Tag: Arts Education

NYC School Reentry Questions from Arts Organizations and Artists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 23, 2020
CONTACT: Kimberly Olsen, kolsen@nycaieroundtable.org

Published on September 23, 2020

Inspired by the Council for School Supervisors and Administrators’ 141 questions the NYC Department of Education must answer before reopening schools, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Advocacy Committee has put together a list of 48 questions our members should consider as they plan and prepare for the delivery of arts in education services in the 2020-2021 school year. We know these are tough questions, but we hope in sharing that they can be used as a resource. In addition, please review the education resources following these questions and share with your networks.


Defining Legalities around pre-recorded materials:

  • What and how will you pay teaching artists for creating pre-recorded videos? How does this rate differ from in-person teaching?
  • How will you charge schools for their use (one time fee or pay per use)?
  • What rights do teaching artists have to use or share the videos?
  • Given the intended purpose, should pre-recorded materials only include royalty free music and photos?
  • Do you have a policy on the use and/or citation of music, photos and videos used in pre-recorded content? 
  • What responsibility do arts organizations have in citing the teaching artist when sharing videos/clips or screencaps in published or publicly-facing materials?
  • What measures can you take to ensure content isn’t downloaded, stolen, or shared without permission?
  • Have you communicated with teaching artists/staff about intellectual property? Have teaching artists been given a platform to discuss this topic with staff? 
  • How is intellectual property/copyright addressed in a teaching artist’s contract, and what are your action steps if a teaching artist would like to negotiate the terms?
  • Can teaching artists share their own content with other organizations or as portfolio pieces?


Safe reentry guidelines: 

  • How do you plan to deliver arts in education programs for the beginning of the school year (synchronous or asynchronous)? Will this be an organization-wide policy or will it vary by program or school? When do you plan to revisit this decision, and who will be involved in the conversation?
  • If offering remote learning, do you plan to use one or both styles of service delivery (synchronous or asynchronous)?  Will teaching artists and staff receive training in this area prior to teaching in the style? 
  • Do you plan to deliver arts in education programs using a hybrid or blended teaching model (online and in-person)? Will teaching artists and staff receive training in this area prior to teaching in the style? 
  • What does “onsite” mean for teaching artists and/or staff who are not comfortable working in-person or who are immunocompromised? Will this impact their employment? 
  • Will your organization provide health insurance or a health insurance stipend if in-person work is the only available option to part-time staff or independent contractors?
  • How are you assessing teaching artist/staff safety and comfort with returning to in-person work? 
  • How are you preparing teaching artists to re-enter the classroom being mindful of the trauma experienced by all parties (including students, teachers, and teaching artists themselves)?
  • How are you addressing social-emotional learning with your teaching artists and staff?
  • What actions are you, your organization, and your teaching artists taking to intentionally support Black, Indigenous, and communities of color in your work?
  • What procedures are in if a teaching artist working in-person is exposed to COVID-19? What procedures are in place if a teaching artist gets COVID-19? How will you communicate this to those who may have been exposed through your programming.
  • Are you requiring teaching artists and/or staff to get tested for COVID-19 at the start of an in-person residency? If yes, how frequently are they being tested? If a fee is incurred, will it be reimbursed by the organization or is it the responsibility of the individual?

 

DOE and School specific on-site guidelines:  

  • Have you read the NYC Department of Education and NYS reopening guidelines as it relates to arts education and visitors? Has this information been shared with your teaching artists and staff?
  • What happens if your visiting teaching artist or staff member witnesses a school not adhering to city/state guidelines? Is there a procedure already in place? Has the procedure been shared with your teaching artists and staff members? 
  • What do teaching artists need in order to be given entry in a school building (i.e. temperature checks, PPE equipment)?
  • Will you provide your teaching artists and/or staff with PPE or other safety equipment (i.e. hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes, face shield)?
  • What are the protocols when staff, teaching artists, in-school teachers, and/or children refuse to abide by the safety rules (i.e. wearing a mask, social distancing)?
  • How will you train teaching artists to properly clean or store materials?
  • How will you adapt your services and programs so that students/participants do not share materials?
  • How can teaching artists creatively maintain 6+ feet between students during low-level activity? How can teaching artists creatively maintain 12+ feet between students during moderate-level activity (such as singing or dancing)?


