Saturday, January 31, 2009

Opportunity In Crisis!

As usual, we have to move fast.

From DALE DAVIS, ATA Executive Director:
The Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the legislative vehicle which will carry the stimulus package money into our schools. Unfortunately, ESEA, the precursor to No Child Left Behind, lacks specific language to guarantee that Arts Education will get its fair share. According to Bill Cleveland, one strategic move is to push for new language to be inserted into ESEA in order to ensure that Arts Education and Teaching Artists will not be left out in the cold.

Bill Cleveland's strategic recommendations, which are outlined below, benefit Teaching Artists. They benefit the education of all children in this country. We need to spread the word and become advocates for ourselves. We can't afford lobbyists and we do not, as of yet, have a national body to represent Teaching Artists specifically, so we must take up the ball.

Strategies for including Arts in Education specific language into the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)

In the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) that was amended to become No Child Left Behind and is the prime vehicle in the Recovery Bill for Education spending, I found a section that deals specifically with Art Education. It is Title V Part D Subpart 15 section 5551 of ESEA (see below). If we can convince a Representative or Senator to drop $300 million into the Recovery bill referencing this part of ESEA it would open the door to ARTISTS WORKING IN SCHOOLS!

To my mind the tack should be that the arts are a proven strategy for the retention and academic advancement for high risk students. There is an existing highly professional experienced community of artist-educators across the country who are shovel-ready to go in and make a difference in even the most difficult school environments. All that would be needed in terms of legislation is a short paragraph inserted in the Department of Education section of the Bill. Something along the lines of:

Inserting language on page l58 line 13

"Provided further, That $300,000,000 shall be for Arts in Education Programs under section 5551 of Subpart 15 of Title V of ESEA. This funding shall remain available through September 30, 2010."


Contact your Congressional representative and ask for his / her support for the recommendations for language to be inserted into the Elementary and Secondary Education Acto of 1965 (ESEA.)

Contact Representative Louise McIntosh Slaughter, Co-Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus

Contact Arts Caucus Members of the 110th Congress.

Write an e-mail or letter to your senators.

Make a phone call to Capitol Hill!

Thanks to Nick Rabkin, Michael Nolan, Bill Cleveland, Arlene Goldbard, and Linda Frye Burnham for alerting us and keeping us informed ! Now we, the 15,000 to 20,000 Teaching Artists in this country (Eric Booth,"The Emergence of The Teaching Artist, Art Times, May 2003) and those who support our work have an opportunity to have our voices heard!

Yes we can!

Dale Davis
Executive Director
The Association of Teaching Artists


(1) National Campaign to Hire Artists to Work In Schools
Community Arts Network, December 11, 2008

National Campaign to Hire Artists to Work in Schools
212 Elsie Street
San Franciso, California

(2) National Campaign to Hire Hire Artists to Work in Schools on Facebook

(3) Americans for The Arts Policy Brief to Obama's Transition Team

(4) San Francisco Arts Commission Inside/Out Blog
Campaign to Hire Artists In Schools, Nick Rabkin

(5) The Reading Room, Community Arts Network
The New, New Deal Part 2 - A New WPA for Artists: How and Why,Arlene Goldbard

Friday, January 30, 2009

Live From New York

It is the weekend.

We are on Facebook.

I am on Twitter.

If you want me to write about something, email me here.

Live it up!

Common Ground

COMMON GROUND is New York State's annual arts-in-education conference. This year, it will be held from March 25-27 at the luxurious Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany.

Workshop listings are here and we note that on Friday, March 27th, Laura Reeder, Executive Director of Partners for Arts Education, will be leading a session titled Budget Treasure Hunt: Aligning Existing Resources for Arts Education Partnerships. Since new funding streams are as rare as butterflies in January, I predict it will be standing-room only.

If you are worried about expenses, I also read that there are some TAP grants available. I have no idea what TAP stands for but they have extended the deadline for applications to February 15th.


Listening Party

Do you know about the Storycorps oral history project? I love it and I can't stop listening. It's too much fun.

