The community grows — a new ASTEP Student Chapter at Albright College!

Albright CollegewASTEP@Albright student chapter members

This fall, ASTEP will have a new presence on the campus of Albright College, thanks to Emily Piket and Paulina Gallo, who recently founded the ASTEP@Albright Student Chapter along with Abby Walke, Kaytlyn Ashley, Andrea Cameline, and Geoff Alterman. As President and Vice President, Emily and Paulina are inviting any student, faculty or staff member interested in using arts education to end the cycle of poverty in their local community.

When asked why they wanted to start an ASTEP Student Chapter, they shared the following:

To bring together students of different majors and backgrounds at Albright College in order to teach them about the collective power of arts organizations whose missions align with the tenants and philosophy of “theatre for social justice/change”.

To improve confidence, self-esteem, and collaboration skills through arts education in our local community.

To address specific issues (bullying, poverty, drug use, intolerance, etc.) that place our community’s youth at risk.

Pretty impressive goals! We’re looking forward to sharing in their journey and inspired by their dedication to using the transforming power of the arts!

Karthika, ASTEP Student, describes how her artistic experiences prepared her for law school

Of the many success stories we’ve fostered over the years, let me share one that stands out—Karthika Annamalai, the daughter of a quarry worker from a poverty-stricken region of India, was fortunate to receive an education at Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project, an ASTEP partner. She participated in ASTEP art programs throughout primary and secondary school, excelling in visual arts and becoming an accomplished cellist, taught by ASTEP volunteer musicians. Her dedication to academics and talent for the arts, along with the confidence and belief in a better future that ASTEP programs helped foster, helped Karthika to secure a spot in law school, where she is currently completing her first year.

When asked how arts education helped prepare her for law school, she wrote, “Law is a complex subject and involves a lot of interpretation and reading between the lines. The art programs that I was fortunate to experience through ASTEP equipped me with the skills to appreciate depth and detail, an invaluable ability required for the study of law.” Karthika is a shining example of the transforming power of the arts.

Below is a Q&A with Karthika:

How do you feel/Do you feel that your training and experience with arts programming has prepared you for your university experience at law school? Law is a complex subject, and trying to grasp reality in such vastness is an uphill task and seems impossible most of the time. It involves a lot of interpretation and reading in between lines. The arts program that I was fortunate to experience at Shanti Bhavan has equipped me with skills to be able to appreciate depth and detail, an invaluable ability required for the study of law.

How do you feel that your artistic experiences at Shanti Bhavan help influence or guide you in your life? While interacting with one another during art classes, I learned that no one interpretation of a particular poem, painting or drama is correct. Respecting one another’s opinion no matter how ridiculous it may be equips you with a certain kind of patience and integrity that guides you in life. The element of ‘appreciation’ is essential to have a sense of satisfaction and closure with the experiences that come your way in life.

How have the arts influenced your academic achievements? There is a constant conflict between the standards society has built for me and the standards I wish to set for myself. My sense of academic achievement is connected to a deep understanding of what is being taught, the ability to communicate to a larger audience, connecting with these lessons and making a practical use of them. I was taught a vast number of poems in my elective literature classes. I was surrounded by poems written by Blake, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Shelly, Larken, Seamus Heaney and many other really good poets in High School. By the time I left Shanti Bhavan for college, I understood that these poems involved lessons that these poets learned in life and they were very important to them, and understanding what they were and abiding by the useful one is an academic achievement to me.

Have you had any influential visual or performing art teachers? Can you describe your relationship and why you regard them as influential in your life? There have been many influential visual and performing arts teachers and it is difficult to choose. Of them Mauricio and Cindy Salgado are on the top. Mauricio taught me many lessons through his Julius Caesar and theater classes. His performance never failed to influence my sense of appreciation. I wish I could steal Cindy’s passion and skill so that I could never stop dancing. Mo and Cindy as a couple are wonderful people and I admire that they are so respectful, supportive and appreciating towards each other. Those are lessons in themselves too.

Do you have any artistic goals or aspirations for the future? I have tones of artistic goals! I want to design clothes, make pottery, learn different dances, learn to play the cello better, design the interior of houses, design gardens and the list goes on. If I ever become prime minister one day and am capable of being a good and respected leader then that would be the greatest of all my artistic achievements.

Rocking out with refugee youth in NYC – RYSA Camp Blog!

Led by a team of 11 Volunteer Artists, ASTEP provided engaging creative arts classes during the Refugee Youth Summer Academy in partnership with the International Rescue Committee. 122 students experienced daily Visual Art, Story-telling, and Dance classes and on Fridays, took part in Field Trips to cultural locations in NYC, such as a special day at the Museum of Modern Art. The focus of ASTEP’s art programs are to provide refugee youth with a creative space to develop artistic abilities, strengthen their English language skills, build confidence, and transition to their new home.


