The Arts and Social Services: Seven Years in the Life of A Family of Artists

Table of Contents

A Expert Advisory Panel Listing
B Thank Yous
C Executive Summary
Chapter One: The Poconos

  • The Changing Nature of the Region
  • New Social Stresses
  • Artists Settle in the Poconos
  • The Problems of A Bedroom Community

Chapter Two: The Beginnings of A Family of Artists

  • The Classes Would be Conducted by Professional Fine Artists
  • Workshops are Therapeutic in Effect
  • Self-Respect, Dignity, Self-Reliance and Patience
  • Using Strengths to Overcome Weaknesses
  • Chart – Staff Assessment of the Value of Arts Activities
  • “ Don’t Believe What I’m Seeing Here” The Pilot Program
  • Chart – Camper Participation, Final Week of Camp, 1994
  • The Family is the Model

Chapter Three: The Deutsch Institute Joins A Family of Artists: The Programs Expand

  • Respecting the Child’s Limits
  • Chart – Questions of Self-Esteem
  • Chart – Positive Behavior
  • A Multi-Generational Camp : Inclusion is the Way A Human Community Operates
  • Serving the Community Through the Arts, and
  • Serving the Community of Artists

Chapter Four: No Home/ No Infrastructure
Chapter Five: Developmental Disabilities Planning Council Begins On-Going Support: A Focus on Friendship-Building
Chapter Six: Working With Seniors

  • Albert, Bill and Herbert Were All Stars in AFOA Workshops and at Camp

Chapter Seven: Intergenerational Activities

  • The Staff Had Never Seen Mike So Responsive

Chapter Eight: Education: The Need for Change

  • Effective Programs
  • Educational Reform
  • Goal Six of the Pennsylvania Arts Education Plan …
  • “ The Arts Are The Key to the Sense of What is Not Yet”
  • The History of AFOA/Education Collaborations
  • Advocacy and Multicultural Programming
  • Leadership: The Latchkey Problem
  • Teacher In-Service and Residencies in the Schools
  • Bringing Together the Needs of Schools and AFOA’s Extensive Social Service Expertise
  • Growth on a Shoe String: The Need for Stable Infrastructure
  • Why the Community Turns to A Family of Artists
  • Other Models for Success
  • How Can Local Arts/ Education Collaborations Work?
  • Chart – A Partnership Development Cycle
  • “ Community Arts and Education Partnerships Need Coordination”

Chapter Nine: Testimonials from Parents, Participants and Administrators

  • Chart – Percentage of Agency-Referred Children Who Returned to Camp, 1989-1993
  • The Continuing Issue of Infrastructure

Chapter Ten: Our Policy Recommendations

  • The Need, The Expertise, and the Barriers
  • Arts Organizations Have ” Human Deficits”
  • AFOA is not a Human Service Organization
  • A Short History of Arts Funding
  • What Kind of Funding is Needed?
  • Arts Organizations Need Salary Support for Top Management Staff
  • Chart – The flow of dollars from the Legislature to local arts organizations serving educational and social service needs in the community
  • The Need for Direct Funds
  • Chart – Projected Incomes Sources 1994-95
  • Chart – Projected Expenses for 1994-95: Comparison of Costs of Direct Service to Participants vs. Overhead

Chapter Eleven: Bibliography
Appendix;

  • A Family of Artists Programs
  • Data Base of A Family of Artists Activities, 1988-93
  • Evaluations of A Family of Artists Programs
  • 1988 Independent Evaluation
  • 1994 Evaluation by ESU Early Childhood Education Department
  • Monroe County Arts Council’s Assessment Report and Recommendations
  • A Selection of Newspaper Clippings From A Family of Artists Programs 1989-93

The Arts and Social Services:

Seven Years in the Life of A Family of Artists.

A Report to
Center for Rural Pennsylvania Prepared by
John McLaughlin, Ph.D,Associate Professor of English, East Stroudsburg University
Project Director

Jamie Downs, Executive Director, A Family of Artists

Alysoun McLaughlin, Research Assistant, A Family of Artists

Expert Advisory Panel:

Rosemary Barrett
Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Planning Council

Janet Bregman-Taney
Artist

Beth Cornell
Pennsylvania Department of Education

William Daniels
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts

Laura Goss
Executive Director
Monroe County Arts Council

Sharon Gretz
Children Relationships Projects
Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Planning Council

Jonathan Hertzel
Artist

Dorothy Kauffman
Executive Director
Monroe County Area Agency on Aging

Bo Keppel, Ph.D
Programs for Academic Support
East Stroudsburg University

Mary Kernaghan
Department of Mental Health

Janet Lawson
Artist

Susan Lennon
Ex. Human Services Director
County of Monroe

Michael Orr
Department of Mental Health

Helene Osswald
Guidance Department Head
East Stroudsburg School District

Dr. Patricia Pinciotti
Assoc. Prof. of Early Childhood Education, East Stroudsburg University

Diana Ploof
Children Relationships Projects
Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Planning Council

Randal Rosenbaum
Assistant Director
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts

David B. Schwartz
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Planning Council

Diana Shandley
Director CASP Program
Monroe/Carbon/Pike
Mental Health, Mental Retardation

Brian Stone
President
Monroe County Arts Council

William Strickland
Executive Director
Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild

Norma Swint
Director of Mental Health Services
Monroe/Carbon/Pike
Mental Health, Mental Retardation

Peter Taney
Artist

Victoria Torres-Cays
Artist

Gene Van Dyke, Ph.D.
Pennsylvania Department of Education

Johanna Weaver
Executive Director
Monroe County Head Start

Janet Weidensaul
Monroe County County Commissioner

Special Thanks to:

William Daniels, Bo Keppel, Patricia Pinciotti and Priscilla J. Giese, Graduate Assistant, for their help on this project.

Executive Summary

Background:

A Family of Artists is geographically situated in the Poconos, a long settled region of northeast Pennsylvania adjacent to New York and New Jersey. The region is changing culturally due to an influx of NY and NJ residents. These changes have brought prior social stresses, primarily dealing with family issues, to the fore.

Response:

Attempts to deal with these social problems include the multi-cultural fine arts classes and workshops of A Family of Artists run by professional fine artists for children and adults both with and without disabilities.

Working Method:

Artists as role models for patience and self-reliance, willingness to collaborate and work non-competitively, have been central to the programs, which have been therapeutic in effect if not in design. Using built-in strengths to overcome identified weaknesses, they have been successful across a wide range of “client populations.” Examples, backed by statistical studies, research and personal anecdotes, are offered the reader in this report with cross-validation of the claims to success. Respect for limits and encouragement to seek them in a supportive environment are marked attributes of these programs, which include multigenerational camps, adult classes, school residencies and other services to the larger community.

Conclusions and Recommendations:

The active role of A Family of Artists in current educational reform and delivery of social services is clear; however, the infrastructure limits on the organization stem from direct-service government funding and lack of support for administrative organization and long range development. Policy recommendations include assistance in seeking administrative grant support to extend these programs, and legislative re-prioritization of infrastructure support for AFOA and similar community-based, arts education, non-profit organizations across the Commonwealth

The History of “A Family of Artists”


The Quiet Days
I first came here
Then, I was shy
Then every day I got used to it here
Then today
I met a great poetry writer
It was you
It was me
– JR

The Poconos

The Pocono Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania rise in long, rocky, rolling swells, climbing rapidly beyond the massive, beautiful cliff-face which gives its name to that end of Monroe County, the Delaware Water Gap. The landscape is reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands from which many of the local white settlers came, fleeing English oppression. Indeed, until very recently it was possible to find old-time Appalachian square dance fiddling still taught and practiced among these craggy hills, and bluegrass can still be heard in Minisink Hills and Stroudsburg.

Sloping southwards, the rocky hills turn into slate quarries. Monroe County blends into the Slate Belt in neighboring Northampton County, where small villages like Pen Argyl and Roseto settled by Welsh and Italian immigrants proudly carry on their old-world traditions and church-based religious festivals, with the protective saints carried in procession on feast days.

Running westwards, the rocky hills give way to wider valleys along the side of Monroe County’s many small rivers and creeks, where the rich farmlands of the West End of Monroe County were settled originally by the Pennsylvania Dutch. The local cable television company, Blue Ridge Cable, carries an educational program in that rich Bavarian patois, an uncrackable code for fascinated outsiders, the recent flood of migrants from Manhattan and New Jersey.

The Changing Nature of the Region

North of the West End, the county crests into the plateau of Mount Pocono. Here as elsewhere in Monroe County, new residents are daily changing the character of this formerly rural area. The local school districts have had to build amazing campuses, out of which flow cataracts of yellow buses every afternoon, carrying their huge outflow of new students home.

While it is estimated that 80% of the population of Monroe County still lives in a rural setting, the New York/New Jersey “bedroom community” is threatening to join with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Region. Monroe County has
grown 114% in the last two decades; 9.5% of this growth is from 1990-92. [Sue Lennon, Monroe County Human Services Director]. Latino, African-American and Asian students sit on these school buses beside the ethnic Europeans of the older immigration waves, each with their own traditions and values.

New Social Stresses

This recent upsurge in population has brought to the foreground many of the stresses and problems that have always plagued rural America. New social problems are akin to those that the settlers of these craggy hills and rolling valleys had thought to avoid when they moved here in past generations. Racial tension and domestic violence, child abuse, inability of unlettered, school dropouts to obtain work in an information society, substance abuse and vandalism have all surged upwards in Monroe County in recent years. These increases have been met with serious and frequently original attempts to grapple with these complex and difficult social problems:

A 1992/93 study done by the Monroe County Human Services Department indicates that of 636 school age children referred through the Student Assistance Program (SAP) or Instructional Support Team (IST), 43% faced a mental health issue, 27% a drug/alcohol issue, and 18% indicated an abuse/neglect issue. (Sue Lennon, Monroe County Human Services Director)

Artists Settle in the Poconos

Apart from the farmers, there had been another group of early immigrants and settlers in Monroe County. These were the tourists and vacationers, traveling by train to the resort hotels which have long been a feature of the region. Many of the visitors settled alongside the farming community, and in time became part of the local area. Among these later settlers was a special class of Americans: the artists attracted to the massive beauty of the Delaware Water Gap’s great cliffs, to the rolling hills, the deep woods and the fertile fields of Monroe County. Settling alongside their neighbors, these artists became part of the local scene, until they too claimed a right to political involvement, to service on school boards and in fire companies, on town councils and in volunteer ambulance teams.

The Problems of a Bedroom Community

An independent lot, the early rural settlers were Republican for much of their history, although the Great Depression brought many to a reluctant reliance upon New Deal programs. That mixed inheritance is played out on every election day in Monroe County. Republicans and Democrats, however, agree that there are stresses and strains in living in Monroe County’s 611 square miles during the last quarter of the 20th century. From 1980 to 1990, the per capita income of the county rose by 56%, but the cost of renting or purchasing a home rose by 152%. Costs have been fueled by the demand for housing of residents who commute daily to work in New York and New Jersey, and whose high personal income obscures the large number of low-income residents hidden in per capita income statistics. Linked to these commuter households are an increasing number of “latchkey children” in need of after-school attention, which their working parents are simply unable to provide for them.

