Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In Chains

Judith Tannenbaum is a professional teaching artist focusing on community arts and related issues. She currently serves as training coordinator for San Francisco’s WritersCorps program.

Ms. Tannebaum taught at San Quentin in the 1980s and she has compiled a set of useful resources for artists who are working with prisoners.

According to this article, Why We Must Fix Our Prisons by Senator Jim Webb in Parade Magazine, the situation is dire and expensive:

The United States has by far the world's highest incarceration rate. With 5% of the world's population, our country now houses nearly 25% of the world's reported prisoners. We currently incarcerate 756 inmates per 100,000 residents, a rate nearly five times the average worldwide of 158 for every 100,000. In addition, more than 5 million people who recently left jail remain under "correctional supervision," which includes parole, probation, and other community sanctions. All told, about one in every 31 adults in the United States is in prison, in jail, or on supervised release. This all comes at a very high price to taxpayers: Local, state, and federal spending on corrections adds up to about $68 billion a year.

Shout it Out

Today is Arts Advocacy Day!

Who knew?

Apparently, Americans for the Arts and friends have organized a madcap day of advocacy in the nation's capitol. More than 500 arts advocates from across the nation are now, even now, descending on Capitol Hill to call on our representatives to support arts-friendly legislation and policies.

The blurb on the Americans for the Arts website promises that "a highlight of the day" will be a Congressional hearing entitled “The Arts = Jobs” hosted by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior. A panel of celebrity witnesses including Josh Groban, Wynton Marsalis and Linda Ronstadt will testify.

You can watch a live Webcast of this event at 10:30 a.m. (Windows Media)

You may also want to take this moment to give a shout out to your member of Congress.

Perhaps you could demand more money for art.


At the New York Times, journalist Susan Dominus reports that the demand for workshops on dating violence has increased in the wake of reports that pop star Chris Brown is an abuser.

In the article, Ms. Dominus profiles professional teaching artist Yalitza Garcia; whose "combination of street and school smarts makes her a precious urban resource, an educator who can walk into any classroom full of teenagers not only fearless, but confident that she’ll have them in the palm of her hand."

FYI: Here is an earlier blog entry on the New York Times about the ways in which some teens are reacting to the news that mega-star Chris Brown reportedly beat his mega-star girlfriend until she was bloody and bruised.

Monday, March 30, 2009

College Bound

Are you looking for undergraduate scholarships?

Are you a graduate student seeking doctoral support?

Are you seeking funding for continuing education?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you may be interested to know about Finding Foundation Support for Your Education; an upcoming seminar at the Foundation Center.

This one-hour class will give you information on how to get financial aid for your studies. Since the cost of tuition is ludicrously high, you'll probably need all the help you can get.

The course is FREE; which is quaint and cool at the same time.

Where: The Foundation Center 79 Fifth Ave., 2nd floor NYC

When: Tuesday, April 14, 2:00-3:00 pm

Eyes Wide Shut

At the Daily Beast an acidic article by Judith H. Dobrzynski that begins "Memo to President Obama, from the arts world: This is not what we had in mind."

I really couldn't bring myself to read the rest.

Democracy Now

I am overly enthusiastic about the work of artist Maira Kalman. For one reason, her book Next Stop Grand Central is so much fun you can't stand it.

Besides that, she is also a contributor to the New York Times and has done other impressive things. Ms. Kalman has written and illustrated 12 children's books; all of them terrific. Her latest special feature in the New York Times is about the democratic process and it describes her visit to a town hall-style meeting at a public school in the Bronx.

The image on this post is by Maira Kalman.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Les Misérables

The MTA raises subway fares and cuts services on all forms of mass transit in an effort to rein in a huge deficit.

Unemployment in New York City reaches 8.1 %.

Chancellor Joe Klein wants more power and more money for the New York City Public School system.

Also: Jeanne Moreau - Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud

What You Want

Are you registered on the ATA Yahoo Forum and Listserv?

It's really the place to be.


New York Non-Profit Press reports on a survey of about 900 nonprofit leaders around the country. Among the findings, nearly a third of nonprofit organizations do not have enough cash on hand to cover more than one month’s expenses.

Also: Marcus Aurelius - Meditations

Nature which governs the whole will soon change all things which thou seest, and out of their substance will make other things, and again other things from the substance of them, in order that the world may be ever new.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

The New York Times reports that "cultural professionals say they are cautiously optimistic about the future of the arts under President Obama."

