Over the last two weeks, Upstream Arts gathered our roster of 30 Teaching Artists for four days of intensive trainings, curriculum development, and workshops.
Teaching artists are the wheels of Upstream Arts- on the ground, moving us forward, connecting and building relationships with each individual in our programs. That’s why every year we invest in our artists with over 45 hours of training. It’s incredibly inspiring to see the way these talented artists commit again and again to the work, to constantly improving their skills and honing their approaches. As Artistic Director Matt Guidry asked during training, “How do we continually invite? How can we offer consistent, persistent, gentle, warm, welcoming invitations?” This is something our Teaching Artists practice every day, creatively finding new ways to engage.
This year, in addition to working on curriculum, we had two special guests who shared their expertise through drumming and poetry workshops. Music therapist Mike LimBybliw, of Twin Cities Music Therapy Services, LCC, led us through some of the universal rhythms and we practiced drumming techniques.
Chris Martin, poet and founder of Unrestricted Interest, taught us how poetry is “a house made for dancing.” His experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum helped him to articulate how poetry is perfectly suited for neurodiverse brains. We were able to practice and iterate poetry curriculum with him, building on the structures that our teaching artists are already using.
We capped off our training with a field trip to MSS in St. Paul, where they have innovative programs integrating arts programming into their days and community businesses into their space. We were able to hold the beginning of our training on a section of what used to be their work floor which is now shared with the local business PCs for People.
We then toured the extensive arts creation spaces in their facility and got a chance to try screen printing, fiber arts, clay sculpture, and green screen photography alongside the individuals at MSS.
We’re incredibly honored to have such a host of skillful, curious, engaged artists as part of our community. We’re especially grateful to VSA Minnesota for supporting our artists’ professional development with a grant to bring in the special guests. And we’re full of gratitude for individual donors like you, whose support allows us to invest so deeply in our artists and in turn, our community.