christopher Gross’ performances have been praised by The New York Times (“beautifully meshed readings….lustrous tone”) and The Strad Magazine (“…the tone of Gross’ cello enveloped the crowd [as he] showed energy and intonational accuracy, even when racing around the fingerboard”). He is a founding member of the Talea Ensemble, a member of the Da Capo Chamber Players, and has appeared at venues and festivals throughout the US and Europe including Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Disney Hall, Darmstadt Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, Wien Modern, the Composers Conference and many others. He has appeared on recordings on various labels, including Bridge, New Focus, Tzadik, and New World. As an orchestral musician, he has played with the New York Philharmonic and the Riverside Symphony. An active educator, he is a Teaching Artist with the New York Philharmonic, working with students across the five boroughs of New York City, and in workshops with audiences and educators. He has written about his experiences as a teacher for the Suzuki Association of America, Playbill, and the Juilliard Journal, and has given classes and lectures at Harvard University, Peabody Conservatory, Sydney Conservatory, Cleveland Cello Society, Brooklyn College, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and the Face to Face Conference. He is the creator of Cello Solos Today (, which commissions new works for young cellists and creates online educational resources about contemporary music. He received his doctoral degree from Juilliard in New York and teaches at Lehigh University, where he was the university’s Horger Artist-in-Residence in 2016-17.

New York City Arts in Education Roundtable Surveys New York City Mayoral Candidates on Arts in Schools

White text reads, "Mayoral Candidate Responses to the Arts in Education Survey". This is against a purple background with the outline of the NYC skyline and a bright orange sun in the righthand corner.


CONTACT: Kimberly Olsen,

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable (NYCAIER), which represents organizations and educators from within the arts and culture community in the New York City area, is pleased to announce the results of its recent survey of 2021 New York City Mayoral Candidates on arts, education, and culture in New York City.  

The candidates were surveyed on topics including their personal experiences relating to the arts, the policies and legislation regarding arts education that they have previously supported and their views on whether the arts are essential to NYC public school education, as well as their perspectives on funding, state learning requirements, certified arts teachers, cultural partnerships and culturally responsive-sustaining pedagogy as they pertain to the arts. 

The results of this survey show that, while there is general support for more robust arts education in NYCschools among all of the candidates, there is still a need for more specific and concrete plans as to how to expand arts education as the city rebuilds.

All responding candidates identified arts as an essential part of a well-rounded education, often noting its impact on students’ social-emotional health, well-being, understanding of different cultures, and cognitive development. Arts learning was also often tied with the vibrancy and recovery of NYC’s arts and cultural community, with several candidates noting the importance of connecting schools with local community-based artists and organizations. Additional highlights include 7 of the 11 candidates voicing support for the restoration of dedicated funding for arts education in all city schools as well as multiple plans for the equitable distribution of resources within the arts and culture sector. 

To read each candidate’s full survey responses, please click here.

”As New York City begins to rebuild and envision a post-pandemic era, we understand that universal, equitable access to arts education for all students is an essential part of our city’s recovery process and want to see a focus on that from our new mayor,” said Kimberly Olsen, Executive Director of NYCAIER. “While this past year has been difficult for all New Yorkers, we hope our future mayor seizes this opportunity to reimagine education have a stronger focus on what makes New York the greatest city in the world: our rich cultural diversity and expansive arts opportunities.”


The survey was conducted in connection with NYCAIER’s Arts are Essential Campaign with the goal of providing  universal access to quality, sequential arts learning opportunities (dance, music, media, theater, and visual arts) for all NYC students supported by dedicated, adequate, and equitable funding. It further advocates that arts education must align with state standards and include a combination of in-school certified arts teachers and partnerships with NYC’s arts and cultural organizations. 

About the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable improves, advances, and advocates for arts education in New York City. We are a community of organizations and individuals that shares information, provides professional development, and communicates with the public to promote our work in schools and beyond. Founded in 1992, the Roundtable produces a major annual conference, Face to Face; monthly professional development programs; a destination website; and other activities, in addition to ongoing advocacy and communications efforts for over 1,000 individuals and member organizations.

