Young Audiences Arts for Learning (YA) is the nation's largest arts in education network. Over the past year, YA affiliates across the country have pioneered innovative virtual programs in order to keep children and youth engaged, inspired, and learning through the arts during the COVID-pandemic, and into the future. Explore our Virtual Learning Showcase to learn more about distance learning opportunities across the YA Network.
Last school year, our network...
YALA Artsplay! at Home
Young Audiences of Louisiana // New Orleans, LA
YALA Baby Artsplay!™ and Artsplay!™ at Home utilizes the Wolf Trap Method to connect young children and their families to the online collections of local arts and cultural institutions, while also fostering cognitive and emotional development through the performing arts. Our 30-minute workshops allow children to explore, observe, and investigate their world and local art collection through interactive multi-sensory experiences.
Our biggest challenges were likely not unique to our own community. For example, our popular YALA Baby Artsplay!™ and Artsplay!™ workshops were not a safe option in the time of pandemic. Despite these challenges, we saw an opportunity to provide a genuine arts experience that is similar to the one our families are familiar with during our in-person workshops. We translated our experience to a digital medium and created YALA Baby Artsplay!™ and Artsplay!™ at Home.
When we shifted to online programs, we still had to ensure we were assisting our partner museums in reaching local families and connecting to those families. To track our impact, we utilized Facebook Premiere and Facebook Insights. By the end of the year, we found:
- Over 30 weeks, over 12,000 Facebook users saw or digital workshop content.
- Six teaching artists and the YALA staff produced 572 minutes of Baby Artsplay!™ and Artsplay!™ at Home.
- On average, the number of families who viewed our Facebook Premiere were comparable to the number of families who generally attend our in-person workshops. 196 users viewed our digital workshops in live time.
- In addition, we piqued the interest of many more users. 4,165 users viewed our workshops for three seconds or more.
- For 26 of the 30 weeks, YALA expanded the digital reach of our partner museums.
Grooversity’s Brazilian Beats program was one of our first adaptations to take full advantage of Zoom as a performance medium. It features two artists, a percussionist, and a dancer “spotlighted” side-by-side on the screen within a colorful border, while performing from separate locations. When the dancer is featured, the percussionist appears in a small inset in the corner of the frame. When each new beat is introduced, a map of Brazil appears via screenshare, and the beat’s region of origin is homed on through animation.
In person, Brazilian Beats is driven by call-and-response vocalizations and movements. On Zoom, Marcus leaves in all of the prompts and takes great care to shout-out participants by name or classroom. Active participation has become even more important in the era of remote learning, and Grooversity always keeps students up and moving throughout their performances. The program begins with an interactive quiz to build up energy and ends with a review of key points to cement learning.
Most excitingly, in a feat only possible through remote learning, an online performance of Brazilian Beats was offered free to all 54,000 students enrolled in the 125 Boston Public Schools last summer.
In our early days of adapting programs for remote learning, Marcus very helpfully led a Zoom artist meeting on how to make best use of the medium for performance. His program has been much lauded by students and arts coordinators alike.
After one recent performance, a student commented:
“I am from Brazil and I have never seen any of this music and dance except for the Capoeira one! I really enjoyed the show.”
After the district-wide Boston Public Schools performance, our partnering coordinator told us:
“I’m still smiling from ear to ear! Thank you for bringing this presentation to us so that students could engage in language, dance, chants, songs, and rhythms from Brazil in a variety of engaging genres. The words I used to describe the event: slam dunk!”
The success of this performance has led to a monthly district-wide virtual performance series, bringing six more programs to all Boston Public School students.
Arts Connection - China Patterns
Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern PA // Princeton, NJ
Arts Connection Videos and Resources are educational, arts-focused, and fun! YANJEP offers free interactive videos and digital tools created by teaching artists to connect students, teachers, and families to engaging arts experiences during distance learning and beyond. In the Arts Connection video program, China Patterns, dancers reveal spectacular athleticism one moment, pure grace and precision the next. Dance China New York presents a participatory introduction to Chinese culture, customs, and dance. Students learn Chinese phrases and history in this vibrant introduction to Chinese culture.
