Dear Friends of Arts to Grow:
We’ve had a great first year. Since September, ATG has partnered with five out-of-school-time programs, six teaching artists, and worked with more than 120 young people ages 6 -14! I’d like to share with you more about what we’ve done and what we’re planning for next year.
During the 2006 winter/spring cycle, Arts to Grow started new programs with the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center (East Harlem) and the Queens Public Library. At Stanley Isaacs, teaching artist Donelle Estey guided fourth and fifth graders in a ten week long introduction to watercolors and acrylics. Children learned about basic color mixing using watercolor, acrylic paints, paper and canvas. They experimented with abstract patterns, and completed projects based on favorite foods, and reoccurring themes. At the Woodside Branch, Queens Public Library, young people ages 9-12 created Japanese cartoons and mixed-media collages during a four week long pilot program lead by teaching artist Donelle Estey.
In our second program at the Elysian Charter School (Hoboken), teaching artist Patricia Runcie lead twelve students in grades third through sixth in a ten week long adventure in creating original theater. Students learned improvisation skills, and played imaginative theater games as preparation for creating and performing their own original play. Through this process, they learned to trust one another, to work together as a creative team, and to viscerally understand the power of an ensemble. On Wednesday, May 24 students held two performances of Story Soup, one for their peers, and a second for family and friends.
The interviewing evaluator had this to report from students: “I learned how to be more patient and how to be a better listener”, “the class helped me understand why interrupting my peers is bad”, 100% of the students said the class was a lot of fun and they would like to participate again.
Through written surveys, parents also spoke about the class: “My daughter comes home excited about creating, and seems more outgoing, and willing to learn”, another parent wrote, “My child loves the whole idea of putting together an entire play, and she is getting better at showing self-confidence, and the ability to perform in front of others.”
An important component of Arts to Grow programs is the proud moment when students share their work with peers, family, and community members. Young people exhibited work at the conclusion of our visual arts programs at PS 75 (Manhattan) and Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center (East Harlem) and performed original pieces at Mott Hall II Middle School (Manhattan) and Elysian Charter School (Hoboken).
In March, we welcomed Sara Lise Raff who will be helping to create frameworks for hiring, evaluating and supporting teaching artists. As part of this process, she also conducted site-visits to three of our programs. Sara Lise comes to ATG having held positions as a NYC Public School teacher, NYC Board of Education Project Arts liaison, and the director of programs for Education Through Music
Under the leadership of Michael Wiemeyer, founder, Designlounge is providing Arts to Grow pro-bono creative services including the creation of a new logo and launching of a fully-designed website for fall 2006. Brooklyn-based, Designlounge, Inc., is a visual communications and design studio specializing in corporate and brand identity, complex and integrated marketing communications, and web site design. Their clients include: Yale University, Parsons School of Design, International Center for Transitional Justice, and Good Shepherd Services. Thank you very much Designlounge for your significant creative contribution to Arts to Grow!
Two strategic planning meetings in February and March brought together the expertise and energy of professionals who have been critical to helping build Arts to Grow. Lynn Levy, Sara Lise Raff, Charla Austin, Eve Baker, and Amanda Zenteno joined Mallory King to discuss topics including: the changing infrastructure needs as ATG expands partnerships, goals of on-going program evaluation, and guiding principles that will unify all ATG programming. These meetings set the tone for on-going conversations and planning.
In February, Lynn S. Levy joined the Arts to Grow’s board of directors as treasurer. Lynn brings over 25 year experience in financial management for major nonprofit and for profit arts and entertainment organizations including Lincoln Center and Leonard Bernstein. Currently, he is specializing in business management services for small and growing businesses. Lynn’s broad knowledge of business development, lifelong involvement with the arts, and commitment to ATG’s growth are a tremendous asset.
With a year of programming to draw from, a key focus over the coming months will be defining Arts to Grow’s core principles of learning through the arts. We will be collecting input from a wide range of people involved in Arts to Grow’s work and using this information to help guide us in the future.
Our goal for year two is to expand our current five partners to a total of eight to ten partners. Equally important will be a focus on putting into action core principles and practices, and building the necessary resources to ensure quality as we work with more kids and teaching artists.
We are happy to announce our first new partnership of fall 2006 – the Riverdale Neighborhood House (North Bronx). In addition, discussion and planning is currently underway with a wide range of potential partners, both community organizations and schools. They include a number of NYC public high schools: Urban Assembly School of Music & Art (Brooklyn), Urban Assembly School of Media (Manhattan), Urban Assembly School of Government & Law (Manhattan), Brooklyn. Other potential partners are the Sports Foundation (South Bronx), Hoboken Organization Against Poverty & Economic Stress, the Jersey City Public School’s CASPER After School program, and the Boys & Girls Club of Hudson County (Hoboken).
Our goal is to seek funding for these new partnerships from many sources including philanthropic and fee for service. Arts to Grow is currently in the process of obtaining approval to be an arts education services provider for the New York City Department of Education. We are also pleased to have entered into a fundraising partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Hudson County (Hoboken), the Sports Foundation (South Bronx) and Academy Firehouse (Newark), to bring ATG programs to the least served young people in our community.
Thank you for your interest and support. Arts to Grow’s success depends on the involvement of supporters, partners and friends. Enjoy the summer months ahead!
Arts to Grow