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Everything Jazz at the Blasco Library

posted on: Monday, December 22, 2014

Article and photographs by Brianna Woods

The Blasco Library is home to more than 3,100 pieces of a jazz collection that is catalogued and available for borrowing. 


The Erie community can’t get enough. Library users borrowed more jazz music from the Blasco Library by August this year, than they had the entire previous year. Library Directory, Mary Rennie, predicts that the jazz circulation at the end of 2014 will roughly double that of 2013. 

“Everything Jazz,” came from a collection donated by Erie native, Bob Protzman, a former journalist of forty years. During his career, Protzman specialized in reporting stories on popular artists. He interviewed Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach and other musical giants of his time. His occupation as a jazz critic resulted in a massive collection of the genre’s music, of which the Blasco Library is now the beneficiary.


Rennie said Protzman's gift can be the catalyst of a host of educational programs about jazz. The library will create these programs with the help of JazzErie, a local nonprofit that promotes jazz throughout the region.  

The Library is now in the process of brainstorming on program ideas for 2015. Some ideas include: 

Student jazz ensembles performing at the library; working with school music teachers to engage students and offer entertainment to library patrons

Live jazz documentary night with an emcee to discuss the history of jazz as well as performing representative music of the time

Jazz story time for younger library patrons that shares the highlights of this genre’s history

A unique petting zoo for kids: this petting zoo involves bringing in musical instruments to touch and try out

Jazz film nights at the library which would include “Lady Sings the Blues,” “Chicago,” “Bird,” and “Cabin in the Sky,” to name a few.

Jammin’ Jazz for teens at the library—all things jazz—learning, listening, discussing and composing their own music

Jazz concert series: local musicians performing their favorites from this era

Protzman’s donation is estimated to be worth $25,000-$35,000 in CDs and other memorabilia. As for the philanthropist himself, he said that if library patrons appreciate it, then that’s enough for him.

"Jazz is sophisticated, emotional. It's often complex. It's about feeling," Protzman said. "People have said to me many times, 'I just don't understand jazz.' I say to them, 'Don't worry about understanding it. See if you can feel it. And if you can feel it, try listening to it some more.'” 


“Everything Jazz” is located at the Blasco Library, 160 E Front St, on the first floor adult area—near the north wall where the Niagara is berthed. The Blasco Library is very excited to have this collection, and to be able to build programs for the public. 

Nutcracker Limited Edition Screenprint Poster

posted on: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Article and photos by Bradley Ford

Lake Erie Ballet commissioned Erie artist Brad Ford to create limited edition prints for the 2014 production of Nutcracker. Through this collaborative project, Lake Erie Ballet is reaching out to the community and supporting local artists. Ford is a graduate of Edinboro University and has worked professionally as a designer and artist in Salt Lake City for over 8 years. Since returning to his hometown of Erie, Ford works hard promoting his art and others. 

 

The posters are a limited edition of 25, each a hand pulled screen print, unique and a moment in time. Ford enlisted master screen print artist Chris Pace to emphasize the quality of each individual piece. The posters, signed and numbered, will be sold during this weekend's performances of the Nutcracker Ballet at the Warner Theatre.

Raffle tickets will also be sold for $5 for a chance to win the artist proof, or the first print pulled from the screens. This proof handsomely framed and matted by U Frame It Gallery. It is valued at $800 for its rarity, uniqueness and quality framing. The remaining prints of the series will be sold for $25.

In addition to the poster design for the 2014 production of Nutcracker, Brad also created special illustrations of beloved character from the ballet. This artwork was made into a series of buttons, sold to support fundraising for the performers' costumes.

56th Annual Nutcracker

Produced by Lake Erie Ballet
with Hugh Keelan and his Orchestra
Saturday, December 20 at 7 pm
Sunday, December 21 at 2:30 pm
Warner Theatre
811 State Street
Erie, PA 16501
For Tickets
Call the box office at (814) 452-4857
or Click here.

Holiday Performance for People with Different Needs

posted on: Monday, December 08, 2014

Elf at the Erie Playhouse

  • During the month-long run of ELF at the Erie Playhouse two dates have been set aside for people with specific needs.

    Sunday, Dec. 14 at 2:00pm will be a “sensory friendly” performance.

  • The Erie Playhouse, in cooperation with the Barber National Institute, has developed the “sensory friendly” criteria – i.e. the theatre will never be completely dark, the sound/music will be adjusted to a lower level, and there will be a “quiet” space. This was made possible through a grant from Erie Arts & Culture.

