Several years ago, I attended a Fulton County Budget hearing. There is nothing remarkable about that statement. My staff, board members, colleagues and I have attended dozens. We attend to show support for the funding of Contracts for Art Services. But at one particular meeting, I believe a major cut was on the table so many from the arts community were in attendance, a board member and artist named LaMar Barber took a photo of me speaking to the county commissioners. He posted it on Facebook. I commented on the photo, “Democracy!” LaMar replied, “…requires effort!”
Democracy requires effort.
That phrase rings in my brain a lot these days. You may be thinking it is because of the recent election. Maybe. It really has more to do with the fact that C4 is making a more concerted effort to be involved “at the local.” Let me preface the rest of this post with this: I am not trying to be self-congratulatory. This work is hard, and there are people I know who are much better at doing it. By “type of work,” I mean, showing up. Being there for the committee meetings, the neighborhood meetings, the council or commissioner meetings. How do they have the energy? How do they have the resources?
In the arts, we often complain about not being invited to the table. I agree with that. However, I also know that you sometimes have to pull up a chair. But when is this work off mission? My answer is that I don’t think that when you work in the Independent Sector that it is ever off mission. Our work intersects often with civic issues. We do ensure that we are staying within the bounds of non-partisan participation, which is within our legal right. Having said that, advocacy, or even just civic engagement, may take focus away from programming. How do you balance that? (I am really asking here)
In some ways, it is part of the growing pains of an organization maturing. In the start-up phase, job duties are fuzzy and resources, including time, are pooled toward creating programs. That quickly moves to maintaining and evaluating programs (maybe even sun-setting programs). As Executive Director, I am working hard to place staff members into roles that best fit their strengths. Roles become more defined. All this to say, being an advocate for the arts is not glamorous. There are no Twitter wars or celebrity endorsements.
I sat through a three hour meeting at City Hall just so I could speak for a minute to voice my concern about the proposed “Arts & Entertainment District.” (Not against a district, just concerned about what constitutes “arts” and how money will be allocated). Many of the meeting points were completely unrelated to our work at C4. I was hungry. Famished. This isn’t heroic work. I was mostly thinking about what I needed to do when I got back to the office, and how I wished the meeting time would fly by faster. This morning I missed another city meeting because my van started acting weird. Instead of driving to the 8 am meeting, I drove to my local mechanic. I texted Audrey, Education Manager, and she went to the meeting in my stead. The meeting went on without me.
Democracy requires effort
It is also slow. When it comes to government, I often think of that aphorism, “a camel is a horse designed by committee.” The process is intentionally slow. Our founding fathers designed our government process with a plodding pace in mind to protect citizens from wide sweeping change that came too swiftly. Campaign promises are mostly rhetoric. You have to vet ideas to ensure the process is in the best interest of the people–and often, unfortunately, it is only in the best interest of part of the people. The people who have the time or capacity to show up.
It is not that I believe that all campaign promises are empty. It is just that the heroes I see are the people who show up when they can, they research the issues, they present facts, they appeal to people’s common sense and humanity, they sit through the long meetings, miss lunch, they juggle relationships and maybe children, and they do it over and over again. People like Kyle Kessler with the Center for Civic Innovation. Kyle has an amazing knack for this work. He about local politics, zoning issues, Atlanta history, meeting dates–someone needs to download Kyle’s brain. I am always in awe of how much he knows and how often he shows up.
Over the last year, C4 has grown its advocacy committee so we can divide up meetings and tasks. Most of what we are doing is just listening. Listening and learning. There are a myriad of policies that affect the lives of artists and of arts organizations. Typically, advocacy efforts have been focused around funding. While important, there are a lot of missed opportunities when that is our only focus. There are several organizations that educate and advocate for the arts in metro Atlanta. There are also dozens of organizations that may make great cross-sector partners. Our advocacy platform is posted online. If you want to get involved, let us know.
Democracy, or even a republic, takes effort. It feels as though the nation is in turmoil some days. I am not going to suggest to anyone that national issues are not important–they certainly are important. This is a “yes, and…” moment. They are important but so are local policies, legislation, ordinances, etc. Let’s work together. Let our efforts be amplified through unity.
I love my job. I get to work with artists and help create and manage education that can support their ability to achieve their hopes and dreams. Those hopes and dreams contribute to making an incredibly diverse and creative arts ecology for our community, from which everyone benefits. Each year, C4 Atlanta services over 400 artists through our training services. That’s a LOT of creative hopes and dreams for Metro Atlanta!
