Research + brainstorming for another interview (Week of Nov 14)

This week I reached out to Lauren Tannenbaum, the school director of the Durham Arts Council for an interview. She replied and connected me with a dancer and teacher named Heather Bryce who is willing to do an interview with me after the break. I spent this week researching the extensive resumé and experience as a dancer, choreographer, and educator within the arts. I wanted to ask her similar questions as I asked Ms. Tatreau, but I also wanted to tailor my questions to her work. For example, I wanted to make sure to focus on the work she has done with incorporating arts into the curriculum for children with disabilities. I also wanted to know more about the many organizations she is part of, what she has learned from them, and how she has used that knowledge to expand arts education in her career.

Full interview notes from Heather Tatreau (Week of Nov 7)

  1. Why do you think exposure to the arts, specifically dance, is important for children and adolescents?
    1. Arts is beneficial in so many ways
    2. We run an afterschool program, arts camps, artists in residency program in Title 1 schools– introducing arts to them
    3. Using arts as a way to approach other subject matters in school– different learners need different teaching methods
      1. Arts allow students to access info in ways that make sense to them
      2. Info can click because it is presented in a different way ie: through dance
    4. Coming out of lockdown– can help with social emotional component of things
  2. How did you become involved in the dance community and what opportunities did you have to pursue a dance career?
    1. Started dancing at age 3 
    2. Dance was always a creative outlet that I felt like I needed in my life
    3. On a different path in college– pursuing other career interests— got out of college and realized I needed to dance– went to grad school for dance education
    4. Taught at universities for past 20 years– recently left to start working for Arts Center– could have more of a concrete impact on the community
  3. If you had to rate the Triangle community on its arts accessibility to young children, how would you rate it and why?
    1. 6/10
    2. Not awful– pockets of this area that are more accessible than others
    3. There are a lot of good state run arts programs– takes art to public schools
    4. Lot of good program in the Raleigh Durham area 
    5. Arts aren’t fully integrated into the schools as much as artists would like – value in arts
    6. Dance classes in studio and camps is very expensive
    7. 3% of spots are available for scholarship– doesn’t serve the wider community as much as they want to
  4. Can you speak to some of the barriers children face to accessing opportunities to learn dance?
    1. Expenses of classes
    2. Cultural barriers– ie: ballet is an upper class white predominant activity
      1. Some of these spaces feel exclusive– excluding certain groups, those groups feel unwelcome
      2. Community engagement at the arts center tries to figure out who isn’t participating and why– tries to make ppl feel welcome
  5. Do you think these barriers have a disproportionate effect on certain communities in our area? If so, why?
    1. There’s a historical precedent of thinking about the arts as something elite that isn’t for everyone
    2. “Dance is for every child”
    3. Black and brown communities don’t see that they have a place
    4. It is important to go INTO those communities and bringing programming to them
  6. Successful approaches
    1. Community engagement– works on creating meaningful, sustainable relationships with other organizations– seem to be divided on race or socioeconomic status lines
    2. There is a center down the road that has primarily POC children
    3. Offering free tickets to those events to make it more accessible– ppl who can pay, pay. Ppl who can’t can’t
    4. Partnership 
    5. Do a little bit of both 
    6. Bringing resources to them and bringing them into our spaces to take advantage of the resources
    7. Takes time to build up trust and relationship to bring ppl into your own facility
    8. Good intentions doesn’t mean they will feel welcome right away
  7. Do you believe that the government, school boards, or other local organizations have a responsibility to bridge these disparities? If so, are they doing enough?
    1. Follow up: How can they do more?
    2. Not doing enough
    3. Resources aren’t there– have to go up and up the chain to find that resource
    4. How do we get legislators to see value in community engagement and the arts
    5. Requires a team– workers spread too thin
    6. Need to vote in local elections
  8. Public school curriculum
    1. Such a shortage of arts teachers 
    2. Children aren’t gaining exposure to the arts in schools
    3. The arts are usually considered extra when they should really be integrated into everything we are doing
    4. We aren’t prioritizing our funding– it all comes back to funding and resources
  9. Could you tell me about the mission of the organization you work for, the Carrboro Arts Center, and what you do there?
    1. Director of education, coordinate youth programming– offer after school programming where all chapel hill carrboro school elementary school buses bring children here for programs– provides after school care and month long artist residencies to work with artists in different genres– end of the month sharing with parents
      1. Handful of kids who can come on scholarships 
      2. Summer camps offered 
      3. Try to balance filling the need in the community while also giving them quality education and programming– exposing kids to not just visual arts– but also music, theater, dance, etc.
        1. Then when they’re older they can choose their favorites and have more of a voice in the kinds of classes they take 
    2. How is the Arts Center funded?
      1. Grants, donations, sponsorships from state organizations or bigger foundations (pretty substantial), memberships w/donations
    3. Where and how are classes taught?
      1. Have many classrooms at their facility– had 7 or 8 camps happening at once in their facility over the summer
      2. They have many art rooms, digital lab, theater
      3. They hire teaching artists– working artists in our community 
        1. They have instructor showcases– kids can really see what they do as a working artist– shows potential career path in the arts
    4. In terms of scholarships, how does the Arts Center cater towards students and families who are unable to pay for classes? How many scholarships are available and how are they awarded?
      1. Development team that applies for grants to support scholarships and collects donations – tells story of our arts programming and how it’s beneficial to everyone– they help raise money to give out scholarships
      2. Application process to gauge financial need– need based 
        1. These are prioritized
    5. Do you feel that the Arts Center has adequate support? What more could be done if you had more resources? 
      1. Nonprofit arts organization so we could always use more funding– more funding we get the more we can do
      2. Some programs they want to do can’t happen because there isn’t enough funding 
  10. Why do you think organizations like the Arts Center are important? How have they impacted the community?
    1. Offers a physical space for community – galleries open most of the day, can see performances, hub for the arts to make everyone feel welcome
    2. Arts brings people together
  11. Are there any plans for expansion or new program developments at the Arts Center?
    1. Moving to a new location– renovating the building – provides opportunities for growth
    2. Fabrics lab, 3D printers, laser cutters, etc. – amp up technology to draw in a bigger crowd
    3. Expand programming to older youth aka teens
    4. New space can help tap into new communities 
  12. Do you know of or are you involved in any other organizations with similar goals?
    1. Good space to work together and actually achieve their goals
    2. University often loses touch with the community that surrounds it (UNC)
    3. Can collaborate with so many different groups– other local small organizations
    4. Orange County Arts Commission, NC Arts Council, also local community centers
  13. What more do you think needs to be done to make dance more accessible in our community?
    1. Funding, etc. as mentioned above
  14. How can individuals contribute to this cause?
    1. Support their local organizations with donations, sign up for programming b/c it helps grow what we do, be more involved in the community

