By Lauren Beard
20 Things I Learned As a Ballet Dancer
By Lauren Beard
20 Things I Learned As a Ballet Dancer
by Colleen Cook
As a graduate student studying arts administration, one of my professors posed a question that has stuck with me ever since:
The professor argued that, if we couldn’t answer that question, we should change our degree track. Every day of our professional life, we’d be answering that question in one way or another, whether we were seeking funding for a program, trying to sell a ticket to a show, or simply sacrificing higher pay in Corporate America for a meager non-profit salary. Yet, despite the fact that everyone in the room had been engaged with the arts for decades, the question is not exactly an easy one to answer.
Many of the students began to answer by sharing our own experiences with the arts. The spoke of high school musicals, favorite pieces, art shows, and friendships formed as a result of creating art together. Nearly every person shared a memory of a relationship formed through the creation or experience of art.
As we drilled down beyond “why do the arts matter to me?” the conversation turned to, “why should the arts matter to anyone else?” The conversation revolved around the economic benefits of the presence of arts in a community, what the arts can do to support education, healthcare, tourism, and business. Every one of those conversations felt like it gave greater weight to the conversation, however, it still seemed incomplete.
The arts are unique in their ability to put us in touch with our own humanity, and the humanity of others. Because the arts communicate through story, and the human brain is hardwired for story, we are able to learn and grow when we experience art – be it visual, dance, music, theatre, or writing. The arts have the power to change what we think, how we feel, and lend us a perspective outside of our own paradigm.
When we experience these paradigm shifts, we applaud it and we eagerly share that experience with those we love. (“You have to read this book/see this movie/get tickets to this play!”) The arts offer us a point of connection to those around us, a sense of belonging, and a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. In a divided world, the arts knit us back together.
That’s something worth sacrificing for, worth tirelessly working towards, worth investing in.
Fans of Stephen King’s writing now have an opportunity to immerse themselves in his literature, studying the iconic author and the movies sparked by his books. The Stephen King Film Festival takes place in Mansfield, Ohio — the very location where one of his most famous movies based on his work was filmed. One of the most haunted and recognizable places in all of Ohio, the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield gained much of its notoriety not for its own historic past, but its role in the Stephen King novella that produced “The Shawshank Redemption.” Twenty-four years after the release of the No. 1 movie of all time (according to IMDB), King fans now can celebrate his work in Mansfield June through December, 2018.
The Festival includes screenings of some of the most renowned movies based on King’s novels and novellas at Mansfield’s historic Renaissance Theater. Each screening begins at 7 p.m. and will be preceded at 6:30 p.m. by a talk led by a noted authority on Stephen King’s writings and their impact on literature and society. After each discussion and film screening, attendees are invited to head to nearby Phoenix Brewing Company for craft beer tastings, movie trivia, and further discussion of film and literary works. The brewery offers Redemption IPA, among others.
Speakers for the evenings, held monthly with the exception of September, include professors, pop-culture experts and literary authorities specializing in King’s work, including:
Colleen Cook had no plans to leave the Renaissance Theatre.
After being on staff for six years and serving as the theatre’s director of marketing and communications, it was – and still is – a job she loves. Along with planning and overseeing all promotion of the Renaissance, Cook also manages the Renaissance podcast, blog and social media accounts.
So when Scott Williams, president and founder of Vinyl Marketing in Ashland, first approached Cook about a job, she quickly shut him down.
“I told him to buzz off because I like my job,” Cook said with a laugh. “But as time went on it seemed like a really cool, exciting opportunity.”
Months went by, full of thoughtful conversations with friends, prayers for guidance and many journals full of pros and cons. Finally, Cook decided to listen to a small voice inside saying it was the right opportunity, and officially accepted a position as director of operations for Vinyl Marketing.
“I don’t think it’s good to get too comfortable in your career, and at the same time I’m grieving that level of familiarity and comfort,” Cook said. “And there are exciting opportunities for growth for me as a professional.
“I feel like it’s going to challenge me in new ways and that scares me and excites me.”
Vinyl Marketing is a digital inbound marketing firm based in Ashland that focuses on full-funnel marketing. It’s a concept that distributes helpful and free content to consumers while they are still deciding what to buy, then building a series of channels that seamlessly attracts those consumers back to the business.
“You can take people from not even knowing your business through this funnel until they become raving fans of your company,” Cook explained. “Rather than saying ‘buy our stuff’ from that first interaction, we show you what we can do. It helps the client but also positions the business as the expert so they start to build a relationship with their customers.”
