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
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 email@example.com, 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!
March is Music in Our Schools Month!
Many of our patrons, and most of our performers and staff have been influenced greatly by their music educators throughout their formative years. At the Renaissance, we consider it one of our highest priorities to supplement and support our local arts educators with resources and programming that will extend their arts curriculum. We are able to offer 15,000 students each year opportunities to perform, watch, and learn through the arts!
If you’d like to learn about our many educational initiatives, you can find out more here.
Be sure to thank your music educators this month – they often have class sizes three or more times bigger than the typical classroom teacher, work longer hours for little or no more pay, and many of them have to stand up in front of every parent multiple times a year to lead their students in showcasing their work. They deserve great recognition for the lives they are impacting!
I used to read this design magazine (remember those?) called ReadyMade. It was a quirky diversion from typical magazines because it focused on things we don’t tend to associate with the design industry such as sustainability and DIY projects that discourage consumerism in favor of reuse and repurposing of castaway items. As a lifelong lover of making things with old junk (ask my poor mother about raising me) it was probably my favorite magazine of all time.
They had a regular column titled “How did you get that f@#$%^& awesome job?” I read it religiously. It featured creative people doing sometimes remarkable, and occasionally off the wall things. Who knew someone could make a living with a skeleton shop? And yes, that is a real thing. While I was fascinated by these people I hadn’t yet considered that I could be one of them.
Aside from a period in third grade when I planned to be a princess/cheerleader, as far back as I can remember I planned to be an artist. I didn’t really know exactly what that would look like, and nobody really questioned the idea until I didn’t outgrow the crazy notion. Eventually my parents pushed me to explore some “real jobs.”
I wasn’t super keen on the idea, but it made everyone else feel better about my aspirations when I chose to major in art education in undergraduate school. Turns out I loved teaching, but long story short, I hated working for a school district. I worked on a masters degree, this time in psychology, and I studied creativity theory. I got the offer of a lifetime and at a very young age became an executive in one of the largest museums in the country. There wasn’t a day that I worked at the Detroit Institute of Arts that I didn’t feel honored just to be there.
Life happened though, as it is want to do, and I ended up having to leave the museum due to a divorce-related comedy of errors that is another story unto itself. I found myself in Ohio again, trying to find work in museums or art centers, and working a string of unrewarding jobs along the way. I met my husband, moved to Mansfield, had one last stint in an arts organization, and when that fell apart so did I.
Up to this point I held this limiting belief that the only way I’d make a living as an artist would be to work for some arts institution. With only one employer in my field in Mansfield, now a former employer, my future looked pretty bleak.
Sometimes adversity is opportunity if you choose to see it that way. You’ll never hear me say, “Everything happens for a reason,” because I simply don’t believe that. Life is messy, horrible things happen, and it’s perfectly acceptable to experience the low times for exactly what they are–miserable. BUT–we can’t dwell there.
“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.”
― Elizabeth Taylor
I took Elizabeth Taylor’s advice and continued to show up at meetings and events, and volunteered more for the causes I cared about.
A friend messaged me and planted a very important seed. She said, “Maybe now is the time to start something of your own.” This began an interesting journey to find my footing and really flesh out an idea that had legs.
Somewhere in the universe you can find this perfect overlap of what you know, what you’re good at, who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what people will pay for. It takes time, reflection, openness, confidence, risk taking, and a bunch of other things that don’t cost a penny, but will tax your soul.
In time I launched Tog Loft. We’re a unique organization that helps photographers of all types to grow in the way that works best for them. Whether you want to take better snapshots of your kids, or plan to transition to becoming a full-time photographer, we help you achieve those goals. It’s incredibly fulfilling work and I’m very proud of our members and what we do in our community.
I also had this side hustle doing public relations, freelance writing, and marketing. I’d never taken it particularly seriously, but at some point I realized that I had a “real business” and maybe I should treat it as such. We took our formerly part-time business full-time and Graziani Multimedia became an agency. We help businesses to grow, and that is such a wonderful privilege.
None of it happened overnight, and looking back it’s interesting to see how my career has evolved, and no doubt will continue to do so. As a kid I never would have dreamed that I’d own a digital marketing agency, in part because the internet didn’t really exist then, but also because I lacked exposure to the vast array of cool careers that exist. And I certainly didn’t think about creating something that didn’t exist, like Tog Loft.
As it turns out a combination of education in the arts and psychology is the perfect blend of art and science that makes my mind wired wonderfully for marketing, especially in a digital age. The most important lesson I’ve learned along the way is that sometimes the perfect job will never be posted on a job board. Occasionally it is up to us to make our own luck, and that has made all the difference for me.
