Unpacking Home: the power of the arts to impact a social issue

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Over the past four months, ASTEP has been collaborating with the theater professors and students at LaGuardia Community College and Kingsborough Community College on a service-learning project that would highlight the power of the arts to impact the social agenda of a community — homelessness, especially homeless youth.

After a series of ASTEP workshops and trainings, this ensemble of 18 students spent several weeks volunteering at four community organizations that serve individuals and families in transition — WINNYC, Covenant House, Sylvia’s Place, and Charlotte’s Place. They then devised a piece based upon their volunteer experiences, research, and exploration of the meaning of “home”.

“Unpacking Home” culminated in a series of performances from November 6 – 9, 2013 for diverse communities around NYC. There were many powerful moments shared during the show since the piece encouraged the audience to respond to prompts, most poignantly, “what does home mean to you?”.

Thank you to all of the members of the team that made this experience so unique:

Emeka Agada, Luis Alcantara, Joseph Andrade, Anjail Bakeer, Juan Collado, Brittany Candelario, Kaitlin Coffey, Mone’t Fuentes, Morin Golan, Valjean Guerra, Andy Jimenez, Eric Loehr, Viguens Louis, Yuka Taga, Fernando Torres, Max Wardlaw, Cydia White, and ASTEP Volunteer Artists Lili Froelich and Danielle Lencioni. Led by Yosefa Forma, Steven Hitt, Ryan McKinney, and Stefanie Sertich.

We welcome you to the ASTEP Community!

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Looking for a way to celebrate the holidays?

Back by popular demand, ASTEP is excited to host our 5th Annual New York City Christmas: A Concert to Benefit ASTEP, taking place on Monday, December 16 at 9:30 PM at Joe’s Pub in New York City.

Conceived, produced and music directed by Drama Desk-nominated orchestrator Lynne Shankel (Cry-Baby, Altar Boyz), the evening will feature Broadway’s most sought-after talent singing fresh, original approaches—pop, soul, R&B, rock and more—of holiday songs off ‘New York City Christmas’ the album, available for purchase at the concert.

A benefit concert for ASTEP

Lindsay Mendez (WICKED, DOGFIGHT)
Kenita Miller (Papermill ONCE ON THIS ISLAND)
Anya Singleton (recording artist)
Michael Tacconi (BARE: THE MUSICAL)
Kay Trinidad (ALLEGIANCE)
Aurelia Williams (Papermill ONCE ON THIS ISLAND)

Premium seats are $100, regular seats are $65.

To purchase a ticket, visit Joe’s Pub!


ALL proceeds from tickets to the show and album sales go to supporting ASTEP’s mission to connect performing and visual artists with underserved youth in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty.

300_nychristmas*ASTEP’s New York City Christmas album is a collection of holiday songs created by Drama Desk nominated orchestrator, Lynne Shankel, and performed by the best musicians and singers from Broadway, including Tony Nominee Raul Esparza (Company, Speed the Plow), Tony nominee Orfeh (Legally Blonde, Saturday Night Fever), Sierra Boggess (Love Never Dies, Master Class, The Little Mermaid), Chester Gregory (Sister Act, Dreamgirls, Cry-Baby), Lindsay Mendez (Godspell, Everyday Rapture, Grease), Andy Karl (Wicked, Altar Boyz, 9 to 5), Sally Wilfert (Make Me A Song, Assassins, Tom Sawyer), recording artist Anya Singleton, David Josefsberg (The Wedding Singer, Altar Boyz), Tony nominee and “American Idol” star Constantine Maroulis (Rock of Ages), Drama Desk nominee Tyler Maynard (Altar Boyz, Mamma Mia) and many more!


The album is available for purchase through iTunes, Amazon.com, and sh-k-boom.com.

Giving purpose to my art

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In partnership with the Kennedy Center, ASTEP awarded JJ Krehbiel from BridgeWater College with a 2013 ASTEP Fellow scholarship — ASTEP Fellows receive a stipend to cover their travel costs and meals when they volunteer with ASTEP and are selected based on their exemplary leadership and dedication to using the arts to empower communities.

JJ has been in India volunteering with our partner, Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project, since August and shared the following:

“Finding a way to combine my passion for theatre and my commitment to being an advocate for a more just world seemed like a distant reality until I learned about ASTEP from Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) last January. As an ASTEP Volunteer Artist in India, I have been extremely fortunate to work at Shanti Bhavan, a residential school for economically marginalized children. During my time at Shanti Bhavan, I have taught literature and writing classes, collaborated with other ASTEP Volunteer Artists to facilitate a two-week arts camp, and had the pleasure to teach and learn from the most inspiring children and young adults I have ever met.

Arts Camp was an immense highlight of my experience at Shanti Bhavan. The students, who are generally the best hope for their families to climb up the socio-economic ladder, strongly crave a creative outlet to deal with all of the pressure that they are under. During camp, I co-taught theatre classes for two age groups along with three other ASTEP Volunteer Artists. Our younger group performed a comical scene from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. At first I was very apprehensive with how they would deal with the challenging language typical of Shakespeare; however, the children blew my expectations out of the water. Our young actors loved hamming it up on stage in front of their older classmates.

The older theatre students created their own piece of theatre using a from-the-ground-up process called devising. After some free-writing exercises, the students decided to focus on the theme of fear. They came up with a varied combination of scary, dramatic and humorous scenes. The focus of their scenes ranged from scary movies, nightmares, the fear of failure, the fear of losing a friend, and the realization that courage is not the absence of fear but the decision to move on. They put on an outstanding performance which their peers thoroughly enjoyed.

