Arts Sphere

Guiding Principle:  “The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of the nation, is close to the center of a nation’s purpose—and is a test to the quality of a nation’s civilization.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Educate participants (youth and adults) in practices and philosophy of various arts to promote discipline, purpose, positive identity, and shared culture-building in the community.

Reinforce practical strategies to find the time to do your art in spaces we either have or find in town.

Teach the importance of “ten-thousand-hour rule”:  real skill demands sustained and persistent practice.

Engage family members in supporting creative and innovative artistic lifestyle.

Provide education/mentoring on a variety of arts practices, linking up with Wesleyan and MXCC.

Generate youth interest and mentoring experiences in arts related fields.


Narrative – Podcasting, storytelling, video and film, songwriting, seeking out stories from our community and reaching out to older storytellers (when necessary, as with older Sicilians, finding translators to help youth speak with elders), making intergenerational links around shared stories

Movement – STEP, Tai Chi and Qigong and other Martial Arts like Aikido (to build discipline and peer respect in youth), hip-hop and breaking (dance) classes, watching video of master dancers/performers

Technical skills — Teaching support skills needed in music, video, and film—both recording and editing—as well as in related performance disciplines

Poetry – Poetry slams and competitions with other towns/schools, intergenerational poetry circles (reading and discussing)

Hip-Hop Culture — Learning from our local youth the current trends and directions in this form and encouraging innovative rapping, singing and music productions in our recording studio

Emerging Arts — Youth around the world are always creating new art forms, so letting local youth discover and introduce these new forms to our older established artists will lead to great conversations

Middletown Green Open Door – Youth program to view and discuss arts events/performances (Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts provides our mentors/students with free tickets)

Filmmakers’ Forum – View and discuss the revolutionary films relevant to our youth:  Malcolm X, Moonlight, Whose Streets? (in process of setting up screening with local director, Sabaah Folayan, for youths 15-22), I am Not Your Negro, Tangerine, BlackKklansman, Black Panther, new documentary about the Black Panthers and their historical/social justice practices, etc.

Sense of purpose – Strategies to help youth and adults develop a sense purpose in life

Building creative community relationships – Engage students in planning community events to share their knowledge and experiences in arts performances; create safe space/room for youth



Volunteer Staff (Professionals and Retired Professionals, College Students, Local Artists from MAC 650)

Arts supplies

Rebuild the recording studio in the basement (long-term fundraising and community action project)

Small budget for decoration of educational spaces (engage creative youth in design/implementation)

Small budget for community building events

Annual Budget:

$5,000:   year one for programming.  (Year 2 and 3 budgets for programming in this sphere will be much larger.)


Daily arts-related activity on a rotating schedule

Volunteers commit to a day of the week to offer programming

Participants have a daily arts-sphere experience in addition to daily health and technology activities

Integration with other spheres:


Visual arts activities to promote positive health messages and attractive meeting spaces

Dance activities to promote physical movement

Musical arts to promote relaxation and sense of purpose

Healing Arts:  dance therapy, music therapy, art therapy, etc.


Graphic design within STEAM program:  encourage artistic experimentation

Utilization of apps to help teach skill acquisition in all the arts

Utilization of computers to teach skills to access reliable arts information online

Health & Technology

Sicilian Food Project (type 2 diabetes, migration effect, statistics, culinary and gardening arts)

DNA Values Project (intergenerational: youth and adults discover their roots, research the arts and healthy indigenous foods from their home countries, discuss different cultures and their distinct values)


Arts Sphere Leadership:

Banning Eyre – Peabody Award-winning radio producer, author, musician, lecturer

Joan Hedrick — Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, author, scholar of Gender Studies and of Harriet Beecher Stowe

George Perez — Wesleyan undergrad, founder of Cardinal Kids, writer, currently at Oxford University, former leader at the Green Street Arts Center afterschool program (with Cookie Quinones)

Jeff Hush Phoolan Devi Opera (producer, librettist, director and choreographer), writer, editor, filmmaker, dancer, lecturer

Gail Thompson-Allen — decades of experience at Russell Library, currently Director of Programming there, curator of annual Common Ground Middletown International Film Festival (shown at Russell Library, Wesleyan University and MXCC)