I’d also like to point out that there are many paths that artists take, and sometimes a person’s day job is a means to support their work, but not their creative work. Many a gifted artist have worked non-arts jobs in the post office, as did William Faulkner, as theater managers like Bram Stoker, or even as a stockbroker, like Paul Gauguin. Sometimes art as a job takes the joy out of the work and another job is a better service to the artist.
Whenever I hear someone snark that a foolish college kid is going to end up working in a coffee shop or bartending forever because they chose to pursue the arts I cringe. Many great artists have done just that, and were all the happier for it. I know I am.
by Colleen Cook
A performing arts center has a high need for great graphic design. Our product, shows, is constantly changing as we move through the year and a great deal of our marketing is visual. That makes it important to work with a skilled designer who understands the message and the performing arts. At the Renaissance, we’ve been lucky to work with tremendously talented graphic designers both on our staff and contracted out over the years to tell our visual story and promote our shows.
Our Assistant Marketing Director and Graphic Designer on staff is Steven Au. Steven is very good at what he does (and I’m his boss, so I know better than most how true that is!) and is uniquely qualified for his position because he grew up as a musician in our Youth Strings and Youth Orchestra programs.
Nearly every visual thing you see from the Renaissance has come from Steven’s desk, and we’re better for it. I sat down with Steven to learn more about his path to the graphic design field. Here’s our interview:
Colleen Cook: What inspired you to become a graphic designer?
Steven Au: Part of it was my older brother, he was actually involved in graphic design and got the same degree in school that I ended up pursuing. Also, in high school I gained an interest in graphic design from taking graphic arts and photoshop classes. I had a light up tracing table and did a lot of tracing as a kid, and played around with design in Powerpoint too.
CC: You mentioned that you took some graphic design courses in high school. Tell us about your collegiate training.
SA: I graduated from a 2-year program at North Central State College, an Associate’s in Visual Communications and Media Technology. My main track was based on graphic design but also involved some video production, animation, and web design. I also interned at the Renaissance as part of the program, which is how I landed my job.
CC: Do you see graphic design as an artistic expression?
SA: I think it definitely can be. I can be a little obsessive about getting details right. I like the ability to look at the current design trends and use that as inspiration for the Ren’s marketing materials.
CC: What do you enjoy most about your job, and what do you enjoy least or find challenging?
SA: I like being able to design things that I see in places, like on a billboard, that I never would have seen something I created before. I don’t enjoy doing direct mail, and I also find it a little tedious to rework a design for multiple formats. It’s kind of a love/hate relationship with retooling a design. Sometimes it’s really easy to do that, and it can be nice to not have to create something from scratch every time.
CC: How do you engage with the arts outside of your day job?
SA: I am very involved with music outside of work. I also do a limited amount of graphic design for our church. I’m a violinist and I sub with the Mansfield Symphony, and enjoy recording and making videos for my YouTube channel, and I sing with a choral group at church and I also arrange music for our choir, as well as accompany.
If you’d like to learn more about our internship opportunities, keep an eye on our employment page where we frequently post internship opportunities.
Attending the recent Social Theory, Politics and the Arts conference in Minneapolis reminded me just how rich and diverse is the field of arts management and cultural policy. I met with teachers, researchers and graduate students from all over the globe who came together under the conference theme “Creative Disruption in the Arts.” There were presentations on cultural entrepreneurship, cultural planning, museum management and policy, the professionalization of careers in the arts, international cultural relations, and on and on. It’s an exciting and intellectually nourishing time to be engaged with this field. And it is wide open for emerging professionals and leaders in the arts. As a relatively young field (in the US, the proliferation of non-profit, professional arts organizations only dates back to the mid-1960s) it has taken us a while to build up a critical mass of professional employment opportunities as arts makers, producers, researchers, and educators. But now, well into the 21st century, the field is exploding. We can see this surge in the increasing desire of arts organizations to hire only trained management professionals and in the degree to which independent artists and small arts groups are required to be skilled in marketing, social media, finance, fundraising, legal issues, and strategic planning. We also see it in the extraordinary growth of international cultural exchange, international professional touring, and cross-cultural arts projects, much of which has been facilitated by the concurrent rise in connectivity, social media, migration and immigration, and global arts networking.
Showbusiness ain’t what it used to be.
