Friday, March 26, 2010

Travel the globe without leaving Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology

Travel the globe without leaving Philadelphia by visiting the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. Conveniently hop from continent to continent as you stroll through fascinating collections of Asian Art, Egyptian Mummies, and Roman statues.

One of the most stunning features of the museum is the Harrison Rotunda that houses the museum’s collection of Chinese Art. The dome of the rotunda measures ninety feet across and ninety feet from the floor and is one of the largest unsupported masonry domes in the nation. While you’re there make sure to gaze at the breathtaking Crystal Ball that belonged to Empress Dowager Cixi in the center of the gallery. At one point in our history, this ball was stolen and found in a pawn shop in Philadelphia where it was safely returned back to the museum!

Adjacent to the Harrison Rotunda are the Lower Egyptian Galleries, which house the museum’s collection of mummies, sarcophagi, and artwork from the time of the Pharaoh’s. Brave patrons can navigate the corridors of the dimly lit gallery and gaze upon the remains of ancient mummies and learn about the mummification process.

For the classics buffs, the museum’s collection of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art is fantastic! Travel through time and observe how these ancient civilizations influenced and inspired each another through their art and technology.

In addition to their excellent permanent collection, the museum also features unique touring exhibits that feature work produced locally, nationally, and internationally by archeologists, anthropologists, and community groups. Righteous Dopefiend, one of the touring exhibits currently on display until December 2010, features the work of anthropologist Philippe Bourgois and photographer-ethnographer Jeff Schonberg and their documentation of the daily lives of homeless drug users, drawing upon more than a decade of fieldwork. This moving exhibit cannot be missed and is a profound look and call to action to help address the needs and challenges facing people who are homeless and addicted to drugs.

The museum offers both self-guided and guided tours of their collections, and Art-Reach members can request tickets by submitting a museum request form to the Program Department. Guided and Self-Guided experiences can be arranged Tuesday – Friday 10:00am-3:30pm and Sunday from 1-5pm. During the summer months parts of the exhibit are not air conditioned, making spring the perfect time to plan your excursions around the globe without ever leaving your back yard! Please see the UPENN Museum’s listing on the Art-Reach museum roster for more information about visiting the museum and contact the Art-Reach Program Department for help planning your outing.

-by Matt Bryan

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Event #3: The Ongoing Adventures of Philadelphia Academies Students’ Cultural Treasure Hunt

The latest session of the Cultural Treasure Hunt began at the four-star Crowne Plaza Hotel at 18th and Market streets at 4:30 pm.  Deneen Cooper, Banquet Manager and Board Member of Philadelphia Academies, provided an all-access pass to the facilities at the 445-room hotel. In addition, Deneen shared her college experiences and tips for upscale service with the students. She led a group through an exercise of setting a table for a formal banquet event, with the proper placement of multiple spoons, forks and knives. A student named Natalie told me, “Now I know where everything goes and why it goes there. It makes sense to me”.  Natalie helped set a “blank table” and folded crisp napkins, using a previously set table as a guide for completing the task. By the time she and her fellow students finished setting the table, it was ready for a food magazine photo shoot.

Our group toured the hotel laundry facilities, ballroom/conference rooms, met the hotel’s General Manager Bob Cosgrove, and observed Chef Jon Bauer in the kitchen. The level of behind-the-scenes access was very comprehensive and impressive given the fact that the hotel was filled to capacity on the day of our visit.

Having worked up an appetite during the tours, the group reconvened in the dining room for dinner.  In keeping with the elegant surroundings, Chef John presented a multi-course meal with an extra special surprise: an intermezzo course (palate cleanser) of lemon sorbet served on an orange slice, which refreshed the diners between the salad course and main course. This was truly dining at its finest! I stopped by a table from George Washington High School to gauge the students’ reactions to the menu, and everyone gave their approval. Markita and Quadirah particularly liked the lemon sorbet.

Chef John and Sous Chef Peter provided dessert via a live culinary demonstration of Bananas Foster on Iced Lemon Pound Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream.  All the students gathered around while Chef John flambéed the sliced bananas in rum with a giant whoosh of flame and loud “oooooohs” from the group. The fire burned off the alcohol, but left a pleasant sweet flavor on the bananas. Chef talked thorough the recipe and the need for safety when flambéing. Dessert was a nice finale to the first half of the treasure hunt experience, and the students were fueled up and ready to travel to Allens Lane Theater in  Mount Airy.