In order to service the city’s musicians, painters, circus artists, dancers, film producers, tattoo artists, actors, and more! A lot of thought and preparation goes into what we offer. As former artists ourselves, our staff understands that where you put your (often very) hard earned dollars makes a huge difference, and we are committed to offering as high a standard of adult education as possible. What goes into that? An awful lot.
All too often being a good educator is equated with expertise in a particular content area. But all of us at some point in our lives know that this simply isn’t true. Each of us have been “trained” at some point by an expert who wasn’t actually skilled at education: a trainer who couldn’t explain to you what they were doing, a professor who’s MO seems to be “read the book, and figure it out for yourself”, or a brilliant musician who can’t seem comprehend how to translate their talent to a young student.
In addition to our almost 20 years of combined experience in education, our staff puts and incredible amount of infrastructure behind each class that we offer. So what DOES it take to plan and produce class at C4 Atlanta? Let’s take a look.
Most of our classes start with suggestions from our students. Every educational offering includes an evaluation, and every evaluation includes a question asking “What other educational offerings would you like to see in the future?” Some of our best courses have come from suggestions from artists like YOU!
Let’s assume that we’ve already done the funding legwork to ensure that we have the finances in place to even create a class in the first place. Often this is the longest part of the process. Securing grant funding make take years depending on the program. This can also include the time it takes to develop a relationship with and introduce our organization to a funder who has an interest in the type of education we’d like to offer. Other classes are developed with more agility. We test a concept, get feedback, and expand on it until it becomes a full course offering.
In order to develop a class, we first need to start with visioning the objectives and expectations. What are our goals for student learning and what skills will students walk away with? What is a reasonable given student expectations and feedback? What information is relevant and current? What do we want the class to look and feel like? What kind of student experience will it offer? What kind of time frame is reasonable; is the class a one day offering or will the content require several sessions to cover adequately?
In order to more fully form our overall course objectives, some research is usually necessary. Our staff regularly stays on top of the most relevant research in the field, and what information may be on the horizon to contribute to our learning opportunities. It is important for us to be aware of what is trending in the field and how the needs of working artists may be changing over time. We are also fortunate to have a wide network nationwide of friends in the field to help point us toward additional information when we need it. In some cases, these friends have also become content collaborators or class partners.
Once overall class objectives have been identified, we can then begin to create lesson plans. For a multi-week class such as Ignite or Hatch, we can break up the course objectives into individual classes, each with it’s own individual lesson plan. For a one day or pop-up class, one single lesson plan is usually all that’s necessary. In our lesson plans, we identify specific learning outcomes for each individual class (based on our larger class objective(s)), activities and modules to be presented, outside support materials for the facilitator for more information, evaluation criteria for both the students and the facilitator, and a list of facilitator and student materials needed to execute the class. Having a strong, robust lesson plan makes our next steps much easier, so we work hard to make sure we get it right.
From these initial lesson plans, we then begin to think about what is called an implementation plan. This is different from our lesson plan in that in addition to more specific detail, it also includes a breakdown of the timing of each section of a lesson. Specific case studies, anecdotes, concepts, discussion questions, or activities are outlined in the implementation plan, as are time for evaluations, introduction and/or closing rituals. This implementation agenda allows the course facilitator to effectively pace the learning of the class. It also allows those building the lesson to make reasonable expectations for learning, plan necessary breaks in learning in ways that will not disrupt the content delivery, and map out a student’s expected learning trajectory. It’s important for concepts to build upon each other, and for students to have ample opportunities to practice the skills they are learning, and it’s important for this to be built into the design of the class from the beginning.
In our courses, it’s also important to us that students are building a network of colleagues and resources beyond what is provided in the content. Ample time for course discussion is factored into the implementation plan as well.
With strong plans laid, we can then begin to build presentations and supplementary learning materials for our classes. Powerpoints, workbooks, worksheets, exercise write-ups, and graphs or charts are created. Additional write-ups or notes may need to be included here for the class facilitator as well. The learning environment can also affect how we reach learners who have specific learning or ability challenges. The more that modifications or learning designs that can facilitate learning for a multitude of individuals and learning styles can be anticipated, the stronger overall our class will be for all students. To this end, our staff is currently researching Universal Design for Learning, with plans to incorporate this into all of our classes in the future. This is a core tenant of our upcoming strategic plan for the next five years.
