New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

In New York, the state mandates that twenty percent of lower elementary school needs to be spent in arts education. Twenty percent, if you do the math, is one full day a week. In New York City, few schools are compliant with the state's mandate. This means that cultural institutions in New York City have never been more important.

Cultural institutions are filling the gap where, in fact, certified teachers are supposed to be. In many cases they are providing the only theater that these students will be introduced to. While cultural institutions are doing an admirable job introducing kids to the arts, nothing replaces regular, regimented classes in schools. 

Arts programming in schools is an ongoing challenge. However. the arts are not a privilege, but a right. Sadly, arts education doesn't rank high on many people's priority list. My goal has been making the arts a priority in our schools. Having said that, one of the things we have to think about is just how we judge the quality of a school's arts education program. One of the things I have talked about is a report called the "The Qualities of Quality" by lead researcher Steve Seidel. The focus of the report is on quality teaching and learning in the arts. Basically, the report has told us that there are four indicators of quality in arts education.

One: The Environment
Is the environment appropriate for the art form being taught? If students are taking dance, is the floor appropriate? For theater, is the space flexible with movable furniture? For visual arts, does the room have a sink?

Additionally, where do the arts live in the building? Are they a priority, or are they marginalized? Are they considered a core subject or simply an enrichment?

Two: Engagement
Are the students engaged? Are they participating in art making? Are the teachers engaging? The report states that students decide to engage in the first 3–5 minutes of a lesson. If you lose them in the first 3–5 minutes, you've lost them for the entire class period.


Victory Dance
New Victory Teaching Artist Shelah Marie leads a classroom workshop for Mother Africa
Three (the one I find particularly important): Relationships
Not just the relationship the teachers have with their students, but the relationships that the students have with one another. The teacher's job is not done if they do a good job building relationships with their students, but the students have not developed healthy relationships among themselves. The teachers must understand the importance of all relationships: relationships with parents, administrators, among and between students, and between faculty.

Four (makes people nervous): Knowledge
Do practitioners actually know what they are teaching? In some cases, we have the English teacher teaching Shakespeare. This might be the only theater class in the building! That doesn't mean the English teacher doesn't know and understand theater, but he or she is not a certified theater teacher. In some cases you have the physical education teacher introducing students to dance. Again, we might have a great physical education teacher who's good at dance, but chances are they don't have formal dance training. Knowledge is important in making sure that our teachers actually know what it is they're teaching.

The same four principles apply to the work of teaching artists. Seidel came to New York a few years back to report out some of his earlier findings. He said when teachers really knew their subject, when the students were actively engaged and when strong relationships were built–he said there was LOVE in the room. Not something that can be included in a research report, but you could feel it in the room. It's interesting to me that people frown upon using the word "love" when talking about teaching and learning. What does that say about the current state of education?

Photos: Alexis Buatti-Ramos | This post was originally seen on the New Vic blog in 2010. 
Russell Granet Russell Granet, Executive Vice President, Lincoln Center (LC), is internationally known for his work in arts and education. He oversees education, community engagement, and international at LC. An enthusiastic, respected advocate for arts education for more than 25 years, Mr. Granet joined Lincoln Center after running his own international consulting group, Arts Education Resource (AER). Since his appointment in September 2012, he has spearheaded Lincoln Center Education’s highly successful fundraising efforts, its renovation, and the rebranding initiative that simultaneously confirms Lincoln Center’s educational mission and its message of dedication to bringing quality arts to the widest possible audience. 

Prior to founding AER, Mr. Granet held leadership positions at The Center for Arts Education—The NYC Annenberg Challenge; The American Place Theatre; and was a senior teaching artist in the NYC public schools. He served on faculty of the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University for twenty years.

Mr. Granet has worked on projects in Argentina, Australia, Egypt, England, India, Kenya, Mexico, South Korea, Tanzania, Turkey, and throughout the United States. Mr. Granet’s leadership was cited as “visionary” in the 2013 Proclamation by the City of New York and currently serves as an advisor to the NYC Mayor’s Cabinet for Children.  

Posted by Beth Henderson


Kids participating in one of the New Vic's educational workshops.
A classroom participates in one of the New Vic's educational workshops.
Our 2015–16 season here at The New Victory Theater has drawn to a close and we're turning our attention to this summer's Victory Dance and the bevy of shows we'll be offering up next season. The beginning of summer doesn't just signify the end of our season, however. Right about now, New York City's school kids are eagerly anticipating the three months of freedom waiting for them during the summer. Hold on just a moment before putting on your sunscreen and swimming goggles and take a trip down memory lane with us.

Our New Vic Education Department just collected some feedback from the fantastic teachers who brought their students to one (or more!) of our shows this season. They asked the teachers both why they bring their students to the New Vic and what moments stood out for them (or their kids!) in particular:

Why do you bring your students to The New Victory Theater?

• The students experience the freedom to express themselves. 
• You are very organized, from the staff to the ushers to everyone else involved. Thanks a lot. It is always an awesome experience!
• I want my students to see beautiful art in motion!
• Being able to talk to the cast and crew and learn about the process of putting on and developing a show is invaluable. 
• What could be better?
• Your shows are always some of the best, most memorable experiences our kids have all year!
• They have a chance to see live shows!
• They may never get to experience theater without our class trips to the New Vic!
• Our students are always ready to learn because of the workshops! Thank you!
• It makes it possible to see live theater!
• The kids need entertainment and exposure :)
• The sign language interpreters at every performance. Thank you for providing them! We love you!
• We love the fantastic workshops, they take the shows to a new level. Our students feel as though they are part of a special group.
• I couldn't ask for a better venue for my special needs students!
• You provide an experience very few of our students would have had otherwise. 
• My students LOVE the New Vic. The shows are awesome, kid appropriate, and professionally done. Keep up the great work. You are touching lives!

  A girl looks onto one of our shows this season.

What was your favorite New Vic moment of the year?

• Hearing my 1st grader say "This was the best day ever!"
• It was a great first year. Our workshops and performances were amazing!
• Bello! We are performing a school circus after seeing Bello. The workshop was also amazing!
• ANY teacher workshop.
• Seeing my students really enjoy opportunities to express themselves and try new things. Every week they become greater reflections of themselves. 
• My kids' mouths hitting the floor when Bello was on the basket.
• Being mesmerized by the great dancing in Untapped.
• Hearing how much my students loved Museum of Memories and experiencing post dramatic FOMO.
• We loved Untapped, it really rocked. Fly was also brilliant. We love it all!
• My kids jaws dropping when they saw Pedal Punk :)
• Fly was so fly! We all loved it! Beautiful show!
• Watching my kids engage in drama about war, Fly!
• The pre and post workshops were amazing and my students were engaged and enthralled :)

At the end of this season we want to thank you, our incredible audience. Without your enthusiasm and #LoveofTheater none of this would be possible. We look forward to seeing you over the summer months for Victory Dance and all throughout our 2016-17 season. 
Curious about learning more about Education Partnerships and The New Victory Theater? Make sure to check out all that we have to offer here for next season!

Posted by Beth Henderson
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