Interview with Heather Tatreau (Week of Nov 7)

This week I was able to interview Heather Tatreau! It was a really great experience to get to talk to her and learn about her experiences in the dance world and with community outreach in the Triangle. We began by discussing why she believes dance is so important for children and adolescents. She explained that the arts can be used as a tool to help different learners process materials in school in a way that is more easily comprehensible to them. The main focus of the interview was on arts (specifically dance) accessibility in the Triangle community, what we are doing well, and where we can improve. When I asked her to rate the Triangle community on its arts accessibility, she gave it a 6/10 because there are some pockets of the area that have really great, accessible opportunities, while others are severely underserved. We then moved into talking about the barriers children face to accessing dance opportunities in our community. The main issues she highlighted were the often elitist and exclusive nature of the arts, especially in ballet which is historically a predominantly upper class, white activity. Thus these spaces can exclude certain groups, especially Black and brown communities, and make them feel unwelcome. Furthermore, dance classes can be incredibly expensive, which excludes many children in our community who cannot afford them and who do not have access to other dance classes in their school curriculum.

We spoke in depth about her work at the Carrboro Arts Center and how they are working to overcome these disparities in our community by offering scholarships for their arts programs and making their spaces inclusive. She emphasized the importance of community engagement and creating meaningful, sustainable relationships with communities. It is important to go into these communities and collaborate to bring programming to them. We ended the interview by talking about the ways in which individuals can support their local organizations with donations and signing up for programming to grow the artistic community.

I will be posting the full interview notes in another post for anyone interested in her responses.

Creating interview questions (Week of Oct 31)

I was able to secure a time to interview Ms. Tatreau next week, so I spent this week preparing for our interview. I continued researching her role at the Carrboro Arts Center as the Education Director and her overall experience and achievements in the dance world, such as previous teaching experience at UNC and working as a choreographer on various local projects. Aside from asking her about her own experiences in the dance world, I want to focus our interview on dance accessibility in the Triangle community. I want to know her perspective on how accessible the arts are to children of different backgrounds in our community, the largest barriers they face, and examples of successful approaches to remedying these issues.