For more information please visit:


With Major Support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Second Cycle of NYCAIER’s Arts Educator Emergency Relief Fund Provides Unrestricted Grants to 340 Arts Education Professionals Impacted by COVID-19


CONTACT: Kimberly Olsen,

NEW YORK, NY — The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable recently awarded 340 arts education professionals financially hard-hit by Covid-19 with one-time, unrestricted grants of $1,000 from the Arts Educator Emergency Relief Fund. This second cycle of relief funding was made possible with public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and additional support from The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation

“Teaching Artists are highly specialized workers, often working at the heart of schools and communities throughout the five boroughs”, says Kimberly Olsen, Executive Director of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable. “We believe it is imperative that NYC continue to prioritize and invest in Teaching Artists who are still facing disproportionate financial impact due to the pandemic. We are so grateful for the support of the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation to provide emergency relief to arts & cultural workers at this critical time.”

Major funding for this round of relief funding comes from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, which conducted a survey in spring 2020 of the impact of COVID-19 on the city’s cultural community and found that arts educators were particularly hard hit by the pandemic. As a result, the DCLA partnered with NYCAIER to invest in another round of relief grants as part of its broader efforts to support the cultural sector amid the unprecedented damage caused by the pandemic

“Arts educators are essential for a healthy cultural community that connects with youth and people of all ages,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals. “As cultural workers, they were also particularly vulnerable to the pandemic, as we saw them laid off and furloughed at incredibly high rates. We were proud to build on the work of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable by investing in this relief fund, which has provided support to hundreds of arts educators across the city, showing them we value their work and helping them to face this unprecedented challenge.”  

The application for the Relief Fund included a survey to help NYCAIER and other stakeholders better understand the impact of the pandemic on the city’s arts educators. The numbers reported by grantees  is staggering.  96.2% of grantees reported that their income was under $30,000 in 2020; 82.6% were furloughed or laid-off; and more than half of grantees reported losing 71% or more of their income. Of those awarded emergency relief funding, 78.2% identified as a teaching artist and 19.7% identified as both a teaching artist and arts administrator. More than 70% of grantees identified as BIPOC with $102,000 going to Black practitioners as part of NYCAIER’s ongoing efforts to dismantle systems of white supremacy in NYC schools, organizations, and communities.

Originally launched with the generous support of the New York Community Trust, the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in the New York Community Trust, and the Booth Ferris Foundation, both cycles received a combined 1,466 individual applications. 786 arts educators applied for the first cycle in June 2020 and 680 applied for the second cycle in April 2021. 

Grantees have shared how the Arts Educator Emergency Relief Fund has allowed for them to secure some of their basic necessities of life, from paying their rent to putting food on the table for their families. “The award comes at a time when the loss of work in education, with New York City’s bright and inspiring schoolchildren, couldn’t be felt more – both financially and psychologically,” says teaching artist Misha McGlown. “I am grateful to live and work in a city where my work as an Arts Educator is valued, enhanced, and supported by an organization such as the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable.” 

Teaching Artist Toni Blackman is one of too many performers whose ability to earn a living has been devastated by Covid-19. “The NYC Arts in Education grant comes at a crucial time. Normally, I’d be touring — performing and teaching but the pandemic grounded so much of the work. As a longtime teaching artist I do not take it for granted. It’s incredible to witness how many teaching artists are being impacted by this grant.”

Research and practice shows that an arts-rich education from pre-K through 12th grade can lead to increased academic and social-emotional skill development as well as higher attendance and graduation rates. Arts education provides critical opportunities to actively engage students needing specialized curriculumspecifically students with disabilities and multilingual learners who have lost instructional time and access to mandated services. 

The impact of arts in our schools is also articulated in the 2021 NYSED Summer School Handbook, which encourages districts and schools to design programs with an emphasis on the arts in both enrichment and instructional programming. Specific guidance for the 2021-2022 school year is still pending.

“As this cultural workforce struggles with job security in an already under-resourced ecosystem, we need to support these practitioners’ survival in our city,” says Olsen. “Ultimately, championing arts educators in the recovery process means a commitment to advancing equity in our classrooms, investing in arts workers, strengthening community partnerships, and supporting the social emotional wellbeing of our students.”