We'll see.

Also: Shirley Bassey fronts 007 - Diamonds Are Forever


I have been meaning to tell you about the Urban Arts Resource Blog.

Have I mentioned The Community Arts Network?

When was the last time you visited ArtsEdge?

Plus: Fran Healy covers Carly Simon

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All There Is

Wikimedia Commons is a searchable catalog of images, sound and video clips that are in the public domain. This is freely-licensed educational media content; thousands of photos and other media on a wide variety of topics. The database is created and maintained by artist volunteers and the scope of Commons is set out on the project scope pages.

I found this photo of a Nebula there and it's amazing.


Did you know that the American Folk Art Museum has a program called Free Music Fridays?

Well they do, and you are invited.

Nearly every Friday, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm you can wander the museum's galleries free of charge, have a drink in the cafe, and listen to live music in the atrium.

This Friday, the event features music by Scott Peterson, an earnest folk singer and songwriter who probably comes from Seattle.

I like Seattle.

How To

A Teaching Artist at Work by Barbara McKean is a good and useful book designed to help teaching artists "develop connections between their pedagogical and artistic selves".

The author documents three theater-education projects that took place in three different educational settings. The success stories are useful, but the book also has a how-to approach; offering key exercises for teaching, as well as a section on evaluation and assessment.

Read a sample chapter (pdf) to help you decide if it's worth the $22 bucks.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Search

Good news! The Actors Fund Actors Work Program offers a Job Search and Interview Skills Workshop through which everyone who works in the entertainment field can get support, leads and job search strategies. There is an intake process and participants must attend the Actors Work Program Orientation as a prerequisite.

The Actors Work Program Job Search and Interview Skills Workshop

When: Every Wednesday except legal holidays.
Time: 12:00 - 2:30 PM
Where: The Actors Fund, 729 Seventh Avenue, 11th Floor
Program: Actors Work Program
Contact: Billie Levinson
Phone: 212.354.5480 ext. 100
Contact Email: blevinson@actorsfund.org

Remember, Participants must attend the Actors Work Program Orientation before attending Job Search.

Cartoon: Gossamer

The Journey

Wall Street rises on the news of President Barack Obama's new bank-bailout plan.

Paul Krugman despairs.

Nicholas Kristof starts another fight about education reform and the relative importance of quality teachers.

Ted Hughes was married to Sylvia and they had a son.

All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.

Plus: Jimi H. - All Along the Watchtower

The Quest

The job search feature on Idealist.org is one of the most popular destination points for freelance teaching artists who enjoy eating food and paying rent. I always use the general search term "teaching artist" and the results are automatically posted to the sidebar of this blog each day.

The last job listing to fit the search term "teaching artist" was posted to Idealist.org on March 16th.

Think fast, Rabbit.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Til it's Gone

The Star Tribune reports that, citing the great depression, Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis is making big cuts in staff and programming.

Joni - Big Yellow Taxi


Over at the blog Ethics & Arts Education; serious explorations of the role of ethics in arts education today. This one is about the ethical implications of arts cuts in San Diego's public schools.

Hypertext: Over at Powell's we find an excerpt from the book Home by Marilynne Robinson.

The Music

The Times reports that Orchestras in the New York region are cutting back on everything, including rehearsal time and arts-in-education activities.

Also: American Pie - D. Mclean

Friday, March 20, 2009


The VSA arts Playwright Discovery Program encourages middle and high school age young people to write plays that explore the ways in which disability affects their lives and the lives of others. Young playwrights with and without disabilities may submit scripts that they have written alone or in collaboration with others. So this could be potentially be a class project.

The winner gets $2,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C., to see his or her play performed at the Kennedy Center.

The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2009.

Download the official rules and guidelines here (pdf).

Download the official application here (pdf).

Into the West

If you live in Western New York or if you are thinking of escaping from New York City, then you will be excited to learn that the Arts Education Institute of Western New York is currently accepting applications for teaching artists for the 2009-2010 school year.

TAs with backgrounds in music and theater should mail resumes by Friday, March 27, 2009 to the address below:

Arts in Education Institute of WNY
Niagara Falls High School
4455 Porter Road
Niagara Falls, NY 14305
ATTN: Paul Waara

Interested applicants may also send an e-mail to artsined@nfschools.net


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Youth Quake

On her Facebook page, Dale Davis, ATA Executive Director, has posted this link to a story about a compelling, youth-led video project.

