When it comes to the arts, it’s as our trustee Nancy Kranzberg says: “There ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.” Here at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, we have always loved gathering people to experience the best of our thriving arts community. And while we’re amazed at the new and exciting ways that arts organizations have been able to present their work digitally, we can’t wait to bring people back to our spaces while still respecting the current public health emergency.
“There ain’t nothin’ like the real thing,” Nancy Kranzberg said about experiencing art and music safely in-person during her latest @kdhx podcast episode featuring Director of Visual Infrastructure Gina Grafos.
Since early May, we’ve been working with the Missouri Arts Council, ArtsKC, Regional Arts Commission – St. Louis and twenty other organizations from across the state as part of the Missouri Arts Safety Alliance to help arts organizations prepare to reopen. Together, we’ve launched Missouri ArtSafe, a certification program promoting best practices for arts and cultural organizations designed to protect the health and safety of artists, staff, volunteers, and guests. Based on eight universal measures and a commitment to publically share their plan, organizations of all sizes will receive support to develop their reopening plans including a free training video to use with frontline staff and volunteers. We know from our experience how much time and effort it takes to create a safety plan. Our hope is that Missouri ArtSafe will help other arts organizations learn from our work, and when the time is right, be able to safely share their work with the public.
Organizations that become Missouri ArtSafe-certified demonstrate that they’ve strategically planned how to reopen safely. And guests will benefit from a centralized location to learn more about an organization’s safety policies before they walk through their doors.
It’s important to note that Missouri ArtSafe is not an endorsement to reopen, but a call to be prepared to reopen safely. Art is critical to our lives and well-being, but we all need to do our part to keep our community healthy and safe.
“We’ve been trying [to find an office space] since we were established in 2015,” said Harvey Lockhart, executive and artistic director of HEAL. “We’ve been with the Foundation since 2016, and [Kranzberg Arts Foundation Executive Director Chris Hansen] has been actively trying to find a fit for us. It’s been a long time coming.”
The Foundation invested in rehabbing the house after acquiring it in 2019, and the space opened for the resident organizations in June 2020, with COVID-19 mitigation policies in place.
“Having our own location gives us the flexibility to create the programming we know students need,” Lockhart said.
HEAL offers music programming for students including lessons and camps, and according to Lockhart, they will now have more adaptability to generate income in the new space. The organization formerly worked out of local high schools, which was convenient for the students, though not having a centralized location proved challenging at times.
“COVID-19 definitely is causing us to think outside the box a little in regards to what we do,” Lockhart said. “There’s definitely space [at the Hansen House] for us to have a virtual studio where we can do some live-streaming courses and pre-recorded courses.”
HEAL’s curriculum not only teaches students how to play music, but it also teaches them about the music business, including negotiating contracts and booking gigs for the ensemble Point of View, which tours regionally.
Similarly, Fly North Theatricals Artistic Director Colin Healy said the new office space also allows him and the Fly North team to make digital resources amid the pandemic.
“We’ve been producing online content — we’ve sort of switched over to that this summer, and that became our new summer plan, which is kind of awesome and has been fun,” Healy said. The theater company originally planned to present “Assassins” this summer at .ZACK Theatre, however, the production’s opening night has been postponed until Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.
“We’re making lemonade,” Healy added.
Now the organization occupies a space that includes an office where Healy will conduct voice lessons when it is safe to do so (bookings available in September); a rehearsal space for private, physically-distanced dance lessons (bookings available in July); and a production studio.
This summer, Fly North has launched a new podcast called “Grown-Up Theater Kids,” an episodic program called “Gin & The Tonic,” which is a “reckless unpacking of music history’s weirdest stories,” and another video series that spotlights local actors.
Prior to moving into the Hansen House this summer, Healy said the organization was challenged by not having a centralized work and rehearsal space.
“We were renting three different spaces essentially,” Healy said. “It was totally inefficient and, not to mention, expensive.”
“Infrastructure is one of the hardest things for arts organizations to maintain and fundraise for,” said Andrew Warshauer, Marketing and Communications Director for Kranzberg Arts Foundation. “That’s why our mission is to provide the arts with the infrastructure they need to thrive. It helps to fill a gap, and allows our city’s art scene to flourish.”
“We’re so grateful to have our own home and grow and really provide the services students need,” Lockhart said.
Healy echoed the sentiment, “It’s just such a flexible and beautiful space, and it means really everything to us. We’ve finally been able to consolidate all the things that we are … To the Kranzbergs, thank you.”
We asked our Kranzberg Arts Foundation family, “What does Pride mean to you this year?” Here are some of the responses we gathered.
