‘Minneapolis arts education program earns award’

16 April 2007 at 9:00 am (News, Press, Spoken Word, Workshops) (, , , , )

Minneapolis arts education program earns award
by Marianne Combs, Minnesota Public Radio

Each year the Ordway Center in St. Paul presents its annual Sally Awards to honor individuals and institutions in Minnesota who make a significant contribution to the region’s artistic and cultural life. This year’s winner in the category of education is the Arts for Academic Achievement program in Minneapolis. It pairs working artists with teachers throughout the Minneapolis Public School system to help students learn in innovative ways.

Minneapolis — It’s ten o’clock in the morning and Mrs. Dotty’s 7th and 8th grade English class at Marcy Open School is looking a little sleepy. But today, Mrs. Dotty has some help getting their attention. She hands the class over to spoken word artist e.g. bailey, who takes the class through a round of vocal exercises to get the group warmed up.

Through the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Arts for Academic Achievement program, bailey works with Dotty’s English classes once a week for three to four months. He’s teaching them to write and perform their own poetry. By the end of the year the class will produce its own CD and hold an open house to show off its work. Dotty says what she gets is a very specialized program for her students.

“I’m not a poet by trade,” says Dotty, “and having someone who’s actually doing it, who’s really out there, makes it more real for the students. It’s an access point to reach kids who might be disenchanted. If I just jumped in with Shakespeare it wouldn’t mean as much to them without the components that e.g. brings.”

Today, bailey’s brought in a couple of other professional poets to talk about their own experiences performing. [William] Harris [Truthmaze] leans against a counter on the side of the classroom, a lion’s mane of dreadlocks framing his face. The class is giving Harris its full attention. He reminds them that they are each unique, and therefore no one else will write poetry quite like they do. By the end of the class, kids are getting up and performing their own pieces.

Uve Hamilton, the program director of Arts for Academic Achievement, says its goal is to engage students and motivate them to learn through art.

“What we try to do is embed the arts in the regular classroom. There are so many ways of experiencing the arts,” says Hamilton.

For some classes that might mean incorporating photography into a history lesson or theater into a writing class.

Arts for Academic Achievement is Minnesota’s largest artists-in-schools program sponsored by a school district. It was established in 1997 and now reaches more than 9,000 students in 38 schools each year. The program has an annual budget of approximately $1 million, with $400,000 of that coming from the school district and the rest from grants and private donations.

The price tag puts such a program out of reach for many school districts in the state. But that doesn’t leave them without options. School districts can also contract with other organizations, like COMPAS, to provide artist residencies on a project basis.

“I don’t think that there’s exactly a one-size-fits-all answer,” says Daniel Gabriel, arts education program director for COMPAS, “certainly not when you’re talking about something as joyful and rambunctious as multiple art forms and multiple age groups and all kinds of geographic situations.”

Director Uve Hamilton of Arts for Academic Achievement admits having teachers and artists co-create an extensive curriculum for students can be time- and cost-intensive. But in the long run, she says it’s worth it.

“By working within the system,” says Hamilton, “we bring together a huge and powerful base of support to make these critical linkages between the arts and what students need to know and understand.”

Arts For Academic Achievement will receive formal recognition of its work Monday when it’s presented with the Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Arts Education.

Originally posted on MPR News.

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Nu Ark Experiment: Wordshop: Shouting into the Storm

21 April 1998 at 9:00 am (News, Shows, Spoken Word, Theatre, Workshops) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Poets! have you ever wanted your words bathed in music, floating on a quarter note.  Instrumentalists! have you ever conjured a melody while listening to a poet read.  Then Space is the Place.  Become a part of Wordshop: Shouting into the Storm, a workshop for musicians and word masters.  Discover the joy and beauty of spoken word.  e. g. bailey and members of Arkology will conduct a workshop seeking to explore ways of uniting words (spoken, sung, written or shouted) and music of all kinds.  Participants will learn the process of creating spoken word pieces and explore with other musicians and poets how to find spaces of their words and sounds.  The workshop will also include exercises in improvisation.

The workshop will take place on October 10th from 1-4pm at the West Bank School of Music located at 1813 South 6th Street Mpls.  Call 822-2500 to register or for more information.

Workshop participants will have the opportunity to share their discoveries at the Nu Ark Experiments performance (Postmodern) Work Songs on Oct. 20th at Gingko’s Coffeehouse.

This workshop emerges out of the Nu Ark Experiments a series of spoken word performances aimed at showcasing the different ways spoken word can be presented.  The series includes experiments with performance art, with improvisation, with film, with non-structural music and with visual arts.

Future performances include (Postmodern) Work Songs on Oct. 20th at Gingko’s Coffeehouse.  And Side B, a collaboration with sound sculptor and visual artist Kitundu at Intermedia Arts on Nov. 17th.

This series is supported by a grant provided by the MN State Arts Board through an appropriation from the MN State Legislature.  In addition, this activity is supported in part by a grant from the NEA.