Working remotely:

  • Will your school require you to use DOE Zoom and Google Classroom accounts? How will you support teaching artists in gaining access to these systems, specifically an external email address? 
  • What will you do if a school does not allow your teaching artists or organization to use their DOE Google Classroom account because they’re unable or unwilling to create separate email accounts for vendors?
  • Are you tracking external DOE email addresses for your organization? Is there a system to place to support your teaching artist in tracking log-in information for different schools and/or classes?
  • How will you assess student access to technology without drawing attention to specific students?
  • How will you assess student access to technology without drawing attention to specific students?
  • How will you assess teaching artists’ access to technology? If additional technology is needed to support delivery of services (i.e. camera, laptop, tripod, ring light), will you provide those materials?
  • How can your organization support digital access needs (i.e. captions on videos, language access [multilingual educators, translations, co-teaching in different languages], sensory items & objects that could be delivered to someone’s living space to support focus)?
  • If videos are pre-recorded and then posted on a Google Classroom, how are you tracking if the content is used?
  • How are asynchronous videos delivered to students? Are teachers assigning it as “homework” or do teaching artists/organizations have direct contact with the students and their families? 
  • How should teaching artists return materials that they still have from the 2019-2020 school year? How will you retrieve materials left at schools during the 2019-2020 school year?
  • What should your teaching artist or staff member do if they are alone in a virtual room with students?
  • What supplies or materials will teaching artists and staff need to teach from home?
  • If discipline-specific materials are needed to teach a remote class, how will those supplies be distributed to students?
  • What happens if a teaching artist is unable to work (i.e. attend a scheduled class or deliver a video on-time)? Will that work be rescheduled, cancelled, or will you call in a substitute?
  • Are you/your teaching artists prepared with language on how to address student comfort levels with turning on their camera? How are you modifying curriculum to ensure other access points for students to share work and collaborate?

 

Communication:

  • If each school has a standard COVID-19 procedure for staff to follow, how will this be shared with teaching artists in advance to safely enter a school and a classroom?
  • What channels are available for teaching artists and staff to connect with their colleagues, share ideas, and voice concerns? 
  • Have you communicated with your teaching artists since last school year? How frequently and through what methods do teaching artists receive information about their organization of employment (regardless of whether they have work confirmed)?
  • Are teaching artists included in company-wide emails?
  • What methods are you using to get feedback from parents and students that allow teaching artists to be agile and nimble as changes emerge?
  • What methods are you using to get feedback from teaching artists and staff? Are there channels for teaching artists and staff to share information/feedback anonymously?

 


 

Additional Resources

NYC DOE Arts Education Resources:

 

General Education Resources:

  • NYC Principals’ Union lists Questions on School reopening: click here 
  • NYC Safety Guidelines for reopening: click here 
  • Cuomo announces decision on reopening NY State schools: click here 
  • DOE accounts for CBO Partners: click here
  • CDC Strategies for Protecting K-12 School staff from Covid-19: click here

 

Out-of-State Arts Education Guidelines:

  • NJ Arts Education Reentry Guidelines: click here
  • Arizona Arts Education Reopening Guidelines: click here 

 

Legal Resources:

New York City Arts in Education Roundtable Receives Grant to Provide Critical Assistance to Arts Education Community Amid COVID-19

New York Community Trust logo in red and black.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 29, 2020
CONTACT: Kimberly Olsen, kolsen@nycaieroundtable.org

Published on July 29, 2020

 

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable (NYCAIER) is pleased to announce that it has received $465,000 in grant awards from the New York Community Trust (NYCT), including funding from the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in the New York Community Trust, to continue providing critical assistance to New York City’s arts education community which has been among the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable has always responded quickly and decisively to the needs of New York’s arts education field,” said Kimberly Olsen, Executive Director of NYCAIER. “As arts education funding and programming are often among the first to be cut during times of sudden economic strife, we are grateful to NYCT for providing us with this important support so that we can continue to offer our community relief and resources to ensure field-wide sustainability through this pandemic.”

This grant will allow NYCAIER to establish an “Arts Educator Emergency Relief Fund” to award at least 300 grants of up to $1,000 to arts educators who are facing serious financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. Both teaching artists and arts education administrators will be eligible to apply with an application opening the week of August 10, 2020. Additional details and application questions will be announced the week of August 3, 2020.

NYCT funding will also enable NYCAIER to continue supporting the sustainability of arts education in New York City through free professional development workshops designed to help arts groups and individuals navigate and respond to rapid changes in the delivery of arts education in New York City. NYCAIER will also utilize newly funded resources to expand its advocacy efforts for the integration of arts education into the New York City Department of Education’s contingency planning for the 2020-2021 school year, including through targeted outreach to public officials and the media, among other programs.

NYCAIER has a longstanding history of preserving and advancing the arts education community in New York City as one of the cultural pillars of the city. This summer, NYCAIER is hosting a seven-week Summer School learning series for arts in education practitioners supported in part by the award from NYCT. The free series will feature weekly professional development sessions focused on digital skills-building, self-care, and collaborative art-making for educators, administrators, and artists.

NYCT’s NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund was created to aid nonprofit service providers struggling with the initial health and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding allowed nonprofits to transition to online contact with clients and audiences, as well as purchase protective supplies, among other needs. Grants and loans also helped groups facing a loss of operational revenue from facility closings, cancelled programs, and events. Learn more about the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund.

 

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: www.nycaieroundtable.org.

Click here to access a PDF version of this press release.