“I came out of the closet in my early 20’s during the mid-’90s. When I came out I vowed to never go back in; not for a relationship, job, or any reason whatsoever. It has been a long road filled with daily battles for equality… every battle has been totally worth it.
“I live in a state that hates me. It fought against my right to live as an out and proud homosexual man, marry my husband, adopt a child, and even still to this day allowed others to discriminate against me in my workplace.
“If there is a right for a straight man in Missouri the state government will actively and openly work to keep that same right away from a gay man.
“Missouri may hate the LGBTQIA+ community, but Lady Liberty loves us and she proved again [this month] that love always conquers hate.”
“I’m thinking about Rem’mie Fells, Riah Milton, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Kiwi Herring, & way too many other Black trans folx murdered at the hands of state-sponsored violence, white supremacy, transphobia, & other systemic oppression. I’m thinking about all of the Indigenous trans & two-spirit folx who are murdered and missing, whose stories are usually erased and unheard under the same violent systems of power that are taking their lives. And how none of them get to live to celebrate their queerness, their joy, their magic, their fierceness, their aliveness.
“As a queer mixed-race east Asian femme artist, this time for me is another reminder of how acutely I (& we, but to speak for myself) need to continue to examine and use my roles, my art, and my relationships to power, privilege, and oppression to co-shape the reality many of us want to see. One that centers Black and Indigenous liberation & life & pleasure & creativity & wellness & leadership — especially that of Black & Indigenous trans womxn & two-spirit folx & non-binary folx & queer folx.
“These are celebrations [Juneteeth and Pride] of our human rights. What we do now and from now on will contribute to the changes we need for our future, for equal rights, and for equal treatment as a human race.”
“For me, PRIDE is about celebrating diversity, inclusion, and the LGBTQIA+ community. It is a time to actively promote one’s self-affirmation and for everyone to reflect on the true meaning of acceptance and love for all of humanity.”
“I salute Pride Month. I honor my LGBTQ colleagues in the Arts. And I’m so happy about this [month’s] landmark Supreme Court decision, making this month, perhaps, the most significant Pride Month ever.
“And I salute all my fellow humans, of whatever stripe, who are carrying on through the challenges of our time to lead us to a brighter future for all.”
“It’s fitting then that Juneteenth and Pride are celebrated in the same month. Both groups have endured struggle, hardship, and inequality, fighting tooth and nail for every inch of acceptance within the majority culture. Black and LGBTQIA communities have much to celebrate, but their celebration is bittersweet, not just this year but every year. The fact that these two groups share celebratory space isn’t all that weird when we consider how inequality and injustice found in American society are often interconnected by systems, institutions, and individuals.
“One of my favorite Black authors also happened to be a Gay man; James Baldwin. He is the originator of the quote in the illustration. He reminds us that our character, integrity, leadership, love, is determined by how we treat those who have been pushed to the bottom, denied their full expression of humanity, left to be forgotten.
“Celebration, with its twin sides of lamentation and joy, helps us to combat this desire to forget people not like us. It helps us see the other as just as human as us, full of the same emotions of joy and sorrow, fear and courage, hope, and despair. I hope [this] month gives you an opportunity to learn about the many beautiful aspects of Black and LGBTQIA culture, why they are worth celebrating, and that you not shy away from the sorrowful bits, but instead learn to sit with others in both their grief and their joy.
“We can never be the America we say we want to be if we do not learn how to love our neighbor as fully human, worth of dignity and justice, and worthy of our care and concern, regardless of color, nationality, orientation, gender, age, ability, religion, political affiliation, class, and any other distinction we could put out there. “
From a variety of virtual performances to hours of educational content, explore the list below of digital resources provided by our resident organizations and artists. Have a digital offering your organization wants to add to the list? Let us know by contacting us here.
“It’s been a new challenge to identify ways to transform methods we’ve created in-person to a virtual platform,” said Grace Pettit, digital marketing specialist for the organization.
Like many other resident organizations, for Building Futures pivoting to digital means maintaining a connection with the community as social distancing becomes the new norm.
“We’re focused on presenting ideas to students that haven’t been solved before …
we are living what we teach right now,” Pettit said referring to the pandemic. “There are many barriers and landmines … but it’s refreshing to live what our organization’s mission is about — preparing young minds and individuals to solve these unknowns.”
According to Pettit, the free videos accessible via YouTube or Building-Futures.org are all student-led, featuring adult teachers as guests, and geared toward students in second to seventh grade.
“In that respect, peer-to-peer learning is kind of happening,” Pettit said.