Art Reach Program Manager Matt Bryan greeted the students at the theater. Matt coordinated the logistics of the cultural portion of the Treasure Hunt, and likes the fact that the activities take place after classes “because the students seem more relaxed after their day at school is finished”. 

During the bus ride, on the way to the theatre, students sang “school bus” songs like “Old MacDonald” with updated lyrics. I used the time to get to know some of the teachers a little better.  NEWSFLASH:  the teachers and Philadelphia Academies staff really love their students!!  They talked about their individual students’ aspirations and dreams, and how activities like the Cultural Treasure Hunt truly make an impact on student learning and interest in career development. One of the teachers, Joanne, mentioned the fact that she was currently teaching the Harlem Renaissance.  She continued, “The play we will be seeing tonight Blues for an Alabama Sun, is timely for our class”.

Allens Lane Theater is a relatively small venue that accommodates about 75 people in cabaret style seating at small round tables. This intimate space heightens the impact of the dramatic action taking place on stage, and the students were very attentive during the performance. At the end of the performance, they asked questions during a talk-back session with Director Kaleo Bird and cast members.

One student asked the cast “Do you really dress like that in real life?” The actor responded no, and explained the conventions of stage productions, mentioning the costume designer and the research she conducted regarding the period garb worn by the actors. An interesting revelation came about when a student asked about the actor’s personal lives and professions. As it turns out, a few cast members work with in the Philadelphia School system during the day and act in the evening. The cast instilled in the students the value of having dreams, pursuing passions, and find a way to do what you love, even if it is not as a full time vocation.

With the conclusion of the talk-back session, it was time to head home.  I thought back over the events of the evening and something that Philadelphia Academies’ Corvette Kittrell said at dinner really resonated with me: “ …we know that we have a direct impact on [student] college decisions. The behind-the-scenes tours also have a big impact on helping to make informed choices on career decisions”. In light of that comment, I give Cultural Treasure Hunt Event #3 a big “Mission Accomplished”!
The fourth event in the Cultural Treasure Hunt is scheduled for April 8, 2010.  Check back for an update on this exciting initiative.

-by Maureen Zug

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy Brithday Andrew Lloyd Webber

English Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber was born today, March 22, in 1948 in London, England. His father William Lloyd Webber was an organist and composer. His younger brother Julian Lloyd Webber is world-renowned cellist.
He has worked with lyricist Tim Rice on several occasions. Their first major collaboration was the musical The Likes of Us. He also worked with Rice in 1968 on the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and in 1970 on Jesus Christ Superstar. He worked with Alan Ayckbourn on the musical comedy Jeeves and Wooster. In 1976, he teamed again with Tim Rice for the musical Evita. In 1981, he composed his musical Cats, which ran for 18 years on Broadway. In 1986, he composed the musical The Phantom of the Opera which is the longest running show on Broadway.

He married his first wife Sarah Hugill on July 24, 1972. They had two children together and were divorced November 14, 1983. He married his second wife and the star of Phantom, Sarah Brightman, on March 22, 1984. They divorced on January 3, 1990. He married his third wife Madeleine Gurdon on February 9, 1991. They have three children together.
He has received a number of awards for his work. They include: six Tony awards, three Grammy awards, an Academy award, seven Olivier awards, and a Golden Globe. He was knighted in 1992. In 2006 he received the Kennedy Center Honors along with Zubin Mehta, Dolly Parton, Steven Spielberg, and Smokey Robinson.

-by Mike Endres

A Vegetable Paradise in Camden, Amazonian Flying Rainbows, and a Giraffe from South Africa Made of Orchids

If you are a volunteer with Art-Reach, you may get lucky and get to travel around the world (yes – this is a shameless plug for volunteering at Art-Reach with the Ambassador Program!) with some fabulous people.

Early in March, I got lucky, and went to India, South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany, Singapore, Brazil, and Camden, New Jersey, with Jordie, Tara, and Marc, three awesome students from the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy, located in University City. Accompanying us were their three indefatigable recreational therapists, Charlie, Rich, and Karen.

HMS students infront of 28-foot-tall hot-air balloon that 
greeted guests as they entered the event.