Is the class ready to go yet? Nope. It’s time for a consistency check. Everything we have created needs to now be proofed. We’re not just looking for typos and grammatical errors, but also checking to make sure that what we have created theoretically works in a practical format: Did we cover the objectives we identified adequately? Are our timings correct? Should certain concepts be moved in order to facilitate better learning? Have we included a good mix of traditional instruction and activity? Did we plan enough time for breaks? Are the chosen visuals clear and representational of the concepts we are covering? Our implementation or lesson plans may need to be tweaked at this point depending on the changes that are necessary.
Now that the format of the course is complete, we’ll need a way to measure our efficacy at meeting our learning objectives, as well as our course facilitator’s ability to connect and share the content with the class. Course evaluations are an important part of each class. Questions are matched not only with the course objectives, but also with information that could be beneficial when evaluating our overall offerings and services. In the future, we hope to a create a unified assessment plan that includes all of our organizational assessment and evaluation goals and integrates with each individual course evaluation. As a core tenant of our new strategic plan, this will allow us to not only assess learning in a single class, but also to see how an artists’ learning in a single class incorporates with our larger service goals for the community.
It’s also time to begin thinking about class touch points. How are we reaching out to students who will be in the class? If you’ve taken a workshop with us, you know that we traditionally include a welcome and follow up to each lesson, and build a bank of additional resources for students. Chelsea, our operations manager, often helps with getting the resources online, while I maintain them for consistency, switching out certain tools or studies for newer versions. There may also be check-ins mid-course or other reminders necessary for upcoming class dates or homework. And our staff is always available for individual questions or clarity as it relates to our educational offerings. Moving into 2017, we will be remapping Ignite and creating a day-long training session for Ignite artist-facilitators. We hire artists who demonstrate a competency for teaching, breaking down complicated concepts, and who are earnest listeners to help facilitate Ignite and AIM Atlanta. For consistency, we spend a considerable amount of time for these artists to train alongside a staff member or long-time trainer.
All of these considerations, research and planning go the creation of each and everyone one of our professional development offerings. But once the course is created, we never stop updating and improving. As trends change and research is released, our staff continues to work on education. We are committed to providing a high quality, inclusive, accessible learning experience to any and all who walk through our doors.
I’d like to close with that final point: accessibility. The cost of providing such a high quality educational experience is great. In an effort to keep course costs low, C4 Atlanta fundraises throughout the year. While we receive money from government, corporations, individuals, and foundations who believe in our mission to support the careers of arts workers, we also know that for some, any cost associated with professional development education is too great to bare. These are often the artists most in need of our services. In order to keep our classes accessible, C4 Atlanta offers an additional $10,000 in scholarships each year for training and education. Please consider making a contribution to our scholarship fund as we raise money through Power2Give through December 21st. The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs will match, dollar for dollar, each donation given, doubling even the smallest of gifts to make them twice as impactful. Donate here: Donate to C4 Atlanta Scholarship Fund
Have a suggestion for a learning opportunity that you’d like to see at C4 Atlanta? Email me: email@example.com
I wanted to share this poem by a C4 Atlanta Hatch artist, Latanya Hardaway. Latanya shared this poem with us during Hatch a few weeks ago. Prior to her reading this poem, we had lengthy and weighty discussions about race, white supremacy culture, privilege and considerations for artists working with community. I have to say, I admire the heck out of this cohort. Each person in that class listens intently to one another. They also provide amazing support to one another. Latanya is no exception. I have been fortunate to get to know her more, along with her son, Earl. Both are part of the C4 family.
I asked Latanya if she would allow me to share her poem. I hope you enjoy it.
Like a Southern Whisper By Latanya Hardaway
I walked in the circle of change.
I bend over and picked the flowers from the garden newly planted.
I felt the breeze and listened quietly as the birds chirped.
I saw things that I’d never seen here.
Here where Sunday dinners were at Mom and Dad’s house.
I saw organic coffee shops, neighborhood gardens.
The air’s not really better from how dad sees it.
Looking through dad’s eyes, he’s painted a picture of pain.
Looking through dad’s eyes, I see anger and feel the fear of his 70 plus years.
Looking through dad’s eyes I see the change made by the “green”. Looking through Dad’s eyes, I see the alien takeover: making nothing look like home.
Then I see in his eyes a question, “Will there be a place for me?” And like a southern whisper of a word you dare not say out loud; a green organic alien speaks to him and says,” Bless your heart. Of course there will be a place for you.”