Storycorps' mission is to honor and celebrate our lives. Since 2003, they have helped more than 35,000 everyday people share and record life stories. All of the stories are preserved at the Library of Congress and you can listen to them on public radio and the web. It's one of the largest oral history projects of its kind and you can bring it to your community by renting a recording kit or getting them to send a team, which is kind of expensive. It's an amazing community building tool and, as the people at the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training keep telling you, community building is fund raising or something like that. I can never stay on topic.

Audio: Lillian Howell, 89, remembers moving from Ohio to Virginia during the Great Depression. Listen

The Never Ending Story

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Paul Krugman wants to know why the administration of President Barack Obama has not said a word about one of the main reasons people cast their bread upon the waters--the promise of guaranteed health care.

He ends with the clarion call of "Health care now!" and I feel like I'm 17 again.

Also: Fractured Atlas has been offering artists health insurance resources and much more since way before it was cool. You want freedom? Join today.

Meta: Annie L. on the youtube.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Health Care is a Right

Do you have health insurance?*


I bet your boss does.

Like a swiftly turning planet, like a wheel within a wheel, you think:

Healthcare is a right, not a luxury. But there
's a reason it has been set up this way and who knows why healthcare is tied to employment? I'm not a historian. It goes all the way back to the time before there were unions and before that even and the simplest answer is that people don't care enough about other people even if they are sitting there possibly suffering right in front of them. If we did care about each other, we'd all have health insurance. But we don't, so we don't. Do we?


If you are a freelancer, the government considers you to be "self employed." Which means you're on your own. You have to pay your own taxes and beyond that you have all the rights of a migrant worker. No one owes you anything, including healthcare. Of course, migrant workers are totally worse off than professional Teaching Artists, what are you babbling about? Anyway, there's no point in arguing about degrees of suffering when you're suffering and if you keep muttering about this they'll find it unpleasant and then they won't ask you back.

So hush.

What to do? What to do?

Ok. You're smart. You're working. Go to the Freelancers Union website and get a cheap insurance plan because you can't walk around all uninsured and anxious.

Ah. Sweet security.

How could you have ever walked around without this? You risked bankruptcy and death. How immature of you. So it costs like $400/month. How many workshops is that? Yikes. Need more work. Now, when you're in your next planning meeting try to focus on the art. Don't think about what will happen if you don't get enough work this month to pay that new insurance bill. Set those outcomes. Smile. Nod. Suggest clever activities. Rent! The printer just broke, student loans etc...Don't think about it. Stay positive. Negative people get sick. You heard it on Oprah. If you do
get sick, you will go to work anyway. If you take a sick day, you won't get paid. Then you can't pay your health insurance. What is the actual definition of irony? And always remember, this is your choice. You chose a life in art and you have to pay for it. The flexibility of the part-time gig or the freelancing life comes with a price. Potentially, it could be your actual life but look what you get in Congratulations and don't get sick, don't get sick, don't get sick .....because your friends will have to throw a party to pay your bills and they won't feel much like dancing.

If you get tired of worrying contact the Freelancers Union or the Actors Fund.

They can help.

The Actors Fund is a not-for-profit human services organization that serves all professionals – and not just actors! - in film, theater, television, music, opera, and dance.

Their Health Insurance Resource Center (HIRC) connects artists to health insurance and affordable health care.

Find more about the program and get links here.

The Freelancers Union/Working Today offers low-cost health insurance plans for people like us. It's amazing and, if you can keep it all together, it's yours for the keeping. Just don't get sick or you won't be able to afford it.

Meta: Find Rufus here and below:

*According to this report on the National Arts Policy Database, artists are slightly, but not substantially, more likely to be uninsured than the general population...It is widely estimated that over 46 million Americans are uninsured. Individuals who are younger (19 to 32); self-employed; have lower incomes; are sicker; and those without dependents in the households are most likely to be uninsured.

Le Cirque? Fantastic.

The American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) promotes the participation of youth in circus arts. Colleagues who attended last year's AYCO Conference report an earnest and committed leadership and an emerging organization that has great potential.

AYCO's website has many links to resources and information including an online bulletin board and a searchable database of performers, teachers and companies. Their most recent conference was in 2008 and I bet they need help producing the next gathering or whatever it is they have planned because envelopes do not lick themselves.