We did this in 90 minutes flat. How, you ask? Art-Reach and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) made our trip possible by arranging tickets to attend the 2010 Philadelphia International Flower Show, the world’s largest indoor flower show that showcased, well, the world! In fact, PHS has been an Art-Reach arts partner for a number of years, annually pledging tickets that enable community access to their event. In turn, Art-Reach manages all community outreach for PHS. "Through their (PHS) partnership, we were able to provide experiences to more than 270 people who would not otherwise be able to access the flower show," explains Stephanie Borton, Art-Reach Associate Director.

PHS runs the world’s largest indoor flower show, and this year they showcased 79,000 freeze-dried flowers on the 28-foot-tall hot-air balloon that greeted guests upon their entrance to the event. Charlie stated that “Art-Reach gives our students many more opportunities to explore and experience the community.” And in this case, the world! "We also want the community at large to be socially aware of young adults with disabilities,” he explained.

We saw a 12 foot tall, life-size pastel floral elephant from India; tulips, tulips, and more tulips from the Netherlands; and ethereal white calla lilies suspended in blocks of “ice” dangling from the ceiling in an urban, post-apocalyptic setting. Very post-modern, and much to the taste and delight of Tara!

Jordie maneuvered her wheelchair so adroitly through the crowds, anxious to get to each more spectacular-than-the last exhibit, that Charlie had a hard time catching up with her. Meanwhile, Marc, with a winning smile, posed in front of the German Beer Garden and raised his water cup in a hearty Prost!

Tara summed up her globe-trotting experience by telling me, via her augmentative communication device, “I am happy to be at the Flower Show. There are so many pretty flowers! Thank you for the tickets.”

I later asked both Bill Hunter, Recreation Coordinator at the HMS School, and Laura Hoover, Senior Public Relations Coordinator of the PHS, about the advantages of being a member and an arts partner of Art-Reach, respectively.

In addition to providing HMS students with opportunities to visit museums and attend the theater, Bill stressed the proactive approach of Art-Reach’s staff in extending invitations to students and their parents and caregivers for cultural events that they normally would not have a chance to experience.

But given our “new economy,” I think Laura succinctly summed up a most relevant reason for social service agencies and arts and culture non-profits to partner with Art-Reach.

While the staff provides “excellent support and customer service” and outsourcing outreach to Art-Reach is “a great help to the Public Relations Department (of PHS),” the bottom line for any organization to be a member of Art-Reach is the bottom line: “Art-Reach will save you time and money,” explains Laura.

-by Kathy Spillman
Kathy is a Special Projects Ambassador with Art-Reach

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Black Journey: Time Travel Through Black Trials and Triumphs

Early in March, the Keswick Theatre showcased a moving and telling musical experience of black history and culture, Black Journey. Presented by the American Family Theatre, this musical production has been hailed as an incredible theatric experience, leaving audiences awestruck while imparting the important lessons of black history. The show was geared towards youth audiences, grades 4 through 8, seeking to educate them on the progress of black culture in America through time. Actors Miranda, Michael, and Janine took viewers back to times when Blacks were enslaved in America, kept from riding in the front of the bus during the Civil Rights Movement, and even still facing struggles in present time, including peer pressure and self-identity conflicts.  The performance reached the youth audience on a level to which they could relate, singing to them about important issues that have been endured in the Black community over time while reenacting periodic episodes along the way.

    Cast of Black Journey, actors Miranda, Michael, and Janine

At the March 1st showing, several Art-Reach members were in the audience enjoying the show, including RecCare. This organization provides one-on-one therapeutic recreation support services for persons with physical, mental, and/or emotional disabilities, as well as older adults with related challenges. Jen Loux, one of the RecCare Therapeutic Specialists, attended the performance with a client group; she and RecCare client, Stephanie, took time to speak with me after the show to discuss their experience along Black Journey. When asked what she enjoyed most about the performance, Stephanie noted that the dancing in the show was the same as it was “back then.”

Throughout the show, the actors took the audience along a time capsule ride through both song and dance.  Says Stephanie regarding the performance, “It was interesting.  It was telling history…it was happy.  Most of it was happy.”Stephanie really likes going to performances sponsored by Art-Reach, as long as “they aren’t boring,” of course!  She enjoys being exposed to different types of programming, and has been appreciative of the artistic opportunities that have been made available to her and RecCare through Art-Reach.“Since I’ve been with RecCare,” says Stephanie, “I’ve had more of an open mind.” More specifically, she is careful to note that she doesn’t believe she would have attended certain shows without Art-Reach’s support as well as her friends at RecCare.