In fact, it was Williams’ suggestion for the Renaissance to create a podcast and a blog so that customers could engage with the Renaissance brand in ways other than purchasing tickets and attending shows.
In her new position, Cook will work with both local and international clients to see their vision with Vinyl comes to fruition, as well as working internally with the Vinyl team and leading marketing efforts.
In addition, she has the opportunity to become a part-owner of Vinyl Marketing, which also helped tip the scales towards her next career step.
“When I look at the people who really inspire me, all of them have one thing in common, and that’s that they are business owners,” Cook said. “And looking at what they have been able to do for a community to affect change, I want to be able to do that in my career.
“I’ve been able to do that a lot at the Renaissance, but I’ll be able to do it exponentially more.”
Before coming to the Renaissance, Cook worked with Americans for the Arts and Shenandoah Conservatory Performances while obtaining her masters degree in Arts Administration at Shenandoah Conservatory, where she also completed graduate work in Contemporary Commercial Voice Pedagogy. Prior to that, she taught vocal and general music in Wapakoneta City Schools, after graduating with a degree in Music Education from Ashland University in 2007.
Cook lives in Ashland with her husband and three daughters, which makes the transition seamless. But she still plans to stay involved in some capacity with Richland County.
“It would make me sad if I didn’t; I’m just not sure what that will look like yet,” Cook said. “We’ll figure it out as we go. The Renaissance is no less important to me, it’s maybe even more important to me now because I want to make sure things continue to grow and move forward.”
Cook will officially leave her position at the Renaissance in mid May. During her tenure, Cook helped arrange grant funding to repair and renovate the theatre, helped redesign the Renaissance logo and developed a more cohesive brand for the business.
The hardest part about leaving the Renaissance? The people.
“I have really close friends here on staff, and I love the donors, the performers, I love the people that flock to the Renaissance,” Cook said. “Those are my people. It will be hard to say goodbye.”
by Colleen Cook
When I was in graduate school, I was fortunate to take an intensive course on fundraising for non-profit organizations. I distinctly remember one lecture, in particular, where my professor was unpacking the various reasons why someone chooses to give to an organization. At the time, my husband and I were living in a studio apartment an hour from D.C. on one meager income while I was a full time graduate student, so it was understandably hard for me to wrap my mind around being successful enough that paying the bills wasn’t a big challenge.
“When a person has reached a certain level of success in their personal and professional life, they are no longer just surviving, they’re thriving,” the professor taught. “They’re looking for ways they can positively impact the world around them.”
Admittedly, I’m further down the road than I was at the time, but with three small children at home, I wouldn’t say I’ve “made it” yet. But, I have been so fortunate to learn from many people further down the road than me in the past six years I’ve been on staff at the Ren.
When a person is successful and can look around their world and assess that they have what they need and what they want, they have the privilege to ask themselves, “Now what?” They have been fortunate to have time, talents, and treasures, more than they can use in one lifetime, they can overflow into the world around them. That might mean that they pour into their families, into an individual protégé, a charity, or perhaps they choose to share their success in a meaningful way with their community.
In just the last couple of years at the Renaissance, we’ve been able to witness successful individuals, families, and their designated foundations making a significant impact inside our doors. Just a few things that have happened as a direct result of donations:
If you’re looking for ways to make a lasting impact on your community, connect with our Development Office and we can help you channel your success into significance.
This blog is written reposted from Richland Source’s Rising from Rust: SXSW series, and was written by Chelsie Thompson, our organization’s President and one of 15 individuals attending the South By Southwest Conference in Austin with the intention to bring back ideas and to reimagine Richland County. To read more SXSW blogs, click here.
On more than one occasion, I’ve made the mistake of telling my boss that I value professional development more than anything else in a job… and then have had to quickly walk back that statement to make sure he knows I like getting paid, too. But it’s true — I love learning, and for someone who values it so much, this week in Texas at South by Southwest has been the experience of a lifetime.
We started our journey at SXSW as fifteen (mostly) strangers. Every one of these incredible Mansfielders brought something different to the group, and having the chance to get to know them all has only made me admire them more. We’re leaving as friends, comrades who survived the trenches of SXSW, with a shared vision and purpose for the work ahead. We’ve heard from speakers from around the world, celebrities to federal officials to multi-million dollar marketers, and there is so much to bring back to our home city from each of them.
In six days, I tackled nearly two dozen of SXSW’s most promising sessions, and remarkably, every single one somehow touched on a common theme: the cities that are successful throughout the world are the ones that are minimizing the differences that separate them and embracing their shared humanity instead. They ask questions, listen to every voice and involve their citizens in the action. Take these comments from chef and “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern on the experience of his addiction in early life and how it shaped this perspective for him personally.