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The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Elects Seven New Board Members

Pictured: Headshots of NYCAIER's seven new board members with text written across the middle, "Meet Our New Board Members"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kimberly Olsen, kolsen@nycaieroundtable.org                                                                                                             

Published on July 23, 2020

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable is pleased to announce the election of seven new members to the Roundtable’s Board of Directors: Philip A. Alexander, Stephanie Lee Griffin, Lisa Mitchell, KeriAnne Murphy-Smith, Juan Carlos Salinas, Helen Wheelock, and Michael Wiggins.

“The Roundtable is thrilled to have this wonderful class of experienced and talented leaders join our Board of Directors this year,” said Jennifer DiBella and Sobha Kavanakudiyil, Board Co-Chair, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable. “We know that their demonstrated commitment to arts and community education will advance the work of our vibrant community. We look forward to their long-term impact on the Roundtable and field at large.”

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

 

Meet Our New Board Members

Philip A. Alexander is the Arts in Education Director at Brooklyn Arts Council. He is a creativity catalyst who seeks to inspire and empower others in their own artistry. He partners with artists and educators in pursuit of meaningful and effective arts pedagogy, having held management and leadership positions with such esteemed organizations as Roundabout Theatre Company, Empire State Partnerships, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, and the New York State Alliance for Arts Education. He consults in the realms of professional development, assessment and strategic partnership, having supported the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Center for Arts Education, VSArts, and the US Department of Education, among others. Holding a doctorate in theatre history, he is seen regularly at professional gatherings as workshop leader or featured speaker.

 

 

Stephanie Lee Griffin serves as Chief of Staff to the CEO at Roivant. Stephanie joined Roivant Sciences in January 2017 and previously served as Chief Operating Officer at one of Roivant’s subsidiary companies. She also worked in various operating roles across the organization.

Stephanie began her career as a management consultant for the pharmaceutical industry at IQVIA and Huron Consulting Group, where she advised large global pharma and medical device manufacturers. Prior to joining Roivant, Mrs. Lee Griffin worked at Celgene, where she focused on US and global pricing strategy. Mrs. Lee Griffin earned her A.B. in Classics from Brown University and her M.B.A. at Columbia Business School.

 

Lisa Mitchell is the Director of Education and Audience Engagement at Disney Theatrical Group, where she engages students, teachers, and audiences through Broadway performance and student-driven productions. Current and past field positions include: the Audience Engagement Committee (the Broadway League), the Roger Rees Awards advisory board, the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable board, and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education board. Lisa holds a doctoral degree in entrepreneurial leadership in education from Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on developing enduring theater programs in under-resourced schools.

 

 

KeriAnne Murphy-Smith is currently the Finance Manager at 321 Theatrical Management working on a variety of shows including one of her favorites, Wicked. Previously she was the Business Manager at Manhattan Theatre Club, a 23-time Tony Award winning and six-time Pulitzer Prize winning New York City based non-profit theatre company.

She received her B.A. in Theatre at SUNY Plattsburgh before managing The Players Theatre, a commercial off-broadway house located in historic Greenwich Village, New York City. During that time, KeriAnne was also the Executive Director and Production Stage Manager for The Theatre Project and TP&co, companies founded by fellow SUNY Plattsburgh Alumnus, Christian Amato. After 5 years working in the downtown off-broadway circuit, KeriAnne moved to the midtown theatre world where she transitioned into Business and Human Resources. KeriAnne has also spent time working with The College Light Opera Company, Glimmerglass Opera, and the NYC Fringe Festival. Formerly, she was a freelance Stage Manager for almost 10 years. She currently resides in Astoria, NY with her husband Steve.

 

Juan Carlos Salinas is currently the Director of Education at Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. He has developed and implemented curricula based on various artistic disciplines, social activism, and leadership skill-building for more than twenty-five New York City schools and cultural institutions. He is a contributing writer of New York City’s Blueprint for Theater Education and is a contributor for Sing for Hope’s Art U curriculum. He has worked as Education Director of City Lights Youth Theater, Associate Director of Education at Yale Repertory Theater, and Education Manager of Ars Nova and Ballet Hispanico. Recently Juan Carlos oversaw the creation of the BFA Acting program at Long Island University Downtown, Brooklyn in partnership with the New Group Theater Company. Juan Carlos holds an MFA in Non-profit/Arts Management with an emphasis in Education from Yale University.  Juan Carlos is the founder of the Y Tu Tambien, the college access program of the La Unidad Latina Foundation, which unites Latino alumni from across the Ivy League to help students in need gain acceptance into their desired colleges, and provides school and career exploration workshops. He is the current Chair and founding member of the Yale Latino Alumni Association of the Tri State Area, and a founding board member of the Inter- Ivy League Latino Alumni Council. Juan Carlos is a proud native of Rio Grande City, in Starr County, TX.