On the other side of the coin, increasing numbers of frustrated parents, unable to make ends meet in the increasingly expensive bedroom community, have turned on one another and on their children. A rise in domestic violence and child abuse has been the result. The incidence of reported and/or suspected child abuse in Monroe County has steadily increased over the last few years. School-based intake workers in the four school districts in Monroe County are assessing an average of 6-9 children per week per school for suspected abuse/neglect issues. In FY 1993-94, 62 children have been placed in foster-care and over 300 active cases of abuse and/or neglect have been reported county-wide. Similarly, the local MH/MR agency has a waiting list of over 80 individuals, and for children under 18 there is a three-week wait for intake. (Sue Lennon)

Given these and other grave problems within the community, what solutions could be/have been found to help deal with them? If these are the stresses and weaknesses in the social fabric, what are its strengths? Does Monroe County have, in its tangled ethnic and racial and occupational diversity, in its fascinating settlement patterns, a means to begin responding to these crises, rather than to simply detail and document such horror stories?

When Grady Hillman, a poet in residence, worked in Texas prisons in the 1970’s, Metametrics, an independent evaluation agency found that incident reports dropped from over 90% to 57% during the poetry program.
(Arts in Corrections: Summary Report of Project CULTURE and Handbook for Program Implementation, Washington, DC, American Correctional Association, p.1, in Cleveland,p 71)

A study conducted in 1987 showed return rate reduced by 51% for parolees who had participated in Arts-In-Corrections for at least six months while in prison. (Research Synopsis on Parole Outcomes for Participants Paroled December 1980-February, 1987, Sacramento, CA.: California Department of Corrections, 1988, Cleveland, p.87.)

The Beginnings of A Family of Artists

A Family of Artists owes its beginning to just such an inventive response to identifiable social problems. Such a solution might not have been so easily identified in many other places within Pennsylvania, lacking the rich artistic resources in their local community. In the spring of 1988, Regina Erickson (a local parent activist) and Tom Collins (at the time a doctoral candidate in psychology at Temple University, working for Monroe County’s MH/MR program) had recognized serious programming needs of children with emotional disturbances, served through the local agencies. Instead of confining their search for a solution to the traditional channels, Tom and Regina approached Jamie Downs, President of the Monroe County Arts Council, a local artist with a background in arts administration and a known interest in public service. Her husband, John McLaughlin, a Harvard PhD teaching in the English Department of East Stroudsburg University, had previously worked with special populations in a number of institutional settings.

Their proposal was that Jamie and John together organize and run a small summer camp, a pilot project of fine arts classes for youthful social service clients. Through the course of discussion over the ensuing months, several themes became clear. Guiding principles and goals grew out of the shared values of initial participants in the developing concept. These themes have since acted as fundamental, structural bases of what soon came to be christened “A Family of Artists,” initially a program of the Monroe County Arts Council.

The Classes Would be Conducted by Professional Fine Artists

First, and in some ways fundamentally, these classes would be conducted by professional fine artists, skilled craft-workers in their chosen fields, degreed or otherwise experienced individuals deeply grounded in their art. These were not to be mere hobbyist approaches to the arts; they were to be legitimate exposure to the life-choices and knowledge of people who had long since chosen the discipline of the arts as their guiding principles in life. It should be emphasized that this was a solution perhaps not so readily available in other places within the Commonwealth; nowhere else in Pennsylvania is there such a concentration of artistic wealth, creativity and experience as in Monroe County. The arts community of Monroe County was recognized as a State treasure by Sondra Myers, then Cultural Advisor to Governor Casey, in a special 1992 issue of “Counting on Culture,” published by the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce.

Workshops are Therapeutic in Effect

Rather than attempting to be specifically therapeutic by design, these classes, while expected to be therapeutic in effect, were to be implemented as introductions to the arts primarily for children who had already been identified as emotionally troubled. In some cases these children had histories of acting out, of running afoul of the law, perhaps coming from what the social services euphemistically refer to as “dysfunctional families.” Child abuse had taken its toll on many of their young lives, coming out of a background of violence and substance abuse bred in the intermittent unemployment and instability that follows on the low educational attainment traditional among rural and small town laboring populations.

“You’re teaching the kids that they are valuable and that they can learn to do things that are valuable…If you’re going to say to a kid, you’re valuable and what you do is valuable and has a worth, then the people that are teaching them by role modeling and by actual skills, helping our kids and our families to have these skills…that has a value…if you negate the value by saying “We want you to volunteer,” you’re defeating the direction and design of the program.
Parent Focus Group Discussion, June, 28, 1994

Self-Respect, Dignity, Self-Reliance and Patience

The kinds of autonomous self-respect and dignity so often taken for granted among artists; the self-reliant and patient willingness to work through self-chosen tasks and the readiness to collaborate with peers. were freely available among the artistic community to which A Family of Artists could readily turn. These characteristics were central to A Family of Artists from the beginning.

John Lord and D’Arcy McKillop Farlow of the Empowerment Research Project at the Centre for Research and Education in Human Services in Kitchener, Ontario found that “ a critical element in the empowerment process was for the individual to know someone who accepted them unquestioningly and who believed in their capabilities. Professionals must intuitively understand this notion of valuing the individual. (A Study in Personal Empowerment: Implications for Health Promotion, John Lord, D’Arcy McKillip Farlow, p.6)

The particular artists selected as instructors in these classes were to be human beings who believed in the “process” approach to the production of fine arts, not the “project-completion” approach. This was not a matter of trial-and-error; this was a basic, guiding principle. Jamie had major responsibility for this choice, and the reasons become obvious once study turns to the children who were our first focus in the initial camp.

Researchers have shown repeatedly that cooperation predicts to learning more than does competition. It’s true in rural, urban and suburban schools, it’s true for all ages: it’s true for all subjects matters… the more cognitive problem-solving and creativity is required, the worse competition stacks up when measured against cooperative approaches. (Alfie Kohn, The Case Against Competition, Noetic Sciences Review, Spring ‘90. p.14.)

Other data indicates that participation in community-based programs has led in many instances, to increased empowerment and feelings of autonomy for participants with and without disabilities. (Brian Abery, Promoting Social Inclusion Beyond the School Community, Strategies for Change., p, 16)

Children who had already been marked for failure, who had difficulty controlling their frustrations and problems in communication, needed a patient, forgiving environment for their first hesitant steps in the creation of art objects. Instructors with too high, impatient standards would only confirm their self-doubts and misgivings about their potential; patient artists, willing to welcome apparent “mistakes” and “errors” as joyful possibilities of new ways of looking at the world, were absolutely critical as these budding “artists” took their initial steps towards self-confidence. This had been Jamie’s own training at Kutztown University’s fine arts program, and she saw no reason not to apply it here.
For this reason, she turned first to Dorothea Scarpa, a New York-trained sculptress with exposure to young artists, to Maggie Martin, a local poet known for her openness and willingness to experiment with new writers, as well as to the Juggernaut String Band, a Philadelphia-based old-time Appalachian string band duo with a history of successful school residencies involving special needs populations.

Using Strengths to Overcome Weaknesses

This philosophy jibed completely with the special populations background of Dr. McLaughlin, his “goal plan programming” work at White Haven State Hospital and Wordsworth Academy, where he had been trained in an approach to “strength-weakness” analysis of residents. The emphasis in both institutions was on finding the strengths of a given person, and then deliberately using these identified strengths to overcome the known weaknesses. The positive slant on the analysis meant, of course, that these young people were being viewed, first of all, as people with strengths.

This was novel for the children who had previously been labeled primarily by their diagnosed “weaknesses,” and many other elements of the pilot program established that summer in the basement of Christ Episcopal Church in Stroudsburg flowed from this basic focus.

Third — and following from these first two guiding principles, of working with professional artists “modeling the artistic life,” and of seeking strengths with which to overcome defined weaknesses or problems — this was not to be a “disciplinary” program, where exclusion from the classes would be followed up by other punishments. “Time out” from classes was recognized early on as more than enough “punishment” for children enjoying free access to a plethora of arts materials in an environment where discussion and encouragement followed upon their every move. Encouraged even when they made “mistakes, “ by professional artists used to incorporating novel discoveries in the creative process, many of these children were being invited to explore the imaginative possibilities of their own minds and hands for the first time in their lives without rebuke from authority figures.

Staff Assessment of theValue of Arts Activities

INSERT TABLE

A survey of counselors conducted at the end of the first week of camp in 1991, 1992, and 1993 showed that 100% assessed artist-in-residency programs as the children’s favorite activity as compared to swimming, hiking, and other activities.

To the question: “Which activity helped the most to foster friendships among children?,” 64% of the counselors reported that arts activities as the most effective.

William Ayer, Assoc. Prof. of Education at University of Ill., Chicago, says: ” The focusing question for effective teachers must be these: Who is this person before me? What are his interests and areas of wonder? How does she express herself …What efforts and potentials does she bring?…We typically start in the wrong place. We start with what kids can’t do and don’t know, what they don’t understand or value, what they feel incompetent or insecure about, and we then develop a curriculum to remediate each deficiency.. It is built on repairing weakness and it simply doesn’t work. ( Ayer, Learning From Children: Advice to New Teachers on the Dangers of Labeling, Rethinking Schools, Vol. 8, No. 1, Autumn, 1993, p.15 excerpted from To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, Teachers’ College Press, 1993)

The result was creation of an idyllic “cocoon,” within which the program took place even in those first two weeks. (Mary Kernaghan, Northeastern Regional Director of Mental Retardation Services: see her evaluation in the appendix).

Major impressions gained as a result of independent observation of the program and interviews with the children were:

1. An environment was created in which children felt free to express themselves without fear of failure.
2. The artists working with the children gave positive regard through encouraging words and non-verbal signs of approval (i.e., nodding of the head, a pat on the back, an admiring look).
3. Children were physically and mentally engaged in the creative process.
4. Snack times and escorted visits to a nearby school playground provided needed breaks from the intensity of the creative process.
5. Round-robin story telling sessions after lunch encouraged imaginative thinking and cooperation among the participants.
6. Each day’s session ended on a positive note with the children viewing their day’s activities on the video monitor. This provided another opportunity for socialization and encouraging comments.
Family participation appeared to occur mainly when parents came to pick up their children. The day was usually extended an extra half hour as parents joined the circle around the video monitor.

“Bobby…can’t read and he can’t write, so the idea of saying Bobby could write a poem is beyond what people think of his skills as being…I know the first couple of years, Bobby wrote incredible poems, because someone else was there who could put the words into those tangible letters in black and white, but it was his thoughts and his feelings, and he was therefore the poet. That’s a real important thing for people to feel about themselves – that they can do things that other people say they can’t. The kids loved it when you put that book together that had their poetry in it. They were published poets and that’s a wonderful thing…When you’re in a school setting, or an academic, traditional structure, it would never include something like poetry for a kid that’s dually diagnosed. It just wouldn’t happen. It’s beyond his skill and abilities.

Parent Focus Group Discussion, June 28, 1994

“I Don’t Believe What I’m Seeing Here” – The Pilot Program

The local chief of police, Gary Roberts, stopped in for a visit one day. As he left, he remarked, “I know some of these kids in a professional capacity, and I don’t believe what I’m seeing here.” Among the scenes which are readily recalled from that first camp was an experience with “Chris” (a fictitious name). A tall, originally withdrawn young teenager, he was allowed access to the borrowed video camera to tape his friends at work on their art, and at once hit upon the way to get a “panning” shot — by putting the edge of his foot against the tripod and sliding the whole assembly across the tiled floor… (The video camera, borrowed from ESU’s English Department, was intended as a means of recording camp activities, as well as a means of providing “positive feedback” on good behavior, following Dr. McLaughlin’s similar use of video equipment at White Haven. Its consistent use was intended to be a pivotal element in this and future camps, and its fate mirrors that of other funding problems to which we will turn in due time.)

“Chris,” as it turned out, was one of the young people known to the chief of police, and after a successful camp that year he returned for our workshops during the winter, befriending the camp staff (the winter program had immediately been called “camp” by the returnees). He was unable to come for the second year because, in the interim, he had fallen afoul of the law. Such intrusions of the world outside, exhibiting behavior beyond the limits and outside the experience of camp, is a recurring theme in the life of A Family of Artists, to which we will also return later.