Rounding out the list of awesome, arts-loving sponsors for this years ArtoberFest are two incredible bakeries in the city. You can’t have an Oktoberfest themed event without some carbs, right? Bringing a little European delicacy to Atlanta, these are two of the best. We thank them for their support and are excited to share their stories with you:
Little Tart Bakeshop
The storefront in Grant Park occupied by both Little Tart Bakeshop and Octane Coffee has long been a favorite of artists from around the city. You can regularly find administrators from local organizations, visual artists, musicians, designers and many others meeting or working over one of their fine pastries. Owner Sarah O’Brien was recently named a James Beard Semi-finalist for Outstanding Baker 2016 for her French style delicacies. Here is the story of Atlanta’s favorite artist-friendly bakery in the words of its illustrious owner:
“On my tenth birthday, my grandmother Sophie gave me a rolling pin and taught me how to make her famous apple pie, with apples from the orchard up the road. I have been baking ever since. Born and raised on an Ohio farm, I have baked in Iowa, Providence, and Canada, and earned my chops working as an intern in two Parisian bakeries. I hope to bring my own little bit of Paris to Atlanta, my adopted and much-loved city, through The Little Tart. I am fanatical about making perfect pastry crusts, and croissants.
I am honored to work with a dedicated team of bakers and servers who work hard everyday to make the best pastry around. We are proud to be a part of the local food community in Georgia, and hope to show through our work that eating sustainably also means eating heathfully, affordably, and most importantly, deliciously.”
~ Owner Sarah O’Brien
Bernhard’s German Bakery and Deli
Located in nearby Marietta, Bernhard’s Bakery is a must for lovers of fresh, European style bread. These art-loving bakers have a knack for traditional German baked goods and foods that are nearly impossible to get anywhere else in the city. Get to know their local wares and love for artisanal culinary practice:
Our mission is to bring you delicious German Organic and Natural baked goods, baked with love.
Bread, in its pure original formula, making it available for everyone’s enjoyment. From antiquity, bread has been known as the epitome of life and human society. It’s history can be traced back for thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. We exclusively use sun ripened whole grain (including the grain’s germ) to provide you with a source of power, stamina and health! Spoil yourself with our breads natural flavor! We use only the finest quality ingredients providing your body with important fiber and nutrients. For people who suffer from allergies we offer a delicious range of wheat and yeast free products. Because your health matters to us, our products are baked freshly for you every day!
We want to thank all of the amazing sponsors that are helping to create a spectacular celebration for ArtoberFest 2016. Our beer sponsor for this event is none other than local brewery Orpheus Brewing. Orpheus has a unique relationship with the arts community of Atlanta. Every can of beer released features the work of a local artist, many of whom are as recognizable for their gallery work as their murals lining Wylie Street and the Krog Street Tunnel. Notable featured artists include: Sam Parker, Lela Brunet, Molly Rose Freeman, Peter Ferrari, Dosa Kim, and Brandon Sadler.
Orpheus began as an endeavor by its founders to create the kind of beer that they couldn’t get anywhere else. First to roll out a canned sour beer in the state of Georgia, this brewery definitely embraces an identity that is new, different and unique. Get to know this local treasure and their finely crafted brews:
As a name, Orpheus Brewing sprang mostly formed from Orpheus Brewmaster/President Jason Pellett’s trumpet career and the Real Book (an illegal book of unlicensed lead sheets that every jazz player in the country owns), as one of its songs is the lilting bossa nova standard Black Orpheus (the soundtrack from the 1959 Brazilian adaptation of the myth). Every time he would play or even flip past it, Jason was taken with the sound of the name “Orpheus”. Once Atalanta and Lyric Ale (their first two beers in cans) were born and their story began, Voodoo Brass (original name evoking Jason’s trumpeting roots) begat Orpheus Brewing as Jason searched for a story that better represented the beer.
Strangely, Co-founder Andrew Lorber had the same love of Greek Mythology, as it was a major theme of his childhood in 6th grade home room at the Paideia School. When they began to engage the Orpheus tale again, he was taken by the depth of its imagery and relevance of its tragic lessons.
Each beer name has been a labor of love, research, and (of course) beer. The founders love that the richness of the underlying myth matches what they strive to put in your glass, and that their beer names will help the beer inspire iconic art unique to Atlanta. Above all else, Orpheus guides their artistic endeavors.
The beautiful music of Orpheus had power over the living, could move inanimate objects, and even hold sway over the gods. Lyric Ale is an ode to this profound beauty, which guides everything we do. We use a blend of hops from three continents and our house saison yeast to strike this harmonic balance of fruit and spice.