 

Helen Wheelock is the Director of the CUNY-Creative Arts Team’s Early Learning Program (CAT-ELP), which uses uses interactive drama to strengthen literacy, critical thinking, and essential social-emotional skills among pre-k through 2nd grade students. She joined CAT in 1994 as a teaching artist and worked with the Elementary and Early Childhood programs until 2008, when she was appointed to her current role. Her work at CAT has taken her into classrooms in NYC, nationally and internationally and offered her opportunities to present at conferences and facilitate professional developments for educators on participant-centered pedagogy and drama strategies in the early childhood classroom. As an adjunct faculty member at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, she has taught several  graduate courses including Teaching Through Drama: Storytelling & Puppetry in the Early Years; Role-Play in the Classroom The Uses of Role-Play as a Teaching Tool; and, for the MA in Applied Theatre an Apprenticeship in Early Childhood Drama. Helen holds an MA in Educational Theatre from New York University and a BA in Theatre from Middlebury College.​

 

Michael Wiggins is an arts administrator with a background in theatre and a commitment to working for positive social change.

He is the Director of Engagement and Education for Little Island, a new public park on the West Side of Manhattan. Previous roles include Director of Education at Baltimore Center Stage; Director of Education and Special Projects at Urban Arts Partnership; Teaching Artist Trainer at The Public Theater; Teaching Artist at New Victory Theater; Adjunct professor at The Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at The City College of New York (CCNY) and The Program in Educational Theatre at NYU’s Steinhardt School. He is an alumnus of the NYU Graduate Acting MFA Program (’98).

 

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: www.nycaieroundtable.org.

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An Open Call to Board of Directors of Arts Education Programs

Posted on June 8, 2020

The following open letter to board members of arts organizations was written by marcus d harvey. This blog originally appeared as an article in the Spring 2020 edition of the Teaching Artist Guild’s TAG Quarterly on Friday, June 5.

June 1, 2020

 

Hello Board of Directors—

 

I am writing to you at 3:40am because I can’t sleep.   

 

Many of you don’t know me and probably will never have any interaction with me beyond this point but I wanted to introduce myself.

 

I am marcus d. harvey (all lowercase letters) and I have been a teaching artist at YOUR ORGANIZATION for over 11 years now. Maybe you know my name as I have worked with one of the signature programs pretty much exclusively since my time at YOUR ORGANIZATION.

 

I hold my undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, a graduate degree from NYU and a graduate degree from Brooklyn College.  I am an actor. I am a director. I am a writer. I am a college professor. I am a mentor. I have been stopped by the cops, racially profiled, called the N word. I have been overlooked by jobs not because I didn’t have the qualifications but merely because my blackness makes white people feel uncomfortable (I have been told that by people “off the record”). You wouldn’t know anything of that by looking at me. What you will know by seeing me is that I am black and male and there is nothing any of you can do about it.

 

For years, I have worked at YOUR ORGANIZATION with a smile on my face and my head held high because I believed in the work of YOUR ORGANIZATION, or at least I used to. I have survived YOUR ORGANIZATION through many transitions and yet I am only part-time. I am asked about students who have been through your program by grant writers and others, but yet I am not on staff full-time. I watched someone who worked under me as a teaching artist, a white man, get a position where all of a sudden I had to report to him and seek his approval for even being in the room. Within YOUR ORGANIZATION, there is systemic racism.

 

YOUR ORGANIZATION, like most arts nonprofits, will romanticize the struggle of black and brown children to donors and sponsors while many of the staff in the office of these organizations are white. Do you recognize this as a problem?  I, a black man, have always had to report to someone white about a program dealing with a black playwright. Think about that for a minute. My blackness has to be approved by white supervisors. That is systemic racism. I, a black man, have had to sit in training sessions led usually by non-black people on how to deal with black and brown youth. That is systemic racism.  My entire existence within YOUR ORGANIZATION is on the approval of the white people who “approve” my work and my timesheet. That is systemic racism.

 

If you are uncomfortable with this email, imagine being me, I have been uncomfortable for some time now and afraid to say a word out of fear. Fear that the whiteness around me will see me as problematic and I would be let go. That is systemic racism. 

 

I am NOT asking you to make room for me at the table where you currently sit. I am asking you to examine who’s at the table, dismantle the table and build a new table that will make room for people like myself to sit.  

 

As the board of directors, I imagine part of your obligation is to guide and direct the organization towards growth but how can an organization grow when it doesn’t examine itself internally. When I say internally, I don’t mean hiring an outside organization run by white people to take a look at the systemic racism within YOUR ORGANIZATION; I mean by inviting black people at YOUR ORGANIZATION into the room to be heard and seen. If there are not black people at YOUR ORGANIZATION, ask yourself WHY?

 

It appears black lives only matter when it’s time to raise money but otherwise black lives are erased and black voices are muted. 

 

What is the action plan of YOUR ORGANIZATION going forward?

How will YOUR ORGANIZATION make room for voices that are black and male in the room?

When will black lives matter?

 

Here’s the reality, at any point, my black maleness can be seen as a threat and I could be taken at the hands of the cops simply by existing.  At any point I can become a hashtag.

 

What will YOUR ORGANIZATION do to ensure the safety and growth of black people who are on the frontlines doing the work stated in the mission statement?

