August 31st, 2015

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How did you find out about Arts for All and why did you want to join the cause?

I am currently a student at a university in North Carolina, but am participating in their New York City program for this fall semester. After being accepted into the program I began looking for non-profit internships in the city that allowed me to work with children. I have always loved working with children, and therefore knew that I wanted to interact with them during my internship experience this fall. After reading what AFA was all about I immediately knew I wanted to be apart of their team. Growing up, the arts were a huge part of my life in elementary and middle school, and I knew being a part of an organization that strives to give children an opportunity to have the arts incorporated into their lives would be a great fit for me!

What do you do when you are not working at Arts for All?

This fall when I am not interning at Arts for All I will either be in class at Marymount Manhattan College or out exploring this incredible city that I am fortunate enough to be living in for the semester. I am very excited to start my psychology classes at Marymount, but even more excited to check off everything on my (extremely long) New York City bucket list!

Describe yourself in three words.

Adventurous, Hopeful, and Energetic.

What would you like to do after AFA and college?

Ideally, once I graduate from college I would like to take a year or two off from school in order to gain some work experience and travel. I then see myself going to graduate school in order to obtain a Masters Degree in Psychology, and ultimately becoming an adolescent psychologist.

What is your favorite piece of artwork whether visual, performance or other?

My favorite piece of artwork is the painting Poppy Field by Claude Monet. We have always had a copy of this painting hanging in my house. It is a simple painting and something I grew accustom to seeing daily for many years. This past January I was studying abroad in France, and during a trip to the Musée d’Orsay I came across the original Poppy Field painting. Seeing the beautiful painting connected me back home, and is a memory I will never forget!

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Poppy Field by Claude Monet

August 26, 2015

Meet the new Arts for All Intern, Alexandra!
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How did you find out about Arts for All and why did you want to join the cause?

I was researching non-profit organizations in the New York City area that worked in the arts and found many including AFA. Through my research, I reviewed the websites of each organization including blogs and press releases to distinguish which groups were the most active. In looking for an internship, I hoped to find a place where I can undergo a well-rounded experience that would allow me to not only have chances to interact with those being served but also give me other skills needed to run a non-profit organization such as administrative work, fundraising and management skills. However, what truly drew me into applying to Arts for All was their work with children. I strongly relate and agree with their mission statement that art builds self-confidence, self-expression, teamwork, resilience, creativity, and other skills in children. With a background in art and childcare, the goals of AFA were in line with my personal beliefs.

What do you do when you are not working at Arts For All?

While I am not at AFA, I am most likely at class or in my studio. I am a second year graduate student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with plans to obtain a MFA (Masters of Fine Art) in Painting and Drawing. I live in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and have a semi-private studio space through the program where I spend a lot of my free time creating, writing and simply thinking. I enjoy being involved within the MFA program such as volunteering for the Pratt Artist League for events such as New Student Orientation and being an active member of the Pratt Painting Club. Although I choose to not work regular employment hours while in school at this time, I also operate my own freelance party services business offering services such as face painting, glitter tattoos, balloon animals and crafts for special events.

Describe yourself in three words.

Enthusiastic. Altruistic. Resourceful.

What would you like to do after AFA and graduate school?

On my first day at AFA, Alan Ostroff, Director and Secretary of Arts for All asked me this question and it was pretty liberating and disconcerting that the best answer I could come up with was “I don’t know right now.” After reflecting on it, my dream has always been to one day open my own business, a studio and gallery. The front end would be a gallery space where the artwork of students and local artists may be viewed and sold while on the back end there would be an operating studio offering classes, residencies, and community programs. My short term goals are not as lucid at this point however I look forward to learning more about the world of non-profit organizations and immersing myself in the art world as a working and showing artist.

What is your favorite piece of artwork whether visual, performance or other?

My favorite piece of artwork is The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck from 1434. The painting is oil on oak board and is slightly larger than 32 inches by 23 inches. Housed at the National Gallery in London, the portrait is of Giovanni Arnolfini and his bride. The painting is full of rich color, luxurious textures, and loaded with symbolism. Although I am an abstract painter myself, the thought put into this piece interests me and its intricacies keep my eyes on it.

jan_van_eyck_9_arnolfini_portraitThe Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck

Arts For All is thrilled to present “Voice Power!” written & performed by Darian Dauchan, as our 2015 Audience Project Tour. We will bring this exciting production, free of charge, to approximately 2,500 under-served NYC children this fall, many of whom have never seen professional theater. Poet/musician Darian Dauchan guides young audiences on a vocal odyssey through rhymes, beat-boxing, & acapella melodies in search of one of civilization’s most valued treasures – the power of the voice!