Hops: Hallertau Blanc, Galaxy, Azacca
Grain: Two row barley, white wheat, flaked wheat
Fermentation: French Saison yeast
Tart Plum Saison
Label Art by Brandon Sadler.
In the heroine Atalanta, we see the traits of what we aim for in all of our beers: piquant, deceptively robust, and a bit wild. A tart plum saison, Atalanta tastes of plums intermingling with spicy yeast, and a refreshing tartness that makes Atalanta as good for pairing with food as by itself.
Grain: Two row barley, white wheat, flaked wheat
Fermentation: House Lactobacillus Mother, French saison yeast
Other: Plums, cold pressed for us by Arden’s Garden
Thank to Orpheus Brewing for generously sponsoring this event and for their ongoing support of the artists in our community. Their core value of embracing what is unique and different are a reflection of the arts ecosystem of Atlanta, and we couldn’t be happier to have their participation for ArtoberFest.
Advance tickets for $15 for individuals, or $45 for couples (couples package includes 2 drink tickets) are available until October 19th. Drink tickets can also be purchased in advance for $5 each. Tickets at the door will be $20, with additional drink tickets available for $6 each.
As our ArtoberFest celebration nears, we wanted to continue to entice you with more features of our event sponsors. We are excited to announce the involvement of two rockstar chefs who will be preparing food throughout the evening. If you are a fan of the food scene in Atlanta (and who isn’t? what kind of artist doesn’t like to eat?), it’s time to get excited! Joining us for ArtoberFest 2016 will be:
Robert Velazquez is originally from Miami where he first learned how to roast a pig under his family’s supervision and developed a love of classic Latin flavors. He then trained in New York City at restaurants such as Momofuku Noodle Bar and Alder where he learned precision and modernist technique. Upon moving to Atlanta he was a Sous Chef at Holeman & Finch Public House where he focused on butchery and charcuterie. In December of 2015, he joined the team at the General Muir as a Sous Chef and later promoted Chef de Cuisine. His eclectic flavors and techniques are a reflection of travel, passion and a need to push ahead towards something new.
Atlanta native and “Top Chef: Las Vegas” contestant Eli Kirshtein is chef/partner of The Luminary at Krog Street Market. Equal parts avid sports fan and accomplished chef, Kirshtein is a proud Atlantan and food anthropologist.
Kirshtein first tested his culinary chops at the age of 16, working as a protégé in the kitchens of Chefs Kevin Rathbun and Richard Blais. With an insatiable appetite for learning and advancing his experiences, Kirshtein sharpened his skills with stages at several acclaimed restaurants in NYC and at JOËL in Atlanta while completing his formal training at The Culinary Institute of America. After graduation, Kirshtein teamed up with Richard Blais at ONE. midtown kitchen before moving to Miami to work at Karu & Y. In 2007 he returned to Atlanta as the executive chef at Eno Restaurant and Wine Bar, from which he would take a brief hiatus to participate as a contestant on “Top Chef: Las Vegas.”
As a chef, Kirshtein has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Food & Wine Magazine and even a special-edition issue of Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man series. He has served on the culinary counsel for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and The Culinary Council of The Piedmont Park Conservancy. Kirshtein is also a proud supporter of the Atlanta Jewish Federation and Birthright Israel. Outside the kitchen, Kirshtein is a part-time sports writer and full-time SEC enthusiast.
In August 2014, Kirshtein brought his distinct style, perspective and technique to Atlanta’s highly anticipated Krog Street Market with the opening of his first restaurant, The Luminary. An American brasserie with regional influences, The Luminary features a classically inspired menu, large raw bar, craft beer and cocktail program, and 400-square-foot patio space.
Thank you to Eli Kirshtein, Todd Ginsberg, and Robert Velazquez for their generous donations of food, time and talent for this event! We are humbled by your generosity on behalf of the artists in our community.
Advance tickets for $15 for individuals, or $45 for couples (couples package includes 2 drink tickets) are available until October 19th. Drink tickets can also be purchased in advance for $5 each. Tickets at the door will be $20, with additional drink tickets available for $6 each.
There are always a fair share of questions that arise when any non-profit begins planning a fundraiser. Most of these evolve from the need to reach financial goals while supporting the mission. Arts organizations are always looking for exciting new ways to engage donors, often using art sales, pin-up shows, or silent auctions to reach those goals.
These methods have all proven to be great opportunities to support an organization’s mission while cultivating donors, but what consideration is given to the artists who provide the art that makes all that possible? Is exposure really enough?
