Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

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Who Are They? Waterfall Arts – Part 5

April 24, 2017

The Waterfall Family

This is the fifth of five blog posts in a series about Waterfall Arts, located in Belfast, and are posted April 20-24. Information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Waterfall Arts (WA) was founded in 2000 on a rustic site in Montville by a group of local artists. Seventeen years later now located in a repurposed old schoolhouse in Belfast, WA is a vibrant midcoast arts hub with over 6000 visitors per year, still committed to its mission “to create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.” WA offers resources to artists and arts enthusiasts of all ages, including classes, exhibitions, events, open media-specific studios (clay, print, and photography), free/sliding scale arts after-school programs for 4th-12th graders, public art projects, long-term studio space, and short-term rental facilities. As the co-founders and those involved are dedicated to an accessible, environmentally-sustainable center, they have embarked on a campaign to transform their old building into a model of creative energy efficiency and ADA-compliance.  Waterfall Arts is located at 265 High Street in Belfast. Website: http://waterfallarts.org, contact: info@waterfallarts.org or call 207.338.2222.

Waterfall Arts, Belfast

It was our Facility Manager’s birthday recently. Which is an awesome thing since we love to celebrate birthdays here at Waterfall Arts. Not just any ol’ office b-day party with a store-bought cake and candles, but a party with singing, stories, baskets of trinkets and special treats. One of us bakes, another brings a card and we each share a little of our own world. Lou and her husband process huge batches of the most delicious maple syrup – we each get a jar in our birthday basket. We give souvenirs from our journeys or samples of our artistic endeavors. We all eat way too much chocolate… We’re not just a team, we’re a family.

What does it take to create this dream team? Some say diversity. Some say clear goals and strategy. A fearless leader/visionary. Individual commitment. The perfect product or idea. Certainly public interest, funding, and creative thinking. Sure, all of these contribute to creating the perfect team — and the Waterfall team can check all these boxes. In addition we have an amazing group of volunteers. An active Board of Directors, successful granting records, dedicated donors, fantastic artist educators and a talented staff. And the community that convinced Waterfall Arts to move to Belfast 10 years ago continues to jump into our innovative programs and services.

This is all great, right? But there is more.  As a non-profit organization, Waterfall’s team raises its entire budget every year. This funding — grants, business sponsors and private donations — determines our capabilities. It also means that staff positions are part-time and salaries are lower than other comparable jobs in the area. Volunteers are crucial to successful project management. Reliance on city, state and federal spending priorities affect our abilities to run certain programs. It can be quite a challenge to juggle bills, coordinate programs, and care for the building. And in the face of all of this, we keep going and growing because this team is also a family.

Staff and board getting creative during the annual retreat.

A total cliché but so very true here at Waterfall Arts. We surprise ourselves every time we open the doors to a new exhibition, workshop, artist talk, performance…WOW – we did it! And the best part, when we’re done with the to-do lists, the meetings, the calendar updates, the long nights painting walls and cleaning floors, writing grants and soliciting sponsorships, we get to start all over again to bring another amazing creative experience to our community.

The Waterfall family may not be united by genetics but we are related through our passions. We share a passion for the Arts, a passion to engage others in creative experiences, and a passion to make a difference in our community. And passion is what it takes to power a non-profit. To power any team to go beyond. It’s the gas in the engine.

I moved here about 5 years ago. Seeking out a community in the arts I found Waterfall Arts. I signed up to volunteer in the gallery and am still here, now President of the Board. Waterfall Arts is family to me. What we do is significant and makes a difference to the world around us and we enjoy being together doing it.

That is the perfect team.

Costumes happen more than once a year around here!

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~Anne Frank

This post was written by Karin Otto, Waterfall Arts Board Chair and volunteer Coordinator of Programs.

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Who Are They? Waterfall Arts – Part 4

April 23, 2017

Facilities

This is the fourth of five blog posts in a series about Waterfall Arts, located in Belfast, and are posted April 20-24. Information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Waterfall Arts (WA) was founded in 2000 on a rustic site in Montville by a group of local artists. Seventeen years later now located in a repurposed old schoolhouse in Belfast, WA is a vibrant midcoast arts hub with over 6000 visitors per year, still committed to its mission “to create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.” WA offers resources to artists and arts enthusiasts of all ages, including classes, exhibitions, events, open media-specific studios (clay, print, and photography), free/sliding scale arts after-school programs for 4th-12th graders, public art projects, long-term studio space, and short-term rental facilities. As the co-founders and those involved are dedicated to an accessible, environmentally-sustainable center, they have embarked on a campaign to transform their old building into a model of creative energy efficiency and ADA-compliance.  Waterfall Arts is located at 265 High Street in Belfast. Website: http://waterfallarts.org, contact: info@waterfallarts.org or call 207.338.2222.

Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Five years ago when I joined the Waterfall arts crew as facilities manager I was pretty confident that I had landed a comfy position at a quiet little community art center. For the first couple of months that seemed to be the case. Set up some tables here, fold up some chairs there, maybe set up the projector and tape down the wires. Mow the lawn now and then. Make sure the trash was taken out and the floors were swept…

The building itself is a grand old elementary school covering over 16,000 sq. ft. with classrooms (complete with chalkboards and coat “cubbies”) converted into over a dozen private studios and offices. Several common areas include what was once the cafeteria (and the fallout shelter!), now a 1200 sq ft performance space. Many locals come to Waterfall for an event and end up going room to room, nostalgically pointing out where they had class when it was the Anderson School.

Although almost a hundred years old, the building seemed solid and steady, just needing a bit of paint here or there, maybe a call to the oil burner tech if the heat went out – easy! The best part was that I got to spend my work day in the company of fellow artists (which by the way is still the best part for sure). But my sleepy little gig ended abruptly on a Sunday morning in February when I got a call that a pipe had burst in the third floor ladies room sometime during the night and the basement was flooded; the ceiling in the 2nd floor ladies room collapsed. The water had been shut off but the damage was extensive. And so began a repair and renovation project that lasted over a year and required all the skills I had managed to acquire – including calling in outside help. Things are not always as they seem and this old elementary school is no exception! The pipe that burst appeared solid and in good order, the galvanized surface looked much as it did the day it was installed, but inside the cast iron pipe had rusted until it was paper thin and finally burst. And the building has many such pipes.

My second year here the heating system failed. In the middle of winter – again, old metal had failed. One minute you got heat the next minute you got a problem! We managed to make it until spring when we began the involved process of installing a pump system to heat and cool the building and to trash the existing oil fired steam heat system. The new system was not operational until late in December though, and we had to heat the entire building for several weeks using a flotilla of electric space heaters. Several extra-cold nights I slept on the couch in the basement to keep an eye on things. Now in our third season with the heat pump system, I can say it is a great improvement over the old system. AC in the heat of summer sure is sweet!

Soon we will begin a major renovation project to -among other things- super insulate the building, install new windows and a solar array on the roof – all with the goal of attaining net zero energy usage. This building has had quite a life cycle!

The last couple of years have provided me with plenty of opportunity to use a lifetime of construction skills, not only in dealing with crisis situations but also in the construction of new studio spaces including a fully equipped printmaking studio and a photo darkroom.

You could say my cozy little job at Waterfall Arts ended with the flood of 2012 – with the realization that this dear old building that provides this community with a home for the arts was a needy old building that required much attention… but in turn gives back so much. And yes, I still set up tables, fold up chairs…

This post was written by Mike Fletcher, Waterfall Arts Facilities Manager and the coordinator of the life drawing program. Mike is a 1991 graduate of Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts, and later went on to study at the Art Students League where he monitored for the Russian realist painter Leonid Gervits. An active member of the Mid-Coast Maine arts community for over two decades Mike has performed with the Belfast Maskers, exhibited with Art Fellows and taught at Waterfall Arts. Mike’s most recent solo exhibition was at Aaurhus gallery, in 2012.

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Who Are They? Waterfall Arts – Part 3

April 22, 2017

Making the Connections

This is the third of five blog posts in a series about Waterfall Arts, located in Belfast, and are posted April 20-24. Information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Waterfall Arts (WA) was founded in 2000 on a rustic site in Montville by a group of local artists. Seventeen years later now located in a repurposed old schoolhouse in Belfast, WA is a vibrant midcoast arts hub with over 6000 visitors per year, still committed to its mission “to create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.” WA offers resources to artists and arts enthusiasts of all ages, including classes, exhibitions, events, open media-specific studios (clay, print, and photography), free/sliding scale arts after-school programs for 4th-12th graders, public art projects, long-term studio space, and short-term rental facilities. As the co-founders and those involved are dedicated to an accessible, environmentally-sustainable center, they have embarked on a campaign to transform their old building into a model of creative energy efficiency and ADA-compliance.  Waterfall Arts is located at 265 High Street in Belfast. Website: http://waterfallarts.org, contact: info@waterfallarts.org or call 207.338.2222.

Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Hi, I’m Bridget Matros, Youth and Families Outreach Coordinator for Waterfall Arts. I help Waterfall share the power of art with people that might not naturally end up in the building, and I love it! When I first came to Belfast, this position didn’t exist. The “hundred-million dollar questions” I asked the first time I met Co-Director Martha Piscuskas were, “what does Waterfall do for local families? Do mostly wealthy people or professional artists come here?” I come from another small town where tourists enjoy what the local kids barely realize is there – so of course I was called to this disconnect, in what soon became my new hometown!

During my time at Boston Children’s Museum, my job was to engage urban families in artmaking. It sounds easy – it wasn’t! I think people in the arts forget how laden with psychological discomfort self-expression is for adults who were “scarred for life” during childhood. The arts also tend to be “bestowed” on communities by privileged people who speak a different language (sometimes literally!) and have a whole different set of values – so people can’t really make a connection in a real, deep way like they do with music from their home country, dancing in their living rooms, or a favorite photo. I developed many strategies for getting people comfortable with the arts on their terms – and one has been at the center of my approach here in Maine – fun! More specifically, free or cheap fun!

Kids learn through play, and it turns out adults do, too (especially with a running narration of the creative processes going on, and their practical applications)! By creating together, adults become advocates for the arts, and seek out more opportunities. We get the most newbies through our doors during “AAAH” events – All Ages Art Happenings. These are interactive community parties ranging from making a mini waterpark in the front yard to sitting down at a giant dinner table for a playdough pot luck.

Over 250 attendees at the fourth annual Glow Show

Our largest annual AAAH is The Glow Show – over 200 visitors enjoy a two-floor interactive installation of illuminated artwork, black light dancing, and glowing art activities. Fun that hinges on creativity is almost always cheap – Cardboard Boxes Are Really Fun involves collecting a couple hundred boxes from local businesses and donations of packing tape! Adults help kids erect an amazing castle-town and leave thinking about how easy it is to get creative at home. They also leave with a brochure of our classes, and some check out the gallery on their way out (a first for most, even with a town that has more art galleries than places to eat). Success! A “next step” might be for a dad to bring his son to one of our free Art Together Mornings, as a first ‘art class’ experience.

I think it’s critical that “outreach” be determined by the needs of the community, not the whims of an organization. For example, kindergarteners are “my people” –  but my first mission at Waterfall was to address the fact that in our school district, 6th graders don’t have art in school. I don’t know about you, but that would’ve done me in. So our first program was a free afterschool art club (“Bridge”) for 6th graders – the school bus delivers them to Waterfall for two hours every week. Some of these kids identify as artists on day one. Others, not so much. The goal is for kids to connect to themselves, each other, and the community. We do so through games, journaling, art projects, interviews, public art, gallery visits, and events.

A “Bridge kid” interviews local artist, Abbie Read.

The very first crew not only signed up for every session, but still come to Waterfall every week, three years later; the Teen Art Studio is a drop-in program mostly serving tweens and teens who need a creative outlet, free of assignments and judgement. What I love most about working with this age group is seeing the difference a creative safe-space can make for kids; hearing from teachers and parents things that never came across in Bridge: he’s introverted, she’s on the Autism Spectrum, he’s homeless, she’s learning-disabled, he’s failing his classes – as one student said, “everyone’s got different kinds of smarts. Art is good for finding what you can do and not worry about the rest – you just get to be awesome here!”

My second year with Waterfall, we were contacted by the local elementary school – art classes had been halved due to budgeting. I was able to visit the school with artmaking sessions, making some 200 new friends! We then started an afterschool art program for fourth and fifth graders, which is still going strong. We have a generous scholarship fund so we never have to turn anyone away for any of our fee-based programs.

The Art Tent acts as a starting point for families, at Fourth Friday Art Walks in Belfast.

During the summer, Bridge kids help to staff our “Art Tent” at community events and during the monthly Art Walk downtown. Next summer we’ll equip families with a map to family-friendly galleries along with our guide to looking at art with kids, informed by local gallery owners’ enthusiasm (and trepidations) regarding young visitors.

During a 2014  town hall-type survey of interests among mid-coast artists, teachers, gallerists, and organizations, “connecting to more people” was a unanimous priority – my position was fully funded later that year by the Quimby Foundation. Now a generous collective of sponsors and supporters keep my work going and allow us to assess and address the changing needs in Waldo County. We’re so grateful for the opportunity!