Traveling the Erie Canal: 200 Years of Journeys
Young Audiences of Western New York // Buffalo, NY
Traveling the Erie Canal: 200 Years of Journeys is a multidisciplinary residency developed to address multiple learning styles that brings the Erie Canal age to life for 4th grade students. Structured into learning modules that incorporate writing, poetry, theatre, music, and digital arts, this program teaches to the New York State Standards, includes professional development for the teachers, and builds in assessment and a final portfolio of work from each student.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Young Audiences of Western New York has taken steps to provide the Travel the Erie Canal: 200 Years of Journeys residency virtually to its partners and students. This virtual residency has ensured that young people have the opportunity to participate in the arts and gain significant outcomes allowing them to achieve success and appreciation of our region's cultural and historic past. This residency (both virtual and in school) results in greater understanding of our region's history and encourages a lasting Erie Canal legacy for future generations. It provides students with exposure to art as a vehicle to explore local history, articulate their responses to this history, and help increase their oral, written, and nonverbal communication skills through the exploration of the Erie Canal.
Piloting this residency virtually has allowed us to maintain relevance and strong relationships with our partners during this time. While virtual programming is especially crucial in the present, we also feel confident that having a video component to our Travel the Erie Canal: 200 Years of Journeys residency program will be an asset in the future, allowing us to reach an even wider audience. The development of these videos and accompanying guidance documents gave us a rubric to follow moving forward as we create additional virtual programming.
This program was one of the first that we piloted as a virtual offering in 2020. At a time when very little was being offered, the structure and quality of programming that we were able to provide through this virtual residency was met with great appreciation and praise for our ability to cater to "the new normal" for our partner schools.
"We just had our first 4th grade Erie Canal Zoom session using Teaching Artist Suzie Rossler's video. Turnout was great! Some students were playing guitars along with the video, singing and moving to the music. I can't wait until we are back to school and can actually have the arts come to our school. Thank you for putting this video together for us."
- Art Teacher/Arts-in-Education Coordinator
"Thank you for such a well-done collaboration! It was outstanding to see so many students and teachers together. Distance Learning events like this are unique to our students and maintain a sense of community while expanding on our learning standards."
- Principal, H.O. Brumsted Holland Elementary
Dance Kaleidoscope was booked to perform The Dance Show prior to the pandemic at five schools in Franklin, Indiana. They were able to perform at two schools before the shut down and met the challenge of recording their program for the three remaining schools. They were innovative in modifying their in-person performance to include less touching/interaction between dancers while still creating an engaging program for students. With The Dance Show available as a recording, they’ve received several opportunities to provide schools with their program.
As a recorded program, The Dance Show was shared with three schools in Franklin, Indiana with a population of approximately 1,300 students. We received positive feedback from teachers who expressed how the program impacted their students:
“My students enjoyed the dancing from Dance Kaleidoscope. They enjoyed incorporating their everyday activities into dance moves! Very kind, kid friendly, and informative instructors.”
- 2nd Grade Teacher, Franklin Community Schools
"I have never seen them (students) be more engaged [in] anything we have done this year. Great job!"
- 3rd Grade Teacher, Franklin Community Schools
Art Works Fellowship Program
Arts for Learning San Diego // San Diego, CA
Arts for Learning San Diego (A4LSD) and San Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court & Community Schools (JCCS) created a visual art career pathways course called the ArtWorks Fellowship Program. Teaching Artists Lorain Khalil Rihan and Diana Cervera are working with 18 independent study students across San Diego County to investigate how access to the arts can improve quality of life, build community, and lead to creative, fulfilling, and viable careers. The students meet virtually three times a week to explore the cultural arts organizations in our community, investigate grassroots arts orgs and galleries, and learn firsthand from local professionals about careers in art museums, design studios, and art galleries. Students make art using two-dimensional art-making materials and learning processes including the elements and principles of design, drawing, and photography. Fellows will develop a capstone project that includes a portfolio of artwork, an exhibition, artist statements, a resume, and a public speaking presentation. The skills developed in this fellowship program can be included on a resume and will prepare students for college-level art classes, internships, and jobs. Fellows who complete the ArtWorks Fellowship Program will earn five high school credits and a $150 stipend.