As C4 Atlanta began the process of planning for ArtoberFest 2016 there were many questions which needed to be answered. We knew we wanted to provide more than just musical entertainment for the evening, but we struggled with what it meant to ask artists to provide work for our fundraiser. As an arts organization, people expect something “artsy” at our fundraisers and events. There were many deep conversations which arose at our conference room table including:
Who are we serving? – with the fundraiser and in terms of mission
How does the fundraiser align with our commitment to Equity?
How do we leverage our assets to better serve our community?
What are we giving up? What do we hope to gain?
How do we raise enough money to offset what we need to charge for classes and other services?
The night before our ArtoberFest planning meeting, our Executive Director, Jessyca Holland, texted me letting me know there was a documentary she just watched called “Degenerate Art: The Nazi vs Expressionism”. This documentary covered Hitler’s infamous art exhibition entitled “Entartete Kunst,” or Degenerate Art. This exhibition opened to the public in Munich in 1937 showcasing 650 pieces of art which Hitler felt insulted German feeling, destroyed or confused natural form, and unveiled an absence of adequate manual or artistic skill. Over a million people showed to see these this exhibition which consisted completely of modernist artwork. Nazi Germany had now branded modern artists as enemies of that state and a threat to German culture. Hitler’s disdain for not just the art, but for the artists themselves ran deep.
Jessyca wanted to question the system today. In a very small way, we want to challenge the system by celebrating, not art, but artists.
Individual artists are undervalued by society, in comparison to art itself: while 96% of Americans value art in their communities and lives, only 27% believe that artist offer value to the communities in which they live.
*Society perceives making art as frivolous or recreational. Many artists report that people have no sense of what artists’ time or products are worth and often expect them to ‘donate’ both for nothing. – Urban Institute: Investing in Creativity- A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Artists.
Those numbers don’t sit well with us.
“Love, Artists” was conceived out of the desire to demonstrate that artists are valued people. They are certainly valued by our organization, the staff, the board and our donors, but they bring tremendous value to their communities. Artists are humans, sisters, brothers, moms, dads, spouses, partners, friends, PTA members, volunteers…workers.
This post is not a judgement on other events, fundraisers, etc. but it is an exploration of how C4 Atlanta can better enhance our mission of serving artists. We work with many artists who gladly donate to arts organizations for events such as fundraisers, auctions, etc. Giving back is an ethos we support. This show was a challenge for us and is, in a way, a curatorial endeavor.
We did ask our members to submit images of themselves working for the show. In essence, they are donating work. We are not selling the photos during ArtoberFest. If an artists wants to sell his/her image, that is their prerogative, and they may keep all the money from that transaction. However, ArtoberFest’s financial success is not dependent on the sale of art. We will earn from the sales of tickets and alcohol. We have many generous sponsors that will make this a successful event.
Artists are donating a print of themselves working. The art is the process.
Unsolicited, photographer Cindy Brown, volunteered to take photos for artists who needed her expertise. She, too, is interested in the subject matter–an archive of sorts of Atlanta area artists. We have such a generous community, and we thank Cindy for her gift of time and talent.
We are fortunate to have a Board of Directors who also believes that artists contribute significantly to our society. So come party with us!
This blog was co-written by Chelsea Steveron & Jessyca Holland, C4 Atlanta
*This study was published in 2003. There have been some updates to the body or research, including a 2016 report conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Center for Cultural Innovation.
I have been holding onto this post in my head for a few weeks. I attended a convening in early September held by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation in Kansas City, MO. The purpose of the convening is for organizations like C4 Atlanta to meet and discuss current trends, issues, etc. affecting our field. That is an anemic description but I really want to talk about one portion of the convening in which we learned about Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The session was presented by Allison Posey, CAST.
Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.
UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.
Why is UDL necessary?
Individuals bring a huge variety of skills, needs, and interests to learning. Neuroscience reveals that these differences are as varied and unique as our DNA or fingerprints. Three primary brain networks come into play: Recognition networks, strategic networks, and Affective Networks.
So what does this mean, exactly? Well, it means that learners (yes, even adult learners) need to experience the aquisition of knowledge in a variety of ways to make the learning meaningful. You may be familiar with Dr. Howard Gardner’s “Multiple Intelligences, (MI)” in which Gardner posits that there exists eight ways in which learners exhibit intelligence; thus, integrated learning styles are necessary to reach different types of learners. When I was in grad school for a degree that focused on information technology, Gardner’s work was highly regarded. Both UDL and MI support a learning environment that includes ALL learners. As a colleague pointed out, UDL has a little more neuroscience behind it. So what about adult learners?