About the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable improves, advances, and advocates for arts education in New York City. NYCAIER is a community of cultural organizations and educators that shares resources, provides professional development, and advocates for the needs of our constituents and the communities they serve. Founded in 1992, NYCAIER builds our efforts around the value that arts education is a right for all NYC students. NYCAIER produces a major annual arts in education conference, Face to Face; monthly professional development programs; in addition to ongoing advocacy and communications efforts for cultural organizations and teaching artists in every discipline. For more information please visit:




NYC DOE Summer Rising – Murals & Pop-up Performance Grants

Office of Arts & Special Projects

CONTACT: Audrey Cox,


Dear Arts Partner,

The Office of Arts and Special Projects is pleased to announce summer 2021 Murals & Pop-up Performance Grants, sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs and the City Cultural Aid. These grants will provide $25,000 School Allocation Memorandum (SAM) funding to grantee Summer Rising sites to build partnerships that culminate in a co-created mural or a co-created pop-up performance at the end of summer 2021. Program goals include investment in school facilities and communities through talented NYC teaching artists while developing, implementing, and promoting best practices in arts education.

This application is only available to school sites participating in 2021 Summer Rising. School leaders are only allowed to submit the Murals & Pop-up Performance Grant application. Applications are due by Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

As New York City begins to recover and rebuild, we know the Murals and Pop-up Performance Grant will play a pivotal role in realizing this artistic renaissance. The Murals and Pop-up Performance Grant will create opportunities for teaching artists and school communities to redefine celebrating the arts in New York City Schools.

It is important to reiterate that schools are the grantees, so please follow-up directly with potential partnership schools. For more information regarding Summer Rising, please visit the Summer Rising webpage.

Please contact Audrey Cox at for inquiries.

Best wishes for a safe and creative summer!

In partnership, 

Audrey Cox

Director of Arts Partnerships

Office of Arts and Special Projects

New York City Department of Education

The Roundtable Announces “Empire State Creates: Teaching Artist-Led Activities for Everyone” Grant Opportunity funded by New York State Council on the Arts

Text in white against a royal blue background reads, "Empire State Creates: Teaching Artist-Led Activities for Everyone. $1500 Grants for the Creation of Asynchronous learning resources. Deadline to apply: May 21, 2021. Image also features the Roundtable and NYSCA logos.

CONTACT: Kimberly Olsen,

New York, NY – In partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts, the NYS Arts in Education Roundtable is proud to announce a new grant opportunity for teaching artists. “Empire State Creates: Teaching Artist-Led Activities for Everyone” is a pilot program seeking to support teaching artists and offer continued arts learning opportunities for New Yorkers of all ages through the development of asynchronous arts learning materials.

Empire State Creates will provide $1,500 grants to 15 independent New York State-based teaching artists to create 4-5 asynchronous arts learning resources for distribution in community settings including but not limited to students (3K – 12th grade), veterans, older adults (creative aging), people experiencing incarceration/Re-entry, people with disabilities, people from the LGBTQ+ Community, and multilingual learners. This project is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

“NYSCA is thrilled to partner with the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable to support both teaching artists and arts learners across New York. Teaching artists promote the power of arts to transform the mind and encourage lifelong learning,” said Mara Manus, NYSCA Executive Director. “This exciting opportunity will produce meaningful resources for asynchronous learning and aid teaching artists in their professional development after a tremendously challenging year.”

“We at the Roundtable believe Teaching artists are superheroes, with the unique power to facilitate arts experiences as both highly-specialized educators and artists,” says Kimberly Olsen, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Executive Director. “We are thrilled to partner with NYSCA on this pilot project in hopes that we may further spotlight New York’s talented teaching artists and the vital services they provide in schools and communities.” 

These asynchronous arts learning materials may be video-based (no longer than 15 minutes each) or non-video based activities that connect to New York State Arts Learning Standards. Priority in selection will be given to content that embodies or is aligned with culturally responsive-sustaining pedagogy and social-emotional learning. Teaching artists are encouraged to watch a recording of the Empire State Creates Information Session, which took place on Wednesday, April 28 at 5pm.

Click here for PDF version of this press release.

About the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable
The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable improves, advances, and advocates for arts education in New York City. NYCAIER is a community of cultural organizations and educators that shares resources, provides professional development, and advocates for the needs of our constituents and the communities they serve. Founded in 1992, NYCAIER builds our efforts around the value that arts education is a right for all NYC students. NYCAIER produces a major annual arts in education conference, Face to Face; monthly professional development programs;  in addition to ongoing advocacy and communications efforts for cultural organizations and teaching artists in every discipline. For more information please visit:

About the New York State Council on the Arts
The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) is dedicated to preserving and expanding the rich and diverse cultural resources that are and will become the heritage of New York’s citizens.

