Posts Tagged ‘Maine Arts Commission’

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Arts Accessibility

January 14, 2019

What does it mean?

This post is reprinted with permission from Shawna Barnes’ blog located at THIS LINKShawna is a Teaching Artist Leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALi). She is a ceramic sculptor and mixed media artist who loves sharing her passion with others. Shawna is a strong advocate for the arts being accessible to all. She is an Army veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF 7) from 2009-2010. Shawna lives with several disabilities including myasthenia gravis, cervical dystonia, seizures, hypermobility joint syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, and PTSD. 

Shawna created a survey on arts accessibility which you are invited to complete; access it at THIS LINK

One of the things I talk about a lot is the phrase “arts accessibility” and the fact that I am an advocate for it. In discussions with colleagues and friends, I realized that it isn’t really a clear term. This point was driven home even further when I included the question “What does arts accessibility mean to you” in a survey I shared asking for feedback regarding educators’ struggles with arts accessibility in the classroom/studio. So I figured I’d take some time and provide an overview on all the different possible definitions of arts accessibility and what it means to me.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #1

For me, it started when I was exploring different opportunities for artist residencies, workshops,  and seminars. As someone with mobility impairments, I always had to ask if the facility was accessible. No…….handicap accessible, not accessible from the highway. One of the things I discovered was that most of the facilities are not friendly or easy to navigate for those of us who have any type of mobility impairment/disability. This was a discovery made long before I became a teaching artist leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative; it was then, however, that arts accessibility became my pet project. I was disappointed and downright bummed out about missing out on some amazing learning opportunities because the studio spaces were on the second floor of an old barn with no elevator access… or down several flights of outside stairs down the side of a cliff…or lacking any sort of climate control (air conditioning or heat source). And those barriers were from just a few of the locations I looked at locally. The facilities themselves are spectacular and amazing; drawing high caliber artists and professionals from around the world… This is just one example of what arts accessibility could look like – the most literal definition of the phrase – physical accessibility to a facility.

My disabilities are acquired; I was not born with them.  As a result, I am acutely aware on all the amazing things I am missing out on as a result. That FOMO (fear of missing out) is real ladies and gentleman, and the sting is one that is ever present. I quietly made it my mission to let the administrators of these facilities know that I was deeply saddened to be missing out because the facilities were not accessible. Some enlightening and hopeful conversations have been had as a result of this dialogue.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #2

Another quite literal definition of the term is actually having access to the arts. This includes students having access to art classes at their school, having nearby museums or art studios to attend, local theaters and dance halls, et al. There was a big focus on STEM curriculum, and as a result the creative arts saw a lot of cuts in Prek-12 curriculum. Recently however, administrators, educators, and clinicians are acknowledging the importance art has in youth development. This re-discovery has transitioned STEM curriculum to STEAM with the A standing for the arts. There are still many students who do not have the opportunity to take an art class – either one offered as part of their daily curriculum OR after school activities. This access barrier extends well beyond academic and includes all people who have interest in learning more about a topic in art.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #3

A third definition of “arts accessibility” is one of economic hardship. Learners of all ages who live in impoverished communities lack the financial means to be able to explore the creative arts. In areas where art and band are still offered as part of the middle/high school curriculum it’s less of an issue; at least they have the exposure to a creative outlet. However for others where these classes are not available, lacking the financial ability to enroll in after school classes at studios or arts organizations is a barrier. Economic barriers prevent access… which leads me to my next definition…

Arts Accessibility – Definition #4

Accessibility to the arts could have nothing to do with infrastructure and everything to do with the abilities of the staff. For adults and children with a wide range of developmental disabilities, the physical access definition is less important than having access to teachers who are able to meet them where they’re at. What I mean by that, is that for many in this demographic, teaching/leading them through an art class takes considerable patience and an understanding of how their brain functions. When families find artists/educators who ARE qualified and adept at working with these populations, the financial barrier is then factored in. Finding and hiring experienced artists can be expensive.  Investing in custom equipment and tools to allow the student the highest level of engagement in activities can be cost prohibitive.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #5

My fifth and final definition for arts accessibility, is one of the psychological variety. It has everything to do with the possible/potential student. The commonly accepted definition/understanding of creativity is that it’s something artists have. If the student feels and truly believes that they just don’t have the skill to create anything worthwhile and thus are defeated before they even try, that is a barrier to access. If it’s one thing I LOVE doing…it’s breaking down this particular barrier to arts access. It is a barrier that anyone can break down and help the student over if the teacher has the right tools in their toolbox.