The youtube info gives this background information and context:

This short is a product of "break/s beyond the ballot," collaboration between BCAM students, the Hip Hop Theater Festival, and MAPP international. Artists in residence Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi facilitated four days of intensive work with the youth at BCAM, where they developed written pieces that articulate the students' views. Then, we worked at BCAM over the next 2 months to transform those written pieces into short films and graphic arts pieces. They will be incorporated into future productions of Bamuthi's acclaimed "mixtape for stage," the break/s.

Long live the young.

Dance and Disability

Gimp is a modern dance company that confronts preconceptions about disability.



The National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) fosters an understanding of the relationship between "creative expression and the quality of life of older people."

They maintain the National Arts and Aging Resource Directory which is a searchable database you can use to locate organizations and resources across the country.

If you are lucky, you are going to get old.

Better get ready.

Also: Liz Lerman Dance Exchange has this exciting video of an intergenerational dance performance with narration on their youtube page.


Film Forum has been around since 1970 and they are now "New York’s leading movie house for independent premieres and repertory programming".

Costa Gravas' thriller "Z" is playing and you should see it.

Critic Pauline Kael called it "One of the fastest, most exciting melodramas ever made."

Also: I Lost it at the Movies by Pauline Kael.

Plus: Digital Animation, a technology mentoring program for young women in Central Ohio, provides this useful online tutorial on how to make a storyboard.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eat the Rich


Glorya Kaufman gives $20 million to Dance at the Los Angeles Music Center.

"It's the perfect time," Kaufman said, "because everyone is starting to get into the doldrums. They're not spending money, not doing this, not doing that. What this does is, we can have music on the Music Center courtyard, we can have little bands and people learning to dance. . . . Everyone is happy dancing."

The wealthy do the $2500 Saturday Brunch.

AIG paid out millions of dollars in bail-out funded bonuses to a handful of executives.

The FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act includes "a significant $10 million increase..." for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Eat the Rich.


The National Standards for Arts Education state what every student should know and be able to do in the arts. The standards were developed by the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations, through a grant administered by The National Association for Music Education (MENC).

The content standards for music education in grades K-4:

Standard #1: Singing

Standard #2: Performing on instruments

Standard #3: Improvising

Standard #4: Composing and arranging music

Standard #5: Reading and notating music

Standard #6: Listening to, analyzing, and describing music

Standard #7: Evaluating music and music performances

Standard #8: Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts

Standard #9: Understanding music in relation to history and culture

Plus: Jessye Norman - Je Te Veux (youtube)


@rt Room is a website for young people but I'm sure they won't mind if you visit. Authored by University of Florida professor Craig Roland, the site contains "@rt Sparkers" and "@rt Rageous" activities including this instructional page on how to make your own artist book and this one on how to keep a sketch book.

The site is all about encouraging young people to think like artists--"to create, to learn and to explore new ideas, places and things on their own."

Mark Rothko is quoted over there and his words shall serve as our inspirational text for the day:

"Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risks."

Right on.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Moving Pictures

If you love movies, head over to the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens.

You'll have to take the subway, so if you go on the weekend make sure to read up on travel advisories or you'll never get there because the trains are always a mess.

Luckily, the museum has a slew of online educational resources that you can access right now.

For example, I found this animated explanation of movie-making to be both delightful and informative.

Let Your Love Light Shine

Carnegie Hall is currently presenting HONOR! a celebration of the African American cultural legacy curated by diva Jessye Norman. The festival has events scheduled until March 23rd, which means you have about a week to check it out.

To accompany the onstage work, Carnegie's education department has posted an excellent online interactive time-line that allows you to "Trace the development of African American musical styles...".

Musical Interlude: Aretha takes it to the river.

Monday, March 16, 2009

No Way

In a desperate move, I'm reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.

Also, here's a summary of a detailed report entitled Arts Education in Secondary Schools: Effects and Effectiveness, published by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). The report presents the results of a three-year study into the effectiveness of arts education in English and Welsh secondary schools.

The study found that "...there was no sound evidence to support the claim that the arts boost general academic performance...".


Plus: The lovely and late Jeff Buckley does Hallelujah .