At NYSCA, our efforts are guided by our belief in the fundamental importance of arts and cultural expression in people’s lives and a commitment to serving our three constituencies: artists, arts and cultural organizations, and the public. We believe that:

Artists are at the center of creative endeavor. Therefore, we are committed to providing artists with opportunities for artistic development and the public presentation of their work.

Strong arts and cultural organizations are vital to connecting the arts to people’s lives. We are committed to assisting a wide range of arts and cultural organizations – small and large, new and established – to achieve their artistic, programmatic, educational, community, and organizational goals.

Every citizen of New York State can have a meaningful connection to creativity and every community has a right to cultural self-determination. The Council is also committed to making the arts accessible to all the citizens of New York State. We aim to support worthy artistic and cultural activities that serve traditionally underserved communities or populations. These are the economically disadvantaged, people with disabilities, rural populations, and those who may experience discrimination on the basis of age, gender, ethnicity, culture, or sexual orientation. We are committed to fostering public understanding and enjoyment of arts and culture through support of arts education, public participation, and lifelong learning programs in schools and community settings for children and adults.

For more information please visit:



Published April 13, 2021

Press Release from:



NEW YORK, NY 10007


NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter and Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Bill Chong today announced Summer Rising, the City’s free, summer plan for any child in grades K-12 who wants to participate. For the first time ever, the City will use the Community Schools strategy to integrate the New York City Department of Education’s (NYCDOE’s) academic supports and DYCD’s school-based enrichment programming to create a comprehensive summer program during the most critical summer for New York City students. Summer Rising will be student-centered, experiential, academically rigorous and culturally responsive and sustaining.        

Applications for in-person K-8 programs will open on Monday, April 26, and families can sign up through the discover DYCD website. Kindergarten and elementary school students will participate in a five-day a week program for seven weeks, providing critical childcare services for families as they return to the workplace. Students with 12-month IEPs will participate in a five-day a week program for six weeks. Middle school students will participate in a four-day a week program for six weeks, and high school students will participate in a five week program with tailored scheduling to meet their needs. In addition, high school students will have the opportunity to engage in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and participate in the Public Schools Athletic League. Schools will begin outreach to families of high school students in the coming weeks to confirm participation. Students attending for promotion purposes will be in the same program as students participating for enrichment.  

“Our kids have been through so much, and they need our support as we build a recovery for all of us,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This is a free program for all New York City students, combining academics and cultural enrichment for the best summer yet.”  

“This summer is pivotal for our school communities, and we have created a summer experience unlike anything we have ever done before to bring our students back stronger than ever. Summer Rising will be a holistic experience that combines the power of strong academic supports, social emotional learning and enrichment programming,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “Through this innovative partnership with DYCD and our trusted community partners, and thanks to our heroic principals, teachers and staff, we’ll be able to serve any New York City student who wants to attend in-person so they can receive the comprehensive supports they need during this critical time.”  

“Summer Rising is truly the best of both worlds: bringing together for the first time the strengths of DYCD-funded summer enrichment initiatives and DOE’s academic programs into a singular experience for young people, particularly those from communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. DYCD and our network of community providers are excited to join DOE in keeping classrooms open this summer for safe learning, childcare, connection, and fun,” said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong.    

Summer Rising will address immediate academic and social emotional needs of children and youth across the City. Planned and operated collaboratively by school principals and trusted community-based organizations (CBOs), programs for students in grades K-8 will be available citywide including tailored support for those who need academic support and students with disabilities. These programs will provide a bridge to next school year and allow students to re-connect with one another and with their schools, to ensure continued learning, and provide avenues for recreation, exploration, and fun. High school students will have access to academic and social emotional supports designed locally to meet the unique needs of older students.    

Summer locations will be available in every borough, with nearly half of all DOE school buildings serving students citywide. All programs will follow rigorous health and safety protocols and have access to testing, nursing support and a telehealth call center. In addition, Situation Room policies and protocols will be followed.    

All K-8 students participating in programs will have access to academic classes, enrichment programming including field trips, arts activities and outdoor recreation, and will engage in daily social emotional learning activities.      