Clowns sometimes, envelopes never.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

See the World

How are your ideals holding up? is hosting a Global Volunteering Fair on February 5th from 6:00 - 9:00 PM at the Barnard College in the LeFrak Gymnasium at 117th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. The address is 3009 Broadway and you can get there on the #1 Train because February 5th is a Thursday. If it were a Saturday you would probably be stuck on the train for like an hour cursing the MTA.

The idealists also maintain an International Volunteerism Resource Center which offers strategies and options for serving abroad, or emigrating or fleeing the country or whatever you want to call it.

Il Dolce Suono

The exciting news, according to The New York Times, is that:

"The economic stimulus plan that Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget."

My heart takes wing, but here is the problem.

I think I work in the field of "Education" but I'm mistaken.

We are professional Teaching Artists. Our field is categorized as "Arts-in-Education" or "Arts Education" or whatever is popular or accurate at the moment. I'm not a linguist.

Arts in Education versus Education.

It's a small distinction, but an exclusionary one as far as funding is concerned.

So we are out of luck unless we start yelling for our piece of the Education funding pie right now. The organizations that represent the field of Education will get the money and we will get the boot. There's going to be a line of wolves at the table and everyone loves pie.

Join something:

Americans for the Arts

NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

Association of Teaching Artists

Also: The Fifth Element is Love.

Snow Day

Today is a snow day and William Kristol is no longer writing for the New York Times.

Two wonderful things, all at once.

We are on Facebook.

I am on Twitter.

Also: An insanely detailed panoramic view of the inauguration of President Barack Obama has been posted by photographer David Bergman. You can zoom in on individual faces in the crowd.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Impossible Dream

In the Washington Times via Richard Kessler, I see that Diane Ravitch, historian of education at New York University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, tells secretary of education Arne Duncan to abolish No Child Left Behind.

She has her reasons:

The law's remedies don't work. The law's sanctions don't work. The goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014 is ludicrous; no nation or state has ever reached it.

Achievement gains have been meager. Test scores improved more on federal tests in the five years preceding NCLB than in the years since it was implemented.

I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Ravitch, but I have to say the fact that she found all that free time to write her book The Language Police makes me a reluctant fan. It's not that she's unrighteous. I just think there are other things to stress about. Like the fact that there are usually about 20 actual police holding down the metal detectors in many New York City High Schools where we go to teach.

I mean real police who, after I sign in and show my ID, say things like, "Ok, you're free to go now." Which is the same thing they say to you at Rikers.

You think poorly written textbooks strangle young minds?

I think treating our children like they are in training to go to prison is more of an impediment to their learning. I think the panopticon is the problem.

Anyway, I'm probably one of those "ethnic activists" she mentions in the opinion piece she penned for the Wall Street Journal.

Words, words, words.

Zip a dee doo dah!

A Day in the Country

Arts Day in Albany is Tuesday, February 3rd and everyone is meeting on the mezzanine of the Legislative Office Building to get their buttons and fact-sheets. This is not your only opportunity to influence the New York State Budget and keep the Arts alive in your community, but it is the only one that requires you to dress like a polar bear.

NYS ARTS is your go-to organization for all the details. They have an online resource page and they will provide a headquarters where you can get warm enough to avoid hypothermia, coordinate meeting times and pick up your handouts and buttons. Buttons!

If you don't know the names of your elected officials, it's too late now.


Everything's Alright, Yes

The New York Times says layoffs.

Try not to get worried. (Youtube)


Monday, January 26, 2009

All That We Need

Over at Community Arts Network the excellent Arlene Goldbard has turned out a skillful sequel to her earlier illustrated primer on the New New Deal.

The essay "The New New Deal Part Deux" is, as we have come to expect, a tour de force. You should read it and share it with comrades.

Here's what I could glean:

1. The New New Deal is coming and we TAs are going to be lucky if we get a dime.

2. Our fearless leaders begged for art-specific language to be included in the first round of legislation and were roundly ignored. HOPE is eternal, but as usual, there is no consensus among the arts community about our priorities or our message. If we don't start pleading in one unified voice, we'll get nothing. So, join Americans for the Arts why don't you?

