Dance as an Escape

Posted by Rachael Carnes On March - 18 - 2015
Rachael Carnes

Rachael Carnes

Juggling. We’re all juggling, aren’t we? Racing from work to activities to home to work, in a never-ending loop. But what if the balls we were trying to keep in the air carried more weight? What if dropping one of them meant something really bad might happen to us, something difficult, something damaging? What if we’re born juggling – “risk factors” is the term we’ve coined. What if these risk factors load us up, right from the get-go, with punishing amounts of instability? What if there’s a shortage of food in our home? Or heat? What if one or more of our parents have a disability, or a drinking problem, or issues with drugs? What if our parents are embroiled in a relationship that includes abuse, of mom, of dad, of… me?

The children I work with in the arts, on a daily basis, are at-risk for abuse and neglect. Ranging in age from 2-5, my little students are eager, enthusiastic dancers. But it hasn’t always been this way. Slowly, over time, they’ve come to accept dance in their therapeutic classroom environments. They’ve come to see the scarves and the music as outlets for creative expression, socialization, and fun. Dance helps them to relieve some stress, to smile, to be kids. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2015

Posted by Randy Cohen On March - 13 - 2015
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

With the arts advocacy season fully upon us, the following is my updated “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.” Changes this year include updating #3 with the BEA’s new Arts in the GDP research, #8 to include a statement about the benefits of the arts in the military, and #10 includes the new Creative Industries data (now current as of January 2015).

This is just one of many arrows to include in your arts advocacy quiver. While it’s a helpful one, we know there are many more reasons to support the arts. What are yours? Please share your #11 (and more!) in the comments section below. What a great collection we can build together. Read the rest of this entry »

Matt D'Arrigo

Matt D’Arrigo

During my less-than-stellar freshman year of college, my mother and sister were both diagnosed with cancer within a few months of each other. It was devastating news. I ended up taking the following year off, both to get my head on straight and to help around the house during their treatments.

It was an extremely difficult time with many emotions that were hard to process – sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, etc. I found myself retreating to my bedroom on a daily basis, shutting the door, putting on one of my Grateful Dead bootlegs, and disappearing for hours into a painting. I had created my own artistic refuge with my easel, drawing table, stereo, artwork, posters, décor, music, etc. It became my world when the world outside was too overwhelming. I would re-emerge with a totally different outlook on life, with a sense of hope and joy. I felt good. It was the first time I realized the power of place; having a sacred space to go that’s dedicated to creating and engaging in the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Public Art – An Unexpected Approach to Improving Health

Posted by Sara Ansell On September - 3 - 2014
Sara Ansell

Sara Ansell

My path to becoming an arts administrator is a tad unorthodox. My advanced degree is in social policy analysis and my previous professional experience is that of a public health researcher. In fact, I’m not sure I identify solely as an arts administrator. Or a policy analyst. Or a public health researcher. Instead, the world I inhabit is that of someone passionate about connecting with individuals and communities, in a tangible and meaningful way, to help address the deeply entrenched health-related challenges they face every day. Threaded throughout my winding journey to the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is a core belief that we all live within a layered reality – one defined by our individual traits and behavior, our social relationships to friends, family, and neighbors, our living and working conditions including the physical environment around us, and the economic, political, and social policies and systems that impact us locally, nationally, and globally. The ecosystem in which we all interact and navigate is complex and impacts our health in very real ways. The extent to which each layer of our reality hinders and supports us as we strive for well-being varies for each of us. Read the rest of this entry »

Booz Allen Hamilton Finds Inspiration in the Arts

Posted by Ralph W. Shrader On August - 28 - 2014
Ralph W. Shrader

Ralph W. Shrader

Patrick O'Herron

Patrick O’Herron

Patrick O’Herron interviewing Dr. Ralph W. Shrader, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Booz Allen Hamilton.

1. Booz Allen Hamilton was a 2011 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America honoree. Why does the company choose to support the arts?