RecCare has been very grateful for all opportunities Art-Reach has made available to the organization; this is a perfect example of how sharing the experience has made an incredible impact and difference in a monumental manner!

-by Talia Stinson

Monday, March 15, 2010

Take 2: Philadelphia Academies Students Continue to Pursue Cultural Treasures

On Tuesday March 2, a group of tenth and eleventh graders from the Academies’ Culinary Arts and Hospitality program participated in their second session in the Cultural Treasure Hunt series. 

Students, teachers and Philadelphia Academies personnel participate in the Cultural Treasure Hunt on a volunteer basis after a full day of school or work. The programs usually start in the late afternoon and conclude around 9 pm, illustrating that our students and adult staffers are really passionate in the pursuit of knowledge and culture.

This session of the Cultural Treasure Hunt began with a visit to the Marriott at 12th and Market for a behind the scenes tour of the hotel’s rooms and meeting with two of the chefs on staff. Following the tour, dinner was served in the hotel’s Restaurant, 13. Hector, a Culinary Arts student, reviewed the dinner menu for me: prime rib, broiled tilapia, mashed potatoes, assorted vegetables and cheesecake for dessert.  He particularly “enjoyed the prime rib and visits with the hotel’s 2 chefs [Executive Chef and Assistant Chef].” Hector has high hopes for a career as a chef and perhaps even as an “Iron Chef” competing for culinary supremacy on TV. We will be cheering for you, Hector!  

After dinner, the treasure hunters proceeded to the Arden Theater to see a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  I sat next to Hector and Emily during the performance.   Both students had read the play in English class during the previous school year.  Dressed for a night out at the theater, Emily told me that she “was excited to see the play since I already know the story. Seeing the play will help me understand the story even more and make it real to me.”     

This version of Romeo and Juliet was no ordinary hose and doublet affair!  The stage was set up as a bi-level open platform so that the acting took place all around with the players running up and down the aisles of the theater. I asked soft-spoken Nicholas, who was sitting behind me, what he thought of the play. He answered, “The modern suits and tuxedos worn in the play bring the story to our generation.  There is lots of energy and action in the sword fight scenes -- I read the story last year and I now really understand it when I see it.”

 Just like his classmates, Lucian, tall and thin in a dark blue pullover, had read the play previously.  During intermission, Lucian told me, “Parts [of the play] are funny.  The last time I was in the theater, I was in kindergarten.  These seats are really close to the stage.  I think I would like to come to the theater again”.

Philadelphia Academies’ Harvey Goss told me that the students are “ sponges”.  “They soak up so much – you can see it in their eyes.  You really can see how art makes a difference in their lives.  Events like these are so worthwhile!” 

After intermission, our group settled in for the second half of the performance with its well-known roller coaster of dramatic action -- the joyful love of Romeo and Juliet, the violence of Capulet-Montague sword fights, the tragic tomb scene, and the grieving reconciliation of Romeo and Juliet’s families. Our cultural treasure hunters followed the action with careful attention and enthusiastically cheered the actors at the end of the performance. 

Thus our Philadelphia Academies’ Culture Treasure Hunters successfully (and sleepily) completed their second segment of their five-part journey. The next part of the Cultural Treasure Hunt is scheduled for March 11, 2010.  Check back around March 22 for an update on the continuing saga of the Philadelphia Academies students’ quest for culture.

-by Maureen Zug

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring has Sprung, come on Get Happy!

This month, we are building bridges and celebrating our generous supporters -- our members, arts partners, donors, ambassadors, staff and friends-- who make the mission possible during an exciting upcoming event: the Art-Reach Happy Hour Meet-and-Greet! Held on Wednesday, March 24th, 6-8pm at Ladder 15, which is located at 1528 Sansom Street attendees will mingle with one another as well as with other professionals from the area who, perhaps are not yet intimately acquainted with Art-Reach. Best yet, it is all for a worthy cause! The happy hour is a fundraiser for Art-Reach; with the $5 cover charge from each attendee directly benefiting the organization. In addition, attendees will be able to take advantage of Ladder 15's 456 happy hour ($4 drafts, $5 wines, and $6 specialty drinks) and $2 discounts off of bar snacks.

