Advocate with Grace
I had the honor of creating the Kennedy Center Youth Council (KCYC) in Spring 2016 with a specific mission of investigating how the Kennedy Center can positively impact and be positively impacted by youth. The KCYC founding was inspired by the Kennedy Center’s yearlong celebration of the centennial of John F. Kennedy’s birth, which included the exploration of citizen artistry, defined as using the arts for positive social impact. One of our most extraordinary KCYC members, an embodiment of the citizen artist ideology, is Grace Dolan-Sandrino. Grace, a 16-year old senior at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, has accomplished more than seasoned professionals twice her age.
“To My Fellow Combat Veterans”
I taught theatre in Lee’s Summit, MO for many years and had the privilege to work with many wonderful students. One of them I truly treasured was Richard Gibson, who went on to enlist in the Marines after high school and serve his country with honor. Richard wrote a letter in response to the budget situation facing the Missouri Legislature this year. From his words, I hope all elected officials realize the value of the arts in education. Adequate funding for schools keep arts programs alive. Public investment in arts agencies allows institutions in large cities and rural communities alike to provide arts opportunities for their citizens.
Ballet Folklorico? Not for me! Or, So I Thought
Arts education is important because it helps others express themselves into music, art, drawing and many other different forms that people use to show how they feel. It’s important for people to show how they feel so you don’t get depressed and push people away. This only makes you feel lonely and dark inside. For someone who is Mexican American, arts education is very important because it helps me learn about who I am and who my family is. And for me, my family is unique and full of culture.
Youth Finding a Voice, Finding a Stage
Excerpted from my interview with Xavier Harvey: “What I’ve noticed being an actor and being involved with Actors’ Shakespeare Project is the tools that art gives you is learning more to express yourself. So when you’re hit with a difficult angle at something and you don’t know how to go about it, you learn different ways to conquer those challenges and all those obstacles. And in my way and where I live and the people that I surround myself, I always think about if I was put in that position again, if I had an artist’s way of thinking then I would have taken these challenges different and made better choices in life.”
Through the Artist’s Lens: A Conversation with a Young Actor, Writer and Illustrator
Arts education means so much to so many people, it seems counterintuitive that its continuation in school communities and beyond is constantly under threat. I know that I would not be the person I am today, a successful and happy museum professional employed by the Smithsonian Institution, had I not had the opportunities in my youth to explore the vast world of visual art provided by my schools and local youth orgs. For the future of all our children, we must defend arts education every opportunity we get. With that in mind, I was extra delighted for the opportunity to get to know my colleague’s spirited and quite profound daughter better through this interview.
Arts Education Transforms Teaching, Learning, and the Lives of Our Young People
During this week of celebration, advocates in every state are working to secure equity in access to arts education and articulate the role of the arts as a pathway to academic success, specifically in the education of students of color, students in rural communities, students who are classified as low-socioeconomic status English Language Learners, or those who require special education. Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has stated, “This is absolutely an equity issue and a civil rights issue.” We recognize this issue. We stand against the barriers that cause this issue. And we are working to overcome this issue.
Game Designer at 17: How SAY Sí Changed My Life
In the short amount of time I’ve been at SAY Sí, they have made a great impact in my life. As a video game developer, I’ve gained so many connections and branched out as an artistic individual. SAY Sí has made me aware of my environment and my ability to influence as an activist for my community. The arts can mold and change perspectives only to be interpreted differently and we need to embrace the idea that art is capable of influencing the world. I think all youth deserve a creative outlet to express and evolve a future that is woke and powerful.
The Music in Me
Jada Quin is a 17-year-old singer-songwriter residing in Howell, NJ. She incorporates her own life experiences and those of others around her into her soul-searching lyrics. We had a wonderful conversation and it was great to share ways that our passions—music and visual art—while different from each other, provide us with similar delight and comfort and are indispensable parts of our lives. Coincidentally, but not surprisingly, we both took a path toward developing our talents with the help of an inspired arts educator.
I Grew Up in a Museum
At the age of 5 I could recite the definition of genocide and explain to people the history of California and its first actions to eliminate Native Americans as a state. My knowledge of the events that are commonly hidden from textbooks did not make me the popular kid in school. I was picked on, not only by kids, but by teachers. I was a know-it-all and viewed by my teachers as a challenge. My mom, the executive director of the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center, recognized that the problems Native children face today are not different from the ones that she faced as a child. To combat the misinformation and stereotypes surrounding our people, she turned to the arts.
Breaking Barriers at the San Diego International Airport through Dance
Performers co-create monthly performances at the airport in both pre- and post-security sites, including baggage claim, pedestrian bridges, escalators, near fountains and waiting gates, curbside, and at popular lunch spots. The approach has been, in part, to create scores (creative structures) that have a lot of improvisational movement so that the performers can adapt to the way people are moving through the physical environment. Each and every time, we take people by surprise as they encounter the performance happening around them in an unexpected way.
Feeling Threatened by Creativity? Here’s the Antidote
After reading the article “Most People are Secretly Threatened by Creativity,” I was depleted and infuriated. Creativity is the backbone of most of my identity as well as nearly 100% of the people I have come to know in varying communities including arts administration, marketing, event and hospitality management, and performing arts—even my engineering-focused friends at my alma mater were open-minded, creative vessels. So, what is with this idea that creativity is threatening?