Virtual projects include designing a flying machine and building a tower out of straws. Students can also learn how to use scrap wood to create art and a handful of other activities.
However, transitioning hands-on learning to a contactless model has presented its own set of challenges.
“The learning environment is so unique to Building Futures. You come to a workshop and you’re introduced to an idea. You’re introduced to all the tools, methods, and mechanisms that could get you to that end goal … We’re still working through how to capture all of those steps [on a virtual platform],” Pettit said. “There are a lot of nuanced moments within learning, especially with what we do and how we do it, and virtual really hinders that.”
Connecting with students in new ways
Despite these obstacles, Pettit said they’ve received photos and videos of students’ projects. Messages from parents thanking them for the online workshops have also been sliding into their DMs.
“It shows that we as Building Futures understand that we need to be taking responsibility for producing and connecting and engaging with [students], even if it doesn’t look the same,” Pettit said.
Building Futures continues to adapt and build a future for its students however it can.
“We’re really looking forward to continuing to work and come up with new ways to meet these challenges and support our students, educators, and community through whatever means possible,” Pettit said.
As springtime begins to bloom outside the windows of our self-quarantine locations, it’s (mostly) business as usual for Urban Harvest STL, which maintains the rooftop garden at .ZACK.
The Kranzberg Arts Foundation resident organization focused on food rights has just finished its first harvest of the season from its urban farms across St. Louis. Farmers collected 50 pounds of various leafy greens, radishes, pea shoots, herbs and edible flowers.
Like the majority of what the farms produces, Urban Harvest STL will donate these plants to their nonprofit partners. These partners serve local communities with limited access to healthy and nutritious food. In the past year, the organization grew and donated 4,740 pounds of food.
“The need is greater now than ever,” Executive Director Clare Higgins said.
This year, the organization anticipates making even more donations. Some partner restaurants that typically receive a portion of produce are temporarily shuttered, including The Dark Room at The Grandel.
Though the crops are unaffected by COVID-19, the farmers are practicing social distancing while tending the gardens. Additionally, office staff transitioned to working from home. Higgins said everyone feels safe with the measures put in place, and the team even added five new staff members in March.
Growing community … online
The organization’s mission not only includes providing food resources, but also educational resources. However, conducting food roof visits and workshops is now out of the question.
“Not being able to gather together means doing it on video,” Higgins said, mentioning the resurrection of the organization’s YouTube page and website blog.
Using the platforms to share learning opportunities on topics such as seed germination and composting, Events & Marketing Coordinator Anna Lin-Schweitzer said they are excited to broaden their reach online. They hope to continue to create digital content to fit the needs of community members, especially as more people turn toward at-home gardening.
“There’s something cathartic about being out with the plants, embracing the small amount of control we have over a small plot of land,” Higgins said. She explained that peas are a good beginner plant because the seeds are large (good for tiny hands), and they sprout fairly quickly.
Since mid-March, the organization has included 160 packets of seeds along with produce donations to “plant the seed” and encourage others to garden.
At its best, theatre can provide a great deal: It entertains us, it moves us, it sustains us, it reflects us back to ourselves. But for some St. Louis school kids, it can literally save their lives.
Metro Theater Company’s “Say Something, Do Something!” program uses drama to help equip students to face difficult circumstances, from bullying to gun violence. The interactive skits encourage them to consider how to defuse tense moments or intervene when they see interactions going south.
“It’s a theatrical experience, but it’s a theatrical experience with a very specific goal,” says Metro Theater managing director Joe Gfaller. The hope is that, having walked through difficult scenarios in safe circumstances, participants might have access to the strategies later, if necessary.
Metro Theater is directed at young audiences and their families, creating access to theatre as well as the growth and development that it fosters. The company produces plays at The Grandel and takes theatre into schools. Last year, it visited 31 schools across the region.
Launched in Fall 2011, the “Say Something, Do Something!” experience involves a relatively small group of kids — usually about 60 fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders — and a small troupe of Metro actors, as well as a teaching artist who serves as a facilitator. The scripts and entire experience are the result of intense preparation by Metro’s production team. Before they ever take the stage at a school, they’ve conducted interviews with teachers and social workers in the schools and learned all they can about the specific conflicts that kids might be facing. They’ve also researched language, because lingo and vocabulary are ever-changing, and the scenes need to seem feasible.
“We want the language and conflict situation to feel true to life,” says Metro Theater education director Karen Weberman. “It’s what they’re actually going through. Our education is on the ground every week, in classrooms across the city and county.”
She stresses the need for deep listening to the teachers, administrators, and other school staff who know the kids best. “We don’t want this to be, ‘Here’s this program we think you need,’” she says.