As a vital portal to artistic avenues and incredible arts opportunities throughout the tri-state area, Art-Reach has touched many individuals and organizations throughout its over 23-year existence. Now more than ever, the arts community needs our support. This isn't news to anyone, especially those of us familiar with this organization. At the foundation of each artistic opportunity available through Art-Reach is a common thread that promotes the organization's mission of "enriching lives by connecting underserved audiences with cultural experiences so that they may enjoy and benefit from the transformative powers of the arts."

We hope to see all of our friends, member organizations, and arts partners at this exciting Spring 2010 event in a few short weeks at Ladder 15. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the organization and get to know others who are equally as passionate about the cause. Can you think of a better way to welcome the change of seasons?

This is an open event, and RSVPs are not required. Please bring friends! (21+, of course).

Should you have any questions or for more information, please contact Sage Young at See you soon!

-by Talia Stinson

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This Looks Like a Job for…the ACTION AGENCY!

The amazing friends and community members who give to Art-Reach are an absolutely vital piece of our mission to bring arts and culture to those who need their benefits most. They are powerful, kind-hearted, and have the ability to change lives. We’re not sure, but they may also be faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Our donors are a part of the Art-Reach family, which is why we are pleased to unveil the ART-REACH ACTION AGENCY!

The Action Agency program provides Art-Reach donors the opportunity to connect on a much more personal basis with the work they make possible. Each year, when a friend of Art-Reach makes a gift of $250 or more, he or she will become a member of the Agency, and be entitled to several really cool benefits. Check them out:

Buff ($250-$499)
•    Agent Passes (2) to attend 2 Art-Reach events/year.
•    2 tickets to an inclusive production at the Amaryllis Theatre Company.
•    Invitations (for 2) to attend our Annual Action Agent Cocktail Party (featuring special guests from the Philadelphia cultural and human-service communities).
•    Free subscription to our quarterly Action Agent e-newsletter.
•    Your name featured in our annual Art-Reach newsletter and Web site.

Fanatic ($500-$999)
Every Buff level benefit, PLUS:
•    Agent Passes (2) to attend 2 additional Art-Reach events/year.
•    Reserved VIP seating at Art-Reach events.
•    10 FREE tickets to a live arts event for an Art-Reach member group of your choice.
•    2 additional invitations to our Annual Action Agent Cocktail Party.

Guru ($1,000+)
Every Fanatic level benefit, PLUS:
•    2 additional Agent Passes to attend 4 Art-Reach events/year.
•    10 additional FREE tickets to a live arts event for an Art-Reach member group of your choice.
•    1 FREE In-Facility performance for an Art-Reach member agency of your choice.

I am personally so excited about this program, because it gives us the opportunity to give back to our donors. And I’m not talking about t-shirts and mugs. The Action Agency gives our donors the satisfaction of seeing their dollars in action. They can even directly sponsor arts experiences for the human services agencies closest to their hearts.

A few weeks ago, we posted a cryptic blog article about the Hypno design firm Create-a-thon and the top-secret Art-Reach project these talented artists and copywriters tackled. Well, the Action Agency moniker and design were completely created by the folks at Hypno. We think that they truly captured the spirit of Art-Reach and our donors! Check out the official Action Agency Brochure and tell us what you think!

Several great friends and strong supporters of Art-Reach have come together to form the Action Agency Leadership Council. Special thanks to Joyce and Ron Burd; Patricia A. Gritzan, Esq.; The Phoebe W. Haas Charitable Trust A, as recommended by Carole Haas Gravagno; and the Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Arts Education Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation for “leading the charge!” The Council has set a challenge for the first year of the Agency. If we are able to raise $20,000 in Action Agency gifts by June 30, 2010, the Council will personally match the amount! Each dollar given to the Agency will automatically be doubled! Please give today and help us reach this goal!

For more information, check out the Art-Reach Action Agency brochure or call me at 215-568-2115, ext. 2.

-by Sage Young

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Live Connections at the World Café Live

Back in November, six Art-Reach member agency groups, totaling over 60 people, gathered at the World Café Live to take part in the Language of Rhythm Bridge Session. As an Art-Reach staff member and loyal XPN fan, I was excited to see what these bridge sessions were about and was beyond impressed by the musicians, the members, and the venue.