Though New York City is home to Broadway and numerous museums, cultural centers, music venues, and other arts spaces, many children do not have access to these artistic institutions in or out of school due to the cost. In addition to the fiscal cost, the time necessary to engage deeply with art is often prohibitive. The Audience Project Tour provides 2,500 students the opportunity to experience professional theater. For many of our students, this will be their first time seeing a professional production.

Click here to make a donation to support the Audience Project Tour!

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DARIAN DAUCHAN is an award winning solo performer, actor, and poet who has appeared on both Broadway (Twentieth Century) and Off-Broadway Theatre (Jean Cocteau Rep., Classical Theatre of Harlem). TV and Film credits include Law and Order, Nickelodeon’s Bet the House as Darian the “SoundFX” Guy, and the Lionsgate feature film Things Never Said. He was a member of the 2006 National Poetry Slam Team for the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe, was crowned the 2007 Urbana Grand Slam Champion for the Bowery Poetry Club, was a 2008 Nuyorican Grand Slam Finalist, and was the 2009 New Word Artist for Urban Word NYC in conjunction with the Dance Theatre Workshop now known as New York Live Arts.  He’s also the 2012 winner of The Jerome Foundation’s Stakeholder’s Choice Award and one of his most recent shows Death Boogie, A Hip Hop Poetry Musical, was the 2012 winner of two Edinburgh Fringe Festival Musical Theatre Matters Awards for BEST New Music and BEST Innovation of a Musical.  Black Sheep his fifth solo was show commissioned by the Kitchen Theatre Company with the generous support of the New York State Council on the Arts, and placed 3rd for Best Play at the 2015 Downtown Urban Theater Festival.    His band The Mighty Third Rail are 2015 American Music Abroad Finalists for the U.S. State Department, and in 2014 performed at SPKRBOX, the first Hip Hop Theater Festival in Norway.  Death Boogie, the album, along with their debut album Classic  is now available on iTunes.  www.dariandauchan.com

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Darian teaching the Haiku and Music Program at Arts For All.

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Darian with his loop machine and microphone.

By Laura Mauro, Arts For All Intern

June 22, 2015

During my spring semester at City College of New York, I took a class in which I observed ELL- based students using theater to learn English.  I grew fascinated during this class about what strategies would be most helpful to these students. What I learned was not only “how” we should teach them but also “why” we should teach them using theater as a learning medium.

One of the first strategies that I researched was reading theater.  Reading Theater focuses on repetition and increasing reading comprehension to eventually increase fluency in reading. ELL learners need to read a story many times to gain the fluency that non-ELL students have when they read an unknown text the first time.  In a typical class, they often will read a story one or two times and then move on.  ELL students need more time to practice with a story and understand what they are reading.  This is why the Reading Theater is so beneficial for this population because it gives them time to really understand what they reading without being rushed.

Typically in theater classes, When you put up a full length production the focus is not only the script but on the various elements like sets, costumes and lights that help create the world of the production.  Reading theater allows the text to be the focus of this “production” and, also teaches students how they can use body and voice to enhance the characters in the story.

Another strategy that can also be used to teach ELL students is Tableaux. This strategy is when students create a frozen picture with their body representing a concept that they are learning. An example, is asking students to create a tableaux showing the major conflict in the story they are reading. This technique allows students to physicalize the knowledge and see it rather then just reading it.  Both reading theater and tableaux will help ELL students increase their reading comprehension.

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Students in an Arts For All Literacy Through the Arts Class

Reading comprehension can be challenging for ELL students. This is due to the fact that is often hard for them to engage in what they are reading. Some of issues ELL students might face are insufficient background knowledge to understand a story, which can make it more difficult to identify with the character and situation of the story. That is why strategies like reading theater and tableaux are helpful for these students.

Some of the benefits that occur after using reading theater are an increase in both fluency and reading comprehension. In Kristina Robertson’s article, Reader’s Theater: Oral Enrichment and Literacy development for ELLS,  shestates “ ELLs benefit greatly from having opportunities to read a text many times because it helps them develop fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.”  In addition, Robertson stresses that this work “focuses on enhancing speaking skills like pronunciation, inflection, expression and varied volume.” These elements will then increase student’s engagement in the story. When students are actively engaged in a lesson it is easier to learn more than if they are not engaged. Studying drama helps build students’ confidence and also their ability to complete work. In the article The Benefits of using Drama in the ESL/EFL Classroom,  Chris Boudreault stresses that “ using drama helps the students develop confidence in students ability to learn the new language and that will in turn have impact both in school performance and also developing more engagement in school overall.”