  • Sunday, Dec. 28 at 2:00pm the performance will be signed for the deaf and hard of hearing

Special seating areas have been designated for the special population’s performances. For more information on the special performances contact Kate Neubert-Lechner, Youtheatre/Education Director at the Playhouse.
The Mercyhurst Graduate Program in Special Education, through the Mercyhurst Institute of Applied Behavioral Studies (MIABS) will be working with Lake Erie Ballet to produce a meaningful and inclusive "autism-friendly" performance of the classic ballet The Nutcracker.

Call 814-454-2852, ext. 6 or email kate@erieplayhouse.org for more information.

Autism Friendly Nutcracker presented by Lake Erie Ballet



December 19 at the Historic Warner Theatre

Lake Erie Ballet and Mercyhurst University extend an invitation to the region's children, schools, and families to participate in this one-of-a-kind "Arts-Enhanced Community-Based Instruction" activity.

Children with special learning needs, such as those with autism, don't always have a chance to enjoy community art, music, and dance performances. This collaboration will include enhancements to the typical production allowing students with special needs to access the full experience of going to a show, including using adaptive methods to order and pay for souvenirs and concessions. The performance will be accompanied by the incorporation of scripts and narration to aid in comprehension of the symbolism associated with the story told through movement. Other modifications include incorporation of a visual schedule to allow the audience members to keep track of the event's chronology, from arrival, through the show, and program's end. Additionally, house lights will be kept a bit brighter than usual, while performance volume will be kept a bit softer than usual.

Finally, Mercyhurst will support the development of a series of possible lesson objectives and corresponding lesson plans that may be incorporated by regional educators to prime the students for the show and to follow up afterwards. Audience members may benefit from some or all of these available enhancements and supplementary activities, or they can simply just enjoy the show in its modified format.

Tickets are $5
Registration Required. Click here for more info.

Questions? Call (814) 871-4356, or email od@lakeerieballet.org


Candidates Support Arts and Culture

posted on: Thursday, October 30, 2014

With the election coming up on Tuesday, November 4th, candidates running for Governor, PA and US House and PA Senate have established their platforms for major issues such as education and the economy.

Arts and cultural issues tend to be less emphasized in the overall scope of government policy despite being critical to economic revitalization and central to community vibrancy and personal development. Program elimination and budget cuts are evidence of art and culture's lack of prioritization and support.

Two candidates, Glenn 'GT' Thompson, US Representative for PA's 5th district, and Luke Lofgren, candidate for District 3 PA Representative, responded to Erie Arts & Culture's prompt to share their position on supporting arts and cultural advancement. 

Representative Thompson's response:

In Fiscal Year 2014, I was proud to support the National Endowment of the Arts, which received $146 million, a significant increase over the previous year, offsetting the effects of sequestration.

As representative for the Fifth Congressional district, I host an annual art competition for eleventh and twelfth grade students to present their works to an independent panel, which chooses the winning piece of art that is placed on display in the U.S Capitol. Many if the works that are submitted amaze me just how talented some of our young people are. 

As the father of a music teacher and a member of the House Education & Workforce Committee, I understand the importance of the arts for enhancing a well-rounded education and expanding creative thought. 

Additionally, in our free time, my wife Penny and I volunteer to work phone banks for Public Broadcasting fundraising drives. This is important because the programming provides basic access for many Americans to the arts, theater and music. 

Luke Lofgren's response:

I am regularly thankful for all the art and cultural activities in the Erie area. We are very blessed for a community of our size to have such a great depth and diversity of healthy organizations. As a Representative I will confidently assert that Erie must be treated on equal footing with other allocations from the Commonwealth not based on mere population count, but based on the fact we serve the northwest corner of the state. 

Thank you Representative Thompson and candidate Lofgren for your response and for your actions to support arts and cultural activity in Northwest Pennsylvania. In addition, Erie Arts & Culture would like to thank our local members of the PA Legislative Arts & Culture Caucus for their support. Click here to see a list of current members.

Erie Arts & Culture is committed to building a greater understanding of the importance of arts and cultural activities to the development of our communities. We look to our elected officials to embrace this importance and lead efforts to increase support and access to arts and culture for residents and visitors to the Erie Region. Use your voice to do the same - don't forget to vote on November 4th!


Fall for Arts & Culture Award Winners

posted on: Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Congratulations to the 2014 Fall for Arts & Culture Appreciation Award Recipients!

Awards will be presented at Fall for Arts & Culture on Wednesday, November 12th, 5:30 pm at the Erie Playhouse with reception to follow at 21 La Roux Dix. Click here for more event information.

Leadership Award - Erie Reader

The Reader is notable for its intentional and consistent support of the arts and cultural sector. The Reader offers coverage to both emerging groups and large arts and cultural institutions. They promote audience growth by hosting a robust events calendar and “If I Were You” standing feature, highlight local talent through interviews and reviews and call attention to important issues impacting arts and culture in the region. Staff of the Reader are actively engaged in shaping the sector by supporting important events, serving on committees and producing new art themselves as poets, storytellers, musicians and artists. The Reader is dedicated wholeheartedly to supporting Erie and it’s culture.