All programs will be free, in-person, and run in four time frames:    

·       Students in grades K-5 will participate in summer programming from July 6 to August 20. Students will engage five days a week, receiving academic support, engaging in social emotional learning activities, and participating in enrichment programming.     

·       Students with 12-month IEP services will participate in summer programming from July 2 to August 13, five days a week. They will receive instruction and related services based on their IEPs, as well as enrichment programming.    

·       Students in grades 6-8 will participate in summer programming from July 6 to August 12. Students will engage four days a week, receiving academic support, engaging in social emotional learning activities, and participating in enrichment programming.    

·       Students in grades 9-12 who have a Course in Progress, or who need to retake a course they failed in a prior term, will participate in academic instruction from July 6 to August 13. High school students will also have the opportunity to accelerate learning, and access social emotional supports and arts programming. Similar to prior years, high school students will continue to have the opportunity to participate in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).    

There will be remote programming available for interested families whose children are mandated for summer learning or have a 12-month IEP. Program offerings for high school students will depend on school community need and may include a mix of in-person and remote options.   

Consistent with years prior, schools will notify families by June if their student is required to participate in summer learning and will share additional details with families about how they can enroll. These students will participate together in the same Summer Rising programs as those students not mandated to attend.  

In line with previous policy and practice, grade promotion decisions are based on a holistic review of a student’s progress toward meeting the standards for their grade level. Teachers will review multiple pieces of student work in English language arts and math to make these decisions. State test scores will not be a factor in whether a student is promoted. If a school requires a student to attend summer learning, their promotion to the next grade is contingent on demonstrating sufficient progress in their summer learning.

“It is crucial that we connect every child from every zip code with summer enrichment programming that not only addresses COVID-19 academic setbacks, but that supports the whole child. Our children deserve summer programs that meet the needs of all students and that are centered on providing children and their families with wraparound support services including social and emotional supports and childcare, coupled with fun, active learning instruction emphasizing the arts, music, recreation, and field trips. Summer Rising will remove barriers to learning to enable meaningful connections, and an ability to meet the holistic needs of children and their families,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.  


COVID-19 Impact Survey: Help Us Advocate for Arts Education in NYC

Text: Arts Are Essential.

Published on April 5, 2021

As the main convening body for NYC’s arts in education community, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable is committed to serving our membership and field at-large through advocacy with government officials and policymakers. To help us support the field of arts education in NYC, we kindly request member and non-members organizations complete our COVID-19 Impact Survey. Your response will help us:

  • Advocate for funding for arts education in the New York City FY 2022 budget;
  • Communicate with funders, City Council Members, and key stakeholders on the state of arts education in NYC;
  • Measure the impact of COVID-19 on the capacity of arts organizations to provide effective and meaningful arts education programming;
  • Provide transparency for the field via a comprehensive report to be released by Summer 2021.

Please submit ONE survey response per organization (your organization may remain anonymous). This survey should take approximately 30-35 minutes to complete. We recommend having the following information accessible when completing this survey:

  • Size of Teaching Artist Roster (2019-2020 & 2020-2021)
  • Estimated Number of Partner Schools (2020-2021)
  • Number of Students Served (2019-2020 & 2020-2021)
  • Funding Breakdown for Arts Education Programs (2019-2020 & 2020-2021)

Thank you for your time and consideration! Your responses are greatly valued and will help the Roundtable advocate for our field. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Kimberly Olsen at with any questions.

Please submit your survey response by Friday, May 28, 2021.

Create your own user feedback survey

Live Testimony to Committee on Education (March 23, 2021)

Several boys smiling and pointing to the sky

Published on March 23, 2021

An abbreviated version of the following testimony was delivered by Kimberly Olsen, Executive Director


Thank you Chair Treyger and the Committee on Education for your leadership and commitment to arts education. My name is Kimberly Olsen, and I come to you as the Executive Director of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable.

The Roundtable is a service organization who builds its efforts around the values that arts are essential and that arts education is a right for all NYC students. Our 120+ member organizations have worked in long-standing partnership with the DOE to ensure that every child has access to quality arts learning.

As our city begins to rebuild and envision a post-pandemic era, it’s imperative that we invest in arts education as part of the city’s recovery process. The long term impact of COVID-19 on students and schools will take years to understand. However, the trauma, systemic racism, and lost instructional times are stark realities that students now face every day as they enter the classroom. The need for investment and equity in arts education access comes when the need for arts in our schools has never been more clear.