3. In the plan put forth, the NEA is set to get $50 million to "preserve jobs" in the non-profit arts sector that are threatened by the current economic apocalypse. Most of this money is to be regranted to state arts agencies and Ms. Goldbard points out that $50 million is less than it takes to wage two weeks of war without end.

Rolling toward the finale, our muse muses in great detail about possible models for public service jobs to round out the age of Aquarius, but that's just utopia talking. Besides, I'm too old to sleep in a dorm with the other cultural workers while eating ramen.

I think our new slogan should be:




I know, HOPE was definitely much tastier and easier to put on a button.

Sadly, I've already eaten mine.

I was so hungry for it.

Also: Eric B. & Rakim Paid In Full (youtube)

A Transformative Artist

Judy Shintani is a "Transformative Artist" based in California. Her creative process takes her on treasure hunts, to second-hand shops, forests and beaches, both here and abroad. In her artwork, she combines and juxtaposes organic materials with everyday objects and the detritus of industry to explore the "conflict and union" of the world we live in.

She's also a professional Teaching Artist with a mission to serve all ages.

As an independent TA, Ms. Shintani has developed a slew of original workshops to bridge the gap between her art and her teaching. A struggle which probably sounds familiar. Her intergenerational approach is of particular interest since, if we're lucky, we all get older. If we are really lucky, there will be a professional TA around to help us keep exploring as we become Elders in our communities.

Ms. Shintani keeps a website gallery page, a blog and a Twitter page.

She says she's happy to share her work with the community and I think it's spectacular.

I bet you will too.

Find Judy Shintani's Alzheimer Creativity Workbook for Families (PDF) and information about her other original workshops on her website - here.

Bande à part

The National Association for Music Education is the largest education organization in the country that you have probably never heard of. That may be because they have a weird acronym (MENC) which does not match their name or mission statement anymore for some historical reason which they earnestly try to explain on their website...but my attention span is so short... two three four one two three four...

Anyway, the organization itself is terrific. They nurture and support future music teachers and represent artists at all levels of teaching from preschool to graduate school. They have a long track record.

...shimmy shimmy snap...shimmy shimmy snap...

The MENC online forums where artists can exchange resources and information about jobs and other opportunities are in the process of being updated but they are active and you if you are interested in that sort of thing, you know like getting a job in your chosen field, you should check it out.

I was reading over there and then I fell in love with Jean Luc Godard all over again because I was multi-living.

Watch and learn the dance at the same time. That's what I've been doing:

Friday, January 23, 2009


The weekend is here.



Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan:

Where is the Love?

Nick Rabkin, who was a member of the Obama campaign's National Arts Policy Committee is overseeing the first national study of Teaching Artists.

You might think: First? What happened? I mean, did someone just forget we were here?

However it went down, these good people understand that they can't feel our pain without our participation. So they want you to contact them.

I know you're hurt.

But, sometimes in these situations it's OK to make the first move.

Data collected in the study will eventually be used as fodder for discussions about public policy related to arts education at the local and national level. The project focuses on teaching artists who live or work in the metro areas of Boston, Providence, or Seattle, in Chicago, and in several California communities including the Bay Area, L.A. and San Diego.

Register for the First National Teaching Artist Research Project here.

From L.A. to Nashville

I open the New York Times to find that the Oscar nods are up:

"Among the surprises, Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for his comedic turn in “Tropic Thunder” as a self-absorbed Australian method actor who undergoes pigment alteration to play a black soldier."

I don't know.

I don't think blackface is really that funny unless you're playing Othello.

More importantly, and completely unrelated, Nashville is the home of the fabulous Nashville Shakespeare Festival.

Their professional Teaching Artists have their own web page with beautiful pictures and profiles. The company is currently offering Shakespeare Allowed a series of unusually public readings of the entire canon. It's a simple event. They put up 12 chairs and whoever shows up first gets to play, which sounds like a perfect way to start a scene or a fist fight.

They are also on Twitter.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hang Suite

Ms. Carla Ching, a colleague and ally in the field, is a professional Playwright, Director and Teaching Artist based in New York City.

Ms. Ching keeps a web-log appropriately titled Minutiae and Flux: Navigating the big city.

