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Being Reminded of Amazing Opportunity Creative Action Gives to Austin Artists

by Freddy Carnes, Artistic Associate

While at our teacher training this week at Scottish Rite Theater,I was reminded  why Creative Action continues to grow and attract such gifted young artists. Part of the training was to demonstrate to new teachers the power of using teacher-in-role (or acting out a character) to teach a lesson. The demonstration involved using “The Heroes/Los Heroes” show to spotlight how this technique worked. Mitch Bowman and Stephanie Chavez-Noell are the actors in the show and they performed an excerpt. It was great!

The teachers were totally engaged and played the part of Kindergarten students. The story, the humor and the scaffolding of questions built in to the show allow the actors to demonstrate to the children how to solve conflicts at school and at home.

I was so proud of Stephanie and Mitch for carrying on the tradition of “Heroes” just like other shows developed over the years to teach students about such issues as:

  • Conflict resolution,
  • World culture, and
  • Bullying

I understand their commitment to making each show fresh and spontaneous. I was fortunate to perform in “The Heroes/Los Heroes” from 2006-2010. Mitch and Stephanie have added so many nice touches to the performance that it has become uniquely their own.

Once again I was reminded of the amazing opportunity that Creative Action has given to talented Austin artists to practice their craft. Thank you Creative Action!

About The Heroes/Los Heroes

  • 97% of reporting teachers reported they had new tools to help them resolve classroom conflict
  • 60% of teachers saw an increase in students engaging in a four-step conflict resolution process during any given week since receiving the Heroes program.
  • 89% of participating teachers reported their students have been using vocabulary from the program to help them resolve conflict in the classroom

Full STEAM Ahead!

by Patrick Torres, Middle School and High School Program Director

This week, a few of us on staff will be attending the Conference for Community Arts Education in Dallas, put on by the National Guild For Community Arts Education. When we attended this conference last year, we were involved in several discussions with our colleagues across the nation about our desire to turn STEM into STEAM by making the case that the Arts are an essential addition to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math for student success in the 21st Century.

I am very excited to continue this conversation at the conference this week to assess our success in adding the arts to STEM over the past year. And just this morning, I came across this article! It looks like our efforts are picking up national momentum. If you take a minute to read the article, you will find some very interesting links and be given an opportunity to sign a petition in support of STEAM.

I believe the arts are essential to student success in the 21st Century, and I hope you will lend your support to this effort.

High Gear Creative Time

by Amanda Davis, Guest Blogger

In just one week, it will be time to celebrate Thanksgiving. With November moving by so fast, December is going to be here before we know it. When it comes time for these last two months of the year, my creative process kicks it into high gear, creating for friends and family.

Last month, I had the opportunity to talk about refurbishment of items others have thrown or given away. The holidays are the perfect time to use this creative license that we each possess and recreate something amazing.

This year, I am using quite a few of these great resources to recreate unique and lovely gifts for my family and friends. I just recently finished working on a Christmas ornament for a customer in Chicago. I use graffiti and Christmas bulbs from a thrift store and create one-of-a-kind pieces for them.

There are a few places that I like to really search for items to help recreate, including:

1. Thrift Stores – Thrift stores are often times filled with many items at this time of year, as people clear out their homes before more arrives to replace it. At thrift stores, there are a million things imaginative; some of my favorites are coffee cups, old plain Christmas bulbs, paintings, etc.

2. Garage sales – Though it is getting a little late in the year for garage sales, I know that the warm weather in Austin keeps them going.

3. Antique Markets

4. Flea Markets

5. And last but not least…the Trash!

All of these places take a creative mind to try and see what can be made (and with Pinterest there are endless opportunities for creative inspiration). Creative Action uses these creative skills to recreate everyday. Call Mary Alice Carnes at 512 442-8773 x 104 to take the opportunity to volunteer and see how these amazing individuals use their creative skills everyday.

Check out my blog to see my creative process, what new items are making an appearance, and what is happening in the life of this artist.

