Monthly Archives: May 2013

Welcome Teaching Artist Skyler Sullivan

Arts to Grow welcomed Skyler Sullivan to our roster of teaching artists.  Skyler kicked off our newest partnership with the Spring Creek Community Corporation, after school program at PS 356, Brooklyn.  This area was once called Starrett City.  Skyler is leading two classes – one of 4th graders and the other 5th graders.  His classes focus on teaching acting skills by way of circus and mime activities.

According to Skyler, circus is a terrific way to teach children problem solving and provides a physical component enabling children to exercise their bodies, as well as their minds. Skyler says “circus is easier to grasp than many theater techniques,  – it’s more abstract and helps children to focus, which in turn assists them in excelling at school”.

The parents of children who are working with Skyler have been impressed with their child’s level of participation and interest. Skyler shared, “Parents were very pleased. They said they had no idea their child was capable of such artistic expression”. Through circus activities, Skyler says the children became their own person.

Skyler himself became interested in circus and miming at the age of 10 when his parents took him to the circus. He enjoyed juggling and soon taught himself to juggle eventually progressing to juggling more than three items at once. Skyler holds a B.F.A. from Emerson College. His love of movement, theatre and circus landed him in San Francisco where he worked with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and trained at the Circus Center.

He now lives in Brooklyn and his work has been seen with such companies as Bread and Puppet, Sesame Street, National Theatre of the Deaf, and the American Mime Theatre. In the future, Skyler would like to open a center and provide a space for kids to come and learn to perform, perhaps in Pittsburgh, PA or his hometown of Hartford, CT where he can continue his work with children through physical expression.

ATG’s Production with CHLDC Partnership

imageArts to Grow (ATG) is currently in its fifth year of musical theater programming at Cypress Hills Local Development Corp (CHLDC). Each year, all middle school students and staff in CHLDC’s after-school program at IS 171 collaborate on a full-scale Broadway-inspired production, led by ATG teaching artist Patricia Runcie. From January – April, through intensive acting and play-writing workshops and rehearsals with Runcie, Arts to Grow Teaching Artist and Broadway guest artists, students master stage presence, character development, singing, dancing, and costume/set design. Students also assume leadership roles as stage managers and assistant directors, exploring the wide range of careers in theater.

This year, students’ hard work culminates with Under the Rainbow, an original production inspired by the musical The Wiz.  We hope you will come out and experience this unique event!

  • Date: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
  • Time: 6:00 pm
  • Place: IS 171, Auditorium, 528 Ridgewood Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11208 (Between Nichols & Lincoln Avenue)
  • Via Public Transportation: Take J to Crescent Street and head East. Make a Left on Nichols Ave. to Ridgewood Ave.
  • Cost:  FREE!

You’re Invited to Under the Rainbow

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Date: Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Time: 6:00 pm

Place: IS 171, Auditorium, 528 Ridgewood Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11208 (Between Nichols & Lincoln Avenue)

Via Public Transportation: Take J to Crescent Street and head East. Make a Left on Nichols Ave. to Ridgewood Ave.

Cost:  FREE!

Arts to Grow’s musical theater class at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation/ I.S. 171 in Brooklyn will perform a full-scale musical Under the Rainbow.  Our 5th-8th graders, directed by teaching artist Patricia Runcie, are sure to wow you with lyrical solos and foot-tapping ensemble numbers.

While students learn how to focus and work together, they also take to heart the lessons that Under the Rainbow has to offer – the importance of believing in yourself and thinking positively to reach your true potential. The success of our program is highlighted as two ATG graduates, now attending a performing arts high school in Manhattan, have served as Assistant Director and Stage Manager!

Music in school by NJSO

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The pilot program from the N.J. Symphony “Orchestra at University Heights Charter School was a great success.  For 6 weeks, 25 students met three times a week after school with NJSO artists.  For many, this was their first experience with a string instrument.  The program was a success from both the school and the students’ point of view.

“The program really aligns well with our focus on character, scholarship and leadership,” school executive director, Misha Simmonds said. The students have learned discipline, focus and grit, he said. “It has fulfilled all of its expectations.”

Music programs like this allow children a venue to express themselves.  “I like it because you can express all your feelings — any emotion you have you can play it out with the violin,” said fourth-grader Precious Kehinda, 10.  “One day I came to violin and before I’d had an argument and I was mad, but once I started playing everything that I held in came out.”

We at Arts to Grow have witness the power of music in schools.  Why don’t you join us in our efforts to bring more music programs to NY / NJ schools?  Check out our gift registry to find out how you can support our upcoming music programs.

Arts education programs being implemented in India

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The importance of arts education in school is understood around the world.  As India becomes a world power, it’s reviewing its education system. Among the initiatives being put in place, one of which is to provide a more holistic process for their future generations by providing physical education, arts education, and work education in their primary schools.  The program will call for over 6000 part-time teachers to be put in place to provide such programs to ensure an all-around development of children at this critical age.

As the world becomes one global economy, we need to pay attention to how we can prepare our children for their future success.  If the world can recognize the importance of arts education, shouldn’t we?  We must do right by our children.  Learn more about engaging our politicians on this important topic here

Transformative powers of arts

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In San Diego, a group of at-risk youth entered a dance studio.  Twelve weeks later, they came out not just as extraordinary dancers, but as just plain extraordinary people.  They didn’t want to be there at first.  But with a persistent teaching artist who stayed positive, the kids fulfilled their potentials.  

Teaching artists, like Molly Puryear in San Diego and the ones we have at Arts To Grow, know that arts hold special transformative powers over our kids.  It gives them a new way to express themselves.  In doing so, they gain self-awareness and confidence.  These can never be measured in standardized tests, and yet these are life skills that our kids must learn in order to succeed in the world.  

Arts To Grow provides a variety of program that supplement our kids education.  Check out our program offering here.