In conclusion, Learning a new language is not easy. That is why using visual or physical strategies can help students not only engage with the material. All students learn in different ways and theater allows teachers to break out of typical teaching and really allows the students not just read about a character but become that character and engage with the story on various levels.

June 8th, 2015

lauraAFA: Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Laura Mauro. I am an artist in many aspects of my life including theater, scrapbooking and teaching. I currently work at a craft store where I am surrounded by arts and sewing all day long. I am also an avid reader and will read anything I can get my hands on. I rarely leave the house without a book and I love young adult literature. When I was growing up, I was one of twenty-five grandchildren and that is where my love of children began. I love interacting with children, watching them and seeing how they explore the world. I have also loved theater and that started in middle school, when I was in my first production of Annie. I also love to travel and go to new places and I hope in the future to get more stamps on my passport.

AFA: What three words best describe you?
Creative, Determined and Learner

 AFA: What is your artistic background? What background do you have in arts education?

I went to a Liberal Arts College called Wells College in upstate New York. I graduated as a Psychology Major but I was heavily involved in theater department as a stage manager. I learned how much I loved organizing and seeing shows progress from table read to opening night. In my senior year, I was involved in two large projects that involved theater. The first project was my senior thesis that explored theater and its impact on various populations including children, teenagers and adults. My second project was that I stage-managed my schools productions of Pygmalion. These two experiences really shaped me and taught me how ingrained theater would always be in my life.

After I left Wells, I started becoming intrigued by theater education. I worked at Props Assistant at Stage Door Manor for two years. This job really opened my eyes up, to the beauty of theater education and how amazing it could be. I then worked at French Woods Summer Camp as props designer and counselor, and I both taught and helped design close to forty shows that summer. I really loved this job. I just wanted more time to teach the kids about prop design and the deadlines made that hard. During this time I had also graduated with MA in Theater from Long Island University: LIU Post. During school I had taken design, stage management and arts management classes and I was so lost about what I wanted to do. I then got hired as an educational intern at Tada Youth Theater and I knew theater education is what I wanted to do. I had never seen theater classes for students as young as 2-8, and I knew that this field really fit all my passions in life children, theater, psychology and learning and teaching. After that I applied and got accepted to CCNY Educational theater program. This program as taught me so much and I am so happy to going to school with some strong arts educators and being taught by an amazing department. I am about to enter my second year and am so excited to see where this path takes me.

AFA: Why did you want to become an intern at AFA?

I learned about this company from my peer Meredith Smart at CCNY. We each had to do a presentation about a company doing educational theater-based work in New York City. I was intrigued by their Literacy Through the Arts program and wanted to learn more. I love reading and using theater to teach reading seemed right up my alley. When I learned more about his company I just really loved their mission statement and what they stood for.

Theater has transformed my life in many ways, and I want all children to be exposed to the various arts, because it has the potential to change their life as well. I have a new little nephew and I want his life and all the other babies being born to have an arts-rich life. That is why I believe so strongly that arts education should start before preschool and stay involved in the education system until college graduation. I think that is why this program really touched me because it exposes children to many things that they have not experienced before. I think being creative is a natural tendency and we should encourage students to always be creative through the arts. 

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

This is hard question. I am going to pick a theater piece that has always stuck with me. The first time I saw Wicked was a life changing experience. It was a well -oiled machine and all the pieces worked perfectly. It was the first piece that I saw with a clear director vision that influenced all pieces of the show like acting, set, props and costumes. The show felt to me like a good book that I could get lost in and that really touched me. I have seen this show three different times and that magic is still there.

May 27, 2015

Teaching artists Bonnie Pipkin and Mary Meyer recently finished teaching the Step Right Up! Program at the Green School, a public high school in Brooklyn that has very little funding for arts education. Bonnie and Mary have been teaching this program through Arts For All since 2008. In it, they work with students to write, rehearse, produce and perform an original work of theater. The workshop meets twice a week for ten weeks and culminates with a performance for an invited audience of family and friends.

This year’s play was a zombie-inspired, multi-media piece called Heart and Soul. The students at the Green School did a great job creating and performing this original play! The Green School’s step team, the G Squad, opened the show with a short dance performance.

Here’s a picture from Heart and Soul.

SRU 3 copy For more info on Step Right Up!, click here or email us at learnmore@arts-for-all.org.