The arts inspire, provoke thought, spur creativity, and connect us in a shared experience. These are also the essential qualities of an enduring, successful business–therefore, both as an institution and as individual employees, we find a natural affinity for the arts at Booz Allen. Corporate support helps make exhibitions and performances possible, and we find this to be a good way to give back to the communities in which we work and live.

2. How has the company’s support of the arts advanced business objectives?

Externally, there is a positive brand affinity and visibility that comes from association with respected museums and arts organizations, as well as favorable recognition in the community for helping to make possible quality exhibitions and performances. Read the rest of this entry »

Are We Okay?

Posted by Jessica Wilt On August - 21 - 2014
Jessica Wilt

Jessica Wilt

With all the not so good news happening in the world lately – war along the Gaza Strip, new tensions flaring in Iraq, the aftermath in Afghanistan, and nationally; the racial chaos unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri along with the devastating passing of comedian and actor Robin Williams to depression and suicide – I find myself asking the question, “Are we okay?” The world could use a giant hug right now. I know I could use one.

If we’re not okay, what are some things we can do to make ourselves and our kids feel better? The combination of Arts Education with Social Service or Creative Youth Development are not necessarily partnerships we think of when it comes to the arts, but really, they are critical. We can talk all day until we’re blue in the face about the value of arts education in K-12 and higher education, arts integration, the new arts standards and common core, arts advocacy and many other reasons why we support arts education, but how often do we actually talk about the arts being a critical part of our daily physical, emotional and mental health? Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts and Healthcare: How Music Has the Power to Heal

Posted by Aileen Rimando On August - 7 - 2014
Aileen Rimando

Aileen Rimando

Music has been one of my greatest passions for as long as I can remember, and my experiences with it have truly shaped my life for the better. As a performer, educator, administrator, and friend, it is even more rewarding to be a first-hand witness to, and take part in, making positive change in others’ lives through music. The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia’s newest project and collaboration with the healthcare industry through Heart Strings: Music Education for Patients at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has been a wonderful example of the transforming power of the arts.

My name is Aileen Rimando and I am the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. An educational component was recently added to my role, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to expand our outreach offerings to the private healthcare industry to engage and inspire the Philadelphia community. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Only Make Believe…or is it?

Posted by Megan Stewart On July - 15 - 2014
Megan Stewart

Megan Stewart

Only Make Believe (OMB) is a non-profit that creates and performs interactive theatre for children in hospitals and care facilities in New York and Washington DC. OMB is dedicated to the principle that freeing the imagination is a valuable part of the healing process. We send a team of three professional actors into a hospital once a week for six weeks and the actors engage the children in a performance where each child becomes an integral part of each show. The children get to dress in a costume, take on different roles, and really just take an hour to laugh, play, and enjoy being a child rather than thinking about their treatment or being a patient. We want them to just have fun with “laughter being the best medicine” through the joy and escape that the theatre can provide.

My role at OMB is to manage our corporate relations efforts through volunteerism and sponsorship, and to coordinate OMB events including the annual gala on Broadway, young professionals and networking events, cocktail parties, and other various events. The majority of my job is spent running our corporate volunteer program which has grown steadily over the past six years. Read the rest of this entry »

Cara Scharf

Cara Scharf

The following is an interview with Americans for the Arts’ Senior Director of Arts Policy Marete Wester. Conducted by Cara Scharf, it was originally published in ArtsLine, the Drexel Arts Administration quarterly newsletter focusing on the program, the arts and culture sector, and the students’ perspective.

Marete Wester’s professional journey started in the mid-80s with a Masters in Arts Administration from Drexel University and landed her at national arts service organization Americans for the Arts in 2006. As Senior Director of Arts Policy, Wester brings the voice of the arts field to policy discussions nationwide. This means cultivating partnerships and convening meetings with a diverse group of organizations to show how the arts play a role in quality-of-life issues such as the environment and education. One recent example of her work is the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military, which works to expand access to and research on the arts as effective tools in the care of service members. I spoke with Marete about her work and experience in Drexel’s program.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” -Albert Einstein

Perhaps the most compelling support for learning at all ages comes from participants:

Road Scholar participants chat with Maestro Perlman after an attending an exclusive rehearsal by the BSO. Photo by BSO.