Josh Robinson, an Art-Reach in-facility artist (as Rhythms and Roots) and talented musician, along with two other teaching artists/musicians, led this interactive workshop to explore how rhythm and rhyming can be used to communicate and express emotion.
The program started off with the band improvising music based on the question posed to the audience “how are you feeling today?” and the answers “enamored, sleepy, and excited.” It was amazing how the music played sounded just like those emotions and the Art-Reach groups were immediately transformed into artists, musicians, performers and poets for the next two hours.

Collectively, all 60 people in the audience brainstormed words that finish the sentence “my neighborhood sounds/smells/looks like…” They then compiled these words and phrases into a poem and volunteers stood up to read along to music played on drums,

keyboards, chimes and a number of other percussion instruments.

Here is the poem written by Art-Reach members:

The soundtrack of my life
sounds like butterflies screaming in the wind
A man searching for peace after a storm, a good place to hide
Hummingbirds and bees running through traffic
Children playing in sweet & sour sewage like a
corned beef special
Honeydew in the morning
As Ghetto As It Gets

By the end of the workshop, almost everyone in the room had an instrument in hand. My favorite was the man playing a large upside-down Tupperware bucket with drumsticks. And when the 60-person jam session ended, no one seemed ready to leave. I certainly wasn’t!

Launched in 2008 by a team of artists, educators and entrepreneurs, (LCO) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to music, education and support for artists. Through its work, LCO connects all kinds of people through all kinds of music. Each program seeks to blend great art, personal contact and diverse perspectives.’s Bridge Sessions Program brings together musicians from different disciplines and backgrounds with groups of students, seniors and disabled populations in an interactive exploration of music and cultures. By bringing together artists who cross genres and cultures, the sessions encourage participants to consider multiple points of view and build their understanding of perspectives different from their own.

The next Bridge Session will take place on April 13th.  Entitled World of Percussion this program features Doc Gibbs, who was the musical director for the Emeril Live! show. He, along with two other talented percussionists, brings instruments to life, making them sing and literally talk to tell a story. It is an interactive session that resulted in dancing, and instrument playing when Art-Reach members last took part in the program in 2009. This program is open to Art-Reach member organizations serving adults with disabilities who are high functioning. If you are interested, please contact the programming department at 215-568-2115 x4 or x5 or email Matt Bryan at 

-By Rachel Robbins

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Franklin Institute: an amazing place to explore

There is a distinct and exhilarating quality with museums that indulges our sense of wonder and inspires our curiosity.   This feeling is what causes me to visit and revisit museums, and fuels my passion for arts and culture.  One of the best parts of my job is sharing my passion with Art-Reach members, and fostering an appreciation for the cultural richness of our region.  Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Franklin Institute with the Work Group, and I was overwhelmed by the students’ interest, energy, and passion for the museum’s collections. 

“You get to explore different things- it’s an exploration.” – Nina Morales, Work Group Student

Simply put, The Franklin Institute is an amazing place to explore. There are very few places in the world where you can navigate the atriums and ventricles of a gigantic heart, follow it up by riding a steam locomotive, and then gaze at the stars in the planetarium.  During their visit students from the Work Group explored the iconic heart and the jets in aviation, in addition to receiving hands-on education sessions from the museum’s docents on making paper and solving brain teasers.  By far, the group’s favorite exhibit was the interactive computer that projected what students would look like in the years to come.

“This is crazy- definitely interesting.” –Cop Lieu, Work Group Teacher

The Franklin Institute is a recent addition to the Art-Reach Arts Partner Roster; and we are thrilled to be working with them.  The Institute’s mission is to inspire an understanding of and passion for science and technology learning, and based on my observations of the Work Group, I think it’s safe to say that they are certainly fulfilling it.  If you are an Art-Reach member and you would like to visit the Franklin Institute, please submit a museum request form or contact the Art-Reach Programming Department at 215-568-2115 x4.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Successful Day of Healing

As a roving ambassador, sometime blogista, and not so undercover Art-Reach board member, it is truly my pleasure to be able to “Share the Experience” with you, the reader. I want to tell you how Art-Reach and Build-a-Bridge (an Art-Reach member) combined forces on Friday, February 19 to combat the “Groundhog Blues” at a Day of Healing for over 40 caregivers. 