When it became clear that students would not be returning to the classroom this year, our team met with JCCS partners to adapt to a virtual model and better support students’ needs during the pandemic. We knew from JCCS classroom teachers that many students were struggling to stay engaged with school virtually, and that when students did turn up in Zoom rooms for class, many kept cameras off and participated reluctantly. We decided to work with smaller groups of independent study students to build trust and deepen relationships between teaching artists and participants. Teaching artists Diana Cervera and Lorain Khalil Rihan collaborated to build a mentoring experience for students, designing a syllabus to outline expectations and mirror the experience of taking a college class. Students self-selected to participate, understanding the requirements and time commitments of the program in advance. Because the program moved online, we can work with JCCS school sites across the county that have been logistically difficult to access for programs. The teaching artists have amped up the student leadership component, working with individual site cohorts to support student choice and artistic processes, and then bringing students together for community building, collaboration, and group decision making.
JCCS is a Title 1 district; 91% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch. Students are credit-deficient because of poor school attendance or prior dropout. Services are provided to students who are incarcerated, pregnant or parenting, in foster care, or facing other challenges. 87% of JCCs students come from socioeconomically disadvantaged households, 33% are experiencing homelessness, and 27% are students with disabilities. Currently, JCCS students receive career training in culinary arts, music, and theater production. Our program offers students another opportunity to pursue careers in creative fields. We believe that all people are inherently creative. Students participating in this program are learning to access their own creativity making art and being introduced to the work of local artists, designers, and gallery professionals. Their introduction to visual art career pathways gives them experience in creative thinking, communication, and problem solving, as well as helping them build soft skills like flexibility, negotiation, and perseverance that lead to future success. This introduction to visual art career pathways is an opportunity for students to think about their goals in a new way, understanding that there are jobs that tap into creativity and community building, and being able to see themselves in those roles.
Spread Kindness (Not Germs)
Arts for Learning Virginia // Norfolk, VA
Arts for Learning Virginia is launching a new video series for pre-K through fifth grade students called Spread Kindness (Not Germs), created in response to the global pandemic and the resulting stressors children are facing. With an upbeat style featuring original puppet characters, this series of videos helps students explore the complicated feelings and issues that have arisen during the COVID-19 crisis. At a time when compassion is more important than ever, the videos help students understand how they can better socially interact with others, with topics that include "Facing Our Fears," "Being an Influencer," and "Self-Talk." Arts for Learning Virginia staff members and artists are performing all the creative work related to the project—script development, original puppetry, dance, music, and videography. Our program team has developed the series in collaboration with a volunteer panel of experienced educators, well-versed in social-emotional learning (SEL). The program is aligned with the five competencies that make up SEL: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision making, and relationship skills. The ten video segments and accompanying music videos range in length from six to ten minutes and can be delivered whether students are in the classroom or distance learning.
The challenges of the global pandemic have been enormous, yet the crisis has turned into an opportunity for us as an organization. By shaking up our longstanding programming model, we have a new perspective on ways to reach children through the power of the arts. Our previous model involved artists going to sites to deliver performances, residencies, or workshops. One year ago when schools shut down in Virginia, we could never have dreamed that our Norfolk office would be used as a video production facility and set; that our artists would have adapted their programs to virtual formats; and that our program team would be directly involved in creating in-house videos. Spread Kindness (Not Germs) is the pilot season of a new video-based series called Arts + Learning Exploration. Season two will again focus on social-emotional learning while featuring puppet characters and original music. Lessons will use the concepts of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a nationally recognized approach to support positive academic and behavioral outcomes for all students. Set to launch in August, the upcoming season will include a teacher packet with recommended prompts to use in conjunction with the videos.
Spread Kindness (Not Germs) is set to debut in schools this spring. We have received excellent feedback from schools that believe the program addresses an important need for students coping with this period of social isolation and academic disengagement. We hope the ten videos will give students some concrete tools to use as they develop the social-emotional skills they need to successfully navigate friendships with peers, relationships with adults, and ever-changing learning environments. Our staff, teaching artists, and volunteers involved in the Spread Kindness (Not Germs) video series are energized by this period of exploration, innovation, and productivity. It is an extremely ambitious undertaking, and the hands-on work required to produce it is unlike anything we have experienced in our 66-year history. However, we believe the videos from Spread Kindness and the larger Arts + Learning Exploration program will be of great value after the current crisis has resolved, by providing more flexible options to connect students with arts-rich education.