Metro’s methodology for the program is backed by serious scholarship. Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice evaluated the program, and Weberman and SLU researchers presented the data last year at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.
The sessions begin with a deep dive into the study of body language. Actors will freeze into a tableau, which the students can pick apart, examining characters’ motivations and feelings in a specific moment. It’s good training for what comes next — the scripted conflict. The scene is only about five minutes long, Weberman says, and while the conflict itself may vary from season to season or, to some extent, from school to school, one thing is constant: There’s a clear and obvious imbalance of power.
“When the scene comes to the highest point of conflict, the facilitator calls a freeze,” says Weberman. “The students dig into the body language of the characters. We hold up an actual thought bubble, like you might see in a cartoon.”
The students fill the bubbles with what a character — aggressor, victim, or bystander — might be thinking. Then the actors break out of the tableau but not their character, and the students take on the role of investigative reporter.
“They’re put in the hot seat, and the students get to interview them,” Weberman says. The students aren’t shy about grilling the characters, she adds. “They really go after the actor who’s playing the bully character. They want to know, ‘Why are you the way you are? Were you bullied?’”
“They want to understand the bad guy as much as they want to help the good guy,” says Gfaller.
After the interrogations, students come up with strategies for better outcomes. The actors run the scene again, and kids can tag actors out and step into the scene themselves to try the strategies.
“We like to say, ‘It’s like rehearsal for real life,’” says Weberman. “It really is all about empathy, stepping into the shoes of another.”
Previous seasons have addressed physical violence and sexual harassment — disheartening realities, Weberman says, for sixth graders. Some of the programming for the upcoming season will continue to look at violence.
During the forthcoming year, Metro Theater will also work with the Diversity Awareness Partnership, whose “Give Respect Get Respect” campaign pairs older students with local corporate executives in a mentorship program. Metro’s programming for that initiative will address gender identity issues.
There’s no better time than at the start of the year to try something new. Lucky for you, there are a ton of ways to get “hands on” in Grand Center Arts District – whether it be through an experience, a workshop, or the discovery of a new musical act. s. Here’s some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
With each exhibition, Pulitzer Arts Foundation hosts a variety of workshops and wellness activities to engage their art-savvy audience in a fresh, new way. Throughout 2020, you are invited to explore ranges of motion and mindfulness (classes include tai chi, yoga, and meditation), workshops and conversations (like paper cutting, tours conducted in Spanish , and conversations with renowned artists and curators), and even unique collaborations with fellow arts organizations like St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Contemporary Art Museum.
The Contemporary Art Museum’s Spring exhibition series opened in January and with it comes a new event roster that includes several hands-on workshops and activities. Two upcoming events to consider are RE: Soul and Drawing from Observation. For RE: Soul, CAM’s 2020 DJ-in-Residence James Biko traces the history of soul music and contemporary sampling in an interactive spinning session inspired by the work of artist Liz Johnson Artur. For April’s Drawing from Observation, guests are invited to draw their own works inspired by the museum’s exhibitions. After a special tour, CAM provides all art supplies for you and invites you to create freely.
For those who have made a New Year’s resolution to learn a new musical skill, KDHX’s Folk School classes are now in session. Folk School offers small group classes for adults and teens of all experience levels, from complete beginner through advanced. Class options include Banjo Introduction, Classic Country Ensemble, Guitar, Music Theory, and more.
At the Arts & Education Council, residentOpen Studio Network takes jazz education seriously, year-round. Designed to connect all levels of musicianship to a network of jazz artists across the globe, Open Studio is your digital connection to courses and flexible membership options. Browse your options by instrument, sign-up, and take courses from Grammy-winning masters of their craft – all in a few clicks.
The Fabulous Fox’sFox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation is committed to bringing theatre to the forefront of creativity from an early age. This year, in addition to their Master Class programs for teens, FPACF has announced a new summer program: Next Stop Broadway. The program consists of classes, workshops, and rehearsals focused on classic Broadway shows. Participants will be taught songs and choreography from two hit shows and also create presentations based on shows in the 2020-21 Fabulous Fox Theatre season.
Creative Reaction Lab focuses on equity-centered community design and provides education, resources, and opportunities for Black and Latinx youth. Each year, programs include options for both youth and institutions to ensure that means and location do not hinder anyone from receiving the opportunities they deserve. The Equity by Design Immersive Series connects the Equity-Centered Community Design to inclusive and equitable outcomes. Creative Reaction Lab facilitators guide participants through highly interactive activities, dialogue, planning, and reflection regarding power, identity, social equity, and community design.