And is co-sponsored by SASE:  The Write Place, Intermedia Arts, KFAI Fresh Air Radio, KMOJ, the Powderhorn Writers Festival, Da X-Factor Newz and KFAI’s Write On RaDio! (Thursdays @ 11am). Call 288-9491 for more information.

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Nu Ark Experiments Press Release

21 April 1998 at 9:00 am (Film, Music, Shows, Spoken Word, Theatre, Workshops) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

For Immediate Release
April 21, 1998

“Open Palm Prayers” Melds Music and Poetry
In Jazz-Influenced Show at Intermedia Arts, May 19, 1998
Performance Launches ‘Nu Ark Experiments,’ A 12-part Series
Exploring ‘Force and Energy of the Oral Tradition’

A talented group of improvisational musicians and poets will demonstrate a new, multi-sensory approach to uniting word and music in performance, at an evening-length show called “Open Palm Prayers” on Tuesday, May 19, 1998. The performance takes place at 7:00 p.m. at Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis. Tickets are $6, or $3 for Intermedia Arts Partners. Reservations may be made by calling (612) 871-4444.

The key to the performance concept is a jazz-influenced melding of poetry and music, according to organizer e.g. bailey, a member of the performance collective Arkology. “Our goal is to create a spoken word/music synthesis based in the aesthetic of the jazz ensemble,” bailey said. “The work can originate in a word, a concept, an image, or a sound, and then each ‘instrument,’ including the voice, enters the ensemble on an equal footing and has an opportunity to lead and shape the experience.”

“Open Palm Prayers” marks the first event in a 12-part series of innovative spoken word and musical events called Nu Ark Experiments. The aim, bailey said, is “to experiment with the presentation of spoken word by melding it with other art forms, including music, dance, and film.” The series involves ten performances of set pieces and improvisational works, and two workshops designed to introduce others to improvisational techniques for blending art forms in performance. The performances and workshops will occur at several venues in the Twin Cities over the next ten months, beginning with “Open Palm Prayers” at Intermedia Arts.

At the core of the Nu Ark Experiments is a group of well-known, multi-talented artists, most of whom are members of the improvisational performance collective Arkology. At “Open Palm Prayers,” for example, e.g. bailey will contribute his skills as a “verbalist,” joined by Arkology members Kona (drummer), Dennis Maddix (bass), and writer/vocalists Mankwe Ndosi and Miré Regulus. The collective has also appeared with other Twin Cities musicians such as Kevin Washington, Rene Ford, Sam Favors, Markiss, Michael O’Brien, Doug Reed, and Tom Speath.

“We will explore forms and avenues not normally associated with spoken word, with the hope of bringing new life to poetry, and giving back to it the force and energy inherent in the oral tradition,” said bailey.

The idea for the Nu Ark Experiments series originated with Blues for Nina, a 25-minute spoken-word/music performance about the famed singer Nina Simone that bailey presented for the opening of the 1997 Twin Cities Black Film Festival, in collaboration with five other artists. “The audience response to that piece as well as the music/word interaction in the rehearsal process motivated me to explore how to further develop this performance structure,” bailey said.

Nu Ark Experiments is produced with support from a Cultural Collaborations Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Co-sponsors for the series are SASE: The Write Place and Intermedia Arts, and KFAI Fresh Air Radio 90.3 FM Mpls/106.7 St. Paul.

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Nu Ark Experiment: Under Sky Open House

21 April 1998 at 9:00 am (News, Shows, Spoken Word, Theatre, Workshops) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Come experience the Nu Ark Experiments.  Join e. g. bailey and members of Arkology for the fourth installment of the Nu Ark Experiments: Under Sky Open House on September 15th at the Powderhorn Park at 7:00pm.  The performance will focus on the concept of community and will include poets from the Powderhorn Writers Festival, Roy McBride and Amy Ballestad, and guest musician Yolanda Jackson.

Powderhorn Park is located at E 34th Street and 15th Avenue South in South Minneapolis.

The Nu Ark Experiments is a series of spoken word performances aimed at showcasing the different ways spoken word can be presented.  The series includes experiments with performance art, with improvisation, with film, with non-structural music and with visual arts.

Future performances include Wordshop: Shouting into the Storm, a workshop for poets and musicians, at the West Bank School of Music on Oct. 10th.  (Postmodern) Work Songs on Oct. 20th at Gingko’s Coffeehouse.  And Side B, a collaboration with sound sculptor and visual artist Kitundu at Intermedia Arts on Nov. 17th.

This series is supported by a grant provided by the MN State Arts Board through an appropriation from the MN State Legislature.  In addition, this activity is supported in part by a grant from the NEA.

And is co-sponsored by SASE: The Write Place, Intermedia Arts, KFAI Fresh Air Radio, KMOJ, the Powderhorn Writers Festival, Da X-Factor Newz and KFAI’s Write On RaDio! (Thursdays @ 11am). Call 288-9491 for more information.

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