Road Scholar participants chat with Maestro Perlman after an attending an exclusive rehearsal by the BSO. Photo by BSO.

“Many of us have been going to hear the BSO for DECADES! The classes of “Behind the Scenes at the BSO” fulfilled many of our dreams. Thank you so very much for creating such a splendid series of classes.”  – Student at Johns Hopkins University’s Osher program; May, 2014

Children and parents listen and interact with musicians during the Music Box concert “Bugs” on April 5th, 2014. Photo by Jim Saah.

Children and parents listen and interact with musicians during the Music Box concert “Bugs” on April 5th, 2014. Photo by Jim Saah.

 

 

 

“The program for the tiniest audience members was truly inspired. My grand-daughter (age 3) said the music was ‘beautiful’ and ‘magical.’ I appreciated that the mix of music for Bugs included a range from ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ to Bach and Fauré. The children were remarkably well behaved which speaks for their attention to the program being offered. Please accept this check as evidence of my support for this kind of programming. Cheers!” – Grandmother attending the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Music Box Concert, April 2014, at the Music Center at Strathmore

 

Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts are not “only” the NEA…

Posted by Kate McClanahan On May - 9 - 2014
Kate McClanahan

Kate McClanahan

Above all, artists must not be only in art galleries or museums — they must be present in all possible activities.” — Michelangelo Pistoletto

What is art? Art is a means for social change. Art is relaxing. Art is inspiring. Art is culture. Art is pretty.

What can art really do? At Americans for the Arts we know; the arts are more than just around us or a part of us—they are also an application. Like an amoeba, they can live on their own, but when “discovered,” they suddenly are ever-present and malleable in ways you might not know, and perhaps, they are limited only by “un-thought thoughts,” or put differently, imagination. Read the rest of this entry »

Humor Enabling Healing to Create Space for Social Change

Posted by D'Lo On December - 5 - 2013
D'Lo

D’Lo

As the dark kid in Hickeville, USA, I remember using my outrageous silliness as a way to deflect and distract from my queerness. I’m transgender, born with a vagina, but always aspiring to look like LL Cool J. Growing up, no one questioned my boyish swag; in fact, for the most part, I felt encouraged in it. I was funny and (thankfully) cool – though a different type of cool than the cool-white-kids at my schools – nonetheless, cool enough not to get bullied.

Moving into adulthood, I used my “funny-ness” to facilitate healing and social change. It is well known in our queer circles, how comedy plays a role in our healing. Carol Burnett said “Comedy is Tragedy mellowed by Time”. Sometimes, we queer folk come back from a family reunion where we have had to hear our blood family react/respond to us with negativity (to put it mildly). We hop in our cars and our tears blur the lane lines and the oncoming traffic headlights, but we don’t care if we get into an accident.  We arrive at our home and drink at our pity-party and hopefully, before the 3rd glass of wild turkey, we have called a friend, rather – chosen family, over to our house. We sit with them and cry again while recalling the events that broke our hearts. And by the time we’ve consummated our water-is-thicker-than-blood ritual, we’re falling over each other, laughing, taking power back by sharing sentiments over the absurdity of close-mindedness.

This humor that enables healing can go on to create space for social change–space to initiate the dialogue, and the sometimes uncomfortable conversations in which mainstream society members have to question themselves and their hetero-normativity.  The vehicle for this humor is our stories. Read the rest of this entry »

In Tribute to Their Service

Posted by Bill O'Brien On November - 18 - 2013
Bill O'Brien

Bill O’Brien

Every November, Veterans Day comes and goes as a reminder for us to thank our American military men and women for their sacrifice and service. As our most recent conflict has transitioned into the longest war in American history, the burden of their service has become harder and harder to ignore. More and more, we are compelled to find meaningful ways to show respect.