And there ya have it. Those are MY five definitions of what  arts accessibility barriers could look like. There’s likely more that I haven’t thought of or come across yet. In future posts, I will break down each definition and explain how I personally work towards overcoming the barrier to access. It’s just as much about breaking down the stigma that only artists can appreciate art and reap benefits from a creative outlet as it is about providing opportunities for people to explore activities they’d never considered.

What does “arts accessibility” mean to you? How do you overcome the barriers?

You can follow Shawna at the following: 

www.shawnabarnes.com
www.facebook.com/shawn.n.m.barnes
www.instagram.com/shawna.n.m.barnes

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Maine Excellence in Arts Education Celebration

December 7, 2018

Maine Arts Commission to honor Excellence in Arts Education

The Maine Arts Commission will honor nine schools – nine visual art educators – 36 students for their artwork – 158 students for their music – two music educators at the Maine State House with a special reception with First Lady Ann LePage in the Hall of Flags, December 11, 2:00 p.m.

Marshwood Middle School is recognizing their students in the arts with this sign outside their school!

Starting December 1, 2018 through April 2019, the Arts Commission is featuring an art exhibit of 45 pieces that will include for the first time ever, student work combined with their respective art teacher’s work. The student art exhibit is being showcased throughout the State House Capitol building, the Burton M. Cross building, and the offices of the Maine Arts Commission. Additionally, each student artist and their families are invited to the Hall of Flags for a special reception on December 11, starting at 2 p.m. The reception includes student performances and a certificate ceremony with First Lady Ann LePage.

Acrylic painting by grade 8 student Lydia Phipps, Marshwood Middle School

“The Maine Arts Commission believes it is essential for every student to have access to a quality and comprehensive visual and performing arts education,” said Julie Richard, Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission. “The arts let’s students develop the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills necessary to succeed in the ever changing diverse and global economies of today’s world. “

The following schools, teachers and 4 students from each school will be honored and featured in the student exhibit:

  • Gorham Middle School, Teacher: Amy Cousins
  • Hancock Grammar School, Teacher: Jane Snider
  • Jonesport Elementary and Jonesport Beals High School, Teacher: Lisa Marin
  • Marshwood Middle School, Eliot, Teacher: Melanie Crowe
  • Maranacook Middle School, Readfield, Teacher: Hope Lord
  • Oxford Hills High School, South Paris, Teacher: Cindi Kugell
  • Brewer High School, Teacher: Lori Spruce
  • Richmond Middle School and High School, Teacher: Jeff Orth
  • Waterville High School, Teacher: Suzanne Goulet

“Great Third Hill” created by Marshwood Middle School art teacher Melanie Crowe

Two choruses will be recognized and performing at the celebration. Seventy five students will be traveling from Sedomocha School in Dover-Foxcroft with their music teacher Kaitlin Young. Traveling from Marshwood Middle School in Eliot will be seventy five students with their music teacher Kris Bisson. Their programs will highlight their amazing students and a collaborative project that Kris’ students participated with teaching artist Brian Evans-Jones.

All of the teachers involved are teacher leaders in the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, a program of the Maine Arts Commission.

The reception is open to the public on Tuesday, December 11, 2:00 p.m.

For more information about the Maine Excellence in Arts Education please contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education at 207-287-2713, argy.nestor@maine.gov.

For more information about the Maine Arts Commission’s programs and services, please visit www.MaineArts.com; follow the agency on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, or contact the offices at 207-287-2724.

