YA Teams with Maryland Schools to Secure Maryland State Arts Council Grants

Skher Brown
Skher Brown and the Capoeira is Culture Performers teaching students Capoeira Angola, an African-Brazilian folk art that combines martial arts, dance, play, music, and performance. During Skher’s MSAC-supported residencies at Archbishop Borders School, The Pathways School – Edgewood, and Francis Scott Key Elementary, students will learn to use the movements of their bodies to create, communicate, and collaborate.

107 Maryland Schools Partnered with Young Audiences to obtain funding for Arts in Education Residencies through the Maryland State Arts Council Arts in Education initiative.

At Young Audiences, our philosophy is simple: the more arts-integrated learning experiences we can provide Maryland students, the better. We are thrilled to be doing just that with help from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) 2017 grants! We teamed up with 107 Maryland schools to write MSAC Arts in Education Initiative grant applications and secure more than $124,000 in funding for Young Audiences artist-in-residence programs in the coming year.

MSAC grants help fund up to 30% of the cost of a Young Audiences residency program. With 194 total MSAC grants distributed this year, more than half were secured with support from Young Audiences!  We couldn’t be prouder.

And the fit couldn’t be better. Like Young Audiences’ mission, the MSAC Arts in Education initiative is designed to promote, strengthen, and enhance the arts and arts education in Maryland’s elementary and secondary schools. The grants will help fund Young Audiences artist-in-residence programs which bring professional teaching artists into classrooms to work alongside teachers and students. Teaching artists integrate their art form into the curriculum with hands-on, intensive arts workshops that engage students in creative experiences and bring joyful learning into the classroom.

The Young Audiences residencies resulting from these MSAC grants will be found in private, public and charter elementary, middle and high schools in counties that include Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel, Dorchester, Harford, Frederick, Montgomery and more. The art forms vary too, including residencies focused on dance, poetry, improv, steel drums, theater, music, sculpture, and photography.

For a full list of MSAC-funded Young Audiences residencies, click here. To learn more about Young Audiences artist-in-residence programs, click here.

Interested in bringing a Young Audiences artist-in-residence program to your school? We may be able to help you apply for grant funding! Email info@yamd.org

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Meet our artists-Ballet Theatre

Meet our artists: Ballet Theatre of Maryland

Meet our artists-Ballet Theatre

Young Audiences’ roster of artists continues to grow to encompass new artists, ensembles, and art forms, from slam poets to improvisers to Capoeira masters.

We’ll be regularly posting interviews with our artists, giving them a chance to share more about themselves and their experiences bringing their Young Audiences programs to schools. We recently sat down with Dianna Cuatto of Ballet Theatre of Maryland.

How did you first hear about Young Audiences?

My predecessor joined Young Audiences before I came to Ballet Theatre of Maryland 12 years ago, and it was my first experience with the organization. Other dance companies that I worked with hadn’t done anything like it, so I did my research and found that I really liked Young Audiences’ mission statement and philosophy. When I completed my first Teaching Artist Institute (TAI) seminar, I found it very helpful for connecting education with art to help students better their lives.

What has been the most memorable part of the programs you’ve brought to students with Young Audiences?

Seeing the impact the arts can have on so many lives is the most memorable part. When we go out to schools, we see how it touches the lives of the students we are able to either perform for or work with during an arts-integrated artist-in-residence program. We have learned so much from Young Audiences and have gained tools that we use in our other educational program offerings, too.

There are a lot of students who have never had exposure to ballet. Do you find that bringing classical ballet to schools can be a unique opportunity for students?

Absolutely. Whenever I ask a school what they hope the students will get out of a program, they want their students to have that exposure to a real ballet. One thing that Ballet Theatre of Maryland does that’s different from other ballet companies I’ve been a part of is that we actually bring a real ballet to the students so they can have that experience. It’s very rewarding and our dancers enjoy doing it. The students express how much they love it. Some students may never have known that they enjoy ballet if they hadn’t been exposed to it during one of our programs at their school.

Meet our artists-Ballet Theatre2

How does your art form connect students to what they are learning in school?

We do a lot of literary and historical pieces. For example, our assembly “Pirates of the Chesapeake” is based on pirate history. We also have an assembly, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and other programs that may relate to what they are studying in school. There is also the production of excerpts from “Excalibur” which we call the “Medieval Festival.” We mirrored it after a mini-Renaissance festival so students get experience with coats of arms and other material they learn about from that time period through dance.

How do the lessons and skills you teach students through your art form apply to their everyday lives outside of the classroom?

It seems that everything we do relates to their everyday lives. Our most popular assembly, “An American Journey through Dance,” teaches students about the many different cultures in our country. They are able to experience aspects of those different cultures through dance. There is something about the emotions and passions through the expression of dance that provides tools to understand each other, which is a very powerful thing for all of us. There is a culture embedded in all of the art that we do, and it is our place to pass it on.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Young Audiences roster artist?

