Thursday, April 30, 2009


If you're the fearless leader of a not-for-profit arts organization, an upcoming webinar by the fine people at Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) promises some help.

Keep Your Head Above Water: Short-Term Fundraising Strategies for Surviving 2009 will be offered on May 19, 2009 (10am Pacific/11am Mountain/12pm Central/1pm Eastern)

Presenter Kim Klein will share "five different fundraising strategies that (almost) any grassroots group can pull off to stay afloat during these next difficult months."
Because the nonprofit sector always lags 9-12 months behind the economy, many nonprofits will only now begin to feel the effects of the recession. Kim will throw you some life preservers so you can make it through the year, while you build for long-term growth.

$150 for organizations with budgets over $1 million

$100 for organizations with budgets between $250,000 and $1 million

$50 for organizations with budgets less than $250,000

Without money, work is done.

Like There's No One Watching

Checking in on the job search widget--to the right of your screen and down--I notice that things seem to be picking up. Is this a last hurrah? Is it stimulus money making it to the ground, or has the economic tide really turned?

I have no idea.

Anyway, jobs for everybody!

For instance:

The Bronx Defenders is seeking a teaching artist to develop, implement, and evaluate their Community Arts Exchange summer day camp scheduled from July 13 - July 24. 

The Wash

The NYC Health Department tells you everything you never wanted to know about the flu, swine or otherwise. 

Sometimes, when I am visiting a school, there is no soap or toilet paper in the bathroom and I wonder if it is on purpose. 


Health Department Continues Investigation of Swine Flu Cluster
Swine flu is in New York City and appears to spread in patterns resembling a seasonal influenza. So far, virtually all confirmed and suspected cases have been mild.
arrowLearn more
arrowRead the press release (En español)
arrowRead OEM's Ready NY flu guide (in PDF)
arrowDownload Swine Influenza: What New Yorkers Need To Know (En español) (in PDF
arrowGet Swine Influenza: What New Yorkers Need To Know in additional languages

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blue Sky

New York Times Op-Ed Contributor Mark C. Taylor says that "if American higher education is to thrive in the 21st century, colleges and universities...must be rigorously regulated and completely restructured."

He is the chairman of the religion department at Columbia; so I guess he knows from whence he speaks.

Mr. Taylor writes:
"GRADUATE education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans)."
Also: The Odyssey - Robert Fagles
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns 
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered 
the hallowed heights of Troy. 
Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds, 
many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea, 
fighting to save his life and bringing his comrades home. 
But he could not save them from disaster, hard as he strove 
the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all, 
the blind fools, they devoured the cattle of the Sun 
and the Sungod blotted out the day of their return. 
Launch out on his story, Muse, daughter of Zeus, 
start from where you will sing for our time too.


Since you are a professional TA, you may relate when I reveal that I am usually carrying around a slew of dog-eared books in my satchel. This week, my subway companion is a classic by the remarkable Donal Schön

I think it's changing me.

Here's a quote from a speech Mr. Schön gave in 1987:
First of all, there’s the view that what we know is a product. There is a body of knowledge. It is a set of results which are, at best, the results of research carried out in the universities. It’s knowledge that is determinate in the sense that there are right answers: questions have right answers. It’s the business of the teachers to know what the right answers are and to communicate them to students. The knowledge is formal and categorical; it is explicitly formulable in propositions that assign properties to objects or express in verbal or symbolic terms the relations of objects and properties to one another. And let me tell you a story: the Russian cognitive psychologist, Vygotsky, who worked just after the Russian Revolution, worked with peasants, some of whom had been to the collective schools and some of whom had not. And he gave them little tests. And the basic pattern of the test was "Put together the things that go together." So he showed this peasant a hammer, a saw, a hatchet and a log of wood, and he said, "Put together the things that go together." And the peasant said, "Well, clearly, what goes together is the log of wood and the hatchet and the saw because you use the hatchet and the saw to cut the wood for firewood." And Vygotsky said--and this was his regular strategem--"I have a friend who says that the saw, the hammer and the hatchet go together because they are tools." And the peasant answered, "Then your friend must have a lot of firewood!

I'll Fly Away

I am trying to read about arts integration, but it's spring and it feels like summer. 

Do you like kites?