New Digital Ideas
ArtsNOW Learning // Atlanta, GA
In the Moving Punctuation, part of ArtsNOW’s New Digital Ideas collection, educational consultant Melissa Joy demonstrates how to use movement and dance to explore and deepen students’ understanding of punctuation. Strategies include using levels and shapes to help students remember what each punctuation mark looks like, as well as incorporating energy quality and tempo to illuminate how punctuation impacts the ways we speak and read.
ArtsNOW has created a library of virtual content called New Digital Ideas, featuring artist-led arts-integration strategy videos, covering visual arts, music, theatre, and dance. The New Digital Ideas collection includes videos targeted toward teachers, which share activity ideas to help infuse engaging arts activities into their virtual classrooms, as well as instructional videos for parents to support them in guiding their children through creative activities at home. Additionally, ArtsNOW offers one-on-one digital coaching sessions for teachers to produce customized and collaborative arts integrated lessons. ArtsNOW also partnered with GeorgiaTech to create STEAM Kits for students at partnering schools, providing all the supplies they need to engage in STEAM and arts-integrated activities from home.
I wanted to thank everyone for the engaging help that you provided to the staff today and yesterday in this virtual setting. Of course, I wish it could have been in person and hopefully soon it will be able to be... I hope we are able to continue the partnership moving forward as well. It is something vital that our students need.
Hephzibah Elementary School
Convergence Exhibition 2020
Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education // Chicago, IL
The CAPE Convergence Exhibition 2020 features art from students at 24 Chicago Public Schools, much of which was created during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was designed to immerse visitors in a virtual environment that explores the successes and challenges faced by students, teachers, and artists caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year's curation broke new ground on what a collaborative art partnership would entail and how the process could be in the future.
Convergence is an annual exhibition of in-school arts integration work from the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) Artist/Researcher Partners (A/RP) Program. It surveys a year’s worth of intensive artistic research by students across 40 projects in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms in public schools throughout the city. Convergence would have been a physical exhibition in the spring of 2020, but as the COVID-19 crisis caused indefinite lockdowns, our partners pivoted to a virtual platform. The result was a collective effort, carrying on the collaborative spirit that all CAPE work stems from.
In the years leading up to last year, partners co-curated the Convergence Exhibition through a series of curatorial workshops. They spent time as a group to identify themes connecting projects and produced labels to describe the work to viewers, and they spent time designing the layout of the exhibited works in the gallery. Without a physical space to actualize the exhibit, seven A/RP teachers and teaching artists stepped forward to become the curatorial team. Their curatorial process was further supported through a partnership with three ACRE curator fellows (Artists Cooperative Residency & Exhibitions), an interdisciplinary residency project based in Chicago and southwest Wisconsin.
Convergence 2020 is a response to the current COVID-19 shift. While the majority of the work, by students, teachers, teaching artists, curators, staff, was done separately apart from one another, the importance of exchange and dialogue of shared values and purpose around access and social equity was sustained and grew through phone calls, Zoom meetings, Google classrooms sessions, emails, and text messages. This combined effort proved the Artist/Researcher Partners network extends into the virtual realm.
The Convergence Exhibition includes:
- The works of 1,275 students involved in the CAPE Convergence classes, including 215 special needs students.
- Projects from 40 classrooms ranging from kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms in public schools throughout the city.
Poetry: Writing from the Right Side of Your Brain
Think360 Arts for Learning // Denver, CO
In Writing from the Right Side of Your Brain, students join performance poet and storyteller SETH for workshops exploring the fun of playing creatively with language. Think 360 Arts for Learning is offering three free workshop sessions to the general public during YA Week. Toss aside your inhibitions, bring a smile and your inner child. Don’t miss this opportunity to give your imagination some vigorous exercise.
The collective trauma and social isolation resulting from the pandemic created increased awareness that connection and creativity are essential to community health. In response, Think 360 Arts' staff and teaching artists resourcefully adapted programming to maintain connection through interactive arts experiences, and shifted focus from academics to social and emotional concerns.
Partnerships with libraries and library programs help Think 360 Arts reach communities that need our programs and increase social connection to promote wellbeing.