2022 Week 1: Arts

Photo of Liesel Arauz Vallecillo, smilingLiesel Arauz Vallecillo | Art With A Heart

Every day at Art with a Heart (AWAH) is so vastly different from the one preceding it. I really like that about my placement. I technically got a bit of an preview of what my week would be like beforehand because I volunteered at AWAH last Saturday. It was a really fun time. I taught families how to make clay sculptures and bracelets. I think two of the highlights of that day were making a connection with the kids and speaking Spanish with two of the families. I didn’t hesitate this time! I am happy that I am slowly becoming more confident in speaking a different language. It also just allowed me to get to know the families better and make the arts and craft station experience a bit more individualized. I made it a goal to help each kid make a craft that was unique to their interests. In that day alone, I learned how to make volcanoes, a clay and pipe-cleaner Sonic, and a fish. It was definitely an interesting experience being given full creative freedom and minimal instruction before getting to lead a station.

My legitimate start day was Monday and that day was spent mostly learning how to mosaic and cutting glass. The next day I was mostly doing administration work at a laptop. My goal was to look into as many organizations that could donate food to AWAH’s summer programming as possible. I made a spreadsheet of about maybe twenty-five different options with full information on contacts, deadlines, and requirements. While working on this task I noticed that there weren’t many major grocery stores near our main office. Additionally, many of the chain grocery stores required that you have one of their stores in the neighborhood that you’re in in order to submit a food donation request. Not only does this contribute to systemic barriers preventing certain areas from accessing healthy foods directly, but it also makes it harder for non-profits in areas of the black butterfly that require food donations to request it from these chains.

Photo of Lubna Azmi, smiling Lubna Azmi | Wide Angle Youth Media

I had virtual work this entire week, so it has been a bit difficult to continue my excitement throughout the full 8 hour day. To help keep me on track, I’ve made hour by hour goals to get things done. My supervisor will send me tasks and I’ll break those tasks up into smaller goals to get done by the hour or multi hour chunks.
The best part of my week was being a part of an off hours meeting on Wednesday. My supervisor, Peymaan, is coordinating a documentary film shoot about food insecurity, and about 7 participants in Wide Angle are leading and putting it together. I got to virtually meet all of them, and got to hear and support their ideas and plans with the documentary. They were so lovely, fun, creative, and had such revolutionary spirits, it was so delightful being part of the meeting. I’ve found this in all the work I’ve been a part of, but getting to be amongst others, to learn from them, is always one of my favorite parts.
I’ve also learned a lot more about non profit management. I’ve done research on other non profits as part of a case study that Wide Angle is facilitating. Through this, I’ve gotten to delve into how nonprofits are funded, which is really useful to know. I knew most non profits didn’t have much money, but I didn’t know there was such a deficit for most. For one of the organizations I came across, with multiple employees, the director is paid around 39,000 which is so little for someone running an organization. And after our discussion during orientation week from Dina Emam, most foundations have so much money for their endowment that doesn’t get used, which is frustrating in a way because a lot of that money could go towards widening the funding pool.

Photo of Shantika Bhat, smiling Shantika Bhat | Jubilee Arts

Jubilee Arts were tremendous and very interesting the first week because I learned about the program I would be assisting and what the nonprofit offers. My supervisor wasn’t there until Thursday so I thought that I was just floating around and trying to help wherever I can. On the first day, I was creating a social media strategy plan to map out some content that can be posted on Instagram. However, I felt that I was a little too ambitious given the fact that I still needed to adjust to the daily life at Jubilee Arts. It was fun thinking of ideas for social media but I was stressed out on the execution aspect of it since I am not sure how to make reels, edit, or use photoshop. I was told that I wouldn’t get much help on that until Youth in Business actually starts because it’s just the training period for now. What I struggled with most this week was learning to be okay with having less on my plate. I have always been a “workaholic” and super busy all the time. I didn’t know how to handle not having a lot going on so I saw myself making more work for myself. During the BITE session, I bonded with Lily on this topic which made me feel relieved that I wasn’t the only one struggling with this. Another thing that I am learning to adjust to is the sense of imposter syndrome at my nonprofit because I often hear that all of the past CIIP people at this placement were absolutely amazing and I worry that I won’t live up to that expectations. I know that’s such a small thing but I have been thinking about it since yesterday. I realized that I needed to advocate for myself on some of the small projects that I wanted to do. So that led me to stay and shadow a beginner sewing class at night. I met a cool friend at MICA and that honestly made my day. On Thursday I helped interview youth in business team leaders which taught me a lot about the values of the program. On Friday I helped prep for the Block Paty with No Boundaries Coalition and I got to finally bond with my supervisor. I learned that she went to the same high school as me and is only 3 years older than me. It seems that many of the Jubliee Staff are people my age which is something I need to adjust to. On Saturday I got to go to the Tool Library with Ayla and Liesel and it was so much fun! I got to learn how to use different tools and Ayla and I made a tree!! After that, I helped out at the Block Party and got to see so many cool vendors and arts and crafts. I ran into Koye and Abigail and it was really nice to get to know them. I learned that I am happiest when I bond with new people. I am really excited to get to know more people in CIIP and help out with Jubliee Arts. My goal for the upcoming week is to settle down and take more independent roles in helping the Youth in Business training. Cheers to the first week down!