Still, that first year’s pilot was a success by any standards. First of all, the children were happy. In this environment, treated with respect and encouraged to express themselves in a non-competitive, collaborative and cooperative manner, free of the stress-filled challenges of the violent world that awaited them outside, beyond camp boundaries, they relaxed and blossomed. The daily videotapes, fed back to the parents who came to pick them up in the closing half-hour, permitted parents to see their children happy and successful, in many cases for the first time working cooperatively with other children.

Camper Participation

Final Week of Camp, 1994

INSERT TABLE

When given free choice to select activities 77% of the children chose arts activities over indoor or outdoor recreation and free time.
Children were observed daily at regular intervals, on the half hour, during the first week of August, 1994.

The Family is the Model

The idea behind the chosen name for the organization became quite clear to everyone involved: The “family”, in an ideal sense, is an excellent model for a small-scale, mutually supportive, nurturing environment; and everyone is an “artist,” needing only proper encouragement and the right environment to bring this to the surface. By the close of that first camp, the only question was “Where do we go next with this idea?”

As it happened, some of the initial funding for this pilot camp came in after the fact, and with the permission of the funding authority (the Diocese of Bethlehem of the Episcopal Church), it was immediately funneled into a follow-up program for the summer camp’s children. Promptly dubbed camp, this winter program also took place at Christ Episcopal Church, and permitted continuity and carry-over for children who had begun the first, tentative steps at forming friendships during summer camp.

The Deutsch Institute Joins A Family of Artists : The Programs Expand

By this time, the approach to children via the fine arts had drawn the interest and attention of the Deutsch Institute of Scranton, an organization whose own approach has been through recreational and sports programs, specifically for the physically and mentally challenged. The involvement of the Deutsch Institute in Special Olympics has been one of their distinguishing characteristics over the years. The Deutsch Institute had obtained Federal funding for innovative program work with mentally challenged young adults in five counties, and invited Jamie Downs to attempt to apply this philosophy of treating all human beings as potential artists to this group of young people, in addition to the emotionally disturbed children with whom she had by now run a highly successful summer camp. At the same time, plans began for an expanded, six-week summer camp in the second year of A Family of Artists, using the same artists who had proven so successful that first year; Dorothea Scarpa, Maggie Martin, and the popular Juggernaut String Band.

An interesting dilemma arose at this point. The Monroe County Arts Council had come to question its own ability to continue as the parent organization for work which, while of obvious social service value, was in conflict with what some of its members perceived as their original goals and mission. The discussions which followed were amicable, but it was agreed that this project would split off from the Monroe County Arts Council, and Jamie accepted a temporary, federally-funded position within the Deutsch Institute while carrying forward her work with the Summer camp, and developing additional programs under the aegis of the Deutsch Institute.

Additional work with special populations other than the mentally retarded also appeared during this year with the Deutsch Institute. Juggernaut worked one-on-one with autistic children at Trinity Church in Mt. Pocono, while Dorothea Scarpa and Maggie Martin worked with patients with head-trauma at the Hillcrest Head Trauma Hospital in Milford, PA (north along the Delaware River, near Pike County). Other artists were enlisted: Katherine Ritter-Vicich worked with Maggie Martin on theater workshops at Trinity Church, where Marian Arbogast also ran a spinning and weaving workshop program; Lori Harriton brought mime and clowning to Christ Episcopal Church for after-school programs for the original group, where the Juggernaut String Band also got them involved. In one memorable program, videotaped like many of these workshops, George Young, saxophonist for NBC-TV’s “Saturday Night Live” band, played flute while his wife, Marilyn Cooper, performed Tai Chi, the ancient Oriental movement-and-meditation art form, with a group of young people with mental retardation at the Pen Argyl Salvation Army Building, south of Stroudsburg in Northampton County.

Given the Federal mandate, work with this population with cognitive disabilities took precedence during this year, and the list of artists and artistic disciplines represented in working with them at times reads like a who’s who of the Monroe County artist community: Shirley Gilmore and Debbie Forrester doing movement and masks, Miharu Lane and Dorothea Scarpa doing clay workshops, Susan Bradford and Lori Harriton with painting and theater, Victoria Torres-Cays with stage set production, Rita Barragona and St. Clair Sullivan doing watercolor, Maggie Martin with poetry and sound — the list goes on.

Respecting the Child’s Limits

Marc (not his real name, of course) is a small pre-teen child, at first acquaintance seemingly lethargic. His father is Haitian, his mother Caucasian.
A member of the first “family,” he came to AFOA from spending the winter months in a residential setting, and the camp was warned that he was “disruptive,” expected to be a difficult child. His “lethargy,” it soon became clear, was a consequence of heavy, precautionary over-medication in his other life.

It didn’t take long to realize that Marc had some really special abilities. A warm and friendly child when he didn’t feel threatened, he was a good dancer, and an excellent “friend maker,” in the words of one of his camp-mates. He loved to join in the music making activities all through camp. He realized very early on that he was to let the camp staff know what was going on inside of him. During his first year at camp, one of the artists was getting the children ready to work on a “folktale opera” they were all writing together. She was using a standard theatrical exercise, asking the children to vocalize their emotions. Marc had been cooperating up until then, but at that point he stopped. He came to Jamie, and said, “I can’t do this. The last time I did this I went to the hospital.” He helped Jamie with a different project while the other kids finished the exercise, thus finding a way to stay safe while being included in the program.
Perhaps even more importantly, Marc’s clear communication of his needs — he told them, and they listened to him, because that’s what artists are supposed to do — helped shape the program for future classes. He knew it, because he was told that, too. Cautioned as to this need to respect the children’s limits, the artist modified her approach the next time around. Marc helped the staff.

One day he did give a glimpse of that other life. The site is always
child-proofed, with potentially dangerous equipment and areas walled off so that children cannot be hurt. On this particular day, Marc was approached by a visitor who did not understand the program, who requested him to stop his arts activities at once and go outside for recreation. This person did not know Marc, and did not understand his needs. He and Marc were soon locked in confrontation — something the staff always took pains to avoid. Then Marc showed a side that he had not shown before. He began seeking out the most dangerous places he could reach, climbing as high as possible. The staff talked to him calmly about it, trying not to show the panic inside, and after a while he climbed down. “What was wrong, Marc?” our director asked. “Oh, I just get like that sometimes.”
The incident did not recur, and AFOA has to thank that “inner Marc” or knowing how to signal distress to which it could quickly respond.

According to Mamie Carlson, Supervisor of the Central Region and Assessment Team for The Correctional Special Education Project in Pennsylvania, “Communications plays a large role in teaching/learning social skills…communication involves two processes…sending and receiving. If the receiver is a learning disabled person with processing problems, the degree of distortion could be greater…the lack of social skills will more than likely be manifested in breaking the rules of society… a lack of social skills can be compared to entering society without knowing the rules of the game. (Skills and the Learning Disabled Adult, LDA Newsbrief, Aug./Sept., 1993, p.5.)

Marc doesn’t always know the rules of the game, but through playing with him, listening to him and letting him express himself among friends who accept him as one of our “family of artists,” the camp has developed a level of trust with him. A child who, in other settings, has needed hospitalization to deal with his violent behavior, is a model camper when he is with AFOA, among his friends, being a fellow artist. He spends every year in a residential setting, but this will be his fourth summer with A Family of Artists, which has never had any genuinely violent outbursts from him. Instead, his musical talent, abilities and personality have been a joy and delight to watch in action, and he knows that he is indeed appreciated, and he knows that he is a valued member of our family of artists, missed when he cannot be present.

John (again, not his real name) was a small boy in foster care when AFOA first met him. He was pleasant, but easily distracted. Sometimes he got into fights with other children, which seemed very out of character with his other, pleasant side. He had so many disruptive incidents his first year at camp AFOA was tempted to ask his foster mother not to bring him back. Distressed, she explained that he had never made it through a summer of camp before without getting sent home, and she really hoped that they could keep him in the camp.

It was arranged for his sister to come along and help with the one-on-one attention this little boy needed. One day John fought with another child and actually bit him. The staff took the necessary medical precautions, but while the boy he had bitten calmed down easily, John seemed much more upset. They sat down to talk it over with him, and in the process gave him a small treat to help calm him down before he returned to the art class which had been interrupted by the incident.

The director found out that some of the staff were surprised by what they saw as “rewarding bad behavior,” and took the opportunity to turn this incident into staff training in the philosophy behind camp methods: negative reinforcement draws attention to negative actions; finding an opportunity to encourage a child to feel confidence in expressing his fears and upset feelings so that he would be able to turn to staff for help in the future, instead of turning away, was what she had been doing. Punishment was not the point; gaining trust and getting confidence in our ability to help was more important. John was not being rewarded for bad behavior; he was being rewarded for trying to deal with its consequences as best he could, talking it out with friends.

Positive Behavior

INSERT CHART

Although half of the children attending AFOA camp in 1992 had been diagnosed by mental health agencies as displaying behavioral problems, 90% of the behaviors noted by observers were characterized as receptive, involved or interacting.
Observations of 26 children were conducted during ninety-minute art activities by non-art staff and outside evaluators, who assessed their behavior every twenty minutes during each session. Most children were observed during at least three art activities.

The director later found out that John has a kind of epilepsy which causes these sudden outbursts of inappropriate behavior, which last only a short while, and which he cannot remember later. In this case, it would have been worse than pointless to punish him for something he could not remember and over which he had no control. In the interim, John had a wonderful time, building his own “Imaginary Island” project out of sawdust, wood, papier mache, tempera and acrylic paints — all the materials supplied him in abundance through the classes –a little kingdom where random acts of violence and fear did not intrude.

A happy footnote: John has since been adopted by the foster family, has had medical care in response to his epilepsy, and is thriving. He has made many friends in his three years at our camp and everyone can see real growth as he settles into a solid family environment.

Margaret Ladd, who worked at Edgemont Hospital in California in 1988 with kids with severe depression found that many of her kids had been through a lot and had “just shut down. They are not participating in this world. When they come to the workshop, it seems to give them the avenue they need to just begin to express themselves. …The staff are thrilled, because, like everywhere else, Imagination Workshop participants end up responding better in subsequent formal therapeutic situations. Some of them literally rediscover their basic communications skills with us. (Cleveland, p. 137)

Eric (not his real name) was a boy who lived in a single parent household. His mother often sought out staff members to complain that she had no social life, and that Eric created endless problems for her. To them, Eric was a very bright child. Although they did discover some learning disabilities (at 10 years of age, he could not count money), he quickly figured out how to wire the church basement for sound, using the CB microphone he brought to camp, to show how he talked on the CB at home. Using the microphone, metal chairs and extension cords, he and another boy who also had problems making friends with children — but not adults — showed the counselors that they could “broadcast” around the basement! In another camp environment, dedicated to competition or project completion, this inventive turn of mind might never have surfaced; in this ”artists’ family, “ Eric was an intriguing young person who blossomed in the spotlight which he shared with his friend.

Another side of Eric showed in his relationship with Dorothea Scarpa, the motherly sculpture instructor who talked with him while they were working on wire assemblages together. Eric was able to admit that he had a problem with his temper; they shared their experiences and came up with a solution. Whenever the tension of trying to deal with other children got too much for Eric, he could go outside into the church parking lot and yell out loud. Then he could come back inside, seek out Dorothea, and tell her about his problem. It worked, at least for those brief, shining moments when Eric found admiring adults and children with whom he could be a star.