Nobody Knows

The New York Times reports that some of the recently laid-off are "burned out by a merciless job market" and, in order to stay sane, some are launching entrepreneurial ventures.

This page has a daily job search update from idealist.org. It's to the right. Just scroll down until you see the phrase "don't panic!".

Also: There are job listings over at NYFA Classifieds.

Plus: Peggy Noonan says "There's No Pill for this kind of Depression"

And: Vera Hall sings Trouble So Hard.

Modern Love

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a new and improved website that offers an arrary of multimedia resources and remote learning opportunities for teachers and students.

Modern Teachers Online is the portal that connects teachers with MoMA's resources and collection. If you go there, you can download PDFs of guides and search lessons by subject, theme, medium, or text. I am going through a lesson plan called Rise of the Modern City. The downloadable pdf is printable and it even contains copies of the paintings needed for image-based analysis and discussion.

It's all FREE but you have to give them an email address to gain access.

Image: André Derain.French, 1880–1954. Pont de Londres. 1906. Oil on canvas, 66 x 99.1 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs.Charles Zadok.

Thanks to Craig Roland for the tip.

Friday, March 13, 2009


"Inspiration; she never visits the lazy."

So says David Hockney in what I found to be a surprisingly adorable interview posted on the website of the Tate Modern.

Inspired, I searched and found this excellent lesson plan posted online by art teacher Joe Applebaum of Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School in Cleveland, Ohio. The plan explores Cubism and Photo Montage.

Among the stated lesson objectives, the student will "be able to identify Cubist works (namely the works of Picasso and the Cubist-inspired works of David Hockney."


Not for Nothing

Grantmakers in Film & Electronic Media (GFEM) connects media projects and the funding community. In the belief that media play "a vital role in shaping, framing and catalyzing public discourse and culture" the organization maintains a searchable database of film and video projects that need dollars.

If you need money, submit your project here.

If you have money, find a project to support here.

Video: Filmmaker Jesse Epstein is one of the artists listed on the GFEM database. Her New York Times Op-Ed, Sex, Lies and Photoshop explores our obsession with body image and calls on magazines to start telling the truth about the images they publish.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sí, Se Puede

The New York Times is publishing an extensive series on immigration and the "best ways to teach young newcomers." The conversation between experts starts in earnest this weekend, but the comment wars have already begun, so if you like that kind of thing, join the fray.

To accompany the debate, the Times provides a searchable database, which includes "the history of ethnic diversity in every school district in the country" and an interactive map, which displays census data.

As you know, art is the best way to teach nearly anything.

Taking it to the Streets

ArtsCONNECT, a program of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, supports performing arts tours in the mid-Atlantic region. The grant is reserved for "consortia", which I am pretty sure is funder-speak for organizational partnerships.

The deadline for applications to the 2009-2010 ArtsCONNECT program is Monday, March 30, 2009. Guidelines are available in both PDF and Word doc formats, but they are just for information and review purposes only.

All applicants must submit their 2009/10 ArtsCONNECT application as an online e-grant and that link is here.

Download ArtsCONNECT Guidelines (PDF)

Download ArtsCONNECT Guidelines (Word)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Start All Over Again

If you just can't stand it one more day, try to hold on.

The New York City Arts In Education Roundtable is hosting a forum on career transitions.

It's tomorrow.

Wearing New Hats: Professional Transitions
Mobility is a fact of contemporary professional life. Whether relocating from one city to another, from one job to another or from work as a teaching artist to that of an administrator, we all face the challenge of adjusting to new circumstances. This session will consist of a speed-networking exercise designed to introduce participants to each other by way of describing the professional transitions and related adjustments they are experiencing or contemplating. People new to their job, the field or to NYC will find others in like situations and will both get the information they need and share insights. Experienced Roundtable members will be on hand.

WHEN: Thursday, March 12, 2009; 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: Roundabout Theatre Company, Penthouse Lobby, American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd St.

If you're like "Hold up, what's the Roundtable?", this handy FAQ will answer all of your questions.

Also: Kate Bush and Peter G - Don't Give Up


Via ESPrit de Corps we find that the magnificent Liz Lerman, she of the Dance Exchange, is also a fine satirist. Ms. Lerman has a bone to pick with Wall Street and she makes a modest proposal, now posted on the Community Arts Network.

It's a great read.

I laughed until I cried, which didn't take long.