Applause Award - Al and Peggy Richardson

When you think of Al and Peggy Richardson, you think of a couple who is always together, who seem to attend every worthwhile special event throughout the calendar year, and who are willing to put their treasures to good use for numerous organizations for the betterment of our community now and in the future. Al and Peggy are synonymous with commitment.

Imagine Award - Young People's Chorus of Erie

YPC Erie provides children of diverse backgrounds a comprehensive choral music experience as a way to further their personal and artistic growth and to foster cross-cultural understanding. With an emphasis on diversity, YPC Erie brings together young singers from across the spectrum of Erie’s population. The choristers develop musical skills and a sense of community and discipline, while also forging life-long friendships. Since 2009, more than 1000 young people have been touched by the Young People’s Chorus of Erie program through participation in a choir, workshop or camp.   


Bruce Morton Wright Artist of the Year - Rev. Shawn Clerkin

Without his contributions, the Erie theatre landscape would be far less rich. It would be nearly impossible to find a theatre venue in Erie that has not, in some way, benefited from Clerkin's guidance or participation. He is the epitome of a selfless artist; he is generous with his talent and works to ensure that all areas of theatre in Erie find success. Clerkin truly embodies the spirit of cooperative art, and for that, his lifetime of contributions to the arts, and his most recent artistic achievements, he greatly deserves to be recognized with this honor.

For descriptions on the award categories, click here.




Advocacy Update

posted on: Wednesday, October 01, 2014

PA Reports

How does Pennsylvania compare to other states in the US on issues of arts, culture and education? Recent reports from Americans for the Arts and Arts Education Partnership shed light on where Pennsylvania policy and legislators stand on support for the arts.

The Congressional Arts Report Card reports that US Senators for PA received a B grade for supporting the arts in our state. The US members of Congress from PA were graded with a number of A's, however two were given F's.

None of these seats are up for reelection this fall, but stay tuned for the results of a survey of current politicians on the ballot's position on supporting the arts and culture.

A Snapshot of State Policies for Arts Education shows that Pennsylvania has adopted 7 out of 13 measures for arts in education.

Click the bold links above to review both reports and see what criteria the states and legislators were measured on and how Pennsylvania compares to other states.

Arts and Culture Caucus

A bipartisan, bicameral Arts and Culture Caucus has been created in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  This Caucus was suggested in AEI’s March 2012 policy report and has been actively supported by leadership at the  Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania.  The purpose of the Caucus is to provide research, education, policy development, and draft and pass legislation that advances the arts and culture in the Commonwealth, as well as support the arts throughout the budget process.

The stated purpose of the Caucus is:
-To provide access to caucus members on the latest research, education, and policy developments on arts and culture;
-To support caucus members in their efforts to draft and pass legislation that advances arts and culture in the Commonwealth;
-To provide analysis on pending legislation;
-To provide caucus members and their staffs with periodic briefings on pertinent issues;
-To develop issue specific talking points and press materials for caucus members to use in public and with the media.

NW Pennsylvania Members
Hon. Ryan A. Bizzarro
Hon. Jaret Gibbons
Hon. Patrick J. Harkins
Hon. R. Lee James
Hon. Mark Longietti
Hon. Curtis G. Sonney
Sen. Scott E. Hutchinson
Sen. Sean Wiley

US Members from PA Congress
Robert Brady
Charles Dent
Mike Doyle
Mike Fitzpatrick
Jim Gerlach
Tim Murphy
Allyson Schwartz
Glenn Thompson




Local Artists and Educators Awarded Best Presentation at National Conference

posted on: Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Barber National Institute team that presented at the 2014 VSA Intersections conference in July was awarded first place for the best of the conference. The conference participants had the opportunity to vote for their favorite sessions.  The three presentations with the highest number of overall votes presented again on Friday of that week for anyone who missed their first session. 


The BNI team was represented by Dr. Maureen Barber-Carey, Executive Vice President of the Barber National institute; Jude Shingle, Teaching Artist with Erie Arts & Culture; Judy Stewart, Critical skills specialist at the Barber national institute and Ann Ellison Behavior Support Coordinator at the Barber National Institute.

Their session was titled ‘Digital Art at the Intersection of Arts and Special Education’ and during their presentation and hands-on workshop they shared the development of their Long-Term Residency, was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, with Teaching Artist Jude Shingle and the digital arts project for students with disabilities. Included in their session was a hands-on lesson using iBook and Comic Life on the iPad and discussion of future applications of digital media. The VSA conference is an international conference held in July in Alexandria Virginia.