 

It is no longer acceptable to sit in silence, while you have the power to examine yourselves and impact the change needed within the organization. 

 

In the arts,

In education,

 

marcus d. harvey

— 

Update:

As a board member responded to my email, the response reminded me how much systemic racism in rooted in who sits on these boards and who nurtures and guides these organizations to higher heights. It was clear my voice was heard and email wasn’t read. I have to ask: When will there be a new wave of leadership? When will black lives and black voices matter in arts education?  To board members everywhere….What are you willing to sacrifice for my freedom?

 

*****

marcus d harvey is an award-winning actorvist, director and writer. He holds degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, New York University and Brooklyn College. He’s a teaching artist at various organizations, mentor and an adjunct professor of Acting. Website: www.themarcusdharvey.com Twitter: @marcusdharvey

Performance as Time Travel: Reindigenizing Movement, Decolonizing Time

By Moréna Espiritual

Posted on Friday, May 22, 2020

This blog is a part of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable’s new blog series, “Teaching Artists Speak Out: Blogs from Quarantine.” As schools remain closed, we’ve invited some “Teaching Artists of the Roundtable” to help us curate a series of blog posts written for and by NYC teaching artists. We’ll be posting new blogs each Tuesday and Thursday for the next several weeks.

if as the older i get the more wisdom i gain– wisdom defined as the acquiring of information that is grounded, ancient–  then isn’t time going backwards?

in “Dismantling the Master(s) Clockwork Universe)”  Rasheedah Phillips shares that “early recordings of an abstract sense of time as a continuous duration arose in the 14th century, while the word ‘time’ itself derives from the word ‘tide’ or ‘tidz.’…”

this written work continues on to explain that before the establishment of the western world and its technological, political, and religious shifts that stressed a linear sense of time which finishes in a “chaotic end,” there were other ways that people conceptualized and interacted with “time.” so the re-imagining of it’s structure that my opening sentence does is in reality, nothing new. the fluidity of time can be seen in how, depending on where you are in the world, it might be a completely different “time”/season right now. or you might use a different calendar system, like the U.S. and China. 

the truth is,those who work with and are connected to the land have always known about this expansive nature of time. and they have used it wisely –take the Africans who fought for and won their freedom in the most successful emancipatory uprising in human history as an example– the Haitan Revolutionaries. they won this war because they were connected to their ancestral religions of ancient wisdom, and hence did not believe in linear time – they fought utilizing gorilla warfare tactics based on their knowledge of the land, and were fueled by a fearlessness of death that came from understanding that existence did not end with physical life on earth; there are other timelines where our spirits go and roam. so maybe, COVID-19s ability to bring everything to a halt with quarantine isn’t some unique, inaccessible magic after all.

i say all of this to propose: maybe we have been able to time travel all along. haven’t you felt it?

when you meditate, and are able to see “past” versions of yourself, or scenarios which have not yet existed (in this timeline). the nostalgia in singing a song. the distortion of experience in the dreamworld. i’d argue that the healing we are capable of unlocking in those moments is proof that these are not imaginary trips. we’ve just been so trained to perceive this one pattern of numbers as our main orientation and organization of life flow that perhaps we invalidate the legitimacy of these experiences in other realms. 

taking all of this into consideration, i propose my second point: to perform is to set an intention. a prayer, a ritual.

 to say: “i will walk over there,” and then walk.

 to say: “i will imagine a new world,” and then create it.

 to say: “i will revisit this occurrence of the past,” and then recreate it. 

performance is also time travel. time travel that uses our body as a vehicle. amend it all. create it all.

through being intentional with this time travel, we can bring so much healing to our communities and ourselves. when we do it alone, it is a private ceremony. but when we do it for others, perhaps its true purpose is to be a culturally/genealogically informed ritual that considers the positionality of the audience. this is what separates it from just “healing.”

the courageous will ask themselves: “who is my audience and why do i want them to witness my time travel? what truths do i need to reveal to them, and from where can i access these truths? where should they be positioned in relation to my trip?”

*uses this clarity to set up the camera phone* 

*commencing ig live in “3.. 2..”*

*****

Moréna Espiritual is a cuir Afro-Taíno teaching artist, performer, and organizer based in NYC. Their work focuses on ancestral healing, re-imagining societal structures to create black/brown utopias, & inquiring about all emotional bodies that can live through the “self.”
 
For inquiries contact them at morenaespiritual@gmail.com
 
Find more work and contact listed here: https://linktr.ee/morenaespiritual

URGENT ADVOCACY ALERT: Submit Written Testimony to the New York City Council in Support of Arts Education

NYC Arts in Education Roundtable logo in black and orange.

Posted on May 19, 2020

The following letter was sent out to the Roundtable mailing list on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. To stay up to date with weekly e-blasts about advocacy efforts, best practices, current trends, upcoming events, and more, please subscribe to the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable mailing list.