The Skills

Deborah Meier wants to be "Data Informed," Not Data Driven" and she wins The Liberal Arts Hero of the Day Award, which comes with no prize money, just some modest adulation.

Why is she the winner? Well, in her latest letter to pen pal Diane Ravitch on the website of Education Week, Ms. Meier discusses the latest trend toward making sure our children are equipped with "21st Century Skills" and she says things I like, such as this:

Human beings are going to create the 21st Century, not “fit into it”—I hope. And it might have been a great thing if all children had learned so-called 21st Century skills in the 12th Century and the 19th...


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On the Road

A notice from the Field asks "What does it really take to get your work on the road, with the financial and creative support it deserves?"

I really couldn't tell you. Luckily, they can.

On March 18th, Pele Bauch, Associate Director of The Field, will be moderating an artists' panel on the basics of setting up your own performance tours. Artists on the panel will discuss everything you need to know, including: setting it up, working with booking agents, negotiating with venues and offering educational activities in conjunction with shows.

From Grassroots to Booking Agents will be held on Wednesday, March 18th at 6:30 P.M. at Dance New Amsterdam located at 280 Broadway, 2nd Floor (entrance on Chambers Street.)

On the panel are touring veterans Alexandra Beller, Sara Juli and James Scruggs.

Tickets are $5 for Field/DNA Members and $10 for everybody else.

The Remix

On March 18th, PBS Teachers and Classroom 2.0 are hosting Remixing Shakespeare for 21st Century Students a webinar featuring experts from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Guests including Robert Young, the Folger's Director of Education and Amy Ulen, High School English teacher and founder of www.ShakespeareHigh.com, will discuss how teachers can help their students bridge the gap between Shakespeare's world and the digital age.

Remixing Shakespeare for 21st Century Students happens on March 18 from 8-9:30 p.m. ET.

The webinar is FREE, which is great, but to get the secret entry code by email you first have to join PBS Teachers Connect, which is irritating.

PBS Great Performances presentation of "King Lear" will air in late March 2009 on PBS. Check your local listings for the exact date and time, because I have no idea.

Update via Dennis Baker's helpful comment:

King Lear New York airdates:

time: wednesday 03/25/2009 at 8pm
channel: thirteen/wnet

time: saturday 03/28/2009 at 1:30am
channel: thirteen/wnet

time: sunday 04/05/2009 at 12pm
channel: thirteen/wnet

Monday, March 9, 2009


The New York Times reports that unemployment has hit 8.1% and we have still not hit bottom.

This may be the time to ask yourself if you are in the right line of work. If not, please step aside now, I beg of you, because I am afraid there is not going to be enough work left for the rest of us.

Also: Pina Bausche (Café Müller) is quite possibly the hardest working woman in show business.

Look Back

The dizzying amount of artmaking and art-related documentation conducted during the great depression provides great opportunities to explore history through the arts. The Great Depression and the Arts, part of the New Deal Network, provides a useful set of resources that will help you and your students do just that.

The site maintains a collection of four arts-oriented lesson plans developed by The National Center for History in the Schools and the Organization of American Historians. All of the material is designed to "impress upon students the varying effects of the Great Depression and New Deal on the lives of ordinary Americans." Teacher background materials, including related National Standards for U.S. History are also provided.

I am exploring Lesson Plan # 2: Documenting the Migrant Experience.

Image on this post: "The Migration of the Negro" by Jacob Lawrence.

You Made Me Love You

In the midst of a global economic meltdown, I find my thoughts turn increasingly to the rent. I know it's selfish, but so is the landlord. Longing to find my professional self on the agenda of the professional problem solvers, I go to the source for succor, asking "What does President Barack Obama have on the agenda for Teaching Artists like me?"

On his official website, I find we are not mentioned in the section titled "Education." In fact, we are not mentioned at all...anywhere.

"Arts" is listed as one of the subcategories under "Additional Issues" along with "Sportsmen." From this, I conclude that we are as important to the new administration as "hunters and anglers."

Here is what little there is:

As the author of two best-selling books — "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope" — President Obama uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression.
It's like he smiled right at me.

Plus: Judy Garland pens a fan letter.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Behold, a Pale Horse

Yesterday, I mentioned an interactive celebrity essay contest at the LA Times' Culture Monster Blog called If I Ran the NEA. In my post, I dismissed the responses of the notable personalities as "mostly innocuous" and, although I meant what I said, I don't want to be misunderstood.

If I were trying to insult the celebrated, I would have written "mostly canned responses" or "mostly vapid responses." I did not.

Also, I did not in any way mean to imply that Ann Coulter is the pale horse of the apocalypse. But I can see how that misunderstanding might arise because she is obviously a hateful, dangerous person and we should fight her ilk tooth and nail.

Also: Love conquers all, but grassroots advocacy is the vehicle for change. Lawmakers in Albany have been flooded with proposals for how to spend New York States share of federal recovery money. Luckily, ATA maintains an online list of advocacy resources.

You should probably do something before it's too late.

Here and Gone

Linda Shopes has worked on, consulted for, and written about oral history projects for more than twenty-five years. Her essay, Making Sense of Oral History, was published in 2002 as part of History Matters: U.S. Survey Course on the Web.

Making Sense of Oral History explains everything. It is a comprehensive overview with a how-to approach and I'm finding it really useful. I am especially grateful for the tips on what kind of questions to ask and how to interpret an interview.

You can navigate the essay topic by topic on the website, but if you're impatient, you can also download the entire essay (pdf) in one fell swoop.

In my experience, oral histories and peer-to-peer interviews are useful starting points for collaborative art-making.

Have you ever been interviewed by a child?

It's kind of poignant because most young children have no idea that time really does fly.

Oral History: “Your People Live Only Upon Cod” is "An Algonquian Response to European Claims of Cultural Superiority"

HyperCinema: Kurosawa's RAN is a version of King Lear.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dance Transmission

The Ailey School, the educational wing of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is offering a summer workshop on the pedagogical techniques of dance pioneer Lester Horton who died in 1953. Before his death, Horton created and taught a modern dance technique which was complex, "anatomically corrective" and organized. He trained both Alvin Ailey and Carmen de Lavallade and dancers are still trained by his successors.

Horton may be gone, but, because they were transmitted to others, his pedagogical techniques and insights are still available.

You can access that artistic legacy for just $1175.00, which seems like a lot but is probably a bargain.

Get more information and register for the July 2009 Lester Horton Pedagogy Workshop here.

Meta-textual: Although he was the Buddha's longtime companion, Ananda did not achieve enlightenment until after the Buddha's death.

Tradition says that as the Buddha lay dying "Ananda was weeping. He walked away, to hide his tears."

But the Buddha comforted him saying:

"Do not grieve, Ananda, do not despair. Remember my words: from all that delights us, from all that we love, we must one day be separated. How can that which is born be other than inconstant and perishable? How can that which is born, how can that which is created, endure for ever?"

Read the rest of the story here.

Fight to Win

Over at the LA Times, Culture Monster blogger Lisa Fung ask "What would you do if you ran the NEA?

The site displays a photo grid of celebrities. Just click on a picture and behold a pale horse read their mostly innocuous responses.

More substantive commentary about all of these issues can be found on Create Equity, a blog by Ian David Moss, a student at the Yale School of Management.

I was over there reading a recent post where Mr. Moss argues that complaining about the relatively small amount of funds allocated for the arts in the economic recovery act may be be self-defeating and negative. He says "the notion that this somehow doesn't represent a victory for the arts community is one that I just don’t get."

He links to a lot of related articles and it's a terrific piece all around.

By terrific, I mean interesting and thoughtful, because I totally disagree with him.

Who's Fooling Who?

Do you remember Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Campaign Platform in Support of the Arts (pdf)? It seems like only yesterday that the candidates promised "to use the bully pulpit...to promote the importance of arts and arts education in America."

Then came the great stimulus package battles and President Barack Obama gave a big speech explaining his plan to save everything but he didn't mention arts at all, which hurt.

Then Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited a school in Brooklyn and he too said nothing about arts education at all.

More recently, a Chicago Tribune article says the Obamas attendance at art events like a recent performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater may be enough to boost the profile of the arts in general:
If outings to arts venues become a habit with the first family, "it would be a huge boon to the arts community in Washington and for the United States and the world," said David Andrew Snider, president of the League of Washington Theatres. "There's a widespread feeling that he ... gets the importance of the arts."

Hyperballad: Billie Holiday "Foolin' Myself"

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Information

Apple Insider says that Google has launched a mobile Google Book Search with finger-ready navigation for iPhone and iPod touch devices. That means iPhone users can now access more than 1.5 million books that are in the public domain because of expired copyrights and licenses.