One aspect would be the opportunity to see what other colleagues are doing, and how they are using the arts to impact children. Just being a part of the roster and being involved with different schools to see what children are able to gain through our programs is so rewarding. When you put all of the roster artists together, it creates a great tapestry of wonderful things students are able to experience in all of our different areas.

Why do you believe dance specifically–or the arts in general–is important for every student to have access to?

Our motto is: “Dance is a language more powerful than words.” No matter what language children speak, they can understand what you’re saying through dance. This is true for many art forms. We can communicate and break down barriers through that powerful language. It’s not just that studies show how art impacts students and helps them learn, it’s that we know the arts engage students in all of the senses, allowing them to experience it first-hand so they learn more intensely. When something engages all of your senses, it is easier to remember and apply it to other areas or circumstances. Art provides all of the learning tools that different children need because they learn in different ways.

Learn more about Ballet Theatre of Maryland’s offerings through Young Audiences.

Keep an eye out for more artist interviews! See all artist interviews to-date here.

Meet our artists: Mark Lohr

Meet our artists_Mark Lohr2

Young Audiences’ roster of artists continues to grow to encompass new artists, ensembles, and art forms, from slam poets to improvisers to Capoeira masters.

We’ll be regularly posting interviews with our artists, giving them a chance to share more about themselves and their experiences bringing their Young Audiences programs to schools. 

How did you hear about Young Audiences? What made you decide to become a roster artist?

I started my apprenticeship with Theatricks Theatre Company, where my performing mentor had a show as a Young Audiences roster artist. I took a break from performing for a bit, and when I decided to come back I immediately thought of Young Audiences as a great organization to work with because of my past experience. I have been on the roster for about 10 years now.

Can you tell us a little bit about your art form?

My art form is Vaudeville-style physical comedy. During the performances, I interact with the audience nonverbally and become a combination of circus clown, comic actor, juggler, and magician.

The creation of vaudeville is such an influential time in our history. Entertainment was revolutionized for the vaudeville stage, and technologies were invented to make shows more impressive using special effects, lighting, and more. We don’t have an opportunity to see that style of slapstick, nonverbal comedy anymore.

How do the lessons and skills you teach students through your art form apply to their everyday lives outside of the classroom?

During a vaudeville performance, students have to listen more with their eyes than ears. They have to interpret what my character is communicate without words and respond accordingly.  Sitting there and taking it in with all their senses gets them involved. In a typical theatrical performance, there is a “fourth wall.” There is a performance or show, but the audience is on the other side of that fourth wall so there is no interaction. I put the wall behind the audience so each performance is a new experience–you never know what you’re going to get with each crowd that comes in.

Meet our artists_Mark Lohr

The performance becomes a shared memory for students. It’s multi-cultural and multi-generational entertainment. You bring a school together with a performance where they laugh and have a great time. They share that wonderful memory, and can relate to each other more because of it.

Why do you believe theater is important for every student to have access to?

Vaudeville is such an important era in our history that we shouldn’t forget. It has a great significance in our culture today. Television shows like “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice” follow in the tradition of vaudeville.

But a live performance is so important because, all too often, many students’ primary performance venue is a television or movie theater. There is nothing wrong with these things, but when you go to a live performance you’re immersed and surrounded by it so that you become a part of it. I feel that it is my job to reach out to schools and students who may never have the opportunity to see a live professional performance. In our education, it’s extremely important to give students that experience.

How does your art form help connect students to what they are learning in school?

Hooked on Books” is my reading program where the audience has to listen and develop a response to everything I do. The main lesson I want them to walk away with is that books are more than stories, they are also gateways to new skills! I also share that it is OK to experience failure because to learn a new skill you have fail. The idea that failure isn’t a bad thing, but a part of the process, is a wonderful lesson.

What has been the most memorable part of the programs you’ve brought to students with Young Audiences?

From a performance standpoint, to be able to engage these students and have them become a part of my performance is a wonderful gift to me, and it’s my gift to them. They are laughing, responding to what I’m doing, enjoying the moment, and not thinking about what’s going to happen in the next hour.

In my residency, “America’s Got Vaudeville,” I talk about the significance of vaudeville and teach its skills and comic techniques. Our goal is to put on a show at the end. When I see there is a student who sits out in the corner not quite fitting in, I can reach out to them and teach him or her juggling or plate-spinning, and see his or her whole person change. They discover they have a new talent and skill and can share it with their classmates. Their peers begin to see each other in a different light and overcome social and cultural boundaries.  They share a common bond.  The look on students’ faces when they succeed in a new skill for the first time is a huge reward for me.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Young Audiences roster artist?

Young Audiences gives me the opportunity to share gifts that were given to me. My mentor gave me this knowledge with the one caveat of having to share it. It’s so important for me to have different venues where I can go out and give it away, and can see people walking away with a piece of the gift that was given to me. It impacts people’s lives, and I’m grateful that Young Audiences allows me to do that.

Learn more about Mark Lohr’s offerings through Young Audiences.

Keep an eye out for more artist interviews! See all artist interviews to-date here.