Update (June 19, 2020): The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable recently launched the #ArtsAreEssential campaign to preserve arts education funding in the 2020/2021. For more information about the campaign, please click here. 

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Thoughts on Teaching and Connecting and Change

By Alex La Torre

Posted on Friday, May 15, 2020

This blog is a part of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable’s new blog series, “Teaching Artists Speak Out: Blogs from Quarantine.” As schools remain closed, we’ve invited some “Teaching Artists of the Roundtable” to help us curate a series of blog posts written for and by NYC teaching artists. We’ll be posting new blogs each Tuesday and Thursday for the next several weeks. 

Starting a class now means clicking “start meeting” and then staring at my own face for a little while. There’s this moment in that silence that I can only compare to the sensation of being a kid and fearing that no one will show up to my birthday party.

I make sure my lighting is okay. I glance over at my windows to make sure they’re all the way shut so I don’t have to deal with unexpected background noise. My brilliant co-teachers log on and we chat the way we would before any class, I suppose: making sure the flow of our lesson plan still feels right, looking over the roster of students, etc.

Our very normal conversation makes me forget how different everything is for a few seconds. Of course, we also have to talk through the Zoom-version of our theatre game and wonder if it really will work on screen. I never thought I’d miss asking students to make a standing circle in the middle of the room so much. And then names start appearing in the waiting room. Another reminder of how so much has changed.

 

Things that aren’t the same:

  • I’m never really sure if I’ll see these students again. I don’t have the luxury of long-term curriculum planning and the knowledge that I’ll watch them grow through a whole semester or the full length of a class. Old models have gone out the window.
  • I can’t check in with students in the same way. I may notice someone seems distracted but there’s no discreet way of having a one-on-one conversation with them to see how they’re doing. I can’t use the chat function to connect with one student and continue to lead class for everyone at the same time – I am not that skilled a multi-tasker.
  • It takes an entirely new type of focus. Breakout rooms are cool. But I can’t stand in the middle of all the small groups and soft focus and go in and out of all of their conversations and ideas; hearing one group deciding they’re creating a hero with the “super power of silent farts that can paralyze a villain in their tracks,” another dreaming up a “magical gemstone that will grant their wishes.” Instead, I have to figure out whose mic is making that noise so I can mute them and keep an eye on the chat for questions.
  • I don’t know how to care for students in an individualized way when I’m staring at 20 faces on one screen. In those same breakout rooms, I can’t keep an eye on the student who has a hard time speaking up and pop into the group to make sure they feel safe. I can’t remind the idea person with one knowing glance to make sure they’re leaving space for other people’s thoughts.
  • I can’t casually assess how students interact with each other during drop off and pick up or transition moments. It feels impossible to get a feel for their comfort with each other in the same way. 
  • I can’t high five them. I can’t have a student come up and ask for a hug on the last day of class. I can’t take a moment to walk a student to their car and tell their parent or caregiver that they came up with some brilliant ideas in class that day.

 

Things that are the same:

  • I can look around the “room” and try to discern where my students are at. The information I receive is different, sure. But it’s there. How are they feeling? What does it mean to them to have a space in which they get to be creative? Is it an escape? Is it a release? Is it a way to get the sillies out? I can still meet them where they are to the best of my ability.
  • We can find common ground. Someone makes a Harry Potter reference (I adore that this has not changed since my own childhood), everyone laughs, they ask to know what house I’m in. (Hufflepuff, and proud of it.) 
  • Students support each other. If one student struggles with their lines as they adjust to Shakespearian language, then another chimes in with words of encouragement. 
  • We can create a true ensemble. One that is committed to working together and cheering on each member. A kid tries out a funny accent they’ve created for a character. The Zoom room gets filled with thumbs up and applause emojis, some kids unmute themselves so we can hear their laughter. It’s different, sure. But it’s also the same. It’s kids showing up for each other in whatever way they can. 
  • It gets messy. Sometimes you try out a new warm up or game and it’s a dud. I still invite kids into the process, “Listen, they can’t all be winners! Thank you for trying that experiment with me.”
  • There’s still emails from parents. They still include both heartwarming thank yous for the class and the more banal questions about registration and can my kid have more lines in the next class and so on. 
  • We still reflect. I still linger at the end of classes to check in with my fellow teaching artists. How did that feel for you? Should we try something different next time? Did so-and-so seem quieter to you today?
  • Personal expression shines. There is still seemingly always a student rocking something with a unicorn on it. Or a cat ear headband. Now there’s the bonus of seeing that they’ve got a matching rainbow bedspread or an actual pet cat. They are the coolest kiddos in my eyes.
  • We make art. There’s still characters to be created, stories to be told, and laughter to be had.

 

I miss so much. My heart physically aches for all the things that have changed. It is a terrible lump in my throat, welling up of feelings that doesn’t seem to go away no matter what I do.

But I see names fill up the waiting room. I look at my co-teachers faces, we take a deep breath together. I hit “admit all.”