The National Education Association has a collection of resources on the topic, including lesson plans and links. Not to be outdone, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration also has a collection of resources on the topic, including diagrams and guides to help explain the physics of flight.

Science and art; perfect together.

(Original image.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Out of the Blues

A nifty lesson plan at PBS helps students discover "how the blues both operates as poetry and informs the poetry of many prominent African American poets."

Download a PDF of the lesson plan and get the lyrics of songs by Robert Johnson here.

Also: Bessie Smith - Baby, Won't You Please Come Home?

The Research

The Johns Hopkins University School of Education and The Dana Alliance for Brain Research are co-sponsors of an upcoming conference entitled The Creative Brain: Arts, Cognition & Learning.

The conference blurb tells attendees what to expect:

"Neuroscience is exploring the neural basis of creativity and the connections between the arts, music, dance, drama, and cognition. This conference will explore the latest brain research on how the arts can improve achievement, learning, reading, math, mood, and interventions for learning disorders, and offers strategies to create more creative-thinking students and schools."

Registration is here.

Grace Notes

The New York Times profiles a music therapy program for nursing home residents with dementia.  Researchers have discovered that "when all other means of communication have shut down, people remember and respond to music."

There are some moving anecdotes in the article, but it also offers historical context and other information about the profession that I was somewhat surprised to learn:
The discipline of music therapy (MT) was established in 1950, and last year close to a million people received MT services in hospitals, care facilities, hospices and schools. MT is not merely playing music for people, although that’s beneficial. Practitioners are skilled musicians who play instruments and sing, then are trained and certified to use music for therapeutic purposes.

Also: Denise Levertov - Adam's Complaint

Some people,

no matter what you give them,

still want the moon.


The bread,

the salt,

white meat and dark,

still hungry.


The marriage bed

and the cradle,

still empty arms.


You give them land,

their own earth under their feet,

still they take to the roads.


And water: dig them the deepest well,

still it's not deep enough

to drink the moon from.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What Becomes a Legend Most?

At the close of the Theater Pedagogy Conference put on by NYU's Program in Educational Theatre, I caught a preview performance of No, No Nanette by the young people of Amas

The Amas Musical Theatre has been doing this work for 40 years and No, No Nanette is the latest in a long line of shows performed by talented students in the Rosetta LeNoire Musical Theater Academy, which is named after the organization's founder.

Rosetta LeNoire was a hero and Amas is just part of her legacy.
No, No Nanette plays on two weekends between May 8, 2009 - May 17, 2009. Tickets are $20.00 - $15.00 and you can order them by phone: 212 352-3101 or 866-811-4111(toll free)

For more

How Soon is Now?

On Sunday, indoors at the Theatre Pedagogy Conference hosted by the New York University's Program in Educational Theatre, more than one person missed the Sun, and I was one of them.

Above is a photo of the event taken in a low-ceilinged room listening to what was, unfortunately, a rather fascinating and important conversation on one of the loveliest days we shall see this year. You can just make out professors Philip Taylor and Christina Marín, who, in making a compelling case for authentic arts integration, posed the question of the age: "How do we take what we know best and bring it to others...into the context of better teaching?"

The answers were flying, but I had to run.

Harvard's Jessica Hoffman Davis gave an inspirational speech about "Why Our Schools Need the Arts." Ms. Hoffman Davis has a new, and inspiring, book (PDF) of the same title. 

Also: Visit The New York Public Library.

Also: It is still National Poetry Month and Whitman, Walt

I Sing the Body Electric 
by Walt Whitman


I sing the body electric,

The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,

They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,

And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?

And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?

And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body

were not the soul, what is the soul?

...continue reading at

Whatever Happened to Class?

It's good to be rich.

A study funded by the Pew Charitable Trust finds that about two-thirds of children with average math scores and low-income parents never go to college, but nearly two-thirds of high-income kids with average math scores do go to college:

At Think Progress, charts reveal the extent of the inequities.

Andrew Sullivan found out from Ryan Avent at Portfolio, who acts likes he's surprised:

"The truly amazing thing to me is that parental income isn't just crucial in getting to college, and getting through college -- its effects linger on, basically, in perpetuity. One of the most remarkable findings from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project is that a child from a family in the top income quintile who does not get a college degree is more likely to wind up in the top income quintile himself than a child from a family in the bottom income quintile who does get a college degree (see here -- PDF)."