Over the past few years, a number of  initiatives have emerged to help rally the arts in support of our troops and their families. These efforts have received a significant boost from The National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military. A broad coalition of military, government and non-profit leaders initiated by the Walter Reed National Medical Military Center and Americans for the Arts, the Initiative has staged two national summits, a national Roundtable, and has published a white paper framing an action plan to advance research, practice, and policy around the arts and the military.

As previously mentioned on this blog, the NEA has also been working with Walter Reed and the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) to improve our understanding of the impact the arts can bring in efforts to heal our troops. This partnership, which initially focused support on therapeutic writing, has now expanded into a broader Creative Arts Therapy program that also includes support for research and activities related to music and visual arts-based therapies.

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Artists in the Wounded Warrior Unit at Walter Reed Hospital

Posted by Shanti Norris On November - 17 - 2013
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shanti Norris

When Smith Center for Healing and the Arts first brought professional artists into the Wounded Warrior Unit at Walter Reed to work directly with patients, the clinical staff said “we don’t know who you are, but please stay out of our way.” They told the artists to avoid patients that they considered difficult or depressed.  Within a few months, they were giving the artists referral lists of patients that they wanted them to visit with – and asked them to please be sure to visit the difficult and depressed patients.  The staff have come to see the artists as part of their healing team and even request lunchtime sessions for themselves to reduce their own stress.

Four years ago we were invited to bring our successful hospital based artist-in-residence program into what is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to work with Wounded Warriors in the surgical unit.  Our artists had been working with adult cancer patients at area hospitals for many years. They came to Walter Reed where we trained them in military culture and the specifics of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other injuries of modern day warfare.  They learned hospital protocol, were trained in HIPPA regulations and went through medical and background screening requirements.  They were educated in the surprisingly extensive history of the arts in the military.  Then they went to work knocking on patients’ doors and offering sessions for family members in the family lounge. Read the rest of this entry »

Art’s Creative Healing Connections for Members of the Military

Posted by Naj Wikoff On November - 1 - 2013
Naj Wikoff

Naj Wikoff

The arts help bring home those who have put and continue to put their lives in harm’s way to protect and promote the values and way of life we cherish.

Tom Smith should not be alive. In Vietnam he was a helicopter scout pilot for the 1st Cavalry Division. In Vietnam, helicopter pilots flew through the heaviest concentrations of enemy fire and an attrition rate twenty times that of U.S. Air Force pilots, and of them, the Cavalry pilots were hit hardest having a forty to fifty percent survival rate and a life expectancy of three weeks. His job was to fly at treetop level, often at 30 mph or less to locate the enemy usually by drawing their fire.

Smith describes the cause of his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) not as a result of such horrific experiences of being shot down, the rotors being snapped off by the trees, or looking at the gunman bellow whose bullets are ripping through the fuselage, but by living with the daily grind of fear.

For me PTSD comes from living in an environment of fear more than the events that precipitated it,” said Smith. “When I got shot down and was on fire that was really scary. There was no place to put the helicopter down. I had to fly a burning helicopter for an inordinately long time to crash it and that was terrifying. When I got shot down through 150 feet of trees and had the rotor blades ripped off it was quite terrifying and painful as my jaw and back were broken. I went in knowing what I was getting into, but it’s the daily living in an environment of fear – the fight or flight fear that doesn’t go away, that stays with you after you leave the hospital and into civilian life – it changes you as much if not more than the combat situation itself.

For Smith, it was writing, taken up decades later, that helped him come to terms with and finally be able to speak openly about what it means to living with PTSD and its impact on himself and on his family. Smith’s experience is one that many veterans across the country are increasingly coming to realize; the arts can help them connect with themselves, with others who have shared similar experiences, with their family, and with their community. Read the rest of this entry »