Also, Amazon, maker of the popular Kindle e-book reader, is making it's e-book catalog available to iPhone users, which the New York Times says will allow access to Amazon's collection of over 240,000 books for a fee.

I use my phone for nearly everything: scheduling, note-taking, picture-taking, music, video, navigation, web-surfing, emailing and reading e-books.

We are very close, which is probably a mistake.

Video Epilogue: HAL won't go quietly (2001: A Space Odyssey)


An article by Natalie Angier in the New York Times says that babies display many of the complex interpersonal skills that distinguish us from the other monkeys.

The story, titled "In a Helpless Baby, the Roots of Our Social Glue", goes on to argue that human parents with infants in tow needed help from others and, in order to care for their offspring, our ancestors were basically forced to learn how to get along. Ms. Angier points out that persuading "a bunch of smart, hot-tempered, suspicious, politically cunning primates to start sharing child care and provisionings...took a novel evolutionary development, the advent of this thing called trust."

In his classic book "The Art of Loving", psychologist Erich Fromm defines love as a skill and set of learned behaviors, which is more inspiring than it sounds.

Fromm writes:

Love of the helpless, the poor and the stranger, are the beginning of brotherly love. To love ones flesh and blood is no achievement. The animal loves its young and cares for them. Only in the love of those who do not serve a purpose, does love begin to unfold.

Watch and Learn

The Dutchess County Arts Council is having "a celebration of arts and community" and you are totally invited (pdf).

Hosted by Chair Tom Sipos and other community leaders, the event will include a breakfast and a showing of Picking Ourselves Up, Dusting Ourselves Off, a multi-media presentation created by the Children's Media Project.

Tickets are $25 per person, but you can book a table of 8 for just $175.

In case you don't know, Children's Media Project workshops and after school programs are mission-oriented activities, designed to help children and youth "interact with the media arts as creators and critical viewers."

Some of their student-generated Public Service Announcements are posted online and you can go watch them.

This anti-smoking video titled "Nuthin' Left" (Real Media File) by student Ryan Sullivan was shown on MTV.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Show

The Armory Show is upon us already.

It opens on March 5th and runs until March 8th, 20009.

This year, VSA arts is part of The Armory Show’s International Fair of New Art and the organization is promoting the work of 16 artists with disabilities on Pier 94. Exhibiting VSA Artists include: Lanham Bundy, Caleb Charland, Emily Eifler, Busser Howell, Sophie Kahn, Lihua Lei, Ryan McDonald, Eric McGehearty, Coralina Meyer, Katie Miller, Ken Morgan, Mark C. Parsons, Gordon Sasaki, Linda Carmella Sibio, Ricky Subritzky, and Mare Vaccaro.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit the Amory Show's website.

LOCATION: Twelfth Avenue at 55th Street in Manhattan.

Hours: Thursday, March 5 - Saturday, March 7 (noon to 8 pm); Sunday, March 8 (noon to 7 pm)

Admission tickets run from $30 to $60 and are available at the door during show hours.

If you want to help stimulate what's left of the economy you could go buy something.

The art market is in trouble, hurry.

The Building

Crain's New York Business reports that local nonprofits are "scrambling" to get a piece of the federal stimulus funds that are scheduled to start pouring into the state, any minute now.

According to Senior Reporter Miriam Kreinin Soucca, the priority is money for construction projects that are "shovel ready." She mentions a few examples, such as one about a theater that is trying to get a new sidewalk out front and this about a worthy non-profit in Brooklyn that needs a new fence to go with their $25 million dollar multipurpose room:

Pamela Green, executive director of the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, an African-American historical society, submitted a $5 million request to the New York Department of Cultural Affairs and to several of the city's elected officials

The city has already provided Weeksville with much of the $25 million it needs for a 19,000-square-foot performance and education space that the center plans to break ground on in June.

Stimulus money would enable Weeksville to add a parking lot and a fence, but Ms. Green is uncertain about her odds.

“We don't know who else is on the list, and we don't know who we are competing against,” she says. “And we also have no idea what the requirements were.”



I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Zen Palette

"Wabi Sabi" by Mark Reibstein and illustrator Ed Young is a gorgeous book for children ages 3-6.