“Change the learning environment, not the learner.” – Allison Posey, CAST (presentation in KC)
The above phrase has been bouncing around in my head. I think about it everyday. Have you ever noticed that not much attention is giving how people learn past high school? Does dyslexia, dysgraphia, and other learning disabilities (really, this is about perspective) go away once we become adults? Or is the expectation that we have learned how to deal with it? My daughter, who is now a freshman in college, and I talk all the time about the difference between subject matter experts and teachers–people who actually care about learning. Is it fair to have a class for adult learners and to not think about UDL? Maybe fairness isn’t the right question… I had to challenge myself with this question: “As a leader of a nonprofit dedicated to adult learning (regardless of the subject matter), don’t I want every person sitting through our classes to have access to the best learning environment possible?”
The staff and I talked through UDL. I brought it to my board during our annual retreat. I am proud to say that UDL will be integrated into our strategic plan as a programmatic goal: to redesign ALL of our classes around the core principles and guidelines of UDL. This will take some time. The thing about this type of work, teaching continuing ed, is that the field is constantly evolving. We don’t just hammer out a class and are done with it. All of our classes have gone through curriculum updates–some simple, others drastic. For example, Chelsea, our Operations Manager, completely rewrote the curriculum for the Website Bootcamp course to ensure it stayed relevant. Our Hatch curriculum had several collaborators and the staff took weeks to map the content. We did our best to include multiple strategies for delivering the curriculum content: movement, improv, role playing, writing, visual presentations, doodling/drawing, small group breakouts, games, etc.
In a later blog, Audrey, our Education Manager will be discussing all of the elements that go into curriculum building at C4. We put a lot of thought and time into the learning progression, pedagogical framework, evaluation, and touch points. We are also reducing the number of panels we host as a way to promote a more equitable learning dynamic between facilitators and learners. We love what we do and want to be as transparent as possible about our work. All of this takes time and resources but the goals are in place. We will be adding specific tactics and objectives to a timeline soon.
As you think about your professional development trajectory, mull over this: “how do I best learn?” Let us know. Email us. Adults have specific learning needs, that is true, and they may differ from that of younger learners; however, some principles in learning are the same across the board: variety is key. Death by PowerPoint is out. As a field, it wouldn’t hurt us to think more about how our professional development offerings can be more inclusive. Not only more inclusive, but more engaging as well. Even if you are a visual learner, sitting in one spot staring at a screen while a person drones on is not conducive to inspiring genus.
While there is no large body of research to support that the neurological factors that may account for dyslexia are linked to creativity, there are researchers, artists, and educators that are exploring a possible link. Whatever the conclusion, I prefer the challenges of this quote:
…because many Dyslexics do show wonderful visual and spatial skills, we look for an analogous extra something in the brain to account for that. But perhaps we should be doing the opposite – looking for what inhibits creativity.
I look forward to exploring how C4 can modify the learning environment. It will be a journey.
C4 Atlanta is proud to announce that “Book of Colors” will be the musical entertainment for our ArtoberFest 2016 celebration.
Who is this wonderful band? We’re glad you asked…
Book of Colors is a band that constantly skirts the edge between torn-open soulfulness and delicate restraint. Their melodies are dreamy and hypnotic, and lead singer André Paraguassu’s distinctively warm, crooning voice carries them with an easygoing authority.
The lineup of musicians involved is somewhat loose, the band name functioning more as a moniker for Paraguassu’s musical endeavors than as a static group. Live shows typically feature six to eight band members with lush instrumentation and layered vocal harmonies.
“There is an amazing music scene happening in Atlanta right now. It’s a major city overflowing with world-class talent, but the amount of camaraderie within the artistic community makes it feel like a small town,” André says as he reclines lazily on the classically southern front porch of their drummer’s home in Little Five Points where they rehearse. “I’ve always loved playing with large ensembles and this city has been the gift that keeps on giving in that regard. Everyone is so supportive and eager to collaborate. I feel incredibly lucky to be working in such an inspiring creative atmosphere.”
André’s list of songwriting influences is long and eclectic, but the majority of artists and albums he mentions are from the sixties and early seventies, with a heavy slant toward music made in the UK, Brazil, France, and the southern United States during that time period. As such, traces of Nick Drake, Harry Nilsson, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke can all be heard in his vocal delivery, with dark raspy low notes and a soaring, bell-like upper register. Psychedelic elements that bring Broadcast, Pink Floyd, and Caetano Veloso to mind mix with introspective lyrics and symphonic orchestration in Paraguassu’s often complex song structures.