 

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Poetry Out Loud Resources

December 4, 2018

Coming soon

Brian Evans-Jones, teaching artist and poet created a set of “exercises” that will be made available to Maine students and teachers to be used to help prepare them for the Poetry Out Loud (POL) program and for teaching and learning poetry. Recently students, poet and film makers converged on Deering High School in Portland to tape the exercises.

Maine’s 2018 POL champ Allan Monga, senior from Deering and 2018 POL state finalist Emma Lombardo, senior from Westbrook High School provided their POL experiences to demonstrate multiple recitation ideas. They are both amazing young people – I was so impressed with their thoughtfulness during the taping.

Brian directed the individual video clips, Ryan Leighton, Maine Arts Commission marketing & communications director and film maker Cody Mitchell taped hours of footage. It will be edited to create a set of resource videos that will be made available at the beginning of December 2018.

This is an amazing opportunity for Maine! It was great to see the learning taking place for all involved. Thank you to Deering High School principal Gregg Palmer for making the arrangements at the school.

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Huey on Maine Calling

December 3, 2018

Henry Thoreau

Katahdin from Abol Bridge. This may be the first viewpoint from which Thoreau would have seen Katahdin in its full glory.

Today, Monday December 3, 1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m., film maker Huey is a guest on Maine Calling, Maine Public Radio. They will be discussing his film, Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul.

Joining Huey on the show will be Kristen Case, Assistant Professor of English, University of Maine, Farmington and Darren Ranco, Chair of Native American Programs, University of Maine.  Both Kristen and Darren are in the film. 
You can listen to the show live at 1:00 p.m. by tuning into 90.1FM in Portland, 90.9FM in Bangor and online at THIS LINKThe rebroadcast of the show can be heard in the evening on December 3, 8:00 p.m. 

Huey

Next Thursday, December 6, 10PM, Maine Public Television will Broadcast Surveyor of the Soul.  This is a television only broadcast and can’t be seen online.

As always DVDs of all of Huey’s films, including Surveyor of the Soul and his documentary on jazz legend Marian McPartland, can be purchased in the Store”.
Huey is a member of the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster. He is available for artists residency’s in schools and communities. If you have questions please contact  Huey at huey@filmsbyhuey.com.
Check out Huey on FACEBOOK or follow Huey on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM
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Caitlin Hunt’s Story

November 29, 2018

Samantha Smith Challenge

Thank you to Caitlin Hunt, Warsaw Middle School teacher, who shares an amazing story about her students participation in the Samantha Smith Challenge. Yesterday’s blog post provides an overview of Americans Who Tell the Truth and the Samantha Smith Challenge and how you can participate this year. This is a powerful statement that Caitlin shared from her experience of bringing art into her classroom: “Perhaps it is this empathy borne out of their art that helps them to better understand the true meaning of social justice.” Below is Caitlin’s, and her students, story in her own words…

Artist Robert Shetterly speaking to students

I have been a middle school teacher for 13 years, and I can honestly say that the Samantha Smith Challenge, (SSC) which my students and I participated in last year, provided some of the most important and exciting learning we have ever had in my class. SSC is a program of Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) established by artist Robert Shetterly. Many of the 70 students I taught in my 8th grade social studies class last year were not academically motivated and struggled just to complete assignments. Many of them required considerable support, and had completely lost interest in school. However, I noticed those who had become apathetic were constantly drawing during my class and I realized that art might be a motivator for my students. At that time, I had no idea that bringing the arts into my social studies classes would dramatically improve my students’ knowledge, their confidence, and their ability to empathize with people in situations much different than their own. And perhaps it is this empathy borne out of their art that helps them to better understand the true meaning of social justice.