Edith Kelman, who works in drama with emotionally disturbed young people who attend alternative schools and receive day treatment says ” They recognize how their creativity could be applied to their own difficult problems; that there is always more that one way to approach a sticky situation. (Bill Cleveland, Art in Other Places, Westport, CT: Praeger, 1992, p. 147)

Regrettably, this was not the whole story with Eric, and there were other sides to his complicated young life over which the camp could have little control. As AFOA has found out in a number of other cases over the last six years. When Eric left the program in the afternoons to go home with his mother, she reported, he would be all smiles, waving good-bye to his public. As soon as he got outside, she said, his face would fall, his mouth would twist, and he would say,

“Come on, bitch!” As happy as camp might make him for these brief hours, there were deep problems between Eric and his mother that it could have little hope of resolving. The director was surprised to hear, for example, that his mother planned on the completion of his program to take him to a doctor to be placed on thorazine, saying that he was believed to be borderline autistic, with behavior problems warranting major medical intervention. At times like this, staff was brought up sharply against the limits of its classes. Could they have done more with him if they had had him earlier, longer? In the nature of the case, one can only speculate. The image of Eric with his microphone, calling all around the church basement, will not easily go away. (See “Profiles” for more stories)

These, then, are pictures from the first two years of camp, before involvement with Deutsch Institute led AFOA and its fellow artists into further explorations young people with retardation and brain damage. There too, the pictures crowd in on us. The young adult mentally — not aesthetically — handicapped dancers, carefully swaying alongside Marilyn Cooper while George Young’s always-patient flute winds its way among them; the smiling young man in a wheelchair in Milford, ecstatic that his painfully put-together poem had been translated into a song set to a tune by Maggie Martin’s teenage musician son; the happy uproar of “Duck Duck Goose” with our mentally retarded young adults who taught their Harvard Ph.D. storyteller how to play this traditional game, at the Salvation Army in Pen Argyl; these are also pictures to set in our portrait gallery alongside other images of children set free by the arts, with artists, being artists — painting, composing, telling long, involved stories to the tape-recorders, choosing colors and shapes and forms to decorate their swirling wire sculptures and fairyland castles where the wicked witch and the happy princess waited for the gallant prince and his faithful steed to slay the evil dragon and ride off for milk and cookies together.

A Multi-Generational Camp : Inclusion is the Way A Human Community Operates

At the camp in 1989, there were five children labeled autistic, and several who used wheelchairs, as well as young adults with seizure disorders. The parents and mental health professionals were very pleased, if somewhat surprised, at the success of this very difficult camp. They reported that the children did not regress. In fact, children’s self-esteem soared and they loved coming to camp. Parents and professionals were surprised that, despite the fact that a number of the campers usually experienced daily or almost daily seizures, no one had a seizure during camp hours for six weeks. The parents felt like Jeffrey and Cindy Strully who write extensively about their daughter Shawntell. The Strully’s say that they spent years trying to teach their daughter, to help her with physical, occupational and speech therapy goals. “… but one day we realized that it was all focused on Shawntell’s labels which caused everyone to see her only as a litany of deficiencies. The dream we and Shawntell have is to have a life of rich experiences being in the middle of things with her friends. (That Which Binds Us: Friendships as a Safe Harbor in a Storm, undated paper, no publisher, pp. 3-8)

By one of those serendipitous facts of life, the camp had from the beginning a “mixed” population of children with identified problems, side by side with so-called “normal” children, the offspring of the camp organizers, artists and other staff members. In other circles, this would be called “inclusion” or perhaps “mainstreaming”; to A Family of Artists, it was indeed that, but it was also just the way a human community operates. There was an observable mutual and reciprocal benefit for all parties, a recognition and acceptance of difference, a sense of responsibility for and compassion towards the less-fortunate — and also a demonstration that there was much to be learned on both sides, as so-called “handicapped” or otherwise stigmatized people had a great deal to offer in aesthetic perception and talent not measured on standard tests. Indeed, in some cases it could be argued that the previous labeling devices had obscured these abilities and competencies; where on the standard IQ test is there a place for wiring a church basement for sound? What evaluation procedure permits a group of mentally handicapped young people to teach a Harvard PhD how to play a cooperative children’s schoolyard game? Who could have predicted that a small group of elderly and deinstitutionalized, “mentally retarded” participants in an arts program at a local senior center could have shown the way to statewide recognition for their “normal” counterparts in that setting? Or that they could have transferred their painting class to the arts room of a local high school, and gone peacefully about their art business, while around them a summer camp filled with autistic and multiply-handicapped children and their lively young friends from the surrounding area went on about their own activities, going swimming in the adjacent town pool, singing songs and drawing pictures?

Serving The Community Through the Arts, and Serving The Community of Artists

The Deutsch Institute involvement came to a close with the ending of their Federal funding; in the meantime, Jamie had secured other funding for A Family of Artists, and the programs continued uninterrupted. The range of programs in which A Family of Artists had by then become involved can be seen with a glance at the appendix pages. Through the local Area Agency on Aging and through Easter Seals, through the Carbon/Monroe/ Pike Mental Health/Mental Retardation Agency and through Intermediate Unit 20, the work of A Family of Artists quickly achieved both recognition and, it sometimes seemed, an over-abundance of opportunities to be of service to children, to senior citizens, to special populations and to the general public. Local artists who qualified in the necessary experience and temperament qualifications indicated earlier were finding ready employment for their skills through this organization, whose earlier motto, “Serving the community through the arts,” had a legitimate other side, “serving the community of artists.” Through classes held in East Stroudsburg University facilities and in the Scranton Public Schools, in the Loder Building Senior Center in East Stroudsburg and in artists’ studios, A Family of Artists continued this deliberately dual mission through the period.

According to Escamilla, a member of Inside Out, which ran a program at the Nellis School of the California Youth Authority in 1988, “Everything we do in that classroom is a trust issue: the company members going out on a limb as actors; the kids risking their manhood in front of their homeboys; the staff allowing us the space to do our work without interference. Good acting is knowing and trusting yourself and your fellow players. Improv takes it a step further. You don’t know what’s next. You don’t know where you are going. But you can’t get there without trust and cooperation on stage. These kids have very little capacity for trust to begin with. Institutional life and gang pressures make it even worse. For some of them we have provided the first opportunity to experience the quality of trust in a safe place. (Cleveland p. 221)

No Home/ No Infrastructure

If there was a fly in the ointment, it had to do with issues of support for infrastructure as opposed to monies specifically allocated to direct service, a continuing problem for A Family of Artists and for other community-service nonprofit organizations. A parallel problem had to do with the continued use of facilities belonging to other people, as indicated above (not an issue with non-messy programs, but a genuine problem when new artists were making their imprint in paper and clay and paint on borrowed classrooms).

An attempt to resolve these problems of success was made by an alliance between A Family of Artists and what became known eventually as the Pennsylvania Center for the Arts, an organization which came into being primarily to seek funding for a large arts center in the Poconos. One fruit of this alliance was the temporary housing of the programs of A Family of Artists in the old Castle Inn, in Delaware Water Gap, once the home for Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians; another was the temporary lease of office and classroom space on Sixth Street in downtown Stroudsburg. While neither proved an ultimately permanent solution to the problem of “a space of our own,” both helped to carry the organization forward through this period of growth and change.

Developmental Disabilities Planning Council Begins On-Going Support

A Focus on Friendship-Building

After AFOA’s programs with the Deutsch Institute ended, AFOA applied for and received a $76,000 federal grant through the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council to work with 24 children with and without disabilities in a situation where friendships might develop. That year its six week summer camp went back to its original focus on children with mental health problems primarily, but this time the camp was intentionally 50% / 50% integrated, as were the weekend workshops throughout the year held at the local Montessori school, a co-applicant in the grant. The children from the general public who attend these camps tend to be from homes where they have been culturally enriched. Many are children of artists or local professionals who actively support the arts. AFOA did not tell its staff, artists or other campers which children had disabilities and which did not; at the end of the six weeks very few staff members guessed correctly. The children made friendships across the disabilities/non-disabilities lines and the camp was a great success for everyone.

In 1990, of people with disabilities, 40% did not have a friend or acquaintance without a disability. (Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, 1987-1988-1989 Triennial Report, p.17.) AFOA’s grant from the DDPC is in part an attempt to change this sad circumstance in the lives of its campers. Most children return.

AFOA has followed this model for the past four years. The camp itself is no longer sponsored by the grant from DDPC, but the after-school and informal get togethers which have continued are still supported by a grant from DDPC until 1996 and perhaps until 1997. This grant pays for key staff people for the after school activities and some program expenses – friendships are flourishing.

“…the council has been funding A Family of Artists for the last three years and there will be another two plus a possibility of one year for a total of six, to create a program where children with and without developmental disabilities have the opportunity to meet each other in an environment and a program where it is intended to pull out of children their fun sides and their most artistic and complimentary sides, without exacerbating or making a big deal out of the kids who have labels. We’re particularly proud of projects such as what A Family of Artists has been doing because it approaches the issue from a point of view that everybody can understand, the arts.
Rosemary Barrett of Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, March 23, 1994.

Working With Seniors

Between 1980 and 1987, the number of Pennsylvanians 60 and over increased 8.3% while the under 60 population decreased by 1.1%. Pennsylvania ranks second among all states in the percentage of its population sixty five and older. Between 1980 and the year 2000, the 85 plus population in Pennsylvania is expected to increase by 96.4%. …there will be a 45% increase in the number of older persons who will need assistance with their personal care. Preventative strategies must be developed to keep older people healthy, active, and productive for as long as possible.
(Networks for the Nineties, Penna. Dept. of Aging, 1989, p. 3)

Bill Cleveland in Art in Other Places says that “Because they are often treated as children or outcasts, [adults with developmental disabilities] have very poor or confused images of themselves. Working with a professional artist to create a high quality piece of art, a disabled adult may cross these barriers and reshape his view of himself and the world.

In 1990, A Family of Artists, still working with the Deutsch Institute of Scranton, started a day program at the Loder Building Senior Center in East Stroudsburg. There was a group of seniors bussed to the center daily, who had no other day treatment program and who needed to be involved in an environment with other seniors. When the artists began working with the seniors, they would barely pick up a crayon. Some just sat rocking and watching television. Others just wanted to stand on the porch and smoke. It took the skills of Dorothea Scarpa, the staff artists, and the patience of Jamie Downs, program director, but within a year these seniors were making sculpture, singing and improvising with Janet Lawson, a jazz vocalist, painting and making pottery. They held two art shows within two years for the community with the usual art scene openings and some even sold their work. A group went with their paintings (now graduated from temperas to acrylics and oils) to the state Agency on Aging show held in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg. They presented a holiday program along with some kids from a local band and led a room full of people in song. They also came to camp, which that year, was multigenerational. Banjos were made and clog dancing could be seen in the halls. (see press clipping in appendix)

“For members of our society who are confined physically or emotionally, access to the creative process through the arts provides a vital link to self-expression and self-esteem; to productivity and potency. The need for arts is most evident when participation in other activities in life are limited. A senior citizen who faces an array of special needs and who is facing the loss of productivity he enjoyed earlier in life can be greatly impacted by an arts program.”
-Senator Mellow, CA. , to a joint legislative committee on the arts in social institutions. (Cleveland, p. 133)

Albert, Bill and Herbert Were All Stars in AFOA Workshops and at Camp

Albert, Bill and Herbert lived together in a group home. Bill is very outgoing, Herb is very shy, and Albert is deaf and doesn’t talk. Each has been deinstitutionalized. They once counted on each other, and functioned as a unit. Unfortunately, they have now been separated. They can been seen separately walking down the streets of town.
Bill, Herbert and Albert were all stars in AFOA workshops and at camp. Bill draws people, great clown-like figures who smile as much as he does. Herbert draws houses, houses and more houses. Albert is a great artist. His work is always original. He has a great sense of color, and his pieces seem to jump off the paper. At the AFOA intergenerational camp, the art room was lined with drawings by these men, and all the parents and children enjoyed them.