Tweet Tweet! Creative Action Calling

by Mitch Harris, Community Relations Intern

I first had a taste of social media in 8th grade. I set up a very primitive blog that explored the deep issues of sleepovers, basketball games, and 13-year-old infatuation. However trivial, this bit of social media expanded my horizons and helped me learn there was a much bigger world out there.

Now I can hardly live without my social media in my everyday life. I use it to:

  • Get information,
  • Plan events,
  • Talk with friends,
  • and most importantly, to expand opportunities to reach out beyond myself.

I would never have heard of Creative Action without social media. Their events of Facebook, blog posts, and YouTube videos got me interested in what Creative Action was doing and inspired me to apply to work here.

Now I do the very thing that attracted me in the first place–social media.

I honestly believe that there is never a shortage of people wanting to get involved, there is just a disconnect in reaching them. It’s not about trying to get people to an event, but rather about meeting them where they are. It’s my job to do that

So I tweet at our 860+ Twitter followers to make sure they know what’s going on with us. I update our Facebook page so that our 1200+ fans can get involved with our future events. I upload photos to our Flickr so that everyone can see the hard, but totally fun work our teaching artists are doing.

Social media is our primary means of volunteer recruitment, so don’t be afraid to tweet us, write on our wall, or send us some photos. It would make our day.

Bagavagabonds and Creative Action: “Produce with a Purpose Day” Project in Austin

Bagavagbonds artists visited Manor Middle School yesterday to work with Creative Action teaching artist Will Heath and his students on murals to be displayed at Art Migration Austin (presented by smart USA) in a couple days (read more about the Art Migration event here).

Read the rest of the article: http://bagavagabonds.tumblr.com

Creativity Unleashers

by Sarah Rinner, Elementary School Program Director

Shout out to Creative Action in the Austin Chronicle here!

I couldn’t resist the temptation to share my surprise and joy at reading about us. And in such a fitting category! We were named Creativity Unleashers, which is super cool. Let me tell you a few ways that we are doing this in our after school classes:

  • Rubber bands and oatmeal cans make great guitars;
  • We take the Magic Sidewalk when we go to Sillytown;
  • Students can decide their sculptures should raise money for a good cause;
  • Our teachers are more than artists: they are mad scientists, musicians, masters of magic and movie-makers;
  • Students are challenged to find real solutions to relevant challenges;
  • And because a roll of tape can be so much more than just a roll of tape.

That’s the great thing about unleashing student creativity–you don’t always know where they will take you, but it is an unforgettable journey!

Retreat Brings Changing Lives Group Closer Together

by Nitra Gutierrez, Middle School and High School Program Associate

Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble (CLTYE) had an AMAZING retreat this weekend.

Being part of this ensemble takes hard work, focus and determination. Our work together can look many ways. Sometimes it means having big conversations about power, gender and relationships. Sometimes it means playing theatre games that help us let down our guard and be our authentic selves together. But sometimes, being part of this ensemble means letting go of the everyday and doing something extraordinary. That’s what we did this weekend.

Saturday morning we packed up our sleeping bags and headed out on a mini-road trip to the Candlelight Ranch.

We jumped right in and started our adventure with some fun on the zip-lines. This group was FEARLESS!

We traversed a canyon on a wire (think a tightrope) and even though we were locked into safety harnesses, we had to conquer some serious nerves to do it. We made dinner together, painted each others’ faces, played games, made a fire, told scary stories, serenaded each other with improvised love songs and woke up the next morning to work on our teamwork on a low ropes course before we packed it all up and came home. It was an experience full of energy, friendship and fun.

Something magical seems to happen on these retreats (and I don’t just mean that now my 35 year old mind is playing “Call me Maybe” on a loop) I don’t know if it’s because we had some concentrated time to live together as a family or because facing our fears of heights drew us closer together. What I do know is that we learned a little bit about who we are as individuals and a lot about who we are as a team – and we are more of an ensemble than ever.

A big THANK YOU to our fantastic community of Changing Lives ensemble members, their supportive families and guardians and our volunteers for making this retreat an unforgettable event.