Posts Tagged ‘Maine Arts Commission’

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Happy Arts Education Month

March 1, 2021

Celebrate!

On Wednesday, February 17 Arts Education Advocacy Day was celebrated during a zoom a plenary session provided by the Arts are Basic Coalition (ABC) and the Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) working with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Arts Commission. All of Maine’s professional arts education organizations leaders are members of ABC and presented along with amazing student voices. I’m sure many of the Maine Arts Education blog readers attended.

Commissioner of Education, Pender Makin, participated in the event and I think her message is a great place to start March – Arts Education Month. I encourage you to share her message with your colleagues (visual and performing arts educators and all others), with parents, school board members and your community members. The archive of the plenary session will be available and provided by MAAE in the very near future.

COMMISSIONER PENDER MAKIN’S MESSAGE

We (MDOE) value the arts in education extremely highly and perhaps above everything else and here’s why: it’s more than the pragmatic use of the arts to build the architecture, the neural pathways within brains that their engagement in the arts definitely develops, allowing them to better learn and more deeply learn all of their other content. That’s important but it’s not that, it goes beyond the creativity, the self-expression. Even goes beyond the social emotional pieces. It goes beyond the power of the arts which is so critically important at this time above all other times to heal a broken society, to find and create unity in divisiveness. It goes beyond that even. And here’s what I think it is. Arts in education, especially in public education, where every child is supposed to have their very best shot provided for them is critical because it ultimately makes life worth living. The arts make all the other business we do worth doing. It is critical now and always has been but we really need to move forward that we provide equity of opportunity, equity of access, and make sure that all of our arts opportunities are widely available and represent the demographics in the surrounding community.”

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MICA

February 21, 2021

Maine Arts Commission provided conference

Thanks to the Maine Arts Commission outstanding staff another fantastic Maine International Conference on the Arts (MICA) took place this year. Even though it happened virtually the quality of presentations was outstanding. And, fortunately the amazing sessions were recorded and available for you to watch them over and over by CLICKING HERE.  

In addition to the workshops the performances are available to watch as well by CLICKING HERE. They vary greatly and the topics are very interesting. It’s a great way to listen and learn about something you’re curious about or perhaps you’ve never heard of. Scan through the titles and descriptions, make a list of what you’d like to watch and when. Grab your favorite snack and sit back in a comfy chair and enjoy each and every one.

One of the workshops during the conference was called Creating Welcoming Spaces. As a follow up to that workshop MAC is offering a follow-up session. In this continued conversation happening LIVE February 25 at 1 p.m. on the Maine Arts Commission’s Facebook Page, moderator Marty Pottenger will again be joined by Samuel James, Brigid Rankowski, Chris Newell, Nyamoun Nquany Machar (Moon), and Bridget Matros to discuss the long term work needed to make our spaces and programs more all-embracing,  accessible, and genuinely welcoming to our increasingly diverse community of Mainers. 

Everyone attending this event  is encouraged to watch the first session from the Virtual MICA conference.

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Teaching Artists Residencies During Covid

February 20, 2021

Possible and yes, happening!

In December 2020 Martha Piscuskas, director of Arts Education at the Maine Arts Commission (MAC), moderated a discussion with teaching artists and a middle schooler called School Arts Residencies During COVID? Yes We Can! Included in the discussion were teaching artists: Bridget Matros, Alicia Phelps, Tim Christensen, and Dana Lagawiec with student Theo Forcier, Mt. Ararat Middle School. They discussed keys to success for remote school artist residencies and what they’re doing during the pandemic to further connections and learning opportunities for Maine learners.

The webinar was recorded and archived on YouTube and can be viewed below. The video opens with Martha sharing a land acknowledgment. Bridget Matros (starts at 4:30) is the Kids & Family Outreach Manager at Waterfall Arts and she is in the middle of a residency in Brunswick provided by the well established Arts Are Elementary program. She shares the set up in how she is teaching multiple learners in more than one space at one time. Alicia Phelps (starts at 12:00) teaches piano and voice and is Director of Community Partnerships and Special Programs at the community music center in Yarmouth, 317 Main. She is a recipient of a MAC grant. Tim is a ceramic artist (starts at 22:00) and became a Teaching Artist Leader with MAC’s Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) in Phase 6, 2016-17. Dana (starts at 31:15) does creative theater and became a Teaching Artist Leader with MALI Phase 7, 2017-18. The session finishes with circus artist MALI Phase 6, 2016-17 MALI Teaching Artist Brigid Rankowski monitoring questions. During the summer of 2020 MALI transformed into Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership (MAEPL). Tim, Dana, Bridget, and Brigid are on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster.

RESOURCES FROM THE WEBINAR

MAC has the following education specific grants available with a deadline of April 1, 2021. Learn more by clicking on the grant title. Arts LearningCreative AgingDance Education. If you have any questions please contact Martha at Martha.Piscuskas@maine.gov.