They also told me that the win allows them to attend next year’s conference for free!  And they have been asked by The Kennedy Center to present a Webinar on December 16th.



Lessons from Pittsburgh: Downtown Development

posted on: Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Brian Kurtz, Director of Research at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, presented at the Sally Carlow Kohler Lecture Series of the Erie County Historical Society. On Wednesday, May 28th, Brian shared with a roomful of artists, administrators, funders and community members on the success of downtown Pittsburgh development. Projects using arts, culture and entrepreneurship  have changed the vibrancy of the downtown district and have impacted the way hundreds of thousands of visitors and residency view and interact with the space.

Click here to see Brian's presentation for further details and photos of the projects the Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership in collaboration with Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council have implemented.

More on the Sally Carlow Kohler Lecture Series here.


Barber National Institute to Host Professional Development Workshop

posted on: Thursday, April 10, 2014

Erie Arts & Culture will partner with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, VSA Pennsylvania, the Barber National Institute and the Kennedy Center, to offer a professional development workshop. "Teaching the Arts to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder" will offer practical teaching strategies for students on the autism spectrum.

 


The workshops will be held on: 
  • Monday, April 21, 2014

Click here to view a list of other VSA Workshops occurring in Pennsylvania.

The workshop will be a full day from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm (Registration opens at 8:00 am) and include the following topics:

  • An overview of characteristics of Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and other pervasive Developmental Disabilities;
  • Strategies for using Universal Design for Learning to allow greater access to the curriculum for children with ASD;
  • Strategies for behavior management;
  • Hands on arts infused lesson plans; and
  • Best practices in assessment.

The workshop implements standards-based professional development training for educators and/or teaching artists to improve skills in teaching the arts to students with ASD pre-K through grade 12. Six Act 48 credits are available.

Workshop instructors include Judy Stewart, Critical Skills Specialist at the Barber National Institute, Anne Ellison, Behavior Analyst at the Barber National Institute and Tom Ferraro, professional fine artist and teaching artist. Techniques include lecture, discussion, collaborative group activities and art exercises.

The workshop is open to arts educators, teaching artists, administrators and special education professionals. Parents and other advocates are welcome to attend. A fee of $35 covers the cost of breakfast and lunch for participants. Six Act 48 credits are available. Registration deadline April 14th. Click here to register.


Artist Residency at Wayne Elementary

posted on: Thursday, March 20, 2014

Artist teaches Erie students more than creativity

Originally posted here.

BY ERICA ERWIN, Erie Times-News 
erica.erwin@timesnews.com
Artist in residence Saihou Njie, center, talks with Wayne School sixth-grader DeShawn Gavin, 12, right, in Erie on March 13. Gavin was explaing to the class how he made his orange sculpture, left, to reflect heroic traits. GREG WOHLFORD//ERIE TIMES-NEWS

The character was a mix of cardboard, plaster and paint and fabric.

But it stood for something much more substantial: courage and patriotism.

Marques Beeman's father survived a shooting, an event that rocked the sixth-grader and caused him to think about those who display courage and patriotism by putting their lives on the line regularly.

The end result was a character designed during a residency at Wayne School with Saihou Njie, a renowned artist and humanitarian from Pittsburgh.

Through a grant from Erie Arts & Culture, Njie has been working for six weeks as an artist-in-residence with Marques and other sixth-graders at Wayne. Their work has centered around the district's Medal of Honor character development program and the virtues of courage, commitment, citizenship, integrity, patriotism and sacrifice.

Students were asked to use iPads to write stories of a fictitious heroic character who exhibited one of those virtues. Working with Njie, they then created a three-dimensional model of the character using plaster strips, cardboard, newspaper and clay.

"It's important to engage the children in their learning," said Holly Nowak, program director for Erie Arts & Culture. "It's important because it makes learning a fun place to be again."

During a recent class, the students used iPads to take photos of their character from different angles to include in their stories.

Marques's character is covered in what looks like tie-dyed fabric.

"It inspires me to do things," said Marques, who also writes and draws comic books. "If it was a real person, it would be real courageous and help people a lot. That's what I imagine about it."

Njie is a native of Gambia, West Africa, who specializes in photography and working with batik fabrics. Art is the vehicle that can connect people to each other, to the wider world and to the six virtues of the Medal of Honor program, he said.

"I don't come into the room to teach English or build someone's vocabulary," Njie said. "I want to build the person. I want to work with young minds and nudge them in a direction that I think would be OK."

Some of the lesson is about art, but much of it is not, at least not directly.

"It's about what you're going to do to help mankind be better," Njie told the students during a recent class. "Be in school. Stay in school. Respect your teachers. Do your homework. Do what's expected of you.

"Once you have your education, the world is open to you."

ERICA ERWIN can be reached at 870-1846 or by e-mail. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNerwin.