664 episodes

The National Endowment for the Arts podcast that goes behind the scenes with some of the nation’s great artists to explore how art works.

Art Works Podcast National Endowment for the Arts

    • Arts
    • 4.5 • 33 Ratings

The National Endowment for the Arts podcast that goes behind the scenes with some of the nation’s great artists to explore how art works.

    Transforming Lives Through Music: Shanna Lin and the Paterson Music Project

    Transforming Lives Through Music: Shanna Lin and the Paterson Music Project

    Director of Education and Violin/Viola Teaching Artist at the Paterson Music Project (PMP) Shanna Lin gives us the program's history: it’s an El Sistema-inspired program established in 2013 with 32 second graders and now serves over 500 students from 25 schools in Paterson, N.J. PMP offers after-school programs four days a week and on Saturdays, including string orchestra, concert band, guitar, jazz, hand drumming, keyboard, and choir and provides instruments to students at no cost.We discuss the principles of El Sistema. Started in Venezuela about 50 years ago as a social impact program, it uses music education to teach discipline, teamwork, and community building. She notes that El Sistema has spread globally, with over 140 programs in the US, including 5 in New Jersey. Lin shares that students in PMP come from Paterson Public School District and celebrates the diversity of the city with its significant immigrant populations.  Lin talks about the importance of parental involvement through a volunteer parent committee and shares how parents support program activities, provide input, and help during events and the importance of long-time supporters like the National Endowment for the Arts.  Lin also discusses how PMP fills the gap left by budget cuts in Paterson schools that reduced programming in instrumental programs and explains that PMP is part of Wharton Arts, which includes New Jersey Youth Symphony, New Jersey Youth Chorus, and a performing arts school.  She recounts her own path to becoming a co-founding teaching artist at PMP and shares how her mentors, Choong-Jin Chang and Honggang Li, influenced her approach to music education.  Lin highlights the expressive outlet and sense of identity that music provides for students and shares stories of how PMP offers a supportive community where students feel they belong and can thrive.  Shanna also describes the diverse backgrounds of PMP's 30 teaching artists, including public school teachers, freelance musicians, and international artists and shares how these teachers bring unique skills and experiences, enriching the program for students. And finally, Lin shares the joy of knowing students and their families a decade or more—which is central to community music programs like PMP.

    • 32 min
    Lillian Faderman: The Emotional Truth of "My Mother's Wars"

    Lillian Faderman: The Emotional Truth of "My Mother's Wars"

    We’re celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month by revisiting my interview with LGBT and ethnic scholar and author Lillian Faderman who discusses her book "My Mother's Wars." The book is a reconstructed narrative that explores the life of Faderman's mother, a Jewish immigrant in the United States, navigating the complexities of love, survival, and identity against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the rise of Nazism. Faderman recounts her mother's journey from a Latvian shtetl to New York City in 1914, detailing her struggles with language barriers, cultural acclimation, and the harsh realities of the American Dream. She recounts the grueling working conditions in the garment industry, the significant role of unions in fighting for better working conditions during the 1930s, and her mother’s involvement with strikes. Faderman discusses her mother's tumultuous relationship with Moishe, which results in her giving birth to Lillian in 1940 and raising her as an unmarried mother.  Faderman also discusses the increasing dread among Jewish immigrants in the U.S. as Nazism spread across Europe, and her mother’s frantic reactions to the impact on her family.  And finally she shares insights into her writing process, revealing how the act of writing the memoir allowed her to understand finally her mother's heroism and strength. 

    • 29 min
    Theater Unmasked: Challenges and Possibilities

    Theater Unmasked: Challenges and Possibilities

    President of Actors' Equity Kate Shindle and the NEA Director of Theater & Musical Theater Greg Reiner discuss the current challenges, strategic innovations, and the evolving landscape of American theater.  Kate provides an overview of the history and evolving mission of Actors' Equity in safeguarding actors and stage managers.  While Greg discusses the NEA's strategic funding to support theaters nationwide, highlighting the critical need for sustainability in the sector. Both emphasize the creative resilience and artistic innovation within the theater community while exploring the significant financial and structural challenges faced by the industry during and post-COVID-19. They share optimism over the leadership transitions within the theater community, which focuses on the representation of diverse voices in leadership roles but also see the need to support these leaders who have stepped up in a fraught time.  We also discuss the implications of digital streaming for live theater, considering its potential to enhance accessibility and audience engagement. And Kate, who is stepping down from Equity leadership, reflects on her tenure while both share their aspirations for the future of theater in America. 