In episodes that end in Haiku and delicately rendered Japanese characters, Mr. Reibstein tells the story of a cat named Wabi Sabi who embarks on a journey to discover the meaning of her name. Along the way, she gains wisdom.

Wabi Sabi was selected as one of The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books in 2008.

According to the Times review, the term Wabi-Sabi refers to an aesthetic related to Taoism and Zen Buddhism.



The past is already past.
Don't try to regain it.
The present does not stay.
Don't try to touch it.

From moment to moment.
The future has not come;
Don't think about it beforehand.
Whatever comes to the eye, leave it be.

There are no commandments to be kept;
There's no filth to be cleansed.
With empty mind really penetrated, the dharmas have no life.

When you can be like this,
You've completed The ultimate attainment.

P'ang Yün (龐蘊 Hõ Un)

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Weather Outside is Frightful

New York City public schools are closed today due to snow and wind conditions. Department of Education offices are open.

Freelancers and part-timers probably won't get paid for today's canceled arts workshops.

Maybe they will be rescheduled.

Maybe not.

Free, Man

The Staten Island Advance reports that as non-profits cut back, some non-profit executives are being asked to defend their perks. An article dated February 22nd says:

While budgets have been slashed at some of the borough's cultural and nonprofit organizations, honchos at some of the groups are living the luxe life, enjoying expense accounts and car allowances on top of six-figure salaries.

Also: Flavorpill posts an online guide to free cultural events in New York City, which is obviously one of the most expensive cities for an artist to live in. So why do I stay?

Also: The Economic Policy Institute reports that true unemployment rates may be closer to 10%.

Plus: Janis - "Mercedes Benz"

If You Don't Know Me By Now

I am totally fascinated by visual artist Faith Ringgold's Racialquestions.com a "conceptual study on race and color in America."

Ms. Ringgold is interested in finding out:

"what a person would feel, think and do if their racial identity was suddenly changed. In other words what would it be like to Wake up Black in America (if you were white) or, what would it be like to Wake up White in America (if you were a person of color)?"

Racialquestions.com presents two online questionnaires:

Questionnaire A is for white people.

Questionnaire B is for all people of color.

Other people's answers are also available on the artist's website.

Meta-text: Still Separate, Still Unequal: America's Educational Apartheid by Jonathan Kozol (Harper's Magazine September, 2005)

The image is Norman Rockwell's.

The Crusades

The New York Times reports that about 5,000 people attended the Harlem Education Fair reflecting the fact that organizer and former city council person Eva Moskowitz is going to keep pushing her agenda on the neighborhood whether you like it or not.

The Times says she's a "crusader." Hold that word up for a while and look at it in the cold light of historical context.

The fact that Harlem now has more charter schools than you can shake a stick at is partly because of Ms. Moskowitz' efforts and partly because people of color are not stupid and are increasingly fed up with the traditional, separate and unequal* New York City public school system. At least charter schools provide an alternative and hold out the promise of quality:

Many families at the fair said they had grown tired of cuts to public schools. Sonia Davis... hopped from booth to booth, asking the same set of questions: “What grades do you serve?” “What classes do you offer?” “How strict are you?”

“You’ve got to have baseball, chess, cheerleading, drama, debate, poetry, and music — oh God, music — like cello and violin,” said Ms. Davis, who has two daughters. “I like charter schools because they don’t just have children bubbling in tests; they give them time to unwind.”

Reporter Javier C. Hernandez writes that "charter schools dominated, with representatives stopping parents with sales pitches like, “Do you want your child to succeed?”"

What kind of question is that?

History: The author of the Dawes Act was instrumental in helping to set up a system of schools that were consciously designed to "take the Indian out" of Native American children.

I have noticed that crusading reformers often like to put children of color in nifty school uniforms. The group of Omaha boys pictured below wear cadet uniforms provided by the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania circa 1880.

Also: On Tuesday March 3, 2009 @ 3:00PM EST Educati0n Week hosts The Quality Challenge for Charter Schools a live webchat with experts including Christopher Barbic, founder of YES Prep Public Schools and Nelson Smith president of the National Alliance for Public Charters. Sign up to tune into this chat which is supported by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

* According to Wikipedia: "The racial makeup of public school students is 36.7 percent Hispanic, 34.7 percent black, 14.3 percent Asian, and 14.2 percent white. The specialized high schools tend to be disproportionately white and Asian."