In between relating the travails of jury duty and sharing a surprisingly sweet story about being called "Ms. Ching-Chong" while teaching, she also writes winningly about the arts, creativity, imagination, education, the election, living, plays, theater and questions, questions, questions...

An entry from Tuesday:

"The 2nd and 4th graders I taught today were so happy they almost leapt out of their skin.

He has asked us to do more. I am dreaming about how to do my bit, in my corner of the world. How to keep art in schools. How to inspire young people to engage their imaginations and creativity and commitment to a better world to investigate curiously and problem-solve the problems of our time."

Good stuff.

Find Carla Ching here.

Also, if you keep a blog and wouldn't mind being stared at, please email me here and let me know where to look.

Also, nearly 9 Completely Unrelated Minutes of Beauty may be discovered below.

Were I you, I'd risk it:

Pablo Casals @ Abbaye Saint-Michel-De-Cuxa

Good Times or Bum Times?

Do you ever read Crains NY? For some reason, I do. In good times, it's like a who's who of fun and power. In not so good times, it's like a horror movie featuring wolves at the door and harbingers of doom.

But then there's this. A silver lining or a bright shining lie?

Someone says that cultural institutions are still building things and that construction projects by groups like El Museo del Barrio and the Museum of the City of New York will have an estimated economic impact of $2.2 billion dollars and create 2,500 jobs per year from 2006 to 2010.

Do they mean construction jobs? They must mean construction jobs and I will never know because all of the details are contained in a report released by the Alliance for the Arts that I will never understand or even read properly. I skimmed it. It made no sense to me.

Non sequitur: Have you noticed that organic apples are down to $1.99/pound at Whole Paycheck? Is that deflation? Are things good or bad? Are we sinking or swimming? OMG. I forgot to take math, history and political science.

The report I mentioned, Culture Builds New York: The Economic Impact of Capital Construction at New York City's Cultural Institutions, is available here as a PDF.

Also: The Magic Theater is saved!

Also: The Zipper Theater is closed!

I can't go on, I must go on.

My sister, my daughter.

Finally: Eartha.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Social Networking

We are on Facebook.

I am on Twitter.

You're invited.

That Clinking, Clanking Sound

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is not free, but if you are a fearless leader trying to raise money to pay the Teaching Artists, it is absolutely worth the $2.49 per issue.

To lure you in they have started offering a series of free podcasts as bait.

The show is called Social Good and it arrives on the first Thursday of each month.

I got caught in a blurb:
Allison Fine, a nonprofit leader and expert on technology and communications, discusses how charities and foundations can more effectively use social-media tools to spread their messages and raise money.
Find the audio links here.

Also: Cabaret (youtube)

Americans at the Gates

In his latest bit for the New York Times, Stanley Fish argues, again, that "higher education, properly understood, is distinguished by the absence of a direct and designed relationship between its activities and measurable effects in the world." He praises the "determined inutility" that characterizes his ideal relationship to the humanities and bemoans the rise of the adjuncts all around him.

To sum up, Stanley Fish is afraid that his era is over.

I'm afraid he's right.

Poor adjuncts.

Completely Urelated: PUMA is proud to support “30 Americans" an exhibition of artwork from The Rubell Family Collection.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Digital Divide

Organizations like New York's Ghetto Film School and Chicago's Digital Youth Network are giving young people the tools they need to be innovative artists and critical thinkers.

I think fostering media literacy and offering young people access to technology is part of the new civil rights movement.

If you can't get online you're not able to participate fully in the new society.

If you don't control your own image, then who does?

Maybe you could donate your computer to the cause?

Look Back and Wonder

Do you have to work today?

I do, so I am hoping the classroom teacher will have the good sense to turn on the TV at 11:30 am.

From the New York Times here is Kennedy giving his inaugural address in 1961.

When he says for us to "convert our good words into good deeds" I go all goose pimples.

Also: Mahalia singing "How I Got Over", which she also sang at the March in 1963.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes

C-SPAN's inauguration hub has live video feeds of an event I never imagined would happen in my lifetime.

History is here.

Hold tight.


This early film was shot in 1896:

This film was shot in 1963:


Find a Volunteer Opportunity

The Corporation for National and Community Service has collaborated with the Presidential Inaugural Committee to create a national registry of Volunteer Projects.