Student created flyer for gallery opening

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Together the students and I studied the United Nations document, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as our anchor text. After they developed an in depth understanding of the 30 basic human rights outlined by the document, they chose the one that was most meaningful to them. Each student was charged with researching current events around the world, to see if the human right which they chose was being denied anyone, or any groups of people around the world. They focused in on this particular event, and learned as much about it as possible. It was interesting to me how much the information they discovered shocked them. Many of them had no idea about the extent of these injustices. After my students showed a full understanding of the injustice, they designed and created works of art, and wrote artist statements, based on their understanding of the denial of this human right.

Art in the Lobby

We titled our project You Be The Judge: Justice Through Art. Our mission statement, the art work, news and images of the students’ work in gallery displays, and our thank-yous can be viewed on the website the students and I created after we finished the project.

AUTHENTIC WORK

The students knew their work would be shown in at least one gallery display. We were fortunate to be able to set up our week long gallery display in an old school house that we named that currently serves as an office building in our town of Pittsfield. We named it Lancy Street Gallery. The students became docents, showing community members around the gallery, and explaining individual pieces to anyone visiting. Their understanding of

Bailey Working

this authentic audience, along with their commitment to the issues they researched, helped them create and participate in quality work throughout the project. We all worked extremely hard to complete pieces, edit artist statements, hang the gallery display, and show the work. What was so different about this project was that the students were no longer struggling with motivation. They saw the importance in what they were doing. They understood that they could teach their fellow community members. Their work reached beyond the local gallery we created with showings at the Universalist Meeting House in Pittsfield, Waterfall Arts  “Young Artists’ Gallery Takeover” exhibition in Belfast, and Art in the Lobby at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville.

Holocaust and Human Rights Center, Augusta

Along the way, as we were in the thick of the rigorous work it takes to pull off a project like this, it was connections to the real world outside the classroom walls that kept us going. We were able to visit the Holocaust and Human Rights Center in Augusta that, at the time, had an amazing exhibit called America Now… A Dialogue. We also visited the Portland Museum of Art where students participated in case studies to look into other works of art connected to social justice.

VISIT FROM ROBERT SHETTERLY

Universalist Meeting House

As a part of participating in the Samantha Smith Challenge, artist Robert Shetterly visited our school. His talks inspired many students to dive deeper into the current events they found. He challenged them to look at situations from multiple perspectives and he helped make connections between my students and some of the “courageous citizens” he painted. These experts shared their first hand knowledge with my students. It was so powerful for the kids to hear from people who work on the front lines of the issues they had become so passionate about.

DISTRICT REQUIREMENTS

Visit to Portland Museum of Art

Before we started the project I identified the district standard we would be addressing throughout, “researching, selecting, and presenting a position on a current social studies issue by proposing and revising research questions, and locating and selecting information from multiple and varied sources.” I used our district learning targets, to create a rubric for assessment. In order to meet standards, students had to do the following: 1. Summarize and interpret information found in varied sources and from fieldwork, experts, and interviews. 2. Distinguish between primary and secondary sources. 3. Evaluate and verify the credibility of the information found in print and non-print sources. 4. Make individual and collaborative decisions on matters related to social studies using relevant information and research and discussion skills. Of course, along the way we participated in mini-lessons geared towards each part of these learning targets as well.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS LEAD TO PRIDE

Jackson, Docent at Lancy Street Gallery

After completion of the entire project, I sat down one weekend to assess their work using the rubric I had created at the beginning. When I came back to school on Monday, I told the students how fun and exciting it was to assess their work. Authentic, real-world application of their knowledge had earned nearly all them 4s or “exceeds standards” on their work. I told them I felt like Oprah doling out 4s instead of cars, “You get a 4, and you get a 4, and you get a 4!” Although, as I write this, I realize how ironic the term “exceeds standards” is. It was always my expectation that students would apply their new found knowledge in a real world situation; that was the whole point of the project. If we set our expectations high, students will rise to meet them, and then we can all be proud of the work we accomplish. Perhaps one of the most difficult, yet important parts of teaching is finding a way to inspire students to rise to those expectations. The Samantha Smith Challenge helped provide that inspiration for my students.