Studies show that participation in arts education translate to the development of social-emotional learning skills, including self-management, self-discipline, and relationship building. Student participation in the arts also leads to higher levels of social tolerance and civic engagement.

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, arts are listed as a core arts subject and a part of a well-rounded education. Even before the pandemic, principals consistently cited budget constraints as the chief obstacle to providing arts education at their schools. While schools receive Arts Supplemental Funding through Fair Student Funding each year (SCHOOL ALLOCATION MEMORANDUM NO. 02, FY 2021), as of 2007, principals are not required to spend these funds directly on arts education. Without targeted funding in place, many arts programs have remained bare bones or been eliminated entirely as more money is needed to make up for other budget shortfalls.

We understand the tremendous financial impact of COVID-19, yet the lack of investment in Arts Education has been recurrent. Prior to the pandemic, 67% of principals noted funding for the arts is generally insufficient according the Arts in Schools Report Raw Data. Now in the current school year:

  • 22% certified arts teachers are spending more than half their time teaching in other subject areas to accommodate remote learning
  • 70% of funding for arts education services has been cut, directly impacting arts partnerships that support Students with Disabilities and Multilingual Learners

New York City is missing the opportunity to invest in authentic ways to build long-term social emotional competencies of youth living through these traumatic times. The city is missing the chance to instill in our youth the power of imagination and creativity, which are needed in not only art-based professions but in a myriad of careers including engineers, educators, health care professionals, and computer software designers. And the NYC DOE is failing to engage community partners and teaching artists primed to expand student opportunity and advance equitable access to arts learning. 

New York City has a rich array of cultural resources, including cultural institutions and teaching artists that unfortunately only play an important role in the lives and education of some of our students. As students re-enter the school community, these 449+ organizations are ready to partner with schools to nurture the creation of a welcoming school environment where students can express themselves in a safe, positive way. Beyond budget implications, persistent payment delays and a current freeze on contract renewals are impeding program delivery, curriculum development, and professional development. Organizations that submitted MTAC contracts in 2019 are left in the dark about the status of their now-expiring contracts and grow increasingly concerned about the impact this will have on payment for services rendered. 

This school year, and every subsequent year, the arts will be key to re-igniting students’ learning in the post-COVID-19 era and preparing them for success and joy in a complicated 21st century world. With that in mind, we believe the city must:

  • Restore the 70% cut to arts education services, which directly supports partnerships between schools and cultural organizations;
  • Change the Arts Supplemental Funding thru Fair Student Funding SAM from a recommendation to a requirement;
  • Prioritize funding the Office of Arts & Special Projects Strategic Arts Plan to close the equity gap and address high-quality arts instruction for all students.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


My Dearest Arts Organization, Are You Listening?

NYC Arts in Education Roundtable logo in black and orange.

Published on March 23, 2021


Dear Friends,

This week GuildNotes published My Dearest Arts Organization, Are You Listening? a letter created by teaching artists to reflect on some of the challenges that they’ve faced during the multiple pandemics which have stricken the world.  The letter has been called a “breakup letter” because while teaching artists love the work, they often feel caught in a toxic relationship. In a time when equity and inclusion have become paramount, what does it mean when teaching artists want out of the field, when they are at the heart of the work?

We invite you to read the letter and consider:

  • What do I hear being said in the letter?
  • What resonates with me?
  • What can I do to change the power dynamic expressed?
  • Are teaching artists a priority in my organization?
  • Does my organization allow for honest critical feedback from TAs?
  • Does my organization have an accountability plan for feedback?
  • What do I want to know more about?

There is a follow-up checklist derived from the perspective of teaching artists as a guide to create a vibrant arts ecosystem that is equitable for all. We invite you to fill out the checklist and consider:

  • Which boxes can my organization check? Why/Why not?
  • What does my organization need to check every box?
  • What do I want to know more about?

We invite you to join a conversation where you can discuss your individual and organizational response to this article.  Together we can work to reimagine and rebuild this arts ecosystem so that it holds everyone.

In the fall leaders from multiple agencies* will collaborate on a series to address specific ways to carry out the checklist recommendations.

In solidarity,

Your colleagues at *Teaching Artists Guild, Teaching Artists of the Mid-Atlantic, National Guild for Community Arts Education, Lincoln Center Education, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable, New 42, and Community-Word Project