You can access this information at


From the New York Times today:

Sean D. O’Neil, a 22-year-old who stood shivering outside an Army recruitment office in St. Louis, said he was forgoing plans to become a guitar maker for now, realizing that instruments are seen as a luxury during a recession. Mr. O’Neil, a Texas native, ventured to St. Louis for an apprenticeship but found himself $30,000 in debt. Joining the Army, his Plan B, was a purely financial decision.

Military forces are meeting or exceeding their recruitment goals for the first time since 2004.*

* 2004 was a very bloody year in Iraq.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gone, baby, gone!

We're on Facebook!

I'm on Twitter.

Have a warm weekend!

Is there something you'd like to say?

Americans for the Arts has released its policy recommendations to President-elect Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress.

For some reason, this did not make the nightly news.

The call to action is to demand support for the arts in the New New Deal.

1. CALL the politicians!

Find politicians here.

2. WRITE a letter to the editor!

Find Local Media here.

3. Listen to the Smiths' Ask 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Victory for One is a Victory for All

Ms. Ruth Taub is our Teaching Artist Hero of the Month.


In December, Ruth Taube’s supervisor at the Henry Street Settlement took her aside and broke the bad news. Budget cuts meant Ruth was out of a job. Henry Street was being forced to eliminate the Home Planning Workshop, the program that Ms. Taube had been running since 1966.

By the way, Ms. Taube is 85 years old.

Her supervisor told her she could continue to run the program as a volunteer. She said "no thank you." thinking “I can always find another job.”

Her students complained vociferously to the right people and the New York City Housing Authority found the money to pay her, somehow.

Ms. Taube is back at work!

Full article and audio at the New York Times.

Meta: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire happened in 1911 near Washington Square.


Have you heard of Transit Check? It's a commuter benefits program that allows you to set aside up to $120 per month tax free to pay for your transit costs. It saves you money. Your employer has to set it up for you and all that information is here. It's not just for the subway, but also for commuters using other forms of transit.

I am waiting for this month's metrocard, which will cost me less than it would if I got it directly from the lovely people who run the MTA. By lovely, I mean incompetent.

I think Public Art is one of the glorious things about riding the subway.

Faith Ringgold's work is installed in the subway station at 125th Street and Lenox Avenue. It's an extravagant tile mosaic which is worth a visit. I took a picture on my phone at 125th street subway station, yesterday. I also posted it on Twitter. You should go see it though.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nothing you can do that can't be done

Obstacles to travel and study these days include war without end and the devaluation of the dollar.

On the other hand, people are surprising.

Published: January 13, 2009

The Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant Program awards grants to emerging artists who create new work (music: composers and sound artists; theater: playwrights and creators of performance art and experimental theater; and visual artists). Mr. Jerome Hill was a privileged person who could do exactly what he desired with his life because he had money. Beautifully, he thought perhaps he would make that reality possible for other artists.

Money is dyed paper.

Awards are made once per year.

If you want something, you have to ask.

Jump. (pdf application guidelines)

Also: All You Need is Love

Mark Twain Stood Here

Utica, NY.

For 19 years, the Arts in Education Institute (AEI) of the Stanley Center for the Arts has been offering arts integration and aesthetic education for the benefit of teachers, teaching artists and students. With help from funders, including NYSCA, they seem to be fostering an oasis dedicated to community building and process.

The institute programs performances and exhibitions and relies on a roster of local teaching artists to help regular classroom teachers link artistic experiences to larger educational goals. If you want to get involved, Coordinator Serena Belmont has all the answers at (315) 724-1113 or

Meta: Samuel Clemens wowed Utica on his tour of the lecture circuit in 1870. In a letter home he describes how he transfixed the crowd and brought the house down by doing nothing:

I stood patient & silent, minute after minute...till my roused good-nature passed from my heart & countenance to theirs along a thousand invisible electrical currents & conquered their reserve, swept their self-possession to the winds, & the great house "came down" Like an avalanche!"

Recently, I reread Clemen's sly piece The War Prayer.

It felt timely and just a bit painful.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

All Day Everywhere

Cleopatra and her Antony are at the New York City Opera for a hot minute.

