Maddie and Frances

(L-R) Maddie and Frances in the Upstream Arts office, June 2016


This summer, Upstream Arts is honored to work with two new interns, Maddie Phelps and Frances Bates. These extraordinary individuals only came on board last month; but already, we are blown away by their hard work, thoughtful insights, and abundant creativity! Today, they kindly took a few minutes to answer some questions about themselves and their relationships to the mission of Upstream Arts. Enjoy – and say hello if you see them around the office or out on a program!


Please share a little bit about yourself.

Maddie: I study English (my fun major) and strategic communications (my “useful” major) at the University of Minnesota. I also give educational presentations about bystander intervention and sexual violence at the U of M. When I’m not studying or working, I like reading Daredevil comics, watching Daredevil on Netflix, and… thinking of non-Daredevil hobbies to put in a list. Writing? Listening to podcasts? I like doing those things too.

Frances: I have always wanted to be an inventor, so I went to school for the closest thing I could get to that. As of next fall, I will be a junior in the industrial design program at University of Wisconsin-Stout. In my free time, there are many different things I like to do. Here are a few: dancing, watching Netflix, organizing/sorting, and hanging with friends.


What led you to Upstream Arts?

Maddie: I began my internship in May 2016, and only knew about Upstream Arts because my dad works close by. It was a lucky break, as Upstream Arts is the confluence of many of my interests: the arts, education, and disability. When I was a disabled child (without even knowing I was disabled), writing and performing were how I learned to express myself. I would’ve had to be foolish not to try to give back to an organization that provides those arts opportunities to others!

Frances: I love to be creative, have some of my disabilities of my own, and previously worked with people with disabilities. Before going to the 10 year event [The Art of We], though, I hadn’t heard of Upstream Arts. After finding out what a wonderful organization it is, I really connected with Upstream Arts. So since I was already looking for something to do this summer, I thought doing an internship would be great. I was able to start my internship with Upstream Arts in May/June 2016.


What projects have you been tackling in your internship so far?

Maddie: I’m a data nerd, so I’ve been doing a lot of data entry and analysis. I’m currently compiling that data into a report on Upstream Arts’ successes in the community. I’ve also been gathering resources about sex education, healthy relationships, and sexual violence for those who need/want them after participating in The Art of Relationships program.

Frances: Since I just recently started, I have only worked on a few projects, but there are plenty of things in store for me. Some of these things are: designing greeting cards using original artwork from Upstream Arts programs, repairing and maintaining the Little Free Libraries that Upstream Arts created for Arts on Chicago, and redecorating the office with images and artwork from Upstream Arts programs over the years.


What is something you have discovered or learned since you started working with Upstream Arts? What else do you hope to explore or learn before your internship ends?

Maddie: Something I’ve discovered since working here is what an amazing impact this kind of work can have on the community. It makes me eager to do more of it. Something I’d love to explore more before my internship ends is how sex ed/healthy relationships is taught to disabled folks in The Art of Relationships; it would nicely combine my interest in disability with my work in sexual violence education.

Frances: Right away, I learned how much Upstream Arts can really do for someone. From improving one’s communication skills to writing very inspirational poetry to learning change is ok, Upstream Arts does a great job improving lives. The only thing I could say for something else I wish to explore or learn is maybe helping make Upstream Arts even better by adding some of my creativity to the organization.


If you or someone you know is interested in doing an internship with Upstream Arts, we’d love to explore the possibilities! Feel free to email us at [email protected] or call our office at (612) 331-4584.