Related: Read a White House position paper by Peter R. Orszag entitled The Case for Reform in Education and Health Care.

Also: Popular - Wicked

Friday, April 24, 2009


Metropolitan Youth Orchestras of Central Alabama (MYOCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing musical talent in the youth of central Alabama. Through its extraordinary Scrollworks program, the organization offers FREE music lessons by coordinating a roster of volunteer teachers. 

It's something like Venezuela's El Sistema; a publicly financed music-education program that produced Gustavo Dudamel and this bit of magnificence.

By the way, another organization, ArtCorp, sends volunteer professional artists to work in Central America locations; presenting the arts as an "effective methodology for community empowerment and engagement, educating and inspiring people to participate actively in improving the environmental, health, and social conditions in their communities."

Application deadlines are May 1, May 29 and June 26, 2009.

You might consider joining.

Do Business

Founded by Kiff GallagherMusic National Service Initiative (MNS) is a new non-profit organization that uses music to address civic and social needs. In the fall of 2009, MNS plans to pilot MusicianCorps, a "musical Peace Corps" to recruit, train and place musicians in public schools and low-income neighborhoods. MusicianCorps pitches itself as a first step in the creation of a national, multi-disciplinary arts service program. 

The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which would dramatically increase funding for AmeriCorps and other volunteer programs, has passed and is awaiting President Barack Obama's signature.

It's the great depression. I want to believe, but I do not understand why we have decided that one of our most high-profile national priorities should be the creation of new volunteer opportunities for artists. 

Also: Sonnet 29

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, 

   I all alone beweep my outcast state, 

And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries, 

   And look upon myself, and curse my fate, 

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, 

   Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd, 

Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope, 

   With what I most enjoy contented least: 

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, 

   Haply I think on thee,--and then my state 

(Like to the lark at break of day arising 

   From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate; 

For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings 

   That then I scorn to change my state with kings'.

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Wait it Out

Artists are facing sharp increases in unemployment. Our unemployment rate is comparable to that of the overall workforce (6.1 percent) but twice that of comparable "professional” workers (3.0 percent.)

In March, the NEA published Artists in a Year of Recession a report drawn from unpublished data provided by the Department of Labor.

If you have been paying attention, you will not be shocked by any of the key findings:

  • Unemployment rates for artists have risen more rapidly than for U.S. workers as a whole.
  • Artist unemployment rates would be even higher if not for the large numbers of artists leaving the workforce. 
  • Performing artists had a higher unemployment rate than that of artists overall. Their rate was 8.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, a 1.6-point increase from the prior-year period. 

The bad news is that the job market for artists is unlikely to improve until long after the U.S. economy starts to recover.  

The good news is that we still have time.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


The Lifehacker Workspace Show and Tell, on Flickr, has 1,500 members and invites readers to submit photos of their workspaces; the places "where you get things done every day--we want to see your desk and office setup. Tell us why you've got things organized how you do, what your favorite gadgets and organizers are, and anything else we should know about how you stay productive and efficient."

New obsession.

Also: In this lesson plan at ArtsEdge by Eileen Ewald and Thomas G. Pullen of the Arts Magnet School in Landover, Maryland, students will learn to:
  • balance objects by changing and moving objects on a lever;
  • differentiate between potential and kinetic energy;
  • make connections between science and sculpture;
  • name the function and parts of a lever;
  • study and interpret the mobiles of Alexander Calder.
Image above: Alexander Calder - A Universe 1934


Neil Gaiman's work is brilliant and exciting and he is going to be engaging in a public conversation on May 2, 2009 sponsored by PEN American Center.

When: Saturday, May 2, 2009: 1–2 p.m.
Where: The Great Hall at Cooper Union: 7 East 7th Street
Tickets: $10/$8 PEN Members

Neil Gaiman wrote The Wolves in the Walls.

And there were.

The New York Times reports that the private student lending industry and its Congressional allies are "maneuvering to thwart a plan by President Obama to end a subsidized loan program and redirect billions of dollars in bank profits to scholarships for needy students."


