Public School Arts Allies

Public School Arts Allies

As I have been pressing our contacts in the public school system this year for residency work, I am aware that the landscape has changed very much. Part of me understands that the crusade of education has become accountability and graduation rates. But continually buried in the discussion is “cognitive” part of the process and how arts play a key piece in the total picture. Many agree it is imperative, but it remains the first item to be tabled in the name of both time and budget.

So I found it very telling and brought some discussion around the attached article. Just as we look at our US President to be a visionary of the nation, we do the same with our school superintendents. They take on the role with a list of requirements and expectations that require super human strength or impossible feats of tact and negotiating. Just like a CEO of a major corporation in tough economic times, they can be a cog in the machine that rotates like a revolving door with heads on the chopping block every 2-3 years. The article compares the roles of both St Paul’s Valeria Silva vs Mpls Bernadeia Johnson who recently stepped down. Is it even a position that has a chance for success? How much time is needed for measurable success? And to whom are they accountable for?

I have no answers. And even more limited opinions. But this is a great subject for discussion.

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/293932861.html

Arts Advocacy Day

Arts Advocacy Day

A quick shout out to any of you that are indeed raving fans and might have some free time on a bitter cold Thursday. Feb. 19th is the annual Arts Advocacy Day at the state capitol. It is a rare chance for us all to converge from our individual quests and make an impact on how vital the work that we do is to a needing audience. Our state senators and representatives can be the gatekeepers on much of the work we do. We always equate this to money and funding. But it can also be about partnerships, permits and all things place making.

I'mInSo if you have the spare time, this is one day out of the year where you can make a big impression with relatively little effort than just showing up. MN Citizen’s for the Arts does all the work for us. They find our elected officials, give you the tools and make the time available for us to simply walk in and make a small voice heard. I will be there representing YPC and all the great work we do.

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts

Dance for Those Who Can’t

Dance for Those Who Can’t

There are so many thing to like about this great shared video. First is the Dance Competition itself. The VIBE XX is now in its 20th year and began as a talent show in Southern CA. In the 2 decades since, it has become a springboard for amazing talent and sold out crowds that rivals Coachella or the Sundance Festivals. You have seen dance lines, but this defies definition.

Secondly, this year’s winner Cookies, has been a veritable presence at the competition over the last few years. They are a large troupe from the San Diego area. This years piece was a story of homeless youth. It began with with simple slides and statistics. Then slowly came to light with shreds of clothing and cots to sleep on. The opening tableau alone surpasses many stage stories. Their technique is incredible, there energy unleashable and their spirit astounding. The staging, the musicality and theatrics of the piece is superb.

A great human statement and artistry. Please enjoy it!.

Opening Doors

Opening Doors

This Human Interest Story goes back a few years. Somehow it just found its way to me via a share on Facebook. Maybe because it originates in Canada.

Like so many stories shared here, it involves a teen that has dealt with some adversity and ends up at the questionable point in their life road which can lead to two distinct outcomes; poor choices that are difficult to dig out from or a positive one that elevates all around them. Josh Yandt was struggling with the death of his father and a move from a simple rural life into a larger pool in Ontario. Also having a slight lisp and some bad blood from Bullying experiences, he made a bold choice not to retreat in this unfamiliar new world, but to approach it with authentic opportunity.

His simple action was to arrive to school early and open the door for students as they entered the building. Nothing more than a “hello” or “have a good day.” New classmates did not know how to react at first but came to know him as the Doorman. Over time his actions led to warm reception as many of the student body began to also Pay It Forward. He ended up winning over the entire school where he was accepted with open arms and validation. It took nothing more than an action and a desire to make change; both within and at large. Simple Story, Monumental Difference! Today he enjoys a career in Public Speaking.

Being Alive

Being Alive

As I am crafting some new language for Residency work in regard to Diversity and Anti-Bullying, I read this fabulous photo essay of Gay Youth across the globe. So often we hear the stories of tremendous loss because of sexuality issues. They happened years ago and continue recently with the loss of Leelah Alcorn. But this is great to see models of confidence and strength. These bold individuals are literally every color of the rainbow and uniquely themselves. Check out this great work of photog M. Sharkey and his panel of movers and shakers for the next generation.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/gabrielsanchez/queer-youth-of-today#.vsBZzpRD96

Mars, 18 - New York City

Faye, 21 - New York City

One Size Fits All

One Size Fits All

Moreso in theatre than in other fields, we realize the above statement to be not only false, but demeaning and simplistic. We are all colors of the rainbow and should embrace that rather than spending an entire lifetime trying to conform and adjust.

This very simple BuzzFeed demonstration communicates this in an obvious way. 6 models are asked to try on women’s basics that are advertised as One Size Fits All. These are different women not only in physique but in personality. It is comic to see their honest attempts at a wardrobe. But what is even sillier to me, is why would each of them want to be wearing the same things.

I know I can get gentle rubs for the choices I wear. I have always been attracted to bright colors and odd accessories like cuff links and bow ties. But they are another way of expressing who I am and how I want to be perceived by others. This last New Year’s I boldly ventured into a Forever 21 store when my eye caught the shirt on the display mannequin. “What was a 50 year old man doing buying a trendy shirt that a hipster would not even dare to don?” But I bought the shirt in the dusty rose floral and had a great time wearing it, and thought I looked great in it. Yeah for Me!

Teens React To Tyler Oakley

Teens React to Tyler Oakley

Teens React is a video blog where average teens are exposed to archaic inventions and contemporary trends. The responses can be very amusing to us adults as we observe just how “behind the times” we have become.

I found this installment especially telling in terms of the tolerance that we are constantly noting as upstanders here at YPC. Whether it is race or homophobia – there does seem to be a line in the sand that is becoming more faint and it is great to see that in the younger generation. All the teens were exposed to Tyler Oakley and his video blog entries. If you don’t know him, he is a flamboyant pixie with a colorful personality and opinions on all things large and small. The first impression is his cotton candy pompadour that changes colors from pink to lavender on a regular basis. The reactions from every teen who saw him – regardless of their gender or background – was that he had a great energy and positive spirit and they were drawn to him no matter what his sexual orientation. To note this, even the days of Will & Grace or Ugly Betty stereotypes seem long gone which is encouraging.

A Mighty Girl

A Mighty Girl

Never underestimate the power of a teenager with strong ideals and incentive. This great tale is the legacy of 13 yr old Trisha Prabhu from Chicago. In the spirit of being a proud “Upstander to Bullying”, she is introducing a new software called Rethink that encourages posters on Facebook to think twice before they hit send on nasty comments.

It sounds easy enough, but she backs it up with scientific information about deductive logic that is not fully developed in young adults. This extra step in the process allows for reflection and consequences. Using Google analytics she found that this newly created software was able to impact 93% of the time. Amazing work as she continues into the Final round of the Google Science Fair.

A Mighty Girl FB page