October 2, 2014

AFA: Give us an introduction of yourself. Brennan

I am currently an undergraduate student at NYU Gallatin. I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. I have been involved in the arts for almost fifteen years. I love strawberries, paella, and pasta! My favorite color is blue. I speak two languages: Spanish and English. My favorite activities include, but are not limited to: reading in Washington Square Park, performing, watching Netflix when I can find the time, and painting with acrylics.

AFA: What are three words that best describe you?

Enthusiastic, motivated, and activist

AFA: Why AFA?

I found the mission of fostering creativity, teamwork, confidence, self-expression, and resilience to be something that is extremely important. The arts are a stepping stone for the enrichment of our youth. I know that from personal experience the arts were a truly eye-opening and critical component to my development as a human being. I also have a keen interest for supporting the underprivileged.

It is these passions that drew me to becoming involved with AFA. They uniquely serve the needs of many children who may not have had exposure to the arts.

AFA: As you stated earlier you are currently an undergraduate student at NYU? What are you studying?

Currently the plan is to study molecular biology and theatre. I know, I know, completely different! But my wish is to somehow connect these topics. In molecular biology, I am specifically interested in protein structure. Each function that the body carries out is the product of a specific protein in the body.I want to see what genetic mutations in DNA lead to a proclivity to certain mental illnesses and what the effect of these mutations has on protein structure.

On the theatre side of my interests, I am extremely passionate about acting and storytelling. It is one of the most powerful messages that a human being can possess. And that is why I think theatre would be an excellent form of therapy. I am specifically hoping to utilize theatre as a form of therapy for the mentally ill to promote confidence and resilience. These are especially important skills for people who have mental illnesses because every day they face some sort of discrimination due to social stigmas. I want to help change people’s way of thinking.

 

AFA: What’s your favorite piece of art? Be it theatre, a painting, a song…and why?

This is such a difficult question for me. Since I was three, I have been immersed in the arts. But two major pieces stand on in my mind. The first is Marc Chagall’s I and the Village. I have been fascinated by his work from the moment I came across his self-portrait in an art textbook in the seventh grade. After being tasked with creating a self-portrait based upon another artist’s creation, I was immediately drawn to Chagall’s use of color and space. He divided the image up into four subsections, which represented a vital part of his life. I loved how I could incorporate the subtleties of my life into a self-portrait like Chagall. Anyway what I love most about this painting is his authentic portrayal of Russian culture at the time. It’s simply superb.

My other favorite piece of art is a musical called Next to Normal. The musical deals with a family’s ability to cope with the circumstances and effects of mental illness. A close family member of mine suffers from schizophrenia. When I saw this musical, I immediately had a connection to the piece. So much of what happens throughout the musical mimicked moments in my entire life. The anguish and fear of the family resonated with me. I knew what it was like. Next to Normal is an extremely important piece of art that highlights the inequalities and injustices within the mental health system. One of the reasons I joined the AFA team was that I wanted to serve the underrepresented people of the world: to speak for those who cannot. Next to Normal achieves that message.

ChagallI and the Village, Marc Chagall

This past June, Arts For All partnered with Smart Design, an innovative design firm in Manhattan, and brought some of our students from PS 163 on a field trip their office in Chelsea.   Smart Design employees, in consultation with Arts For All Teaching Artist, Marissa Woolf, lead students in a visual arts workshop in which the students designed their favorite super hero’s accessories and superpower tools!  The workshop also offered our students insight into what one possible career in the arts looks like up close.

Arts For All students and Smart Design employees alike thoroughly enjoyed the day. A huge thank you to Smart Design for sponsoring this day!

Here are some great pictures from the field trip!

Smart Design field trip

smart design 5

 

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September 26th from 5:30-8:30pm, the Chipotle at 19 St Marks Place will donate 50% of purchases to Arts For All when you show them this flyer at the register.  This is a simple, delicious way to support Arts For All! #EatForChange!

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September 12, 2014

Arts For All recently partnered with Play On! Studios and brought almost 50 students in a summer program at SoBro to Play On’s production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Many of the students were seeing live theater for the first time.

According to Lena Moy-Borgen, Founding Director of Play On!, “the students were great audience members – other patrons even commented on how engaged and respectful the students were during the performance.”

Here are a couple pictures from the show.-2
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We hope to have many more successful collaborations with Play On! in the future!

By Robin Chan, Arts For All Intern

August 22, 2014

After years of budget cuts, schools may finally have the opportunity to rebuild their arts programs. Towards the end of June, the City had announced an additional $23 million allocation of funds for New York City schools to improve education in the arts for the 2014-2015 academic year. This is the ideal response to Comptroller Scott Stringer’s report in April, which posed concerns towards the steady decline of funding for arts education in the last seven years. In his report, he had noted that a staggering 28 percent of schools lacked a full-time certified arts teacher, 20 percent have neither a full- nor part-time certified arts teacher, and one in four middle and high schools lack partnership with an arts or cultural organization.

With many New York City schools having limited budgets, they often dedicate their funds to a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, neglecting to incorporate the arts into their curricula. This is particularly positive news for low-income public schools who may either revive old art programs or begin to provide them. The new investment aims to provide thousands of students with music, dance, visual arts, and theater classes. The budget allocation is also an effort to provide equality for all, entitling students to attend a school with a rich curriculum that includes the arts regardless of their residential neighborhood.

Amongst various investments through the budget allocation, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina had announced plans to allot $5 million to the hiring of 120 certified art teachers. An additional $2 million would go towards helping low-arts schools boost their arts programs by hiring borough-based arts teams as outlets of guidance and support. They also anticipate approximately $360,000 to support a partnership at Hunter College to train prospective art teachers to maintain and develop programs.

But why is it so important to integrate the arts into school curricula? According to Americans for the Arts, a non-profit organization similar to Arts For All that strives to ensure a well-rounded education that includes the arts for all individuals, research suggests impressive benefits of an arts education that includes increased student motivation, attitudes, and attendance. Further, “numerous reports discuss the ways that increased access and involvement in arts education encourage students to stay in school, succeed in school, succeed in life, and succeed in work.” Exposing the arts to children at a young age aims to cultivate an outlet of creativity to positively influence their daily activities.

Yet, it is important to acknowledge the distinction between “creativity” and “talent,” more specifically their dissociation. Rather, art is a process that stimulates the mind. Just as reading may eventually expand one’s vocabulary, creating art can similarly pose positive results on one’s overall learning process growing up. This is best done by providing young children with the tools to do so, and with the much-needed funding now available, Arts For All is thrilled that more children will be given the opportunity to explore the arts!

Mural 3Here’s a picture from an Arts For All Chicago mural project.

Audience Project slider 2014

Audience Project slider 2014

Arts For All is excited to announce our 2014 Audience Project tour.  This fall, we will be bringing a free, professional production of The Emperor’s New Clothes  to over 2,500 in-need children in New York City.  This production of the Hans Christian Anderson story was adapted by E Gray Simons III and presented at the Infinity Theatre Company in Annapolis, Maryland earlier this summer.

Please help us bring this show to as many children as possible by making a donation here.