My excitement is diminished slightly by the knowledge that Leontyne Price, one of my many role models, will not be there in gown and headdress.

Barber's 10-song cycle Hermit Songs was produced in 1953 with a grant from the magnificent arts patron Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge.

She, like many others, is dead.

I listen to the music and am thankful for the gifts she has given us.

All Day Everywhere.

Sadly, the Amato Opera is probably closing.

We Are What We Think

"Consciousness doesn't come automatically; it comes through being alive, awake, curious, and often furious."
Lincoln Center Institute has posted the On-line Conference Proceedings for Aesthetic Education: Expanding Notions of Excellence in K-18 Learning Communities (2007)

The Buddha has left us the Dhammapada.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The writing is on the wall for the economy and some of our colleagues in the field have already received their pink slips. As we look around for someone to blame there are so many choices.

Robert E. Rubin.

The New York Times says that Robert Rubin is leaving Citigroup because he "plans to deepen his involvement in public policy initiatives, charitable projects and personal hobbies like fly-fishing."

Do you know Robert E. Rubin? He's the guy that ran Citigroup into the ground while collecting $115 million dollars in just 9 short years.

Now, he is going to focus on his not for profit work.

Also: Gnarls Barkley (Run, I'm a Natural Disaster)

Would You Be Mine?

Ideas For Obama
Published: January 12, 2009
President-elect Barack Obama’s economic plan falls well short of what’s needed. To fix it, he needs to stop talking about “jump-starts” and focus on long-term

Obama Again Raises Estimate of Jobs His Stimulus Plan Will Create or Save
Published: January 11, 2009
Barack Obama said that his economic recovery plan would create or save three million to four million jobs.

Mr. Rogers sings, not the intro, but a B Side called "I like you..."

Without Love Where Would You Be?


"Freedom in the work situation is not freedom from work (in order to have leisure), it is not freedom from exploitation; it is the freedom to spend one's energy in a meaningful, productive way, by being an active, responsible, unalienated participant in the total work situation."

Excerpted from an introduction to the book
Labor in a Free Society Copyright © 1959 by Erich Fromm and 2004 by The Literary Estate of Erich Fromm.

Read the rest of it and find more essays by Fromm here.

Also: The Doobie Brothers (YouTube)

Also: Thank you Rich Pagano.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Win the Revolution, With Style

Since you're a Teaching Artist, you probably know already that as freelancers and part-timers we usually have little job security, few guarantees and fewer rights and protections then we deserve.

We struggle to afford health care. We struggle to afford the cost of living. We struggle to do our art. If none of this sounds familiar, then please email me your location so I can move where you are.

People with no rights are afraid to complain. People with no rights are afraid to say "No!", even when the job pays too little or the schedule is ridiculous or the environment is whack. People with no rights are afraid to ask for what they actually need, for fear they will lose everything and won't eat. Well, I am. I don't know about you.

I think we need to learn from the past and speak up when things are unfair or we lose anyway. We have to show solidarity whenever we see our fellow TAs being treated unfairly or not getting what they deserve in the way of compensation and human rights.

I am scared to write this, honestly.

Anyway, I'm off to the revolution.

Advocates like Dale Davis and your colleagues at ATA; John Abodeely at Americans for the Arts; Lynda Burnham Frye at Community Arts Network; David Shookhoff at the AIE Roundtable; Jaehn Clare of VSA Arts and many others are already there.

We won't be alone.

First, watch Christine Ebersole sing about the Revolutionary Costume for today so you will know what to wear.

I am on Twitter today, possibly.

Have fun!


The Black River Dance Center for Performing Arts is located in Harlem, once known as an African American cultural hub and now known as a place to experience the disorienting effects of gentrification first-hand.

Black River is a terrific community asset. People are always dancing out of the door smiling because whatever they were doing in there was just too much fun. I have posted a picture on Twitter.

Right next door to Black River is the new Maysles Institute Cinema.

In case you are not a fan, the Maysles are the award-winning documentarians that did Grey Gardens, the must-see movie about Caroline Kennedy's relatives living in a decaying mansion and living out loud before our very eyes. The Maysles filmed it all, got famous and inspired this charming Broadway musical. Then they moved to Harlem, I guess so they could cause gentrification and document it simultaneously.