Being able to work alongside extremely talented volunteers has helped me improve my own acting skills, and sharing those skills with the children of Shanti Bhavan has given purpose to my art. I have learned far more from my students than what I could ever pass on to them. Their beaming personalities and brilliant humor have had a powerful impact on my life and is the reason why I look forward to coming back to Shanti Bhavan.”

— JJ Krehbel, ASTEP Volunteer Artist and Kennedy Center

ASTEP’s Arts Camp in India!

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A team of ASTEP Volunteer Artists recently spent three weeks in India to deliver a multi-week arts camp for the children of Shanti Bhavan! They are Francesca Betancourt, Lotte Crayton, Andrea DeLonis, Jonny Duennebier, Allison Gibbons, JJ Krehbiel, Kelcie Miles, and Danielle Mooney, led by ASTEP’s Director of Programs Abby Gerdts.

The volunteers created a series of arts-specific events, including the Color Cup, and led art classes that focused on dance, visual arts, even film. Check out the special short film that was written, directed, filmed, and edited by the students — they also got to indulge in a favorite past time…consuming candy!


ASTEP to be honored at the 2013 Celebration to Benefit New York Kids! Purchase your ticket!

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ASTEP is the proud recipient of a service grant from Youth, I.N.C. that includes year-long fundraising training, culminating in a benefit at the Waldorf=Astoria on Tuesday, November 19. We have the opportunity to put this fundraising training into practice by selling tickets and sponsorships to the event — our fundraising goal is $40,000!

Youth, I.N.C. hosts the event and underwrites the costs so the funds we raise directly benefit our programs.**

Purchasing a ticket not only helps us achieve our fundraising goal but it will also make the arts accessible to underserved children, securing much needed art supplies and musical instruments so they can experience the magic of creativity and imagination.

Tickets are $300 and sponsorship opportunities are also available. Purchase your ticket today!

** Youth, I.N.C. processes ticket sales so their name will appear on the credit card statement, but ASTEP will receive the funds.

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Boston College establishes ASTEP Student Chapter

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ASTEP has had a longstanding relationship with Boston College, and we’re thrilled that the students there have mobilized to build a formal ASTEP Student Chapter. Led by Co-Presidents Sarah Kelley and Eliott Purcell, this chapter strives to bring awareness to issues connected to poverty through the arts while providing art outreach to children in the Boston Area.

Their leadership team has been busy organizing and recruiting volunteers since the school year started — stay tuned for updates on their project!


Student Chapter launches this fall at Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University_Student ChapterwSanta Clara ASTEP student chapter members!


For the past several years, ASTEP has worked closely with the Social Justice and the Arts Program at Santa Clara University so we’re excited that the students there have officially created Santa Clara ASTEP, an ASTEP Student Chapter. Led by Co-Presidents Nick Manfredi and Tennyson Jones, the student chapter will focus on organizing the pre­-existing spirit of artist ­activism on campus into compassionate engagement with the Santa Clara and San Jose communities.

“When Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP’s Director of Programs, visited the Santa Clara campus last year, he sparked a new way of thinking for the theatre and dance artists on campus. Located just minutes away from San Jose, a city with over 15% of its population living in poverty, Santa Clara University and its artist ­activists are called to the ASTEP mission.” — excerpt from the Santa Clara ASTEP application

When asked what they plan to do, they shared the following:

  • To engage the Santa Clara University Community in active dialogue about the greatest needs of the world beyond our campus.
  • To locate communities, especially of students and children, who are not able to benefit from artistic engagement.
  • To confront the realities of social issues such as poverty, substance abuse, gender inequality, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, gang violence, and teen pregnancy in our extended community through creative engagement and arts-­based action.

Summer art programs in Quito, Ecuador!

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A team of 7 Volunteer Artists delivered arts programming from June – August in Quito’s central historic district in partnership with Project CREO, focusing on at-risk youth ages 7-16 while simultaneously working with local parents and school teachers within the community.

Thank you to the stellar Volunteer Team who brought a variety of art disciplines and instruction, including visual art, drama, and movement: Andrew Cohen, Ali Dachis, Jordan Ferranto, Sasha Hernandez, Meera Kumbhani, Lucia Modesto, and Aaron Rossini! This was ASTEP’s first time assisting with Project CREO’s arts summer camp so it was a great opportunity to lend our expertise on providing day-long, engaging arts classes.

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Actors! Are you interested in doing an Equity Showcase with ASTEP?

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Unpacking “Home”

ASTEP has partnered with La Guardia Performing Arts Center and Kingsborough Community College on a service-learning project that will culminate in an interactive performance on November 6-9, 2013 in NYC. The project is called Unpacking “Home” and will include volunteer experiences at NYC homeless shelters for a cast of 16 artists between the ages of 20-30 years old.

The ensemble will volunteer at partnering homeless shelters in NYC to explore and better understand the meaning of “home” and why we choose to be without it; or what it feels like to have it taken away. The ensemble will then devise a play using material gained from their volunteer experiences.

Ensemble members will co-create the play so ASTEP is recruiting artists who enjoy improvisation and collaboration.

Dates: September 27 – November 9, 2013


  • September – November
  • Location: La Guardia Community College and Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn


  • Tuesday or Wednesday (once a week) in Manhattan and Brooklyn


  • November 6-9, 2013
  • Location: TBD

Audition Workshop:

  • September 19, 2013 from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
  • Location: La Guardia Community College, 31-10 Thomson Ave, C Building, Room 401, Long Island City, NY. (Last building before the walking bridge to Court Square.)

This is an Equity Showcase contract. Stipend included.

Please email Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP Program Director, at mauricio@asteponline.org for more details.

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