The Current
Upstream Arts News | July 2013
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In This Issue
Our Mission
The mission of Upstream Arts is to enhance the lives of adults and youth with disabilities by fostering creative communication and social independence through the power of arts education. To learn more about our work, please visit
Summer Fun
Happy July, everyone! 

So hard to believe we were celebrating winter thaw not too long ago - we hope you're staying cool amidst these summer heat waves!  
In this issue of The Current, we're excited to share a compelling TED talk about the vital role of creativity in education reform, as well as a new art i. fact from our summer residency at Minnesota State Academy for the Blind. We're also starting a new monthly update on our funding gap, offering you more information about specific ways to be part of our work. 

In other news, we're thrilled to be collaborating with Valley Friendship Club on The Art of Me, a summer performing arts residency for individuals ages 12+ that will culminate in an original theater production, open to the public for one evening only on August 1 in Stillwater! Time and venue forthcoming; hit reply to this email if you're interested in joining us for this intimate performance and we'll be in touch soon with details.

Also, have you checked out Artists Around Town lately? This monthly feature on the Upstream Arts blog is a great place to learn about current professional projects by our Teaching Artists and Staff. It also serves as a snapshot of the rich diversity of artistry happening throughout the Twin Cities. Check it out each month for a list of performances, readings, exhibits, and other events that you won't want to miss.

As always, thank you for your support and commitment!

Julie, Matt, Bree, Rachel, Charles, Lindsey, and Jess
Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity in Education
Sir Ken Robinson (via
This 2010 TED talk is well worth revisiting even three years later. Sir Ken Robinson proposes that "creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status." Throughout this brief lecture, he swiftly (and hilariously) unpacks the importance of cultivating risk-taking, imaginative thinking, and kinesthetic exploration in children by increasing, rather than cutting, arts programs and activities in public schools. We couldn't agree more! Watch his compelling talk by clicking on the link above; then keep reading to learn more about the steps Upstream Arts is taking toward Robinson's vision of education reform. 
art i. facts
art i. facts are stories, poems, artwork, and other behind-the-scenes highlights from Upstream Arts programs, connecting you directly to the work that we do. 
I don't like to do painting,
but trying it made me like it. 
Making pictures with my body
Loud blue like a big circle.
Red like a bouncy ball
thrown to the sky like a starburst.
Scratching the air and jumping,
Expressing ourselves. 

Last week, we led a residency at Minnesota State Academy for the Blind (MSAB), a statewide public school in Fairbault that has provided pre-K-12 educational services to blind and visually impaired students since 1866. Nope, that's not a typo; MSAB really has been around for nearly 150 years!

This summer residency was more intensive than the average Upstream Arts residency. Rather than meeting with students over the course of a 12-week semester, we had only a short 5 days with them. Furthermore, instead of working with students based on grade levels, we worked with three different groups that each included a broad range of ages - 5-12, 5-14, and 14-18. The beautiful poem above was written collaboratively by participants in that first group, ages 5-12.

On our first day at MSAB, we met a teenage participant named Adam*. He didn't know most of the other participants and was very quiet as we started the session. Our Teaching Artists led the group through interactive introductions and a rhythm exercise. Adam stayed quiet, shaking his head to opt out of each activity. The Teaching Artists didn't pressure him to participate, but they did offer the invitation each time. 
Eventually the group transitioned into a scenario game, in which two people have a conversation using only the words "Yes," "No," and "I don't know." The limited language choices force participants to convey intentions, meaning, and feelings in other ways, e.g. through inflections in the voice, body language, or touch. One of our Teaching Artists turned to Adam and asked, "Would you like to take a turn?" Adam immediately responded, "No" - one of the three permitted responses. To the great delight of everyone in the room, his whole demeanor lit up as he suddenly realized he was in the game. The Teaching Artist played along, and the two of them proceeded to have a full "Yes, No, I don't know" conversation. After the game had finished, the Teaching Artists asked participants what they had noticed and Adam spoke right up. "It's the tone of your voice that makes the difference," he said. (He also gave the game a new name - "Yes, No, Pizza!" - but that's another story for another time.)
Adam's teacher later told us that Adam hadn't spoken a word to anyone all morning, until that breakthrough in the game. Over the course of the week, Adam became an active participant in the residency; by the end, he even volunteered to help our Teaching Artists lead an activity. We see it again and again in our programs; the safe space and interactive, multidisciplinary approach to learning allows students like Adam to flourish.

*The student's name
 has been changed for privacy.
July Funding Gap Update
Image by Ravi Ramen

As most of you already know, Upstream Arts runs many different kinds of programs, which we strive to keep as affordable as possible for participants. That's where you come in; contributions from individuals in our community play a huge role in making this work happen. 
To keep you apprised of our needs and your impact, we're starting a monthly update on our "funding gap" - the difference between the support we've secured to date and how much more we still need to meet our goals. July is the start of our new fiscal year, so the funding gap is substantial right now: we need to raise $118,691 before June 30, 2014. A more bite-sized goal for this month is 5 individual contributions of $75. 
Can you help us get from here to there by being 1 of 5 people to donate to Upstream Arts this month? Visit to make a secure online donation today. Huge thanks in advance for your support! 
Thank you!

A big 
"Welcome!" to all receiving The Current for the first time, and "Thanks!" to our regular subscribers for taking the time to read about what's happening at Upstream Arts. If you're interested in reading past issues of The Current, check out the growing archive on our website! Please rest assured we will never share your information and that you can always opt out of these mailings, or invite new friends to opt in, using the links below. 
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3501 Chicago Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407 

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