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Former President Visits Portland

February 19, 2021

Barack Obama converses with Telling Room students

On January 26 former President Barack Obama participated in a zoom conversation with 26 students from Portland’s Telling Room’s Young Writers & Leaders program, an after-school creative writing and leadership program for international and multicultural students. For security reasons the virtual conversation was kept quiet but fortunately the conversation was videotaped and you can see the edited version below that was released this week to the media.

President Obama talked with the students about his recently published memoir, “A Promised Land.” Each student received a copy and were clearly thrilled for the opportunity to ask the President some questions and hear from him about writing and other topics. He talked a little about his play list and admits that he can’t listen while writing because he starts singing and moving. His final advice to the group was to “reach out to those who are doing what they want to be doing and ask them to teach you”.

The relationships with the Obama family has been going on for some time. Co-founder of the Telling Room, Sara Corbett is friends with Michelle Obama and helped with the President’s memoir. You can read the entire article in The Portland Press Herald, published on February 18th.

Telling Room’s Young Writers & Leaders program, an after-school creative writing and leadership program for international and multicultural students. 

Telling Room Mission

At the Telling Room, we empower youth through writing and share their voices with the world. Focused on young writers ages 6 to 18, we seek to build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for our students. We believe that the power of creative expression can change our communities and prepare our youth for future success.

One the years The Telling Room has been a recipient of Arts Learning Grants provided by the Maine Arts Commission. Their story has been shared on this blog in the past. Learn more about available funding for arts education on the Maine Arts Commission website.

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Arts Education Advocacy Day

February 16, 2021

Don’t miss it!

REGISTER HERE TO PARTICIPATE

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Congrats David Greenham

February 15, 2021

Maine Arts Commission appoints David Greenham as Interim Executive Director


AUGUSTA, MAINE–At its meeting on January 26, the Maine Arts Commission voted to appoint David Greenham of Gardiner as the interim Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission for a term of at least two years. 

Greenham, 60, replaces Julie Richard, who served as Executive Director for eight years before accepting a new position in Arizona in December. 

“I’m honored and surprised at this turn of events,” said Greenham, who had served two years as the Commission’s chair. “I know the Maine Arts Commission well and am excited to work with the wonderful staff at the Commission and with the field of so many creative individuals and organizations.” 

David Greenham

Greenham has spent the past decade working for the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, and for the past two years as the Associate Director. He led the HHRC’s award-winning educational programs, and also created numerous exhibits and events. Since 2009 Greenham has also been a lecturer in Drama at the University of Maine at Augusta. Prior to his work for the HHRC, Greenham led The Theater At Monmouth for 14 years and has been active in the arts community of Maine since coming to the state in 1985.

“For the past two years, David has led with a commitment to process, transparency and inclusion,” said Cynthia Orcutt, the Vice Chair of the Maine Arts Commission.  “His love for the arts, for artists, creatives and makers throughout the state of Maine drives his passion. The Board is thrilled David will now focus his efforts on directing the work of Commission staff and partners as they strengthen and support arts, artisans and culture.” 

Greenham assumes the leadership role as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit arts organizations and individual artists particularly hard. Arts venues were among the first to shutter last March and will likely be among the last to open in the aftermath of the public health crisis. During the leadership transition, Julie Horn, the Arts Commission’s Director of Visual Arts, was appointed to serve as the Assistant Director of the agency. 

“We are elated that David will play a major role in our agency’s development over the next two years,” Horn said. “His commitment to the arts in Maine is unquestionable, and as Chair he always inspired us to find imaginative ways to meet the needs of the arts and culture community.”

The Maine Arts Commission staff will first focus on COVID relief and helping the field recover for this long and challenging pandemic. While the loss of life and the loss of livelihood have been the central detriment, Greenham said he still finds hope in the way that so many artists and organizations have found creative ways to share their work. “I know we’ll use these experiences to emerge with new strength and determination to celebrate,” Greenham said. “The arts will lead the emotional recovery from COVID.”

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Union of Maine Visual Artists

February 2, 2021

Journal Winter 2021

The Union of Maine Visual Artists (UMVA) represents visual artists statewide in all fields of endeavor and welcomes those who support contemporary artists in Maine. The UMVA is dedicated to upholding the dignity of artists, while creating positive social change through the arts. By collaborating with other cultural and progressive organizations, we raise awareness for significant issues while promoting an inclusive arts community in Maine.

The winter edition of the Union of Maine Visual Artists journal includes a piece on the Open Art Teachers Studio. The article was written by Bronwyn Sale, Martha Piscuskas, Iva Damon, and Melanie Crowe and describes the opportunity for art teachers to come together for five sessions and create art together for an hour each time. One participant said: “It was good to see people’s faces and to feel connected.” We know how difficult it can be to feel connected to others and during the pandemic that has been highlighted even more. It was wonderful that Open Art Teachers Studio provided a chance to come together, make and share art, and know that the community is there. READ the entire article.

