Truth in the most simplest of terms.
Truth in the most simplest of terms.
“My name is Café McMullen and I am the program director at the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center in Leimert Park, Calif. We offer free performing arts classes (dance, guitar, piano, jazz band, filmmaking, and music recording) to elementary, middle and high school students. Daily I am reminded about how important the arts are and of the struggle to keep them as a part of our student’s lives. The community arts center I work at is all privately funded as of now.
Fernando Pullum started life in extreme poverty in Chicago in the ’60s, when an African-American male had little chance of succeeding in life, let alone growing up to inspire generations of disadvantaged kids in South Los Angeles where he has taught for over 25 years. This happened in part because he was introduced to the trumpet at an early age and through music was able to transcend his circumstances and go on to college and grad school on full scholarships. Many organizations and individuals have recognized Fernando throughout his career, including Oprah, VH-1 and the State of California as its teacher of the year. During that time, 100 percent of Fernando’s students graduated with a high school diploma and only one student failed to enroll in college.
As we know arts education has been dwindling away in the U.S. public school education system for some time. The LAUSD Arts Education branch has been cut by more then 70 percent in the past three years alone. The proposed total elimination of the elementary arts program would close the 133-year elementary music program and the 13-year-old elementary dance, theatre and visual arts programs.
This trend of doing away with the arts is seen as a way to re focus students on the “important” subjects. While math, science, history and the other basic curriculum are invaluable, the value of arts education is completely overlooked. The arts are closely linked to almost everything that is viewed as academically important: academic achievement, social and emotional development, community involvement, and how to work with others. The confidence, self-exploration and reliance that students experience during arts programs are taken with them into their academic lives and beyond. We are not trying to make great musicians and artists, we are trying to make great citizens.
Our next generation will need to be complex problem solvers. As the world changes and accelerates, with innovation happening at incredible speeds, we need to arm our students with ways to analyze, synthesize and express themselves. Improvisation becomes a tool that will enable them to respond to their complex and ever-changing world. Arts education provides students these tools and will help them throughout their academic life and beyond.
As the arts are continually cut in schools and communities, the private sector needs to respond and find ways to fund these important programs. The arts serve as a way to both bond and celebrate communities. Students in underserved communities in particular need to have access to the arts, allowing for expression, interpreting, and the making of connections from history to the everyday world around them. ”
Most educational programs, even those with solid art programs, portray art as a reprieve from homework and arithmetic. Frivolous and fun, art is a way to decorate the realities of learning, growing up and living. But not this program. “Hi Art!” exposes kids to opera and other forms of high art starting at toddlerdom. A bold mission, it’s true, but a hugely successful one thus far. In its 15 years of running the program has become one of the most talked-about in New York.
Cyndie Bellen-Berthézène, “Hi Art!”s founder and director, said, “Great art transmits something that is essentially human.” It doesn’t just color our lives, it has the power to be at the core of how we live. Although when I think of opera we tend to think of a stodgy, elderly woman with teeny binoculars and white gloves, at its core opera is pure human expression. The words, the costumes, the sets, all take the back seat to an indescribable momentum and feeling. What is more accessible than that?
Dawoud Bey’s career and art exemplify the power of art. While a teenager living in New York, the now Chicago-based artist went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the noise and demonstrations regarding the highly controversial Harlem on My Mind show. But when he got there nothing was going on outdoors, so instead he went to see the show. This was the first time the young Bey, as well as a lot of white folks of northern European heritage, had ever seen black subject matter in a museum. He was particularly moved by the signifcant work of James Van Der Zee (who if it weren’t for this show would probably have been lost to history.)
Dawoud Bey got a camera from a relative and began to shoot. Just eight years later he had a one-person show of his own at the Studio Museum of Harlem — which is now on exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. And at the Renaissance Society, opening Sunday is a survey of Bey’s work since then; most often pictures of youths of color who look directly into the lens, and because of the remarkable man behind the camera who is gentle, powerful, trusting and trusted, reveal themselves.
Vera Klement is an octogenarian kid, with the knowledge, wisdom and talent of her years and the energy, output and enthusiasm of someone a quarter of her age. She is a remarkably gifted painter whose work continues to grow — as is apparent in her show opening tonight at Zolla/Lieberman.Her sectioned paintings are like symphonies of self-contained movements that contribute to a larger whole. The poignant beauty of her work references literature, history and us.
Harvey Weinstein’s recent battle to secure a PG-13 rating for Bully was a classic example of film industry power brokers attacking the messenger instead of heeding the message. Whatever crude language may have been included in the original edit of the film was language being spewed by kids who feel compelled to attack those they perceive as vulnerable targets….
With today’s youth spending so much time playing violent video games — and action movies aimed at a demographic of teenage boys who like to see things explode and watch people get beaten up — it should be obvious that poor parenting can’t be the only factor contributing to a nation of adolescent thugs.
Whether kids see bullying as a way to prove their superiority, exert their newfound masculinity, or simply as an opportunity for comic relief at someone else’s expense, it’s important to understand that bullying is nothing new. Even after college hazing rituals have resulted in accidental deaths and numerous gay teens have committed suicide, many parents and school administrators cling to the misguided belief that being the victim of bullying “is all part of growing up.”
Herndon Graddick, the new President of GLAAD recalls that:
“It wasn’t until I left Alabama for California that I learned that everything I had been taught was essentially bullshit. I got pissed. Kids across the country are making themselves miserable and, frankly, leading themselves to the brink of suicide because of the bullshit they learn from a bigoted society and it’s the role of GLAAD to fix that. We’re no longer the silent sort of invisible presence in our community. My ambition is for gay people and transgender people to be treated fairly in the media just like anybody else. I think it’s finally time for us to grab our power and really use it to make sure that we’re not sort of treated as second-class citizens anymore. I think it’s time for our community to go on the offensive. We’re not going to be the punching bags anymore.”
The prestigious New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards ceremony was held on May 1, 2012 at the Newark Museum and our very own Mallory King was recognized in the Founders/Innovators category for her work at Arts To Grow. More than 1400 nominations were submitted for this year’s awards.
King’s mission is to engage children in the artistic process by providing free, highly tailored and professionally taught arts education programs to youth who have limited access to the arts. Since its launch in 2005, Arts To Grow has offered 74 high quality custom programs to over 1600 children in the NY/NJ metro area.
Arts To Grow’s impact on local communities is unprecedented. The children who participate in the programs have developed an enduring passion for learning and have gained the confidence to reach their full potential. Students who regularly participate in the arts remain engaged in their academic classes, score higher on their SATs, and graduate from high school better prepared to succeed in college and their careers.