Both organizations have arts workshops for young people and both are located diagonally across from Sylvia’s Soul food Restaurant and Tourist Trap where Caroline Kennedy ate and ran for senator.

The circle is now complete.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ain't No Mountain

I'm on Twitter.

You can also email me here:

Marvin and Tammy

Old School

This article, 23 Questions Teaching Artists Can Help Answer, appeared in High Performance #71, Spring 1996 as a sidebar to another article I skimmed while listening to the legendary MC Solar on youtube.

Written by Linda Frye Burnham, one of the stars of the long-running Community Arts Network, it offers some maxims, such as:

"All genuine learning is active, not passive. It is a process of discovery in which the student is the main agent, not the teacher."

It also poses still relevant questions, such as:

"What does quality work look like? How do we know what is good enough?

Who can say?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sooner or later you'll find it

This may help.

Kelis (youtube)


Fieldstone Alliance is a non-profit in Minnesota that works to strengthen the performance of other nonprofit organizations by reminding us all that the "bake sale isn't cutting it."

Their consultants have put together a list of emergency revenue sources that can be accessed quickly—within 30 days.

I checked, and firing all the Teaching Artists is not on the list, which is a great relief.

A Desertful of Roses

Since 2003, the Teaching Artists of Mobile Mini Circus have reached more than half a million children and teachers in 16 provinces of Afghanistan. 

Meta: The Ghazal is a delightful form of poetry.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We Do the Work

The AFL-CIO represents America's Labor movement, which is not something I'd brag about.

Anyhow, they say that Federal and state laws guarantee people the right to form unions and that "eligible employees have the right to express their views on unions, to talk with their co-workers about their interest in forming a union, to wear union buttons, to attend union meetings and in many other ways to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association."

The key word for part-time TAs and freelancers is probably ELIGIBLE...or maybe BUTTONS. 

Also: Nina (Possibly NSFW. She cusses right at the end.)

Fighting Poverty With Songs and Dances

The Performing Arts Workshop in San Francisco has been fighting poverty with Songs and Dances since about 1965. When I went over there, they offered me this Guide to Best Practices (pdf) and invited me to visit what they call their online "resource center." They also asked me if I'd like to "get involved." I'm thinking about it.

It's all free.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Also, I'm on Twitter


Forget Your Troubles

Many of us are gay and other things. This brings up real and complex issues in our workplaces and if you don't think so that may be because no student has ever called out "faggot" while you were trying to save the world. It also may be because gay stuff makes you slightly uncomfortable. How should I know?

Anyway, I am making this LGBTQ day.

In case you were wondering, I'm Questioning.

How am I going to help make my workshop environments safer this year for everybody, including me?

The ACLU LGBT Project's Youth & Schools program has online information for students, parents, teachers, and school administrators. 

Also, a useful video called "That's So Gay" at the Working Group site on youtube.

Money Changes Everything

If I had any interest at all in fundraising, I would probably find $150 to take this upcoming webinar with Kim Klein. But since I don't have any interest in fundraising at all, I hope someone around here does.

Follow the yellow brick road:

Upcoming Webinars:

Creating a Fundraising Philosophy with Kim Klein

January 12, 2009 at 10 am PST

Presenter: Kim Klein, Klein & Roth Consulting and Founder of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal

Most organizations know that they should have a gift acceptance policy or investment criteria. But few have an overall written fundraising philosophy—we raise money where we can to do the work that needs to be done. In other words, in order to be the most mission-fulfilling organization that you can be, where should you get your money from? And how can your fundraising promote your mission? What is the role of foundations, corporations, individuals, government, and earned income in helping meet that mission?

Our lack of a coherent fundraising philosophy is leading us down a destructive path as programs that should be funded by taxes suffer cuts and replace their funding with foundation grants, or organizations that should be funded by individuals turn to earned income instead. Many of these organizations wind up going out of business altogether, decreasing the services available to the community. In this webinar, we will discuss how organizations can develop a fundraising philosophy, and how such a philosophy can lead an organization to raise more money.