I hope that every reader will support our young creatives by “liking” and following our Facebook page, Bridge:Young Artists Connecting:

www.facebook.com/WATERFALLBRIDGE

This post was written by Bridget Matros, Waterfall Arts Youth and Family Outreach Coordinator and BRIDGE Instructor. Bridget has been an educator for fifteen years, teaching at every level and setting from preschool circle-time, computer labs for the elderly, and seminars for teachers. Her academic and experiential background includes a BA from Oberlin College in Sociology and Psychology, informing her development of successful programs for diverse crowds. She developed and grew the Art Studio exhibit and program at Boston Children’s Museum for ten years and deemed one of 21 “young leaders in arts education” by Harvard scholars, is a published advocate for quality creative development in early childhood education.  As an artist she transmits through a range of visual media as well as producing video, singing, and writing. www.bridgetmatros.com. Bridget can be reached at bridget@waterfallarts.org.

 

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Midcoast Music Academy

April 13, 2017

Making music

I had the opportunity recently to visit the Midcoast Music Academy (MCMA), a community music school located at 279 Main Street, downtown Rockland. I walked in to a space that breathed music like a dragon breathes fire. It was a warm feeling with tons of energy. I was greeted by the director and founder Tom Ulichny. He and his wife Anne Bardaglio established the academy in 2012 and they are fully committed to providing music lessons to community members of all ages. In their words: “And when we say “community music school” we mean it: we believe that an exceptional music education should be available to any committed student, regardless of financial constraints”.

They provide the highest quality music instruction to students of all ages and skill levels in a fun, relaxed, and creative environment. MCMA emphasizes access to music education regardless of financial constraints and combines the fundamentals of music – theory, notation, and ear training – with a contemporary approach to learning. At MCMA, they believe students should learn to play what they love and love what they play.

The academy offers both private & group instruction for all ages on a wide variety of instruments including acoustic and electric guitar, drums, world percussion, bass guitar, double bass, piano, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, voice, violin, viola, and ukulele. They’ve established a scholarship program to be sure that lack of funding doesn’t get in the way of learning opportunities.

In addition they work collaboratively with other organizations in the midcoast including schools and organizations to support and enhance the existing music education programs. Tom and Anne are also committed to adding value to the community by bringing professional musicians to the area for short visits providing concerts/programs and long term as well.

Tom says: ”Music is truly a universal language, and is one of the most powerful tools we can use to communicate with each other and build community. It breaks down all barriers; whether that’s social, political, racial… and it builds confidence, promotes active listening, and empowers students of all ages. MCMA is passionate about spreading music education and keeping it accessible to all who are interested in developing these skills, regardless of financial constraints.

The midcoast is fortunate to have MCMA as part of the community. Stop by and say hi to Tom and take a tour of their beautiful space with several studios to make beautiful music. To learn more check out their website by CLICKING HERE.

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In Today’s News

April 12, 2017

Collaborative work

PATHS students with some of the fence parts.

This is a very large collaborative project underway with the Wentworth School in Scarborough and the welding students at Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS). There are 32 students from 12 sending schools taking part from PATHS. This is a great example of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). The students are creating a fence for the existing school garden that will become a gallery for outdoor art and science projects. Art teacher Joanne Maloney is involved along with the teachers who teach the STEM subjects.  Some of the work will focus on kinesthetic, or tactile learning, and movement.

Close up of a flower on the fence.

Later on in May teaching artist Ann Thompson will work with Wentworth students to create wire sculptures for display on the fence.

The coordination of the idea has been enormous, involving many adults and students, and a wonderful example of collaboration.

To read the entire article from The Forecaster written by Kate Irish Collins, April 3, 2017, please CLICK HERE.

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Jean Phillips

April 11, 2017

MALI Teacher Leaders Series

This is the seventh blog post of the Phase 6 Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader stories. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work each Maine visual or performing arts teacher or artist is doing.  CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 81 Teacher Leaders plus 4 Teaching Artist Leaders.  CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. There have been 77 posted to date. Thank you Jean for sharing your story!

Jean Phillips has been a teacher at Wiscasset Middle High School for fifteen years. Originally hired to teach English, but, in 2008, when the drama coach and director left, she picked up the three drama classes. In 2010, when the person hired to direct the One Act Festival play suddenly quit, the opportunity to direct came along. The following year, Jean was “hired” to teach three drama classes: Acting Workshop, Children’s Theatre, and Tech Theatre Design and to direct the two yearly productions. She has been doing both “jobs” ever since. Presently, Jean also teaches the 8th Grade drama component of their Allied Arts program. Her  yearly responsibilities include two public performances – one in the fall and the One Acts Festival piece – creating, building, or procuring all the sets, costumes, and props, as well as the maintenance, storage, and upkeep of the lights and the stage. She usually teaches nine to twelve 8th graders per quarter and 10-15 students per year in the Acting Workshop class per year; 8-12 students per year in the Children’s Theatre class; and 20 – 30 students per year in the Tech Theatre Design class. Jean’s Acting Workshop class involves teaching the terminology specific to theatre, stage positions and body positions – creating characters through analysis and fulfilling the performance standard by producing a public performance piece. Children’s Theatre begins with each student reading a children’s book, creating a story board for the book, a group decision of which play be the best to produce, writing a script, practicing together, and putting on a public performance – sometimes with children in the audience. Tech Theatre Design involves the technical aspects of theatre – specifically the design and construction off a set, sometimes the design of costumes, if time permits lighting and makeup.