One exciting thing that happened at camp was actually against the rules, but it showed that Bill, Albert, Herbert and their friends were beginning to feel a sense of community and become friends. Instead of being their usual obedient selves, the seniors played hooky from camp one day. The group from the boarding home got off the bus, and instead of coming into the high school for camp they walked up the street with Bill, Herbert and Albert and had a party at the nearby group home. The staff and mental health workers didn’t know whether to be pleased or to admonish them for such insubordinate behavior. The group came back to camp smiling and were a bit pleased to have fooled the staff.

One particular time… I brought music to do dances of Italian music in and the one lady who had not wanted to be participating got up and came over and she took me to dance and she started to speak to me in Italian. She was telling me things from when she was a child…and after that she waited…I always, then, had to have the Italian thing. She didn’t do it just once. She did it a number of times. When she stopped that she cried,…but when she was with me at that particular time, she was partying and having a good time.
Victoria Torres-Cays, Ecuadorian Artist in Residence

Intergenerational Activities

The next format for the program for seniors involved a jazz vocalist who took her show on the road. Janet Lawson, a Grammy nominated jazz vocalist, went to nursing and boarding homes. While visiting Blue Mountain Manor in the West End region of Monroe County, Janet and her assistant noticed a big change in the seniors when the owner’s young daughter joined them for the fun. That led AFOA to work with Janet, Dot Kauffman of Area Agency on Aging, and Johanna Weaver of Head Start to develop yet another exciting program.

Head Start bussed five groups of children to five different homes. The kids and the elders sang, danced, acted and did whatever their improvisation led them to do. One activity involved singing a hello song and greeting each other with their hands and feet. This meant that the kids and seniors waved and shook hands, but they also shook feet. The kids sat on the floor and put their feet against the feet of the seniors, most of whom were in wheel chairs.The children, many of whom didn’t know people this old because their own grandparents are still in their 40’s and 50’s, had to be introduced to the equipment they found at the homes so that they would not be afraid. Everyone loved the program. AFOA is actively seeking funding to expand and improve it, enhancing the Head Start curriculum and including well seniors and training sessions, but has not found a funding source as yet.

This program has proved to be an essential one and one which definitely enhances the quality of life of both our elderly and our youth. I have personally seen the program’s benefits, through the excitement generated and interest shown, by the residents at Stroud Manor and by the youth participants. It is a program that results in renewed interest in life by the elderly; their renewed feelings of being wanted and needed; and being an educational experience for our youth who have the opportunity to give of themselves and to draw from the experiences of their elders….It enhances all quality of life as evidences by nursing home residents who, again, participate in life when the yough people are in their midst. Everyone seems to come alive and the results are beyond one’s belief.”
Mary Lou Shannon, Administrator, Stroud Manor, July 9, 1993.

The Staff Had Never Seen Mike So Responsive

Mike is over 90 years of age. He lives in Blue Mountain Manor, a residence for seniors. He usually does not wear his teeth, he sits slumped in his wheel chair and he doesn’t talk much. He is, however, cooperative. One day Janet and the group decided to improvise a song about flowers. It was a particularly cold wintery day and they were all a little tired of the weather. The Head Start children wanted to be watering cans and rain instead of flowers, but the seniors, most of whom were immoble in chairs, asked to be flowers and trees. Mike was asked what he would like to be. He responded, “A desert rose.” When the children, while singing and dancing, began to pretend to water Mike, he surprised the home staff by coming to life in his chair. He raised his arms and actually looked like he was growing out of his chair. Judging by the smile on his face, he felt as if he did too. The staff had never seen him so responsive.

Jeffrey and Cindy Strully say, “When one spends time with adults with the label of developmental disability it is easy to see that their lives generally lack true quality. Being a client in a System, even a good System, is nothing to brag about. People are still living in poverty, have limited control, have few if any relationships, staff come and go in their lives and life is a series of programs and learning sessions geared to function better [rather than] to enable them to become valued individuals in our society.
(That Which Binds Us: Friendships as a Safe Harbor in a Storm, undated paper, no publisher, p. 4)

Education: The Need for Change

  • In Pennsylvania, 20% of those entering 9th grade never graduate.
  • In rural Pennsylvania, between one third and one half of the students enrolled in elementary and secondary schools are considered at-risk for educational failure because they lack the home and community resources to benefit from conventional schooling.
  • The National Rural Development Institute found that rural schools have higher percentages of children in the at-risk category than non-rural schools.

Firm of Brizius and Foster and Dr. Corrinne Caldwell, CRPA study
Youth at Risk.

Effective Programs

According to the same CRPA study, “several researchers have identified elements of effective programs [ to prevent dropping out and under education]:

  • Commitment from the community-at-large.
  • Flexibility in programming and scheduling
  • Cooperative efforts with other governmental agencies
  • Serious efforts to involve parents
  • A broad spectrum of related services.”

Educational Reform


According to Gordon M. Ambach, Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, “Perhaps the most significant element of education reform to emerge in the past several years has been the focus on developing higher-order thinking skills in all children. The new industrial environment requires workers who can grasp complex material and organize their own work so that they are more productive. Students must learn to combine knowledge and process to be inventive and solve problems. Learning in and through the arts is an essential vehicle to this end.” (The J. Paul Getty Trust, Perspectives on Education Reform, pg. 9)

The skills which children obtain through arts disciplines, through programs like those offered by AFOA, which help them to think through their life-stresses and emotional disturbances, are also effective in preparing them to be productive members of society in the future. The creative process is a process of problem solving on multiple levels. This activity trains the mind for activities which might appear to be less related to creation as it is usually applied to the arts. Creative thinkers can apply their skills at any chosen endeavor.

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, at his confirmation hearing said, “It would be my hope that as the president-elect becomes a true leader in education he and I would provide the leadership to let states and local school districts realize that arts in education is an absolute necessity. If, in this day and time, we do not tap into the creative sides of a young person’s brain in every possible way, then we are not going to have the innovative and the economic and cultural growth experiences that this country must have.” ( Ambach, “Educational Reform in and through the Arts,” Perspectives…, pg. 8)

Goal Six of the Pennsylvania Arts Education Plan is:

“ [To] promote the incorporation of artists, arts and cultural organizations, and all available community arts resources as an integral part of the instructional programs in Pennsylvania Schools.”

Objective 6A ” [To] Provide on-going workshops and training opportunities for artists and arts organizations to correlate activities with the general curriculum and the arts curriculum of schools.”

Objective 6B “ [To] Provide teacher fellowships to encourage the development of creative collaborations involving artists and arts organizations.”

Objective 6C “[To] Continue to expand support for artist and ensemble residency activities in the Pennsylvania schools including orientation and training.

Objective 6D ‘[To] Encourage collaborative arts education programs with local arts agencies, community arts organizations and arts-related community resources.” (Penna. Plan for Arts Education 1992-1995: Arts Make the Difference for Every Child, pgs 3 and 4)

“The Arts Are The Key to The Sense of What is Not Yet”

Along with higher thinking skills and creative problem solving, the students of this era are faced with ever growing technology.

The education of our students has not been able to keep up with changing technologies. Within the printing profession, computerized type-setting equipment is designed to be operated by arts trained individuals who can, with their visual training, carry out several steps of a job with a few key strokes. Many printing business, decades after the employment of this equipment, still use secretarial staff to operate these complex work saving machines and then send the work to artists to lay out manually. The education system is recognizing the need to train students to be efficient workers. Within three middle schools in Novato, California, students used Autodesk arts programs such as “3-D Studio,” and “Cyberspace Developer,” to become virtual city planners. They visualized the city from various perspectives, imagining themselves to be professionals in numerous fields. They shared their thoughts in group discussions and kept journals. According to Laura A London, Manager of K-12 Educational Programs for Autodesk, Inc., “One of the school principals “saw in those students involved improved communications skills, changed approaches to thinking and expanded perspectives. He declared that the project ‘Only scratched the surface of the exciting and creative opportunities emerging through collaborations between business and arts education.’” As Gordon Ambach says,” …the arts are the key to a sense of what is not yet.” ( London, Perspectives…, pg. 42)
Again, according to Ambach, “In educational reform, the expansion of learning technologies in the schools must be related directly to increasing a student’s capacity to understand and use images, sounds, and data in technological communication. In other words, learning in the arts is essential to the effective use of technology, which is in turn, central to the capacity of modern communication.” ( Ambach, Perspectives…, pg. 10)

The History of AFOA/Education Collaborations

A Family of Artists has been involved in Arts in Education since its beginnings seven years ago. This history will also be an important part of the documentation of AFOA effectiveness which can be offered to the Pennsylvania Legislature, supplementing the record of its work with special needs populations.

For example, since their beginnings with the Monroe County Arts Council, they have been awarded yearly grants from Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to send artists to schools in three counties. Their relationship with East Stroudsburg University Center for Arts in Education of the early childhood education department, first under the direction of Dr. Arthur Mark and currently under the direction of Dr. Patricia Pinciotti, has been an important part of their history. AFOA has tried to encourage area schools to use professional artists in the classroom and has had considerable success. They have contracted to send artists to the following schools and institutions for residencies lasting between one week and three weeks in duration:

Nazareth School District
East Stroudsburg School District
Stroudsburg School District
Pocono Mountain School District
Scranton School District
Bangor School District
Pleasant Valley School District
Nortre Dame High School
East Stroudsburg
Scranton School for the Deaf
The Lucan Center

Disciplines have included Appalachian Music, Theater Arts, Puppetry, Sculpture, African Arts and Improvisational Jazz Vocal Music, all involving professional artists in classroom and assembly programs within the schools listed.

Advocacy and Multicultural Programming

To advocate for the use of artists in the schools A Family of Artists has sent arts education literature to all 17 school districts in the Intermediate Unit 20 area and has made a presentation to all of these schools’ superintendents. They have also planned teacher in-service workshops (yet to be funded), which include artist/teacher partnerships to be offered with East Stroudsburg University. East Stroudsburg and Stroudsburg Area schools have turned to A Family of Artists to offer multi-cultural assembly programs featuring African, Native American and Brazilian artists. Several AFOA artists will do a joint, multicultural residency at Bangor area schools during the 1994-1995 school year.

Leadership : The Latchkey Problem

Most recently, AFOA has been asked to take a leadership role in the planning and organization of an after-school arts program at Pocono Mountain Schools in conjunction with Children’s Museum of the Poconos and Pocono Mountain School District. This would focus on the needs of children in that area whose parents commute to New York and New Jersey, and don’t return home until early evening. A questionnaire for parents is currently being produced to assist in strategic planning of this program. Catholic Social Services and Easter Seals have also indicated an interest in working with AFOA to develop such programs for children in the Cresco and Stroudsburg/East Stroudsburg areas.

Some suggestions for the future have included the above mentioned after school activities which would mirror the inclusive environment which has been the hallmark of AFOA, and an alternative school, which would also be inclusive, but could offer a possible alternative future for at risk children in the Poconos.

Teacher In-Service and Residencies in the Schools

Additionally, a new elementary school being built in the E. Stroudsburg Area School district has requested their involvement in the school’s learning-through the-arts curriculum, with in-service workshops and artists in residence being provided by AFOA from its beginning.

