Tag Archives: Caitlin’s posts

Get Ready: National Arts Advocacy Day is April 4th & 5th!

According to the Americans for the Arts website, “The 24th annual Arts Advocacy Day is the only national event that brings together a broad cross section of America’s cultural and civic organizations, along with hundreds of grassroots advocates from across the country, to underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts.”


Actor Alec Baldwin will speak at the event, as will other acclaimed leaders in the arts, while actor Kevin Spacey will deliver the annual Nancy Hanks lecture on Arts and Public Policy. 

Americans for the Arts writes that attendees will have the chance to:

  • Hear from congressional leaders and acclaimed artists at the Congressional Arts Kick Off on Capitol Hill.
  • Make the case for the arts and arts eduction to your members of Congress.
  • Be a part of more than 500 of your fellow advocates from across the country.

Click here to read more about the event, watch videos, or register to attend Arts Advocacy Day in Washington D.C.


This New York Times article from Feb. 28 highlights a wonderful organization called Materials For The Arts, a program that has provided new and used school supplies to non profits, teachers and artists in the New York city area.  At their warehouse in Long Island City, Queens, one can find everything from notebooks and paint to furniture and props donated from the set of movies and TV shows.

Especially for public schools on tight budgets, the ability for teachers to obtain not only basic supplies but also fun arts-and-crafts items allows them to build lesson plans that are hands-on and engaging for students.  A great resource!!

Read the full article here for more about the program and why teachers love it! Also be sure to check out MFTA’s website and blog

Materials for the Arts: Recycled School Supplies Help NYC Teachers Get Creative (For Free!)


If you haven’t yet checked out our Flickr page, click here to see an album of our favorite photos.  But this set is just one of many: we have hundreds of great photos of our students in action!  To see more of our amazing painters, sculptors, dancers and actors hard at work, be sure to explore all of our albums on our Flickr page or on our website!

Engaging Parents in Family Arts Programs


In our last post we directed you to The Center for Arts Education.  If you haven’t already, take a minute to look around this site—there is some really great information here.  One article that caught my eye was this exciting program called Parents as Arts Partners

The Center for Arts Education’s Parents As Arts Partners (PAAP) program fosters the creation of innovative programs for New York City public schools working in partnership with nationally renowned as well as locally focused cultural organizations to engage parents and families in hands-on interactive arts education activities. Through these unique family arts programs, parents have the chance to become artists in a range of mediums—from mural painting to songwriting to dancing—and learn how the arts connect to and enhance their child’s overall education. Since the program’s inception, in 1998, there have been more than 1,200 PAAP programs in more than 500 schools, totaling more than $4 million in grants.”   Read more

This sounds like so much fun for both parents and children!  Plus, doing art projects at home or with their family is a great way of continuing the learning process for kids even after the school day is over! 

Honor an Educator

The Center for Arts Education, a GREAT resource for news, information, advocacy and issues in the world of education, has a page on their website dedicated to honoring great teachers and mentors in the community.  Fill out their form here and they will add your favorite teacher to their wall!   A great way to honor an educator who has made a difference in yours or your child’s life!

Speaking of honoring a teacher…some of our students at Riverdale Neighborhood House wrote these lovely notes about their experience with their teaching artist Miguel, which were displayed alongside their work at the final art showcase in December.  

Check out this post from Dec. 23 and this one from Nov. 19 to read more about the fall class at Riverdale Neighborhood House!

photo credits Sara Lise Raff

Fun Theater Exercises!

Students in Patricia’s Musical Theater class at I.S. 171 demonstrate a few of their favorite class activities through photos and descriptions!  


Mirror Exercise:  Students face their partner and have to mirror each other’s movements. This exercise helps to build focus, concentration as well as encourages a connection to their partner which is helpful for scene study.


Out Loud Exercise: In musicals, characters break out into song because they are experiencing an extreme circumstance or feeling an extreme emotion.  Student ‘directors’ were asked to think of an extreme emotion or circumstance either from real life or their imagination.  Using the remaining pool of actors, they were asked to sculpt them into a picture of this ‘out loud’ moment in life. The class then took turns guessing what the picture was describing.


Stage Game:  Students learn the stage directions through a fun game. They are directed to cross to different parts of the stage (blocking).  While taking their direction, they must also respond to random cues that they are given, such as “enact a tragic death scene.”



Character Analysis:  Students were asked to choose a character from a suggested list from plays, movies and books. Then they wrote an in-depth character analysis, to help put the character into actable terms. They were to act as though they were cast in the role of this character, and to carry out the basic ‘homework’ that all actors must do when approaching a role. From there, the actors portrayed their characters through ‘picture day.’ They walked from point A to point B, sat for their picture, and improvisationally interacted with the photographer (the teacher) while maintaining their character.

Cold reading: As part of the audition technique unit, students were asked to perform a monologue from scripted material, with only 5 minutes to prepare. They learned to make quick acting choices and to present themselves in a professional manner.

photo credits Patricia Runcie

Musical Theater Ensemble Performs at I.S. 171

On December 21st, the cast of  the musical theater class at I.S. 171 presented a winter showcase to family and friends alongside other after-school programs such as the band and two dance groups.  The 5th through 8th graders of Patricia Runcie’s musical theater ensemble performed selections from three Broadway hits, featuring a popular song from each show.

Students learned not only key musical numbers, but developed their characters as well.  The class taught acting techniques and key elements of musical theater with a strong focus on ensemble-building. Students were able to gain experience in a variety of musical genres, and were able to make an informed decision about the play that they will most enjoy performing for the full-length spring production. This year, Patricia and her students will be performing an original script called The Optimistic Orphan for the spring musical.