Melanie Crowe, Fish Back in Water, 2020
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Maine Arts Commission Funding

January 28, 2021

Deadlines for grant applications

The Maine Arts Commission has a variety of funding opportunities for educators and artists. Below are the dates that you may be interested in so please check out the information at THIS LINK to see all the grant descriptions or click on one of the grant titles below. You will need to establish an account if you don’t already have one in order to view the application and detailed information. The required match for all grants in the FY22 grant cycle is waived.

DEADLINES

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Maine Arts Education Advocacy Day

January 26, 2021

Sponsored by the Maine Alliance for Arts Education and the Arts are Basic Coalition, and supported by the Maine Department of Education, this 90-minute plenary session, featuring reports by Governor Janet T. Mills, Education Commissioner Pender Makin, and state arts education association leaders, will report on the impact of this year’s pandemic on arts education. The plenary will kick-off a week of meetings between high school arts advocacy student teams and their state legislators.

REGISTER NOW BY CLICKING HERE

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MALI Becomes MAEPL

December 8, 2020

Teacher Network Rebrands its Commitment to Arts Education

The Teacher Leader network known as MALI, or Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, has taken on the new mantle of MAEPL, Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership, with the revised mission to develop and promote high quality arts education for all.” Leaders of MAEPL say the new name and mission statement better encapsulates what this community of arts educators has been and will continue to be. The process evolved as a result of bringing in new staff and expanding the organization’s leadership structure. Jake Sturtevant, music educator at Falmouth High School, longtime MALI member and Chair of the MAEPL Vision Team, said, “We are still committed to partnering with each other to be resilient, compassionate, and curious Teacher Leaders for our students and in our communities.”

2014 Summer MALI Institute

MALI, now MAEPL, a program of the Maine Arts Commission, is a unique teacher leader development program specifically for preK-12 visual and performing arts (VPA) educators from across the state, one of the very few in the country.  Led by active educators, they focus on the emerging needs of the field.  Components of the year-long program for both classroom teachers and teaching artists in all arts disciplines include community-building, an annual Individualized Professional Development Plan, structured mutual accountability, and leadership development. Over 120 Maine VPA teachers, as well as teaching artists, have participated in the last ten years.  

Even before the pandemic, teachers of the arts often felt isolated.  School district-level trainings are often geared towards general or “core” subject teachers.  “I’m only one of two in my district teaching elementary music.  We are in our little islands, far from anyone else doing what we do,” said Kate Smith, 2014 York County Teacher of the Year and MAEPL Program Team Leader.  “MALI changed all that.” 

Pamela Kinsey, Lori Spruce, Kate Smith, Pam Chernesky, Julie Richard, Winter Retreat 2020

This past year the group took a deep dive into their own organizational structure, assessing and clarifying their policies and processes. Even through the pandemic, the Leadership Teams met and solicited input from the entire membership, and determined a new name, a refined mission, and a new logo. “We chose the whirling maple seed pod as our new symbol because we felt it reflected the best of what we do – taking new ideas, learning and sharing together, then planting them throughout our school communities,” said Jennie Driscoll, visual art educator at Brunswick High School and Vision Team member. “It’s got our energy.”  

In 2020 they also delivered a virtual Summer Institute to 50 VPA educators, addressing the social and emotional resiliency needed this year. In addition, many members led efforts to support and connect with other teachers quickly adjusting to online instruction, leading virtual seminars through the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Arts Commission.

Group exercise at Winter Retreat, 2020

 “MALI grew a wealth of resources and committed members over the years,” said the current Director of Arts Education for the Maine Arts Commission, Martha Piscuskas, referring to the online Resource Bank and Arts Assessment Resources website, available free to all teachers. “We wanted to build on those strengths.” In addition to the professional development programs, next steps include creating an advisory council, streamlining their web presence, and continued advocacy for the sector. 

The group formed in 2010 to focus on student assessments, an emerging need for visual and performing arts teachers at that time. After learning from other states, a small group of educators led by Argy Nestor, the former Director of Arts Education at the Commission, Rob Westerberg, Choral Director at York High School, and Catherine Ring, former school administrator and art teacher, created the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative. They established the multi-day Summer Institute, sharing a framework and best practices for successful arts assessment in the classroom. “We quickly became the assessment experts in our schools,” said Sturtevant. 

Hope Lord and Adele Drake, MALI Summer Institute 2017

In 2015 the group added “teacher voice” and advocacy to their mission, becoming the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI), again addressing emerging needs of the sector. “I never would have thought to seek out leadership positions, continue my graduate studies, or have presented at conferences without the support and influence of MALI,” said Iva Damon, visual art teacher and Humanities Department Head at Leavitt Area High School.    

For more information about MAEPL, and to learn about how to get involved, contact Director of Arts Education for the Maine Arts Commission, Martha Piscuskas at martha.piscuskas@maine.gov. Arts education resources developed over the years are accessible through the Maine Arts Commission’s website, https://mainearts.maine.gov/pages/programs/maai.

The Maine Arts Commission is a state agency supporting artists, arts organizations, educators, policy makers, and community developers to advance the arts in Maine since 1966.  www.Mainearts.com


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