Caroline Colvin | Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

On Monday, I met with my supervisor Ron – Director of Education at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC) – and we discussed short and long term goals for the summer. Ron would like me to work primarily on furthering CSC’s community engagement efforts.

One target area we identified for this project was arts accessibility. Education is central to Chesapeake’s mission, serving over 16,000 students annually via classes, camps, and theatrical performances with the goal of “perform[ing] without curtains and without barriers in settings that are both beautiful and informal,” (CSC website). Chief among these opportunities is CSC’s “Free Shakespeare for Kids” program – where children 18 and under receive free admission to CSC productions; however, the pandemic has made it increasingly difficult to publicize these programs as many school contacts are no longer viable. I am in the process of researching comparable youth rates/programs in the area so Chesapeake can better understand the scope of their funding (i.e., “how many students can we support with X dollar amount?”).

Another highlight of my week was touring the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company theater and office buildings in downtown Baltimore. Both spaces are repurposed 19th century historical buildings (the theater being the former Mercantile Deposit and Trust Company and the offices/teaching studio being the former Merchants Club). Ron gave me a full walk-through of the spaces, introducing me to the many faces of CSC along the way! After the tour, I was able to sit-in on a staff meeting, gaining valuable insight into the inner workings of a leading classical theatre company. It was inspiring to see many female leaders at the heart of the company, as arts leadership roles are so often male-dominated.

I am excited to be spending my summer surrounded by a community of passionate theatre makers and administrators and am ready for the weeks ahead!

Photo of Christian Paulisich, smiling Christian Paulisich | DewMore

My first week with DewMore was virtual and involved composing and grading a collection of written poetry and slam poetry, creating lesson plans for the summer camp, and researching creative arts mental health interventions. Chin-yer pushed me to think more analytically about poems and performance when grading them, which was a new experience for me. I really enjoyed crafting lesson plans because it made me consider all the ways people learn differently from one another. Beyond just visual, auditory, and tactile learning, there are also youth who fall along the long spectrum from at-risk to advanced learners. It is important that lessons be targeted and adapted to reach as many students as possible in an equitable way. This, I believe, is one of the problems with public school systems, especially underfunded ones like in Baltimore City. Teachers often aren’t given the resources to be able to reach all students and maximize learning outcomes when class sizes are too large. This leaves some youth to feel ignored or misunderstood, or even frustrated enough to believe they are not smart enough and thus drop out of school. Education is one of the most important things we can give our youth. I grew up in a middle class suburb where going to school was not even a question. The public school system was not great, but there were opportunities it afforded me to grow and learn. I was lucky enough to grow up in a community that valued education and a family who worked hard to make sure I was getting a good education. I always thought education was a right, but really, it is a privilege that I have taken for granted at times. Going to Hopkins, I sometimes lose sight of everything I have learned when stressing about grades or exams. Students deserve the opportunity to study what they like and to be given an engaging learning experience, which I hope to contribute to this summer.

Photo of Jocelyn Shan, smiling Jocelyn Shan | Baltimore Youth Arts

This week was packed and had me adjusting to a new rhythm. Week One at BYA was mainly getting oriented with the organization and figuring out what my role will be here for the summer. The main programming that I will be supporting is the YouthWorks program that runs from July 5 to August 5. YouthWorks is a city wide youth service that connects young people to summer jobs in various industries to give them workforce readiness. So, before July 5, I will be working from home supporting BYA by researching grants for fiscal year 2023, updating BYA’s COVID resource website with COVID protocols and food resources for the summer, posting on social media, researching companies to request in-kind donations from, and updating BYA’s databases that create reports for donors. Part of the reason that I’m working from home these first few weeks is that BYA is moving to a new space! Exciting! But for now, I’m working in my room or coffee shops. I’ve found that getting outside of my apartment to work is tiring, but ultimately more productive when I separate my work space from my home space.

The beginning of this week was filled with researching grants. I’ve never looked for grants before, so this was new territory for me. Thankfully, Leisha gave me a document that listed previous grants that BYA had applied to last year. I started with those, then moved onto Googling things like “grants youth arts baltimore” and crossing my fingers. I was surprised to find that there are a LOT of grants available for non-profits specifically in Baltimore. The process of looking for grants sucked up so much time, I’d start my search and look to find that several hours had passed by and I had only found 1 grant that we were eligible for. This process was slow and frustrating. It was time-intensive, requiring me to find the grants in the first place, then read through the eligibility to determine if we could apply. One thing that was striking to me was how some foundations don’t even let organizations apply for funding. They say that they will reach out to individual organizations. While there may be reasoning behind this, this rubbed me the wrong way. There are so many foundations out there, even just in Maryland, with billions of dollars available. The fact that organizations need to scavenge for grants to fund their organizations felt frustrating to me. I know that this is a two-sided situation, and just freely giving away money would have its drawbacks too, but this experience was eye-opening.