How should a dancer teach online? How does clown perform without a live audience? How can a metal artist heat up materials without her studio?
More than 50 teaching artists from around the Bay Area joined a Zoom call recently to explore how to continue working with their students, now that schools and businesses are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Youth in Arts held a similar call the same day with its own teaching artists.
The Bay Area wide event was supported by Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area and Oakland Unified Arts Partners. It was facilitated by Mika Lemoine, a mentor artist who teaches hip hop and street dance with Destiny Arts Center in Oakland, and Rachel-Anne Palacios, a multicultural artist and activist who works in the Oakland schools.
Participants began by coming up with a word to describe how they were feeling. The answers were telling: Hopeful. Weary. Isolated. Groovy. Challenged. Excited. Unwashed.
With work inside schools halted, teaching artists discussed ways to engage with their students online. Several expressed their concern about how to reach kids who don’t have access to a computer, and how hard it is to be creative when you feel anxious.
“I realize how much social connection feeds me and motivates me,” said one dance teacher. “Not being able to fully move is hindering my well being.”
Teaching artists also talked about the strain of trying to figure out how to survive financially. Can they file for unemployment? Which is the best online platform to use to reach the widest audience? When will they be able to earn a living working in classrooms again?
Youth in Arts Executive Director Kristen Jacobson held a similar Zoom call with Youth in Arts’ teaching artists and staff. Kristen shared that Youth in Arts is talking to funders, donors and school partners to find ways to continue programming and support teaching artists.
Youth in Arts joined more than 70 other arts organizations from around the Bay Area at the 2020 Arts Education Resource Fair, held at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area Executive Director Todd Berman said it was the biggest fair since the event began 16 years ago. He added, “It was wonderful to have Youth in Arts there. We’re excited to be having more of a reach in the whole Bay Area,” Todd said. “So many people in the field work and live in different counties.”
The fair offered a chance to talk to prospective teachers, meet old and new friends, and share ideas and challenges that face all organizations. “We’re here in solidarity with all the local arts organizations,” said Noah Lopes, director of museum programs at the Museum of Children’s Arts in Oakland. Like others at the fair, Noah wants to see arts more integrated into public education.”Everything we do with our young people should be intentional,” he said.
Sedey Gebreyes, education program manager for the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, said she was at the fair to let people know about museum offerings in the classroom – as well as highlighting the need for more docents. Exhibits change every few months at the museum, she said, which has no permanent collection and “for kids it’s important to see themselves and their cultures represented.”
Todd said the event is a great resource for everyone working in the arts community to learn about upcoming events, such as the Feb. 26 curriculum slam at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco.The resource fair was sponsored by the Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area, the San Francisco Unified School District, ArtCare and the Asian Art Museum.
The event included a land acknowledgement and a performance by the youth marching band from Thurgood Marshall Academic High School with teacher Damian Nunez.