Part of the exhibit at Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Lancy St. Gallery Pittsfield

Ruby Working

Lancy Street Gallery Pittsfield

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Fall Into Dance

November 27, 2018

Community Dance Performance

One hundred and forty young dancers representing twelve schools and studios participated in the 4th annual Fall Into Dance performance at Thornton Academy on November 16. It was an amazing evening filled with energy, variety, and thought provoking dances. Students were confident, skilled, fun and serious. They danced with their hearts and it was clear that they were invested and passionate about their dancing. I was reminded over and over about how critical dance education is to the development of each young person. I was very impressed!

A great big THANK YOU to Emma Arnestam Campbell, Thornton Academy dance teacher, and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader (MAL), for her time and energy behind helping to establish this yearly performance. And, thank you to the many dance educators, instructors, and parents who help make the performance possible. And, the students who have dance in their hearts!

The money raised goes directly to the Maine Arts Commission Dance Education Grant. This year, in spite of the snowy weather, the event raised $3,810.00. To date the dance education grant has awarded $17,421.00. Dancers Making a Difference contributing one year to this grant in addition to the funds raised by Fall Into Dance. All of this money goes directly to schools to create a dance education opportunity that works towards establishing dance education programs.

The grant will be available this winter, watch for the announcement in this blog and the weekly email to the arts education list-serv. (Consider subscribing to this blog on the right side of this page so you don’t miss the announcement).

To learn more about the Maine Arts Commission Dance Education grant please go to THIS LINK

Students from the following participated:

  • Berwick Academy
  • Brixham Danceworks
  • Community Dance Project
  • Dance Moves Maine
  • Drouin Dance Center
  • Exchange Street Studio
  • Miss Annabelle’s Dance
  • New England Dance Project
  • Portland Youth Dance
  • Steppin’ Out Dance Center
  • Studio for the Living Arts Dance Complex
  • Thornton Academy

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Critical Friend Days

November 26, 2018

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative

What happens when you bring together arts teachers, teaching artists, and arts leaders who are committed to arts education? An opportunity for all to learn at a very high level. On October 13 and November 13 – both rainy days and one a little snowy – educators traveled from all parts of the state for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Critical Friend Days.

CRITICAL FRIEND DAY

Critical Friend Day provides an opportunity for MALI educators to share their “Logic Model” work that has been underway since the summer institute and for some before that time. Each educator has taken on a challenge that they wish to work on and devise a plan to solve the challenge. They share their projects to date and get feedback from “critical friends”.

Some of the topics:

  • Collaboration & Emotional Intelligence
  • Poetry and Improv Play Together!
  • Empty Bowls- Nourished Hearts!
  • Increasing Art Instruction at the Elementary Level
  • Authentic Pre-Assessment
  • Dance, Sculpture, Our Ocean
  • Self-Care in Education
  • Quality Elementary Music for ME
  • Math and Music : The Leonardo Effect
  • Theater Today, Building the Foundation
  • Valley K-12 Art Curriculum

In addition to sharing their Logic Models other educators are invited to take on the role of “critical friend” that we define this way: “critical” – expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art. “Friend” – a person who gives assistance. Both are done in a direct and gentle helpful way. Feedback from the day includes: We want the teacher leaders to create the best work possible so please be honest in your feedback. Thanks so much for your participation!

FEEDBACK

MALI education leaders and invited critical friends often say that the day is their favorite one of the year. A few comments from the participants are included below.

  • I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to hear and see what educators are doing across the state.
  • I LOVE hearing about what people are doing.
  • For Theater Today I certainly struggled with what I wanted to present and what I wanted for feedback. I found just putting it all out there and having a supporting critical friend room was wonderful and filled with growth. For Poetry and Improv this work keeps showing its beautiful placement.
  • It was good to see how committed these presenters are to their work as teaching artists. I was also impressed by how articulately they talked about their work and how it serves their students.

The day ended with an opportunity to do theater improv lead by MALI Teaching Artist Leader Nicole Cardano. The group created a “Dragon” which you can see in the video below.

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