I have a postcard for Catalan Days, a multidisciplinary festival featuring artists from Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

"Produced by the Institut Ramon Llull, the festival includes dance, film, literature, classical, jazz and electronic music, plus world famous Catalan cuisine, and is held in partnership with the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Jazz Standard, Lincoln Center’s Film Society, PEN American Center World Voices, Carnegie Hall, and the CUNY Graduate Center."

There will be a program of FREE events at the Baryshnikov Arts Center.


May 2 (Sat) at 8:00PM - THEATER
The Time of the Doves (La plaça del Diamant) by Mercè Rodoreda
Performed by Jessica Lange
Directed by Joan Ollé

The Time of the Doves is the most acclaimed novel by Mercè Rodoreda (1908-1983), one of Catalonia’s most beloved authors.

Reservations are required: 212-279-4200 /

For information about Catalan Days festival events occurring at other venues, please visit:

Also: In this Lesson Plan (PDF) from the Salvador Dalí Museum, in Florida, students are introduced to art history terms and learn to identify examples of Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, and Classicism in Dalí's art. Students also learn about Surrealist games and techniques, like Exquisite Corpse and automatic writing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not Only, But Also

I think Earth Day may be nigh, because the annual Earth Day Poetry Slam is tonight. The spoken-word artist who can best express their take on climate change solutions is the winner.

Earth Day Poetry Slam
April 22, 2009, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Koshland Science Museum, 6th and E Streets, NW, Washington, DC
$7, $5 for students.

Info:(202) 334-1201

Plus: A terrific lesson plan @ Philadelphia Museum of Art poses the question Do we control Nature, or does Nature control us? The design is for Grades 7–9 and "easily modified for Elementary and High School." Most of the images referenced are provided and can be found by searching the Museum's online collection.

September 1, 1939

by W. H. Auden


I sit in one of the dives

On Fifty-second Street

Uncertain and afraid

As the clever hopes expire

Of a low dishonest decade:

Waves of anger and fear

Circulate over the bright

And darkened lands of the earth,

Obsessing our private lives;

The unmentionable odour of death

Offends the September night.


Accurate scholarship can

Unearth the whole offence

From Luther until now

That has driven a culture mad,

Find what occurred at Linz,

What huge imago made

A psychopathic god:

I and the public know

What all schoolchildren learn,

Those to whom evil is done

Do evil in return.


Exiled Thucydides knew

All that a speech can say

About Democracy,

And what dictators do,

The elderly rubbish they talk

To an apathetic grave;

Analysed all in his book,

The enlightenment driven away,

The habit-forming pain,

Mismanagement and grief:

We must suffer them all again.


Into this neutral air

Where blind skyscrapers use

Their full height to proclaim

The strength of Collective Man,

Each language pours its vain

Competitive excuse:

But who can live for long

In an euphoric dream;

Out of the mirror they stare,

Imperialism's face

And the international wrong.


Faces along the bar

Cling to their average day:

The lights must never go out,

The music must always play,

All the conventions conspire

To make this fort assume

The furniture of home;

Lest we should see where we are,

Lost in a haunted wood,

Children afraid of the night

Who have never been happy or good.


The windiest militant trash

Important Persons shout

Is not so crude as our wish:

What mad Nijinsky wrote

About Diaghilev

Is true of the normal heart;

For the error bred in the bone

Of each woman and each man

Craves what it cannot have,

Not universal love

But to be loved alone.


From the conservative dark

Into the ethical life

The dense commuters come,

Repeating their morning vow;

"I will be true to the wife,

I'll concentrate more on my work,"

And helpless governors wake

To resume their compulsory game:

Who can release them now,

Who can reach the deaf,

Who can speak for the dumb?


All I have is a voice

To undo the folded lie,

The romantic lie in the brain

Of the sensual man-in-the-street

And the lie of Authority

Whose buildings grope the sky:

There is no such thing as the State

And no one exists alone;

Hunger allows no choice

To the citizen or the police;

We must love one another or die.


Defenceless under the night

Our world in stupor lies;

Yet, dotted everywhere,

Ironic points of light

Flash out wherever the Just

Exchange their messages:

May I, composed like them

Of Eros and of dust,

Beleaguered by the same

Negation and despair,

Show an affirming flame.