“I had to go to places to sleep at night, I had to go places to get meals because I was living on the street. I was the guy you crossed the street to avoid,” he said.
“After getting back on my feet and cooking as a nobody in restaurants, I kept feeling like I had to find a way to teach the world about patience, tolerance and understanding because I kept noticing throughout each restaurant that the way people talked about culture was only in terms of the ways that we were divided… In listening, one gains an understanding of the world. We all have to think about ourselves and how we fit into this, but the minute we get out if our heads and ask more questions, it’s a powerful experience.”
In everything he said, both Zimmern and his co-panelist, fellow chef José Andrés, emphasized respect for our fellow human beings. So often, we believe that we know what’s best for others, and without stopping to listen to what people actually want or need, we implement our solution. Andrés cited his trip to Haiti to aid after the 2010 earthquake.
“Beans, beans, everything there is black beans and that’s all we had. I thought, how terrible, there’s only beans, and this village hasn’t eaten in days. So I added rice, and gave them this bean and rice dish,” he said. “When I’m serving the stew I made, they all gathered around the translator… What do they want to tell me? That the beans are no good. It turns out they like their beans like a purée.”
In Andrés’s words, “It’s not helping when people impose what they think you need,” yet the loudest voices are often those who haven’t stopped to listen.
In a keynote with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, I learned about how the moral arc of a city bends towards chaos, not justice, and how social media has made it too easy to spread negativity far and wide. Whether they admit it or not, people say things that they wouldn’t otherwise say to someone directly under the guise of “honesty” without thought of respect. For those that hide behind this, there may never be change — and that’s okay — because their voices become minimized when the rest of the community comes together. But for those brave enough to step out from under this cloak of anonymity and participate in dialogue that is open and well-intentioned, they play a part in a larger cause, one that has the potential to impact tens of thousands in the place that they call home.
Ira Glass said, “Every good story has forward momentum of events.” This is our opportunity to be part of that momentum, to have a voice in our future, to step out of the negativity that has pervaded Mansfield for too long, and to propel the city forward. Our city has a story to tell, and this is just the beginning.”
by Colleen Cook
When the routine changes and your kids are home on break, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out what to do to keep them learning, entertained, and engaged – especially if the weather isn’t ideal. Here are five fun and educational activities you can do with children of any age – without spending a million dollars!
Breaks from school are the perfect time to engage with your local arts scene, in part because of your extra free time, but especially because you can stretch bedtime a little later than you normally would on a school night. Check your local newspaper’s online calendar to see what’s happening near your home. If you live near us, here are links to a few events calendars:
If the weather isn’t cooperating, instead of a Netflix binge, deep dive a musician or composer. Pick an artist or composer, listen to some of their greatest works on Spotify or Apple Music, visit the library and check out their biography, watch YouTube videos of the artist performing or great performances of that artist. Make food together that represents the artist’s local culture. At the end of the day, you’ll all be experts on the musician and you will have created some excellent memories together.
We’ve gotten better as a family about separating out our recyclables, and each week we have quite a lot that hits the curb for pickup. Before you send them out, though, grab those leftover Amazon boxes and oatmeal tubs and some masking tape and build a sculpture together. If you have a few children you could challenge them to create the tallest structure together, or a prompt like “build your favorite animal” or “create a dollhouse.” Just be sure to wash out any plastic or glass containers well and watch out for sharp edges on any containers.
Stories don’t have to be just for bedtime! School breaks are the perfect time to read an extended story together over a handful of days. When choosing your book, consider your child’s attention span and interests, as well as the content of the book. Your local library’s children’s librarian likely has some great suggestions and free, easy access to your ideal book, but you can also utilize tools like this one to select something appropriate and engaging for your family.
Have a free day? Create a story together! Start by mapping out your story (you can use this free, handy printable or any graphic organizer like it). Then, create your set utilizing whatever you have available – cardboard, bedsheets, furniture, whatever! Gather costumes for your characters around the house, or visit a local thrift store and find your needed items. Write your script from your story map, or simply map out your scenes and improvise the dialogue. Rehearse it a few times, then invite family and friends to come and enjoy your play. Be sure to pop some popcorn and film it!
We all remember walking in a line from our elementary school classroom to the music room. When I was growing up, going to music class was one of my favorite parts of the school day. I loved learning music, from scales to songs, and I also loved learning about musical instruments and their origins. Music class was a bright spot in my primary education and it teaches children more than I realized at the time.