 

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Alex La Torre is a bilingual teaching artist, arts administrator, and stage manager. Her various hats have allowed her to teach, create, and supervise programs at McCarter Theatre Center and throughout a variety of school districts in central New Jersey, working with students of all ages. She holds her BA in Secondary Education, English, and Educational Theatre from Boston College.

From Cardboard to iPads: Teaching Theatre Before, During, and After the Pandemic

By Hayley Sherwood

Posted on Friday, May 8, 2020

This blog is a part of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable’s new blog series, “Teaching Artists Speak Out: Blogs from Quarantine.” As schools remain closed, we’ve invited some “Teaching Artists of the Roundtable” to help us curate a series of blog posts written for and by NYC teaching artists. We’ll be posting new blogs each Tuesday and Thursday for the next several weeks. 

A few weeks ago, I was checking in with a few friends who all work in the community engagement department of their respective theatres. Many of them manage teaching artists across the country and many of their departments have seen devastating lay-offs and furloughs in the past few months, not to mention a sobering shift in the landscape of their entire organization. We were reporting on what has changed and how all of our plans for the future were foiled. The air of this Zoom call somehow felt warmer, which was an imagined experience we were all happy to indulge. In one report, a friend not-so-jokingly said that he felt like he suddenly worked for a media company. As he said this, visions of my first couple days working from home hit: googling “how to edit a video” and trying to recover my password from a dusty Skype account. I agreed—I was suddenly performing a job that no one had trained me to do and so were all of my peers. 

This, of course, was no fault of the organizations I work for. For decades, all of the theatre organizations I work for had been dedicated to make having no screens (live theatre) even remotely as exciting as having screens. In order to do this, these organizations, my community of fellow teaching artists, community-engaged theatre practitioners, and I all became experts in in-the-moment relationship building. I work amongst some of the best fast friends in the world. These people can read a room in a second. 

Give us a piece of cardboard?  We’ll have a three-act play in 15 minutes. 

Give us a bunch of iPads? First of all, I would have been amazed the theatre department had the budget for that but I probably wouldn’t have known where to start. 

My imagination around technology is at a deficit because the departments I work in have been forced to operate in a deficit. Inside of this, though, we have created magical tools from scratch, fashioned entire operations out of thin air and we’re very proud.

During my first attempt at lesson planning for my first online workshop, I felt like someone had emptied out my toolbox. No cardboard in sight and a whole bunch of iPads. Even as a wave of webinars on how to operate Zoom hit my inbox, I still felt lost. How could I convince my students that I’m there for them in these circumstances? I’m not. 

Suddenly, I was a brand new Teaching Artist trying to figure out how to do this. I hearkened back to my first Teaching Artist gig. A staff member at my university asked me to teach some theatre classes at an arts festival at her child’s elementary school. I lost sleep over my lesson plan (something I had never written before). The chaos of the school’s arts festival was invigorating but with each step closer to my classroom, I felt like a bigger impostor – “they definitely will not think I’m cool” I thought. When I got to the room, there was a big sweeping set of stairs and my fear dissolved. A tool, I thought. I’ll be fine, I thought. I’ll just guide them toward turning that staircase into a volcano.

“I go into a room expecting one thing and suddenly I realize that a beautiful surprise gift was waiting for me all along.”

My career as a teaching artist so far has been a lot of building volcanoes – I go into a room expecting one thing and suddenly I realize that a beautiful surprise gift was waiting for me all along, whether that’s in the form of the number of desks in the room or in the mind of one of the students. becoming a teaching artist in NYC has really been about trust. If I trust my own knowledge, my co-teaching artists’ knowledge and the boundless knowledge of my students, my plan will move swiftly and seamlessly and all of our personalities will shine. Teaching artistry is about letting the brightest thing in the room shine – most of the time that is the improvisation games I planned but sometimes it’s the horrible day one of my students had.

So, what do I do when I can’t rely on the movement of the room? Well, I had to reach so deeeeeep into my toolbox that I became a student again. A student of this moment, a student of theatre arts and a student of my students –wherever they were, I would go…digitally, of course.

“I became interested in the ways that the work Teaching Artists are doing now could be sustainable, not simply Band-Aids on the work we wish we were doing.”

I’ve learned a few things so far. The first is that when presenting online, in that now very familiar “webinar” setting on Zoom: I had to write a script. A great lesson plan often includes a script – make sure to highlight this concept or definitely model with example—but that’s nothing compared to the full-on classical text I prepared for my first webinar. I was convinced something technical would go wrong so, in collaboration with my co-facilitator, we mapped out every word, every screen share, and every word we needed to spell out after we said it. It was through this that I remembered how, first of all, every teaching artist training I’d ever taken had encouraged me to ban scripts from my toolbox and, second of all, that relying on a script was actually my closest ally in my work as an actor. I’m not about to walk back into the first day of school 202….0(?) with a script in hand but maybe there are parts of my teaching that would be served by this kind of prep. With this discovery I became interested in the ways that the work Teaching Artists are doing now could be sustainable, not simply Band-Aids on the work we wish we were doing.