Bringing Together the Needs of Schools and AFOA’s Extensive Social Service Expertise

Tri-County MH/MR directors have offered to facilitate a dialogue between AFOA and area school districts to discuss the possibility of serving as sub-contractors to help with the education of those students who are in partial hospitalization programs within the school. AFOA has demonstrated success with this population, many of whom attend the summer camp, and the schools are struggling to meet state and federal mandates to supply appropriate educational settings for these children within their limited budgets.

Growth on a Shoe String: The Need for Stable Infrastructure

Though A Family of Artists is not blinded to the realities of the very complicated bureaucratic structures involved here and the dangerous growth rate which it might be swept into if the organization tried to meet these community needs too quickly, they would like, at least, to explore the feasibility of these programs. To implement any of them would require a major expansion of AFOA’s infrastructure which as stated before is nearly nonexistent.

Why the Community Turns to A Family of Artists

The elements of effective programs listed in the CRPA study on A Risk Students cited earlier are the same elements which have made AFOA so effective over the last six years. AFOA is made up of members of the community at large, their programs are known for their flexibility and scheduling has necessarily been based on availability of the students. They have, as evidenced by the list of activities in the appendix worked with numerous other agencies, both governmental and non-governmental. From their beginnings with Parent Involved Network, they have actively tried to keep parents involved in programs in order to insure maximum benefit for the children who participate. Through collaborative efforts they work closely with agencies who offer a broad spectrum of services, and they are currently working to improve communications with those service providers.

Again, according to this recent CRPA publication, in order to insure low drop-out rates and high on-to-post secondary education rates, educational institutions must, “ create a vision for students with a hopeful future on : individualized attention, individualized, self-paced instruction; high expectations for achievement with a sense that all students can succeed; assistance in meeting the full range of educational, social and health service needs; a team approach to instruction; a collaborative partnership with the larger community; and a college going frame of mind.” (Foster, At Risk…, pg. 19) This is the AFOA philosophy. A Family of Artists is already working with the above mentioned schools districts in the many ways previously described. With the rapid population growth of Monroe County and the very possible pursuit of year-round schooling, reform in this county may occur, of necessity, at a more rapid rate than in other portions of the state.
Currently, with the donated hardware and software of members, A Family of Artists is making some of the same software used in the California Autodesk project available to the children in the on-going after school activities funded by Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. AFOA stands ready to help in what ever way the education community and the community at large requests to help educate our children for the next century.

Other Models for Success

One of AFOA’s models is Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh. Motivating students to stay in school and go on to college is a main mission of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, and according to a recently released Harvard Study (Project Co-Arts) lead by researcher Jessica Davis, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild is accomplishing its goals with impressive statistics to document that success. (Davis, Project Co-Arts) Both William Strickland, the founder and executive director of this excellent organization and Jessica Davis have made it clear that they are willing to consult with AFOA to help with efforts to mirror these accomplishments. (Discussions with Bill Strickland, May 3, 1994 and with Jessica Davis, July 6, 1994)

How Can Local Arts / Education Collaborations Work?

If AFOA is to expand upon these currently operating collaborations, it must do so with careful planning and extreme caution, but the richness of further collaborations, if developed, is very clear. According to a study by Habana- Hafner and Reed in 1989 as reported in Craig Dreeszen’s book, Intersections, Community Arts and Education Collaborations for successful collaborations between art centers and schools the “partnership must develop in stages…getting acquainted, identification of problems, trust building and shared planning stages concluding with an implementation stage.” Dreeszen states that “ … a new partnership venture is more likely to succeed if it proceeds sequentially through these three steps. “ (Dreeszen, Intersections…, pg. 14)

A Partnership Development Cycle

INSERT CHART 4

(Dreeszen, Intersections…, pg. 18)

Jessica Davis, in her article, “Beyond School Walls” published in the May/June 1994 issue of Arts Education Policy states “Community art centers that focus on educationally and economically disadvantaged communities are institutions of learning…but they are not schools. The differences between these centers and public schools are numerous and important. Indeed, it may be because of these differences that many centers are able to reach and educate students who have been turned off by and even turned out of schools. In joining forces to serve more children well, schools and centers may need to recognize and preserve the differences that make them separate from and useful to one another… Collaborative relationships that work seem to recognize the range of needs that students present and value the range of services that different and alternative environments can offer. A celebration of difference from student to teacher in institution may be the key to overcoming the tensions of competition and concern that challenges the educational promise of these collaborations.”
( Davis, Beyond…, pg. 12 )

“Community Arts and Education Partnerships Need Coordination.”
-Dreeszen

AFOA has been acting as a coordinator for the collaborations mentioned here. It has been doing so without any financial support for either staff or indirect costs. As the requests for collaborations grows, AFOA will have to hire new staff and pay the current staff for these duties. Money for transportation, office expenses and, perhaps facilities will have to be considered before any of these collaborations can take place. A Family of Artists does not have the infrastructure in place to take on any more ventures or to sustain the current activities permanently.

A Family of Artists, also offers classes for the general public, children and adults alike. A complete list of classes offered since 1991 can be seen in the appendix within the complete list of AFOA activities.

“…We can send kids to you and you never have a problem with them, and we can send them to a , quote, psychiatric treatment program, and they say ‘Get this kid out of here. We can’t deal with him.”…Some of that is born in people. They either have it or they don’t…You do it automatically…you do it.”
MH/MR Administrator visiting parent focus group meeting, June 28, 1994

Percentage of Agency-Referred Children

Who Returned to Camp 1989-1993

INSERT CHART
Agency referrals often are limited by budget constraints of the agencies
Transience of children in foster care undercuts the rate of return

* In 1990 AFOA was asked to serve mentally retarded, autistic and physically handicapped children as well as those with seizure disorders due to the closing of two local camps previously serving them There was little room for returnees with mental health diagnosis.

The Continuing Issue of Infrastructure

At the same time, the continuing issue of infrastructure support has continued to be problematic for this organization, as for other, similarly-
staffed nonprofit, social service-oriented organizations across the Commonwealth. This stems from the direct-service funding alluded to above, with its minimal provision for staff and administrative support, which betrays such organizations into a fundamental weakness, dependent upon spousal income for continued existence, unable to grow sufficiently to serve the wider publics for whom their success has demonstrated a genuine need within the community, while they are still lacking administrative staff and other support and physical facilities.

Our Policy Recommendations

This brings us finally to public policy recommendations, directed to ensure the continued existence and stability of this organizations and others like it in Pennsylvania. If their worth has been recognized, if their continuing existence and stability is of value to this commonwealth, by what means should the Legislature begin to address this problem? What solutions might be recommended to the General Assembly in order to permit us to continue our partnership with social service agencies in their mission to provide assistance with the continuing and very real problems of Pennsylvania life, especially in the rural areas such as those AFOA serves?

The Need, the Expertise, and the Barriers

Our society has reached a turning point where we must make decision about values, directions and budgets….The hard questions are about values….My analysis identifies…two waging factions – inclusion and exclusion…..It is unethical, politically unacceptable and repugnant to ‘write off’ marginalized people in our society. The cost of ‘welfare maintenance’ is unbearable, either socially or economically. In short, exclusion does not work.
(Pierpoint, Inclusion…, pg. 2)

“84% of large cities across the nation use the arts as an agent in engineering social change.
(Cohen, “Local Arts Facts,” NALAA Monographs 2, February, 1993. pg. 10)

We have shown that AFOA programs have met with success in the Poconos and that the expertise of the organization is in demand. Referrals have increased along with programs and new ideas for programs are being generated regularly from within the human service and education fields. We have also pointed to barriers which now exist which keep AFOA from being able to serve the community through the arts as it was set up to do and as it is being asked to do. These barriers are a lack of staff, facilities and administrative, planning and training programs and policies, in short, a lack of funds for infrastructure. A Family of Artists has the expertise to implement planning, hiring, training and daily administrative procedures. In fact, the current staff of AFOA would welcome the opportunity to lead training workshops not only to hone the skills of artists already working with the program, and those who might be directly hired in the future, but to help other arts organizations clone the programs which have worked so well in the Poconos. The board and executive staff have thought long and hard about what needs to be done next to plan the growth of this organization, The problem is with the already stretched financial and human resources.

Arts Organizations have “Human Deficits”

A Family of Artists is not alone in this. George Thorn in Working Papers 2 says,” …most [arts] organizations [are] attempting to function at about 30 to 50% above the floor of realistically available and achievable human and financial resources. This condition or gap exists because growth continues to be the metaphor for success….All arts organizations are attempting to close this gap through the use of human capital, which results in burning out arts professionals, boards and volunteers, leading the organizations to human deficits.” (Nello, Thorn. Working Papers 2, pg. 30) For A Family of Artist to avoid this common crisis, which seems to be pushed to the extreme in this case by the overwhelming need in the community, it must move now to create an infrastructure which can help to prioritize, and create policies which control growth while meeting needs as quickly as possible.

AFOA is not a Human Service Organization

The funding sources which are utilized by human service organizations are not enough to meet their ever growing needs. Human Service organizations do not understand arts organizations. They are very different fields with very different histories and expectations. A Family of Artists is a square peg in a round hole when it applies to human service funding sources. At first , an application from an obvious arts organization may seem synonymous with innovation, but as relationships between funders and fundees develop the differences become obvious. AFOA has used collaborations very well to help with these communications and expectations differences. Collaborations can lead to funding for programs. They obviously cannot provide infrastructure dollars for AFOA.

For A Family of Artists to apply for funds such as Community Service Block Grants would change the relationship it has with other local social service organizations, from one of collaborator and direct service provider to one of competitor.

“Put simply, if you had trained for several years, and then worked for another twenty doing the best you could, and then some “untrained community types” actually succeeded in doing what you had been attempting for years, it would be very threatening…Partnerships would be a better way. There are things that friends do best, roles that are professional and services, and joint areas of expertise, cooperation and collaborations.”
(Forest et.al. Natural Support Systems…, pg. 188)

“You didn’t get grant money from CSBG. I know cause I’m on the board….New people coming in…it’s very difficult. You have no idea…There’s never enough money. There was $385,000 in requests and there was, like, $90,000 in grant money.”
(Parent’s discussion group, June 28, 1994)

AFOA gets some funds from social service funders, but according to an interview with Bill Daniels, local arts program director at Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, on April 27, 1993, “There remains some willingness on the part of governmental institutions, [like JTPA] to support the arts in the fulfillment of their own functions, although even where the door is open, few organizations succeed in securing funding,…because a lot of people don’t view the arts as a training options or an income-generating resource….they don’t see the arts as a viable option.”

According to Alysoun McLaughlin in a paper for Johns Hopkins University, “Arts organizations often will extend their missions greatly in order to acquire public and foundation funding. There is, however, a point beyond which extension of an organization’s activities in order to fulfill funding requirements in the social services becomes inimical to the organization’s mission as an arts agency. This is one fear expressed in Village of Arts and Humanities [Philadelphia] reluctance to commit themselves to large-scale housing renovation projects…The question is whether the organization continues to be an arts agency, or becomes a social service provider.” (reference to Warren interview, April 18, 1993)

A Family of Artists could easily change its mission and identify with social service organizations. AFOA is a family of artists, it comes from an arts and arts service background, and that is a major key to its success. They are proud of those roots, and there are many out here doing this work, as can be shown by the attendance at University of Massachusetts, Amherst Summer Institutes in Arts Management during the last two years where the topic was Arts for a Change: A Social Action Agenda. Where is the funding source for infrastructure for arts organizations who don’t want to be square pegs, and just want to apply their expertise?

A Short History of Arts Funding

Arts funds, marked for social change, would be another answer. Arts funds are a very small pot to begin with and are not set up, presently, for these kinds of programs. Arts funders, are stressed by the pattern noted by George Thorn, above, and would like to find a way to keep professionals in the field.