In general music curriculum, students are immersed in learning music of other cultures and time periods. As a result, children begin to understand the purpose behind music and musical instruments in a way that curates an appreciation for the art form. Music is a critical part of diversity education because it is the expression of a culture. It is tied to stories, pastimes, and customs of people who have great pride in their cultural history. Music is able to tell years of stories in minutes that would take a story teller hours to convey accurately.
The foundation of music is patterns. Playing music utilizes both hemispheres of the brain, which helps it recognize and replicate patterns. As children move through music education, they begin to realize how repetitive some pieces of music are and how others are so dynamic that the repetition is hard to locate. Pattern recognition supports a child’s growth in the areas of math and language, thus adding to their knowledge and understanding for their future endeavors. Music class helps children build skills in pattern recognition so they may make strides in careers having to do with technology like computer science, not to mention careers in music itself.
From playing classroom instruments, like glockenspiels and recorders, to performing in collegiate symphonies, music is made most frequently in a group. Working together with other people is vital to the development of healthy, productive adults. When an ensemble performs a piece of music, a performer learns that their role is important, no matter how small it is, and that each role brings something to the whole performance that is necessary. Playing or singing music together helps to develop patience with others and accountability for themselves, which are skills they will need all their lives. As a musician, you develop pride in your accomplishments and acknowledge the need for others outside of yourself.
Music demands collaboration, listening and patience. Singing songs, playing instruments, participating in musical games and learning about the origins of different types of music has the ability to change a child’s life. The child may develop a soft spot for music and arts education, as I have, or the may develop an intense passion for playing and composing music in the hopes of influencing others like those before them influenced them. Music class enhances education at all ages and is needed, like art, physical education and computer skills, to keep learning creative and engaging.
by Colleen Cook
The Renaissance is a proud member of the Partners in Education program at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Starting in 2010, the Renaissance has been collaborating with the Mansfield Art Center and Mansfield City Schools to provide high quality professional development to educators in our region through workshops, conferences, trainings, and in-classroom teaching on topics related to arts integration. Workshops are open to any area teacher or school administrator, and are a fun, valuable opportunity to gain contact hours towards Continuing Education Credits (CEUs).
Arts integration is a tool that is meaningful for all educators, not just arts specialists. “Arts Integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both,” according to the Kennedy Center.
Our community has strongly supported the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program for several years, and this year has been no exception. Support from the Ohio Arts Council, the Key Bank Foundation, and Charles P. Hahn, Cleveland Financial have underwritten this valuable program to keep it free for educators to attend each training!
This school year, we’ve been able to offer a summer institute along with three evening workshops for educators. Each workshop during the academic year is paired with a full day of demonstration teaching within Mansfield City Schools. Because demonstration teaching utilizes the specific arts-integrated lessons that teachers will learn to create during the teaching artist’s workshop, demonstration teaching not only offers a valuable opportunity for teachers to observe the teaching artist’s method of delivery, but it also shows the immediate impact of using arts integration as a teaching approach in the classroom.
In addition, the Mansfield Partners in Education team launched a teaching artist training program for local artists in September 2017. Sixteen artists were selected for the extended program, through which artists will observe several Kennedy Center teaching artists in action during workshops and demonstration teaching, as well as participate in the Kennedy Center’s intensive seminars for teaching artists over the next three years. The aim of the teaching artist training program is to grow a cadre of fully-vetted local teaching artists who both supplement the professional development opportunities that the partnership currently offers and provide additional post-workshop follow-up, demonstration teaching, and arts-integrated coaching in North Central Ohio schools.
Educators interested in participating in the Kennedy Center Partners in Education trainings can find out about upcoming events here, by contacting Chelsie Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by watching our Facebook page for event posting.
Children channel their creativity in many different ways. Some love to tell stories, others enjoy writing poems, and some combine both ideas and put on a play or a musical. Mindsprouts, a program in the Renaissance Education Department, invites students in Kindergarten through 12th grade to creatively write on a theme. Their pieces are juried and the best of the submissions are staged in our annual showcase.
The project is open to children in public, private and home schools. Each year, a theme is chosen to inspire students, but to not restrain their creativity. We encourage teachers to discuss with the students the elements of a story: beginning, middle, end, character development and conflict/resolution. More advanced writing techniques are expected to be evident in upper grade submissions.
This year, the Mindsprouts theme is “Fantastic Fables.” Interested students can read the full guidelines and theme details here. Our MindSprouts Sixth Annual Showcase will be presented this spring. Submissions are due at the end of March, so be sure to enter!
June 6, 2017 for Annual Members
June 20, 2017 for Non-Members
July 5, 2017 for Annual Members
July 18, 2017 for Non-Members