    • 40 min
    Staging Stories: Psalmayene 24 on Directing Across Time

    Staging Stories: Psalmayene 24 on Directing Across Time

    Playwright and director Psalmayene 24 discusses his career trajectory from his unique approach to theater, his recent direction of the world premiere of Tempestuous Rising at Arena Stage and his upcoming projects, including his current direction of Metamorphosis at the Folger Theatre. We talk about his journey from dance to theater, first as an actor and eventually to playwriting and directing in response to the lack of satisfying roles for young Black men. We discuss the collaborative nature of his directing style, involving actors and creative teams in the development of the production, ensuring that every aspect from costume design to choreography reflects the thematic richness of the play. Psalmayene 24 highlights the challenges and strategies of directing in different theater spaces, especially the round configuration of the Fichandler Stage at Arena Stage and the Elizabethan stage at the Folger Theatre. He also shares his vision for Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Metamorphosis focusing on an all-Black cast and the use of movement to convey the universality of human conditions through the lens of Blackness and Black culture and without the iconic pool used in previous productions. And Psalmayene 24 shares his excitement about upcoming projects, including a musical about John Lewis that he is writing. And as well as being smart and thoughtful, Psalmayene 24 has a truly terrific voice!

    • 32 min
    Bridging Cultures: A Conversation with Diana Abu-Jaber

    Bridging Cultures: A Conversation with Diana Abu-Jaber

    We’re closing out Arab-American Heritage Month with author Diana Abu-Jaber who discusses growing up with an Irish-American mother and a Jordanian father who never felt at home in the US, the lively tensions between cultures, and the centrality of this to her writing.  We discuss her two memoirs, "The Language of Baklava" and "Life Without a Recipe." She describes the impact her father and grandmother had on her life and how their contrasting personalities were reflected in their approaches to food: Diana's father was a passionate and improvisational cook, while her grandmother was a precise baker.  Abu-Jaber discusses the challenges of writing memoirs, the emotional risks involved in sharing personal stories, and how she navigated the difficult topic of her larger-than-life’s father's death.  We turn to a discussion of her latest novel, "Fencing with the King," and Diana reveals that the story was inspired by her father's experience of fencing with King Hussein of Jordan and her family's history of displacement. Diana reflects on the growth of Arab-American literature and the increasing prominence of Arab-American writers in contemporary culture.  We also discuss the similarities between cooking and writing and how food, like literature, can serve as a bridge between cultures 

    • 39 min
    Leslie Sainz: A New Voice in Contemporary Poetry

    Leslie Sainz: A New Voice in Contemporary Poetry

    We’re celebrating National Poetry Month with 2021 NEA Literature Fellow, poet Leslie Sainz who discusses her debut poetry collection, "Have You Been Long Enough at Table."  Sainz reads from her collection and talks about its major themes including the ambiguity, displacement, and impact of cultural heritage as a daughter of Cuban immigrants. She discusses the variety of poetic forms used in her collection, allowing form to be guided by the emotional and thematic demands of her work. Sainz also talks about the impact of receiving a 2021 NEA Literature Fellowship for Poetry on her career and the validation it provided and offers advice to other poets and writers, especially regarding the NEA fellowship application process. Sainz  also discusses her involvement as a judge in the NEA's Poetry Out Loud competition and  shares her experiences from organizing regional competitions to judging the national semifinals and her appreciation for the performative and memorization components that enhance both the understanding and the emotional experience of poetry.  She also gives us a glimpse into her upcoming project, tentatively titled "I Believe in Evil and Evil Believes in You," exploring new thematic territories and expanding her creative boundaries.  And, on April 17,  the day after our conversation, Leslie Sainz’s collection , "Have You Been Long Enough at Table" was awarded the 2024 Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
33 Ratings

33 Ratings

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Rich content, fascinating guests

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I love this app! Love it!

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Five Stars!

Very well produced, wide range of topics. Great podcast!

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