Folk Arts and Multicultural Education (FAME) Residencies

Overview: Through our Folk Arts and Multicultural Education program (FAME), the Philadelphia Folklore Project places exceptional local folk artists in school and community residencies with young people around Philadelphia. As the relevance and impact of arts education becomes better appreciated, it is important to remember that art also includes significant forms taught outside schools and academies; FAME gives students and teaches a chance to understand the ways in which culturally-grounded arts are taught, preserved, and used.

FAME residencies offer young people a chance to explore a wide range of world artistic traditions - all arts with a special cultural relevance to youth and adults at residency sites. Through FAME, young people have the chance to develop their skills in these forms, to create within culturally powerful art traditions, to form long-term relationships with individuals who are powerful role models, to understand the cultural and social contexts of some of the diverse arts now resident in our city (and in turn to develop a deeper understanding of the arts around them), and to develop relationships across different communities and cultures. Philadelphia Folklore Project staff coordinate the program, provide support and mentoring to artists, develop resources and educational tools for educators and community agency staff, monitor the project, develop assessment techniques, and facilitate a range of culminating performances (both in individual sites and in a central site) for families, friends and community members.

Artists: Artists from many different cultural traditions, working in many folk and traditional art forms are available. Schools are asked to describe their needs and student populations. We will work to make a match. Annually, the Philadelphia Folklore Project offers up to fifteen on-going weekly residencies in neighborhood classrooms and community centers around Philadelphia. A sampling of these follow:

Kormassa Bobo, formerly a lead dancer with the Liberian National Dance Troupe, and a gifted teacher, taught Liberian traditional dance to students, working to develop an ensemble - and real expressive avenues for kids whose lives (and families) have been buffetted by violence. They are working on a dance drama, drawing on the tradition in which Bobo is expert, about peace and reconciliation.

Terrence Cameron spent four mornings each week teaching young people how to play the Trinidadian steel drums (pans). He built pans for the school group; the pans are now on loan to an emerging youth steel pan orchestra.

Sifu (Master) Cheung Shu Pui, a master of Siu Lam Pai Hung Gar style kung fu, has operated his own kung fu school here since 1976. For the last five years, he has been teaching kung fu and lion dance to School District children in a residency co-sponsored with Asian Americans United in Philadelphia's Chinatown. (Watch for these students at Mid-Autumn Festival and New Year celebrations!)

Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble is the city's longest-lived African American dance and drum ensemble, with a repertoire developed over the last 30 years. Dorothy Wilkie and Kulu Mele drummers have taught at a number of places with PFP, and for the last five years have been in residence at the High School of Creative and Performing Arts where they give talented dance students introduction and immersion in West African and Afro-Cuban dance traditions.

"Peache" Jarman is a master of Afro-Cuban and several styles of West African drumming. A Philadelphia native, he has been playing and studying hand drums since he was seven. In past years, he worked with students in Wanamaker Middle School and at Olney High School.

Mogauwane Mahloele learned to master his instruments through countless hours observing, participating, practicing, and making rhythms, and by making the drums themselves, to fully understand their capabilities. He grew up in South Africa under the apartheid system and worked to see it dismantled. These struggles frame his music, and his soul. He has taught percussion to immigrant youth at the Newcomer Center at South Philadelphia High School.

Oliver Nie, a dedicated Chinese folk dancer, studied in the Chinese national dance school as a young man, mastering many varieties of folk and ethnic dance. He taught School District children at Asian Americans United in Chinatown, and at other sites.

Chamroeun Yin, skilled Cambodian court dance teacher, initially taught at United Communities - Houston Center in South Philadelphia, working with students from Kirkbride, Southwark, and Key Elementary Schools, and Furness and South Philadelphia High Schools. For the last three years, he has been teaching at Southwark, developing a youth ensemble of Cambodian classical dancers.

Goals of FAME residencies
To create programs which connect schools to their communities, or which help deepen community relationships within different neighborhoods;

To integrate folk arts education opportunities into existing structures;

To establish long-term ongoing free and accessible arts education opportunities for young people in their own neighborhoods;

To give young people opportunities to develop relationships with artists who can serve as mentors and role-models, and whose life experiences can broaden their worlds;

To support art-making by young people in diverse neighborhoods;

To use folk arts from diverse cultural traditions as a way of helping young people to understand the logic, values and aesthetics of other cultures and their own;

To create opportunities for artists to work with children, to pass on tradition, to develop relationships in communities and to make a livable wage doing so;

To raise the consciousness of students, schools and community members of the human right to culture, and the complexities surrounding cultural maintenance and equity.

Fees and Support
FAME residencies cost from $2500-5,000 for ten week residencies in which artists meet with 1-3 classrooms weekly (1-4 times), and regularly with teachers and a school or community residency team to plan, monitor and evaluate the residency. Annually, the PFP is able to offer some financial assistance towards these costs to a limited number of residency sites who meet the requirements below. The PFP can also provide guidance and technmical assistance for prospective sites who want to apply to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts for possible grant support. In addition to a fee, residency sites are expected to provide consistent and appropriate space, classroom support, and logistical support. PFP staff can also provide referrals to artists for concert or assembly programs. For more information, call Toni Shapiro-Phim, Associate Director, at 215.726.1106.

Selection Criteria
Both sites and artists are chosen on the basis of demonstrated commitment to:

  • rooting an art form in a particular school/community;
  • using the artists' residency as a vehicle for reform or change (educationally and socially);
  • deepening students' knowledge over time; and
  • offering children opportunities for growth which are culturally affirming.

Priority is given to making programs accessible to ESL and/or bilingual students.

Acknowledgments
For their support of this program over the years, the Philadelphia Folklore Project gratefully acknowledges the Office of Language Equity Issues of the School District of Philadelphia through the Emergency Immigrant Education Assistance Program, the Office of Curriculum Support of the School District of Philadelphia, The National Endowment for the Arts, Dance Advance, the Philadelphia Music Project, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Independence Foundation, Samuel S. Fels Fund, the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation, The Philadelphia Folksong Society, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and our members.