A short history of funding trends might be helpful at this point. All arts funding was non-traditional prior to the founding of the NEA as a part of the “Great Society.” The first arts organizations were, of course, created to bring America’s great cities in line with the culturally great cities of Europe. They were funded by individuals and families such as the Carnegies and the Rockafellers. Their focus was, “arts for arts sake.” With the founding of the NEA and the “Great Society,” arts programs sprang up in every community and included arts councils as well as discipline based organizations. The arts service organization was born.

“Artists comprised a significant part of the workforce of Roosevelt’s New Deal Works Progress Administration programs of the 30’s. The social service related government programs created during this time were to become a major source of funding for arts organizations in the following decades.” “The Great Society programs…in the 1960’s expanded this role….Funding became available to the arts through new programs increasingly directed a the social service sector, such as CETA, The Community Action Program, or the Safe Streets Act (1968)….non profit organizations, such as community art centers, became recipients of federal grants for these programs….The availability of funds for social service programming in this way contributed to the widespread establishment of small, community based arts organizations during these years.” (Kaplan and Cuciti quoted in McLaughlin; Bill Daniels quoted in McLaughlin)

Over the last 20 years artists have become more and more sophisticated. State arts councils have done their job very well. Funding choices which were at one time simple, due to the small number of organizations applying for funds, have become very difficult as specialty organizations- those founded for specific disciplines, those founded by numerous ethnic groups, those founded to serve other arts organizations within these specialties, and groups like A Family of Artists, who widen arts definitions to include programs of inclusion and social change – apply for funds. Pennsylvania Council on the Arts found the need to cut its funding to older more established organizations in order to spread its dollars to help to nurture these new exciting ventures. This does mean, however, that as these new organizations grow, they outgrow council funding as well. There are very few funds available for general support to programatically established non-profits, no matter what their need or worth. This rapid growth coincided with a major drop in funding from the federal government during the last 15 years, placing more stress on state and local governments and private funders at the same time as the overwhelming needs of our communities has made prioritizing funding choices so difficult.

What Kind of Funding is Needed?

“By and large many funders refuse to fund overhead, preferring instead to fund specific projects, without the necessary overhead. Even fewer funders will invest in the multiple year periods necessary to develop, test and perfect new products or to help an organization move from one organizational development stage to the next.”
(Clifton, The Road Map to Success, pg. 14)

…a home becomes the physical identity of the organization at which various resources are kept and constituencies can gather, meet, and feel that it is real. No clear identity can emerge when the books are kept in one place…the office is in someone’s home…
(Clifton, The Road Map to Success…, pg. 14

Beyond constant, week-by-week financial stability such as payroll, payroll taxes and bills, there is one final goal – a cash reserve….While artist/founders…rarely, if ever, see the day when their organization builds a real endowment fund, they can keep crisis at bay by building a cash reserve.
(Stevens, The Road Map to Success…, Pg. 63)

Arts Organizations Need Salary Support for Top Management Staff

These three things, overhead, a home and cash reserves , are things that any successful organization needs. When these expenses are covered, the staff can concentrate on planning for future needs of the organization. An organization also needs stable staffing to take on these tasks. According to Bill Daniels, in Pennsylvania, arts administrators are usually able to keep their jobs because they are supported by a spouse who pays for the basic needs of the family. This means that as family needs change, the arts administrator may be forced to leave this profession for more lucrative work to contribute more at home. It may also mean that, if the spouse is transferred to another location, there is no question that the arts administrator will move on as well. In the field, therefore, there is tremendous turn-over. When one person develops expertise and sophistication as a manager, they usually move on and are replaced by a beginner. This happens time and time again, stunting the growth of the field in general. (Bill Daniels Interview , May, 1993)

Another reason arts administrators move on is burn-out. “…a top manager in the arts may earn a smaller salary than the executive secretary of many board members. In such organizations, board members individually or collectively can easily develop a divisive attitude about top management – if he or she ( and often it is she) were any good, then why would she work in these conditions for this salary?” (Schrieber in McDaniel and Thorn, p. 10) Most arts managers are driven by passion and a desire to serve their community. This can often be a thankless job, both monetarily and in terms of recognition. It is no wonder that they leave the field. The need of A Family of Artists to have funds to pay management is a need in the arts in general. Without funds to pay management to manage, they need to be paid out of program money, which means their time is necessarily taken up with program direction tasks. Any time spent on general management, from simple office management to planning, is usually volunteer time.

Under these conditions, then, to insure stable, long term management is an obvious need. How to achieve the conditions of meeting this need is not, perhaps, so obvious. One suggested policy recommendation is to establish regional resource people to assist with grant research and writing. The role of this person would be similar to that of the research librarian within Economic Development Councils. If funds could be achieved by this method, the pressure of top management to identify sources of long term support would clearly be eased. Many funding sources, however, develop out of contacts made by top management of arts organizations through networks begun in their communities and extending throughout the state through collaborations. In this case, the regional assistant would help to follow through with funding sources already identified by the local organization and pursue the possibilities of funding on behalf of that organization. This would mean that the regional staff would have to spend some time understanding the particular strengths of each organization within its region to advocate for them effectively. The most effective placement of this research staff would, therefore, be within each county arts council, which is the arts service organization within each county. This regional assistant could report directly to the county arts council executive director who already knows the organizations within his or her area. This would avoid duplication of efforts and provide for the best accountability and assessment policies. The job description for this specialist would involve expertise in securing cross funding, especially between arts, education and the social services.

The flow of dollars from the Legislature to local arts organizations serving educational and social service needs in the community

Local Agencies Doing Educational and Social Service Projects

The Need for Direct Funds

The addition of this staff position would not, by itself, solve the problems of arts organizations serving educational or social service missions. The funds this person would seek are not necessarily there in all cases. If these funds do exist, the priorities of the funding agencies may not be the same as those of the local community.

Recently, NEA funds were targeted by the Federal Legislature to be used for educational purposes. Likewise, the State Legislature could direct that additional funds provided to the State Arts Council should be used both to staff this regional resource position and to fund general support grants for worthy organizations. It should be emphasized that simply dividing funds previously allocated to other purposes would not meet these newly recognized needs and would cause counterproductive competition across the state. These new grants should not be in response to annual RFP’s, but could be awarded by a panel of arts, social service and education professionals under the direction of the local arts coordinator at Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. A model for this collaborative effort might be the current cooperation between the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Arts in Education program director and the Department of Education which provides grants benefiting Pennsylvania’s public schools.

An assessment tool could be designed following the model of the Harvard Co-Arts Project with which the effectiveness of organizations receiving the funds could be monitored and decisions on continued funding could be made.

It cannot be stressed too much that any new initiatives should take full advantage of the existing, regional and statewide arts infrastructure. Infrastructure on any level should be supported and efforts need not be duplicated by starting new organizations which will compete for funding for already existing, very effective, if underfunded, organizations which have developed on the grass roots level. By virtue of their development, these organizations have their hand on the pulse of their local arts community and the community at large.

There may be federal funds available through initiatives like Goals 2000, or Social Service initiatives such as the Early Intervention and Training mandates of the federal government, that with state-wide attention to policy may be directed to serve Pennsylvania’s rural communities who need it so desperately.

This service is, in the end, what we are all concerned with providing. Helping to ensure the continued survival of organizations like AFOA, dedicated to that service, is what this report has been written to insure. Pennsylvania’s rural communities need specific help, to sustain the quality of life which has been among their major attractions through much of the history of the Commonwealth. With the help of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the General Assembly, A Family of Artists hopes to continue this important service to the people of Pennsylvania.

Testimonials from Parents, Participants and Administrators

Meanwhile, the testimonials from parents and families, from the general public and from school administrators, continue to pour in to A Family of Artists, together with testimony from campers and students served by the organization.

“Parents talk to each other. We all know each other. There are five of us at the table who are parents and we each know at least five other families and kids. I tell everybody Family of Artists is this incredible thing. It’s different every year. It’s different from minute to minute, but it is incredible always. Every parent whose kid has gone through it feels the same way. Bobby had success there. Jeff had success there. It’s important for those of us who have kids that the whole world says are problematic – that there’s a place that they can go where they are no different from any body else in the program. They’re different in the neighborhood. They’re different in schools. They’re different in church. Your program is probably the first experience they’ve known of going into a program where they’re the same as everybody else.”

“Maybe they [ the children] don’t dance to the same tune as the rest of the world, but that doesn’t make their skills and their person any less valuable. That’s a real clear message that the program has always had for the kids…”

Parent’s Discussion Group, June 28, 1994

I wanted to let you know how much Kelly has enjoyed coming to the summer program of A Family of Artists. Each year she looks forward to the weekly programs. It gives her exposure to a variety of art forms as well as learning to work with others. I fact, when I gave her the opportunity to attend a golf school she declined when she learned that it would have been the same time as arts camp saying, ‘ I can’t miss arts camp’. Thank you for providing an educational and enjoyable experience for Kelly.

Letter from parent, July 15, 1994

“We had a lot of cool people with us in camp…Peter and Janet (of the Juggernaut band), Maxwell who is from Ghana in Africa and now we are having Jonathan (a clay sculptor), Next week we are having a jazz singer named Janet Lawson… We really enjoyed our time here! The residents that we had are…unique in their own and special way. They are here to teach us their culture or to teach us songs or to make instruments. This way we learn not what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside that really matters! Thanks a bunch for a great vacation.
From the Camp Newsletter, 1994 by Jess and Shelby
We are all at summer camp
Nor sun, Nor damp.
What we do is music and paint with paints.
We all are angels,
And some are saints.
We make necklaces out of beads.
We also recycle things like dried up seeds!
We have fun since we’ve begun.

From the beginning to the end,
You’ve got more than one friend!
So come to camp
And do some fun things!
We’ve got a friend named Janet that sings!
So, please come to camp next summer,
Cause, if not, it will be a bummer!
From Camp Newsletter, 1994 by Jimmy

“…We can send kids to you and you never have a problem with them, and we can send them to a , quote, psychiatric treatment program, and they say ‘Get this kid out of here. We can’t deal with him.”…Some of that is born in people. They either have it or they don’t…You do it automatically…you do it.”
MH/MR Administrator visiting parent focus group meeting, June 28, 1994

Percentage of Agency-Referred Children

Who Returned to Camp 1989-1993

INSERT CHART
Agency referrals often are limited by budget constraints of the agencies
Transience of children in foster care undercuts the rate of return

* In 1990 AFOA was asked to serve mentally retarded, autistic and physically handicapped children as well as those with seizure disorders due to the closing of two local camps previously serving them There was little room for returnees with mental health diagnosis.

Expert Panel and Focus Group members see some barriers to be crossed….

In discussions with expert panel members and members of focus groups such as parents, local Kiwanis Club members, and friends in the community, several possible barriers to success are repeatedly foreseen. It is important for A Family of Artists to keep these barriers in mind as decisions about future programs are made. These barriers or potential problems seem to fall in three distinct categories: Attitudinal Issues, Current Operational Issues and Issues which will become evident with the growth of the organization – Growth Issues. Not all members of the above mentioned groups agree on these subjects and many have changed their minds during discussions or are open to further discussion. The following topics, it is agreed, are important for consideration.