When one of the organizations I work for told us we were converting our weekly programming online, my co-teaching artist and I began texting up a storm—trying our best to get in contact with our students in a way they recognized and, most importantly, in a way that would be easy for them. The boundary I had once tried to maintain as an adult in their life vanished. Suddenly, as I was in contact with my students on a more regular basis, thanking them for signing into our Google Hangout with a simple text here or there, I began to question why that boundary was there in the first place. Through this questioning I emerged in deeper commitment to my students and less committed to any authority I may implicitly and explicitly have over them. I welcome their friendship and am honored anytime they seek my company. Of course, plenty of the people that I previously saw on a regular basis have let me know that they cannot prioritize our theatre class and must focus on other things, whether that’s celebrating a quarantine birthday or taking care of a sick relative. Setting these kinds of boundaries, rather than trying not to text their teacher, are the skills that I’m grateful to practice with my students and I know they will continue doing this into so many parts of their life.

“Organizations have built the structure for these relationships to begin but it is the work of us all that will sustain them.”

Learning how to navigate this new world of teaching has taught me a lot and I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to be made a student of my students. I’ve learned, finally and most importantly, that the people I “work with” are some of my dearest peers. Many of the people I’ve met through my work in community engaged-theatre or teaching artistry are the people that reached out first to see how I’m doing. They are showing me the care and attention I hope they feel from me. These organizations have built the structure for these relationships to begin but it is the work of us all that will sustain them. I am confident that the work we do in educational spaces will only be strengthened by this test, eventually. We will add video editing, online workshop facilitation, and Zoom expertise to our resumes and work together with our friends to find the services we all need. I hope theatre has a place in that collective decision.

 

*****

Hayley Sherwood is an NYC-based theatre artist who believes theatre belongs to everyone and activates this mission as an educator, administrator, producer, and actor. This has led her to teach K-12 students with organizations such Story Pirates and Opening Act, teach and manage programming with CO/LAB, an organization that creates a social and creative outlet for individuals with developmental disabilities, and produce COMMUNITY WORKS, a community-engaged theatre program at Williamstown Theatre Festival that casts local residents of all ages, socio-economic, veteran and disability statuses in a giant, world-premiere musical that is performed for thousands on the mainstage of the festival. She holds her BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University and her MA in Educational Theatre for Colleges and Communities from NYU. She is a member of Middle Voice at Rattlestick Theatre Company and tutors the coolest family in Staten Island.

Latest Memo from NYC Department of Education Office of Arts & Special Projects

Updates from OASP, NYC Department of Education. Pictured: NYC Department of Education and Office of Arts and Special Projects logos.

Posted on Friday, May 8, 2020

Yesterday, the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects shared the attached memo with the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable regarding the continuation of remote learning services.

As it relates to our community’s ongoing advocacy work, the memo states:

“…Arts services that are provided remotely in collaboration and in support of schools’ remote teaching plans, and fulfill mandated services and/or New York State graduation requirements can continue to be offered.

DOE managers will ensure that invoices for services rendered to schools and central offices prior to April 1st, as well as any services which meet the above criteria offered after April 1st, will be paid accordingly.”

For questions about Arts Partnership Grants, please reach out to Audrey Cox, Director of Arts Partnerships at ACox16@schools.nyc.gov. For any other questions, please reach out to ArtsAndSpecialProjects@schools.nyc.gov.

 


Our Suggestions

Based on our understanding of this memo, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable offers the following suggestions:

  • Review your Purchase Order(s). How can your organization provide contract deliverables remotely? How do these activities and objectives align with city/state arts learning standards and/or standards in other academic subjects?
  • Be prepared to justify why your program(s) fulfill mandated services. Highlight required arts instruction hours, graduation requirements, arts support for student sub-populations (i.e. students with disabilities, ENL students) and arts education’s impact on student learning, health, and wellbeing. **See helpful research links below.
  • Advocate directly to the school principal with these points clearly laid out (and ‘CC partnering educators, arts liaison, and other support staff). Give them what they need to make the case for your services. Be clear on PO deliverables in digital space, provide program rationale, and attach the memo from OASP.

It is our understanding that it will ultimately be up to each individual principal to justify and advocate for the continuation of arts vendor services. Given the current uncertainty about the future landscape of in-person education, we hope you can use these suggestions as a way to continue building relationships that will carry into the next school year.


Research / Policy

We hope you can use the below policies and studies as a jumping off point to advocate for your programs now and in the future.


Our Next Steps

The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable would like to thank our community members who helped advocate for these written assurances from the NYC Department of Education. It will be a long road ahead, and there is more work to be done. The Roundtable will continue to advocate on behalf of our membership to address the challenges that lie ahead and to ensure #ARTSareEssential in the “new normal”.

We hope you will join us on Wednesday, May 13 from 10:30am – 12pm for A Roundtable Conversation: Advocacy in Action to discuss how we can use our collective impact to move the field forward from here.

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