And one of the great drivers of this explosive change in the cultural landscape is disruption. In the area of jobs, this disruption can be looked at through the lens of competitiveness. As the arts landscape has evolved over the past twenty years or so, the demand for an increasing skilled professional workforce has evolved alongside. This demand has, in turn, driven a significant increase in both arts management/cultural policy higher education degree programs and professional development opportunities for those already in the workforce. And thus, the supply of a skilled workforce has grown. It’s the classic supply and demand relationship, except we don’t quite know where the equilibrium lies because the pace of change is so rapid in our field. For the foreseeable future, we can reasonably expect that the demand for skilled, professional arts managers will rise. A large number of senior level arts managers – my pioneering generation who entered the field in the 1970s and 80s — are aging out. This is opening up new employment and advancement opportunities. The rise of entrepreneurial risk taking in the production of art by individuals and ensembles, requiring sophisticated professional skills, is a new strand in the employment fabric. So too is the need for professionals whose skills facilitate global arts connectivity and creation.
Am I optimistic about the opportunities for skilled, professional arts managers? You bet. The pre-requisite for success, however, is training and education (shameless plug: visit su.edu/conservatory for more information about my graduate Performing Arts Leadership and Management Program). I’m particularly keen on the need for artists to get the training and experience they need in order to move their projects forward in this complex world. Artists can no longer simply wait for the next audition. Opportunity must be a self-creation.
Several years ago, one of my graduate students, a young woman from Saudi Arabia, proposed a culminating project for her master’s degree that described the creation of a program to foster the work of Saudi women-crafters. I thought it was a lovely idea and encouraged her to write it up. She returned from winter break at home in Riyadh with approval from the government to create a foundation, seed money, a board of directors, and the first cohort of craftspeople that she wanted to support. I wasn’t so much astounded by her capacity to do all this. It was the fact that she did it in 30 days that blew me away.
Creativity + training + gumption is an awesome combination.
by Colleen Cook
Arts Administration (also called “arts management”) is a diverse field of employment in the arts, with a broad range of jobs and workplaces. An arts administrator is a business-minded leader of an arts and cultural organization/festival/institution. Degree programs in the field of Arts Administration have been available in higher education since the 1970s, and focus on elements of business administration, non-profit administration, advocacy, fund development, marketing, arts law, along with other elements of the arts and cultural industry.
At the Renaissance, we employee arts administrators in the departments of fund development, marketing, executive leadership, bookings, box office, finance, and direction. Many of our staff have experience in both the arts and business, and some of our staff members hold degrees specific to arts management. Successful arts administrators possess a dual understanding of what it takes to make great art, alongside what is required to run a viable business.
I’ve had the opportunity to work in roles in both marketing and development at the Renaissance, as well as some positions and internships at institutions of higher education and non-profit arts advocacy. Before entering the field of arts administration, I studied music education and worked as a voice teacher and vocal music teacher in the public schools. In my experience, it has been especially helpful to be familiar with the composers, artists, shows, and elements that come together to perform a show so that I can communicate that story with our patrons, donors, and community at large.
An arts administrator needs to be organized, a self-starter, hard-working, and passionate about the arts to be successful, in my opinion. While the field is broad, many arts administrators are responsible for multiple job roles, particularly at smaller organizations. There’s always more that you can do to support a performance or exhibit, and being on top of your workload is key. In my specific roles in marketing and fund development, great communication skills are essential as well.
If you boil down my job as Director of Marketing to just one phrase, it would be “communicate with the audience about the organization and its programs.” In my previous role as Director of Development, that phrase would be, “communicate with donors and potential donors about the organization’s programs and opportunities to give.” We communicate through dozens of channels, in an effort to reach each individual in a meaningful way that is comfortable for them.
All of our arts administrators have to be great communicators, but often for different reasons. Our executive leaders (for us, that’s our President and CEO, Artistic Director and our Executive Director) need to be effective communicators with the staff, board, volunteers, and artists to ensure that the organization runs well, that the performances are successful, and that everyone stays on the same page.
Our Box Office and Front of House team need to be great customer service representatives, helping to communicate with the audience directly at the point of purchase and at our events, or when a problem arises. Our Bookings Manager must be able to negotiate and communicate with agents and with our artistic and technical staff to land on contracts that are reasonable for our team, profitable for our organization, and bookings that are attractive to our audience. Our Finance team needs to be detail-oriented and communicative with the staff and board about the financial position of the organization so that we are sustainable in the achievement of our vision and mission.
Interestingly, great communication skills make a great arts administrator, as well as a great artist. In my opinion, it’s one of the things that makes working in this field so much fun, and the people who work in it so fantastic.
June 6, 2017 for Annual Members
June 20, 2017 for Non-Members
July 5, 2017 for Annual Members
July 18, 2017 for Non-Members