To kick off the Day of Healing, Penelope Reed, Artistic Director of Hedgerow Theater lead the entire group through a number of “Theater Games” designed to break the ice and get the neurons moving. Folks were paired off to perform mirroring movement games which helped them to get to know each other and offered tools they could later use with their own clients.

Workshops followed Penelope’s presentation, and were conducted for groups of 4-10 participants, designed to engage body and mind in creative, relaxing activities – Poetry, Clay Sculpture, Breading Baking, Beaded Jewelry Making, and International Folk and African Dance Movement Class.  Workshop time was definitely designed to be non-stress playtime for adults!  Debi, Recreation Supervisor from Riverview House, explained that she was so excited to attend the Day of Healing that she would have even taken the day off to attend on her own time.

Lenape Nanticoke Shaman and Assistant Chief Brother, Ron Wandering Feather, led a Bead Jewelry Workshop. Monique, a supervisor from Woodstock Family Center, said, “I am interested in beading on an ongoing basis, and a number of ladies in our class are wearing the beaded earrings they made today.”

In the kitchen Chef Chiwishi Abney, instructor for Build-a-Bridge’s Discovery Program and owner of a catering firm, led a bread making workshop.  The chef prepared several types of dough for the class to work on, and gave each of the participants recipes for whole wheat bread, challah, and a “letting go” (pizza) dough.  Unlike the first two types of dough, the letting go dough was a therapeutic tool used to release tension, anxiety and negative emotions.  Participants kneaded the letting go dough to remove “doubt”, “fear of change” and “fear of flying”.   After lunch, the loaves were removed hot from the oven and everyone sampled the bread with jam or butter. Yum!

Next I visited the Poetry Workshop conducted by Dr. Naia Claude Schulte.  Naia read some sensory evocative works of Langston Hughes, and urged the caregivers to find their own voices and inspirations for imagery. Jane, Program Director of Drueding Center/Project Rainbow, was “…very interested in developing imagery, composing poems and learning how to listen to poets.  I think that a poetry program can have a big impact on Project Rainbow”.

Across the hallway from the poets, Michelle, from Mosaic Delaware, participated in international folk dancing with peers and instructors Anne, Bill, and John. Caregivers learned a number of Eastern European and Greek dances accompanied by the accordion. Hands were waving, feet flying and handkerchiefs fluttering in the joy of movement.   Michelle told me that she enjoyed both the folk dancing and African dance because the instructors talked about types of music and national traditions regarding the dances.”  Angela Watson conducted the second part of the workshop with African dance moves.  She encouraged the caregivers to listen to their bodies and work out their emotions through music and dance movement. 

Visiting clay sculptor, and Art-Reach in-Facility artist, Beth McGuiggan’s session was my last stop. She led participants in creating tiles using coils and slabs of clay.  As I walked around the room to look at the caregivers’ work, I was really impressed by how much each participant had built in such a short time with little previous experience.  Yasmin, Director of Elwyn New Visions shared her experience, saying that the workshop “Gave me the opportunity to look into myself to express how I feel, not only to be something to others, but to focus on my own feelings.  This is not something I ordinarily do.”  What a great accomplishment, Michelle! And all before lunch!

During lunch Angel Baby Music, an Art-Reach In-Facility artist, provided smooth jazz entertainment. At this point many of the caregivers had received their chair massages from Pamela Brown of Pampered Bodies Spa & Wellness Center and floated into the room to enjoy the music.

After lunch, Vivian, Co-Founder and visionary of Build-a-Bridge, conducted the most worthwhile speed networking event I have ever attended. She wisely used this time to give participants the chance to explain the good work they do. During the networking, I discovered that many of the caregivers were volunteers.

For the last group activity, Vivian marched the caregivers, maracas in hand, into the conference room to experience the final activity– a full scale drumming circle with Art-Reach In-Facility artist Tony Mascara. All 46 participants had an instrument, and could be heard enthusiastically drumming all the way down the hall way.

My new friend Eddie best summed up Day of Healing “… this is a wonderful day for networking and no stress!  I would give it an A.  More than a day of healing it is a chance to refresh, rebuild, retool, and renew.  Art Reach and Build-a-Bridge always do a good job!”

I could not have said it better myself, Eddie!  

-by Maureen Zug