Attitudinal Issues

The current climate in our national capital and throughout the country is one which causes arts administrators to fear for the future of arts funding. The reasons for the current state of the arts are numerous, but artists and arts administrators have not done a very good job in public relations, or in advocating for their profession. The view that the arts are central not only in the development of children, but also central to the general health of the population is certainly not held by all people. Many do not realize the tremendous potential of the arts in situations of healing. Though recent polls by the Lou Harris organization deny this, it is widely believed that the American people see the arts as superfluous or a luxury. It has been pointed out by an expert in the Department of Education that the use of the word “camp” to describe AFOA’s main activity may add to the false perception that the arts as presented here, despite the excellent track record, are not to be taken as seriously as some other “treatment modalities.” In addition, despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, and in some cases because of it, people with disabilities can be seen by some as a group to be avoided. The current trend toward inclusion is an up-hill battle. Even artists have seen arts programs which include people with disabilities as somehow not quite art – therapy perhaps – but not fine art. The fact that A Family of Artists is presenting a relatively new model for most people, not based on known treatment designs like those in the art therapy field, but based on the creative process with professional artists as role models, can make it hard for people to easily understand the methods used here.

Current Operational Issues

Leadership and Staffing

As mentioned earlier AFOA has no permanent facilities. It also has a dangerous lack of infrastructure. The expert panel and focus groups have also pointed out that AFOA is extremely dependent on Jamie Downs for leadership. Jamie has given birth to this organization and continues to lead it on a full time basis with little in-put from board and staff. To some extent this is due to the extreme success of the program as it has been designed. However, every organization needs input from numerous people who share ownership for it fully to grow and prosper. It is hoped that expansion of the infrastructure will solve this problem. AFOA is currently changing its governance to create a small but effective board which will support Jamie and the AFOA concept.
On the other hand, A Family of Artists is definitely not a one-person operation. Much has been said previously about the artists and their selection, but the staff of the children’s program especially is instrumental in maintaining its success. Experts and friends have seen that staff members like Patti Jo and Patti Ann Griffin, Alysoun McLaughlin and Priscilla Giese and parents like Carol McIlvaine and Vicki Lane have shared a singleness of purpose and a deep understanding of the concepts which make up AFOA programs. Their nurturing personalities and genuine concern for the children as well as their love of the creative process have been the driving force which carries out the concepts on a day to day basis. These staff have been carefully chosen and trained or have participated in the development of methodology over the past few years. Focus group members have noted that the same care in hiring and considerable training will be necessary in order to preserve this all important element in the design of the programs. Not only are the skills, concerns and passions of the staff important, but it has also been important to the program to keep staff turnover at a minimum. As these employees are usually of college age, they will necessarily move on to other occupations and positions and will need to be replaced with equally remarkable human beings.

Geographical Barriers

The Poconos Mountains are geographic barriers which present on-going problems. Transportation is an issue to be dealt with by every organization in this area of Pennsylvania. The population is spread out in scattered communities over a large area. Bus transportation is a major expense for schools. Cars are needed for almost all travel. The public transportation system is inadequate and in financial trouble. The traffic problems are notorious throughout Northeast Pennsylvania. In this setting, it is difficult to get people together informally or easily without an organizationally operated transportation system. This is one reason why AFOA has been asked to expand its programs – to offer simultaneous activities in more than one site throughout the region.

Expectations of Evaluators

Evaluation is a means by which organizations like AFOA prove their worth and show their successes. Evaluations are all-important in determining future funding. Members of the expert panel and specifically the parent focus group have suggested that the pressure of results oriented evaluation vs. enrichment goals for individuals may cause the program not to take individuals who may not show rapid results. Likewise, in reporting, it is natural to give emphasis to those children or adults who do show extreme changes in behavior. Experts fear that this may lead those not familiar with the programs to think that there are more “incidents” than there actually are during AFOA activities. In fact, for most children and adults the programs run very smoothly.
Two other evaluation related issues are noted by these groups. The need for confidentiality in this field makes it difficult to share information about participants with other professionals as well as artists and community members who are working with them. Access to mental health files concerning effects of AFOA programs on frequency of crisis in participants’ lives away from the group is not generally possible. Likewise, it is difficult to get a clear picture of the growth of actual referral rates. Experts who are mental health professionals have stated that referrals clearly vary due to their organization’s budgets rather than due to the case workers’ choices of placement. Mental health professionals indicate that they have far more children they would refer to AFOA programs than they have money to do so.
Secondly, many of the at-risk children who take part in these activities are in foster care. Often they are placed without warning in other parts of the state or in different homes in the region. Sometimes even the referring agencies lose track of their clients as they become the responsibility of another regional service organization. Tracking of children is therefore made more difficult. Experts feel that AFOA should be able to show proof that, for example, “Our kids do better than other kids.” These general conditions in the field make compiling that proof difficult.

Growth Issues

All things point to the fact that AFOA needs to grow in some ways in order to continue. The timing and extent of that growth are issues upon which experts and focus group members cannot agree. For reasons of burnout and staff retention; dealing with increasing need along with geographic barriers; and avoiding potential litigation problems by having appropriate professionally trained staff in case of medical or behavioral problems, it seems evident to experts and focus groups alike that some growth is necessary if AFOA is to continue. The issues of disagreement have to do with what a future AFOA should look like and what price would have to be paid for this growth. Experts from the current major funding agency feel that the intimate nature of A Family of Artists must be preserved at all costs, and that this intimate nature would be sacrificed if concessions were made to obtain funding from more traditional and long term funders. The increased regulations attached to these moneys would, they feel, destroy the programs as they currently exist. On the other hand, experts from social service agencies, arts agencies and education agencies see the growth into traditional funding sources such as Medicaid as a natural progression. Mental health agencies in particular are anxious to lead AFOA into this next stage of growth as rapidly as possible. (See attached proposal in Appendix: Artists Together.)
In addition, experts in state agencies and one major focus group have pointed out the need for diversification. For example, AFOA could be called upon to become a model for other communities that might have similar artist citizens, or could be helpful in training artists and staff or developing a licensing procedure to certify artists for use by other groups dealing with disability. This push for diversification could be in conflict with the need for focused steady growth. Parents in focus groups do not indicate a direct disagreement with growth using the traditional Medicaid model. They do however worry that as AFOA grows it will lose its focus on children and parents’ needs and its ability to deal with these needs in a flexible manner. They also stress the need to keep the mind set of artists as role models, not therapists, while providing adequate clinical oversight for times when it is needed. Parents also fear that as AFOA becomes more closely aligned with the schools and mental health organizations through collaborations, the children and parents who may be at odds with these organizations may hesitate to support AFOA in the same manner. For example the children may see AFOA programs as school, not camp, and it might take longer to win their trust.
To some extent, A Family of Artists has already had to sacrifice some of its intimate nature. Some children need very small groups because of their disabilities. These smaller groups could be more expensive to staff. The unit price for some children is higher than for others. In this case, surprisingly, it has been pointed out that growth and the use of traditional mental health models may provide the funding to restore some of that intimacy by providing funds for that purpose.
This conflict in which AFOA finds itself is just a sample of the larger issues which are causing a revolution in the social service industry throughout the state and country. While A Family of Artists is philosophically aligned with those who are trying to reorganize and humanize the bureaucratically controlled health care industry and is grateful to these groups for providing for its current existence, the funding programs which could insure its future existence and facilitate its growth have not yet been touched by these new concepts in the deliverance of health care to those with disabilities. This conflict in the field and these disagreements among experts and focus group members will not be resolved by this report. As one of A Family of Artists’ strengths is its work collaboratively with so many varying groups with so many disciplines, i.e., aging, education, mental health and the arts, there will also, necessarily, be some barriers in communications and singleness of intent when different agendas and different languages are spoken.
Small business are warned about the dangers of growing too quickly. Small non-profits can have the same issues, especially when the service they provide is so much in demand. It has been suggested by some focus group members that consultants be obtained to help AFOA with a written plan for controlling growth.

List of Abreviations:

(In Order of Usage)

MR Mentally Retarded
DPW(DI) Department of Public Welfare Grant, Deutsch Institute
NHARC Northampton County Association of Retarded Citizens
ESUCAIE East Stroudsburg Univ. Center for Arts in Education
H Trauma Head Trauma Patients
SP.ED Special Education Students
THF Talbot Hall Foundation
M. School Middle School Students
Mixed MR Mentally Retarded People of Differing Ages
IU Staff Intermediate Unit Staff
PCAAIE Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Arts In Education
Mon. Co. Monroe County
P&R Parks and Recreation of Monroe County
Scran. Sch. Deaf Scranton School for the Deaf
VS Arts Very Special Arts of Pennsylvania
Scran. SD Scranton School for the Deaf
Keystone C. Keystone Camp, Goldsboro
Keystone Res. Keystone City Residence, Scranton
Dickson C. I.U. Dickson City Intermediate Unit
Del V. SD Delaware Valley School District
DDPC Developmental Disabilities Planning Council
PCA Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
Mon. Co. Ret.
Sr. Emp. Monroe County Retired Seniors Employment Program
Scran. SD Scranton School District
Naz. SD Nazareth School District
ESU East Stroudsburg University
FADS Fine Arts Discovery Series, Stroudsburg
Stbg. HS Stroudsburg High School
H. House Haunted House
Res. Artist in Residency
Intergen. Intergenerational Program
HS High School Students
Pre Pre-School Children
HS/Seniors Head Start Children and Senior Citizens
Stbg. Mer. Assoc. Stroudsburg Merchants Association
E. Stbg. SD East Stroudsburg School District
N. Dame Notre Dame High School
MCAC Monroe County Arts Council

Bibliography

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Rhodes, Linda M., Secretary of Aging, Pennsylvania Department of Aging. Networks for the Nineties. Harrisburg, PA., Pennsylvania Department of Aging, ,1989. [ This is a workbook for a series of meetings concerning the needs of seniors in the 1990’s.]

Schwartz, David B. . Crossing the River: Creating a Conceptual Revolution In Community and Disability. Brookline Books,1992. [This book is written by the executive director of Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, and gives a history of well intentioned reform in the community of disability which has met with mixed success.]

Schwartz, Elizabeth K. Music and the Mainstreamed Child: A Practical Approach. Arts in Special Education Project of Pennsylvania, Lancaster/Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, 1982. [ This report provides specific examples of projects and activities which work well in mainstreamed classrooms.]

Stevens, Louise and Mary Jacobsen. “The Ways in which Small Cultural Organizations Develop, A: The Artist/Founder-Led Organization.” The Road Map to Success: A Unique Development Guide for Small Arts Groups. Boston, MA: Massachusetts Cultural Alliance, 1988, 17-82. [This how-to book, while somewhat dated, has some valuable information on funding and development.]

Strully, J and C. Strully. “Friendship and Our Children.” JASH (Vol 10, No. 4), 224-227. [ This article discusses friendships between special needs and “typical” children with special emphasis on “freely given” friendships.]

Strully, Jeffrey L. and Cindy Strully, “That Which Binds Us: Friendships as a Safe Harbor in a Storm.” Friendships and Community Connections between People With and Without Disabilities, Baltimore, Md : Paul Brookes Publishing Co.,1993, 213-225 [ This shares the insights Jeffrey and Cindy Strully have had while raising their disabled daughter, Shawntell, especially concerning the importance of friendships in her life.]

Weiss, Stephanie. “Doubts and Certainties.” Newletter of the National Center for Innovation (Vol VIII. No. 3), 34. [ This interview with Renate and Geoffrey Caine discusses brain development and the results of social and educational impoverishment on children.]

Wentink, Rachel. “Group Gives Kids Chance to Star.” Harrisburg Patriot News (July 25, 1991) C1, C10. [ This brief newspaper article describes a program for kids in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin and Lebanon counties in which performance is used to raise self-esteem.]

Wolverton, Terry. Phillip Horn, Warren Newman and Wayne D Cook. Creating a Difference: A Handbook for Evaluating Artists in Education Projects Los Angeles: Performing Tree, Inc.,1993 [This book presents some theory and practical samples of ecx56valuations for arts in education projects.]

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