What do you like best about being a theater educator?

My most favorite part of being a theatre teacher is watching students become hooked on working on the stage – either behind the scenes or as actors. I love that many disenfranchised students have found a home in theatre and even if they don’t pursue it any further than high school, they will have gained skills that will carry them throughout life.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

The three essential things to a successful performing arts education is full support by administration, parents, and state; less interference by outside agencies; and fewer budgetary constraints.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

I am just beginning to utilize more formative assessment in the classroom. The public performance has always been the summative assessment, but I have found it important to the success of the summative assessment if more formative assessments are given.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

Before becoming involved in MALI, I taught my three classes and directed my plays. Now, I have never been as involved with professional development for the arts as I have this year. I have made more contacts and found advocates. I have also been able to engage more students in advocacy for the arts, too.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of two things: first, that I have been directly responsible for having students opt to become theatre arts majors in college; and two, that students who have not normally found a home in high school have found a safe haven on stage.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

For me there are two things that get in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as an educator: people who have no idea what happens on stage telling me how to do my job – the more constraints put on me by bureaucrats makes connecting with students harder because I’m spending more time with pointless paperwork than working directly with the students; and my own inhibitions. I am not a risk-taker and feel safer with the tried and true.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

My whole life has been about hard work and determination. I have major anxiety and live my life in stress. In spite of this, I have earned two BA’s and an MA – all because I do not believe in quitting. I broke my leg my third year of getting my MA and learned to drive with my left foot so I could continue going to class because I knew that if I took the rest of the semester off, I would never go back. I set my sights on a goal and just push forward since I’ve never been very lucky or relied on circumstances to get what I want.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Wow – I’d tell them there’s a fine line between keeping discipline and being a hard nose about following the rules. I’d tell them that there will be times when you won’t sleep because you’re worried, or you’re scared, or you’re frustrated, or you’re stuck – and all of those sleepless nights will be worth it when just one student comes back to thank you or remembers you fondly later in life. I’d say that no matter how much your budget gets cut just keep on keeping on. Arts education is important and students need this creative edge as well as a haven – be these things and more.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

If I had $500,000 I would build a separate arts facility for Wiscasset Middle High School – one with adequate space and light for the visual arts, a clean, soundproof room for band and chorus, and a dedicated space for the construction of sets, the construction and storage of costumes, and a place for all performances. If this isn’t feasible due to budget constraints, I would overhaul the stage lighting, build a space for the construction and storage of sets, maybe get more tools, and have someone come in and design a much cleaner, more organized space for the lights.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

Who doesn’t have regrets? I guess my biggest regret would be that I didn’t reach more students, especially since many of them shied away from my program because they were anxious about performing or because they were afraid of me because of what they had heard from other people. I hope to have worked on the latter before I’m 94.

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In Today’s News

April 10, 2017

Music man White keeps tunes flowing as leader of band

This is a great great great article about Medomak Valley High School senior Patrick White.

From the article… During Medomak Valley High School home varsity basketball games this winter, the Panthers had many student-athletes they looked at to help guide the teams to success on the court, but to keep the music flowing, and the energy in the gymnasium festive and upbeat during timeouts and halftime, there was only one leader of the band and that young man was Patrick White.

White, an 18-year-old senior, was the guiding force behind the pep band as he and his small, dedicated group of music-loving schoolmates kept the tunes flowing and gave games a fun, dramatic, almost big-time collegesque-flair.

White said: “Having the opportunity to direct and be a part of such an amazing group of people is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget,” he said. “It’s funny, because you’d think that playing with a band and playing a sport are two totally different things, but I really think that in a lot of aspects they’re actually the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to break a full-court press, or if you’re running the same four measures of a certain song over and over again to get the timing right: you need a lot of patience, practice, and persistence if you’re going to be successful.”

“Probably one of the biggest skills you need to have in either activity is the ability to be a good listener, because, frankly, we’re all wrong way more than we like to think we are. Hearing and implementing what everyone has to say not only helps you see things in a different light, but in the long run will make everyone happier and more successful. At the end of the day you’re a team, regardless of whether your pregame huddle is in a locker room or next to a drum set.”

To read the entire article written by Ken Waltz CLICK HERE.

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