Red Rover and The Stimulus Package

Last week was hard.  We have some of those weeks.  Running back and forth between different sites, with different teachers and students, we have some successes and some losses.  While the good days were very good, the not-so-good days were really not so good, but we soldier on.  I have to find a way to build a culture of respect and safety in a classroom where those are foreign terms for many, many reasons.  I’ve pulled out every trick in my 10-year hat of working with young people and I’m still stumped.  If you have caught lightening in a jar, tell me how you’ve done it.  I’ll keep trying.  I am stubborn.  I am persistent.  I have patience.

In other news, if you need to laugh, if you need to see something strange, see Red Rover, which is a children’s television show meets dark, dark comedy. It’s also by my friend Rey.  He is very busy this month.  This one, I had the pleasure of seeing as an installment in Vampire Cowboy’s Saturday Night Saloon series, but now, the five installments are one big play.

Red Rover

Monday February 16th at 8pm; Tuesday February 17th at 8pm

Written by A. Rey Pamatmat
Directed by Dominic D’Andrea
Original Music by Matt Park

Canada’s favorite Children’s live studio audience Television Show now in the US featuring the lovable Red Rover and Miss Clover and their musical adventures with counting, shapes, colors, and MURDER! A smash hit straight from the red hot Vampire Cowboys Saturday Night Saloon Series.

TJ Clark, Matt Park, Margo Brooke Pellmar, David Spangler, Alexis Black and more!

All performances will take place at the West End Theatre, 263 West 86th Street (between Broadway and West End Avenue) Tickets to all shows are $15 and can be purchased at the door, by calling 212-352-3101, or by visiting:

Through the advocacy of the Association of Teaching Artists and Americans for the Arts, the Coburn amendment did not pass, which would have barred artists and arts organizations will be assisted by the stimulus package, like everyone else.  We were lumped in with casinos, zoos, highway beautification projects.  These things, apparently, are frills.  But, small victories, right?  If you have time to send some nice old-fashioned thank you notes, please do…

This, from Americans for the Arts (2/13/09):

Just moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives approved their
final version of the Economic Recovery bill by a vote of 246-183. We
can now confirm that the package DOES include $50 million in direct
support for arts jobs through National Endowment for the Arts grants.
We are also happy to report that the exclusionary Coburn Amendment
language banning certain arts groups from receiving any other economic
recovery funds has also been successfully removed. Tonight the Senate
is scheduled to have their final vote, and President Obama plans to
sign the bill on Monday – President’s Day.

A United Voice
This is an important victory for all of you as arts advocates. More
than 85,000 letters were sent to Congress, thousands of calls were
made, and hundreds of op-eds, letters to the editor, news stories, and
blog entries were generated in print and online media about the role
of the arts in the economy. Artists, business leaders, mayors,
governors, and a full range of national, state, and local arts groups
all united together on this advocacy issue. This outcome marks a
stunning turnaround of events and exemplifies the power of grassroots
arts advocacy.

We would like to also thank some key leaders on Capitol Hill who
really carried our voices into the conference negotiation room and
throughout the halls of Congress: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-
CA), House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI), House Interior
Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA), and
Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY). We also
want to publicly thank President Obama for taking the early lead in
recognizing the role of the arts in economic development. These
leaders were able to convincingly make the case that protecting jobs
in the creative sector is integral to the U.S. economy.

From ATA

To whom to e-mail a THANK YOU!

House Speaker Representative Nancy Pelosi

House Appropriations Commiitee Chair Representative David Obey

House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior Chair Representative
Norm Dicks

Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Representative Louise McIntosh

Year of the Ox and Ox Blood Doc Martens

Do you like Chinese food?

If you don’t, chances are because you aren’t actually eating Chinese food.

Check out this talk from Jennifer 8:

My favorite things about this Chinese New Year:

1.  My friend Rach ran up and whispered “Happy New Year” to me today and flashed me her red shirt.  I flashed my own red shirt back.
2.  My friend Ed Lin was sporting some good lookin’ Ox Blood Dr. Martens (I swear that’s what they call them)  at the Asian American Writer’s Workshop’s Lunar New Year Countdown last night.  And he read the funniest work ever about his memories of childhood Chinese new years, drinking Shop Rite orange soda, having his mom pocket his red envelopes and having to play Fur Elise for all the old people.
3.  It’s the year of the Ox.  That’s my year.  Oxen are steadfast,  hard working, slow to change–basically, beasts of burden.  I suppose now is as good a time as any for us to be in the year of the Ox.  Because guess what?  Obama is a fellow Oxen.

Ah, yes, we did…

We kept The Magic open.

And Barack Obama took office today.

The 2nd and 4th graders I taught today were so happy they almost leapt out of their skin.

He has asked us to do more.  I am dreaming about how to do my bit, in my corner of the world.  How to keep art in schools.  How to inspire young people to engage their imaginations and creativity and commitment to a better world to investigate curiously and problem-solve the problems of our time.

I’m starting to teach playwriting to young people at Pace tomorrow.  I think I’m going to bring in Anne Bogart’s, “And Then, You Act.”  She says that she asked Chuck Mee if she should be discouraged about the global environment.  She asked, “How are we supposed to function in these difficult times?  How can we contribute anything useful in this climate?”  He answered, “You have a choice of two possible directions.  Either you convince yourself that these are terrible times and things will never get better and so you decide to give up, or, you choose to believe that there will be a better time in the future.  If that is the case, your job in these dark political and social times is to gather together everything you value and become a transport bridge.  Pack up what you cherish and carry it on your back.”

What are you packing?

Teaching Artist Life

Wow.  Somebody is doing a large scale documentation of what we do.

I’m glad.  Many times, when I try to describe what I do, I get a glazed donut look.  Then, if I manage to explain properly, I hear, “That’s cool.  I wanna do that.”  

From what I hear from Dale Davis and Carole Fineberg in my TA 101 class, the Teaching Artist field is expanding and changing at a rapid rate, so articulating what we do, studying the effects of the work and capturing a portrait of where the profession is going nationally is really key.  I also think we need to share best practices and build TA capacity.  And this is a good way of keeping the conversation going.  

I am interested in what this will yield.

Keeping the Arts in Public Schools

The top ten ideas will be presented to President Obama and will have grassroots campaigns started around them by the good people at to bring the ideas to fruition.

Check out the below.  Throw in your two cents before midnight tonight and we usher in 2009.  Let’s put the buzz in Obama’s ear that the arts are crucial to build the capacity for imagination and creative thinking that will be necessary to build the corps of young citizens to help move us into the future. 

The first round of voting for the Ideas for Change in America
competition will end this Wednesday, December 31 at midnight Pacific

Please vote for this one:

Support the Arts in Public Schools (currently in 6th place):

You can see all the ideas here:

The top three ideas in each category will make it to the final round.

Also note that the final round of voting will begin next Monday and
end just before the Presidential Inauguration in mid-January.

The top ten ideas will be presented to President Obama and will have grassroots campaigns started around them by the good people at to bring the ideas to fruition.