Book of Colors has played alongside national and international acts that include Kishi Bashi, Bright Black Morning Light, Little Tybee, Horse Feathers, Della Mae, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, and Streets of Laredo. They’ve also performed in numerous festivals and events in and around Atlanta and the Southeastern United States.
“Book of Colors sounds like that elf you meet way out in the woods strumming a harp made of dreams and rainbows. And his band is a tough gang of unicorns high on Gummi juice.” -Artlantis
Don’t miss your chance to see “Book of Colors”. Tickets are on sale now for ArtoberFest 2016. Buy today!
C4 Atlanta welcomes 8 new projects to our ArtsForce programming. Through this fiscal sponsorship program artists and creative organizations have raised over $220,000 in the last 2 and 1/2 years. We are excited to introduce the following new projects to C4 Atlanta’s ArtsForce program:
Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead
Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead is a play that deals with issues that affect our community, specifically, coming out LGBTQ at a young age. In Atlanta, 1 out of 4 homeless are LGBTQ. This project will be working with Lost-n-Found Youth, an organization whose mission is to get homeless LGBTQ off the streets of Atlanta. The goal of this show is to not only to entertain an audience but to educate them as well.
The Effect That Absence of Love & Intimacy Has on Relationships
The Effect That Absence of Love & Intimacy has on Relationships is a stylistic documentary that focuses on human behavior. The film presents both non-fiction and fictional accounts of individuals and couples who have been damaged by relationships. Viewers are able to get a peak into their pasts to see why the participants turned out that way.
The Humble Telescopes
THT initiative will curate 6 art-centric workshops to organizations serving Atlanta’s at-risk youth. The sessions aim to explore positive and creative avenues despite initial systemic realities. During the 2 hour sessions, artists build relationships with the youth through technical workshops and group discussions to share personal narratives. The initiative supports artists by offering compensation and an opportunity to share their process with those who are not often exposed to their work. The at-risk youth population work collaboratively, gain technical skills, and develop a more empowered sense of self. They then begin to make more positive connections with the larger community.
The project will use a fusion of traditional West African, Afro Cuban, and African American song, music and dance, creating a new sound that will teach and erase myths regarding the tradition. The project will host various music workshops, song/dance classes on its travel throughout the country. This project will educate the public on the many phases of African traditional spiritual expression as it has traveled throughout the world through (using) music, dance, and interactive workshops. This will assist with eliminating ignorance around culture, and encourage the desire to learn more others as well as themselves.
Lenspeace: A Year in Giving
This project aims to combine both by curating a collective of creatives all motivated for the subject of social change, provide them with the theme to create art around, and then allow organizations who couldn’t otherwise afford such impactful design to utilize the artwork for their own communications efforts. The project serves to connect the public to social causes through impactful design and to provide organizations and causes with the materials they need to effectively communicate their voice visually. This project both beautifies and amplifies the modern civil rights movement, while helping to educate the public on the need for social justice.
My Time 2B Blessed
“My Time 2B Blessed” is a stage musical, written from a true story about family; capitalizing on one mother’s faith , which made her resilient in rearing 10 children, she instilled in each of us the power of love, being musically inclined we made music 24/7 singing, beating pots,pans, tables and the walls. This musical exemplifies family. The public benefits in this musical is family, love, the power of prayer, it teaches never to give up on the gifts and talents we’ve been given, it advocates that suicide is never the answer, and being different is an originality showing that each individual is unique.
In its second year, the Therapeutic Artists Residency (TAR project) will offer four Atlanta based teen (15-19) artists monthly individual sessions and group experiential activities followed by group sessions. These artist will develop skills to use expression as a form of self-care, explore therapeutic themes in their work and have direct support. This second round of the TAR will further the public statement of the need and importance to support artists with therapeutic relationships and combat stigma. TAR offers the artists the emotional support and art-making-process development; and the project is a study itself on the possibilities of supporting the public art scene in new radical ways.
Y’allywood Film Festival
In the past few years, Georgia has seen an explosion of film production by major studios due to tax incentives, ideal locations and weather, and easy accessibility via the world’s busiest airport. While hiring local talent for these productions is great for our local film economy, it is important that southern cinema maintain an independent voice and that the film-making community of the south is not reduced to an outsourcing market for big studios. This year’s summit will bring southeastern filmmakers, scholars, critics, students, and enthusiasts together in order to conceptualize the cinema of the New South.