ASTEP Volunteer Team

This fun video introduces you to our Volunteer Artist Team who dedicate their time and talent to the kids we serve! We couldn’t do this without them: Taylor Colleton, Max Freedman, Kelsy Henderson, Zoe Kumagai, Danielle McIntosh, Molly Page, Gladys Pasapera, Autumn Potter, and Anna Snapp.


Weekly Update


Weekly Update


Weekly Update


Weekly Update


Closing Video


Displaying the visual art portrait projects


Rehearsing the play that they wrote on their own!


Rehearsing the dance piece for the final performance!


Showcasing their large-scale artwork!

Art-in-Action 2013 Camp Blog!

Hey everyone!

Welcome to our Arts-in-Action 2013 camp blog!

Led by a team of 21 Volunteer Artists, ASTEP and our partner, enFAMILIA, delivered Art-in-Action, a 6-week arts camp that brought a dynamic visual and performing arts experience to 120 youth from the immigrant and migrant communities of Deep South Miami-Dade. Art-in-Action is all about providing a safe space for high school and middle school youth so they can come together to create, develop artistic skills, and grow personally and emotionally.

Students signed up for a variety of classes, including Music, Drama, Dance, Visual Art, and Musical Theater. A few of the elective classes that were offered featured Screen Printing, Clowning, Poetry, and Breakdancing. Enjoy the photos, videos, and testimonials!


Week 1


Week 2


Week 3


Week 4


Week 5


Week 6


** None of this would be possible without dedication and talent of our amazing Volunteer Artist Team: Linnell Truchon (Theatre), Maria Arvanitakis (Theatre), Kelcie Miles (Theatre), Bronte Velez (Dance), Lili Froehlich (Dance), Kentaley McCurdy (Dance), Jess Bush (Music), Elise Conklin (Music), Luz De La Cruz (Music), Vera Johnson (Visual Art), Khaled Hassan (Visual Art), Emma Johnson (Visual Art), Sebastian Acosta (Culinary Arts), Samip Raval (Guest Artist), Andrew Cohen (Guest Artist), Oscar Trujillo (Guest Artist), Brendan Spieth (Guest Artist), Kyle Netzeband (Guest Artist), Maria Avonce, (On-Site Administrator), Allison Gibbons (On-Site Administrator), Blake Wales (On-Site Administrator), Abby Gerdts (ASTEP Program Director)

AIA 2013_Orientation1ASTEP Volunteer Artist Team


artsINSIDEOUT in South Africa

Dance class

For a third summer, ASTEP supported artsINSIDEOUT, a unique group of students and working professionals in the performing arts who have been personally affected by HIV/AIDS. They traveled to Nkosi’s Haven in Johannesburg, bringing acting, singing, dancing, story telling, and the visual arts, inspiring Nkosi’s Haven youth to unleash their creative energy, empowering them to communicate their own experiences.

This year, artsINSIDEOUT made it a priority to include four South African artists on their Volunteer Team. By integrating the American/South African teaching team, their work could be sustainable year round, even when they’re back in New York City. It would also add an element of cultural exchange among the teachers that could only deepen the work to the benefit of the students.

Check out the artsINSIDEOUT Blog for photos, videos, and volunteer testimonials!


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Apply for ASTEP’s fall artist residency scholarship!

Fall 2013 Residency

Theme: Bridging Communities


Scholarship Description

ASTEP is excited to award a scholarship for a 5-day 4-night residency for dancers and choreographers at Silo at Kirkland Farm. Our goal is to support socially conscious artistic endeavors, which include creation processes, residencies, exploration or research, exhibits, and performances. The residency will provide the scholarship recipient and up to 3 guest dancers with housing and studio space for the 5-day 4-night stay. Recipients are eligible to bring up to 3 additional guest dancers to join them. Depending on the number of guest dancers, partial funding is available for travel and food costs.

Scholarship Requirements

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and have either participated as a student or teacher in one of ASTEP’s programs.
  • The residency will take place October 14-17, 2013.
  • Location: Kirkland Farm, 2510 Old Bethlehem Road, Springtown, PA 18055
  • The residency is available for dancers and choreographers.
  • All artists must bring their own equipment and materials.
  • The project proposed by the applicant must directly relate to the scholarship theme: Bridging Communities

Applicants must submit a cover page, project summary, and project logistics

  • Cover page: must include a project title, applicant name, email address, phone number, and the individual’s prior experience with ASTEP.
  • Project Summary: The project summary must be between 250-400 words. Please explain why you are pursuing this project, how the theme is connected, and the impact you hope the project will have on you as an artist and/or your community. Project summaries that exceed the recommended length will not be reviewed.
  • Project Logistics: Please specify a timeline for your project from inception to completion and your budget. If you already have or plan to seek funding from outside sources, please list those sources as well.

Review Process

  • Three members of the ASTEP community have been randomly selected to review eligible applications. Panelists are chosen from our database and include student alum, Volunteer Teaching alum, and a current ASTEP board member. ASTEP staff will not serve on the panel, and all panel members will remain anonymous.
  • Panel members may contact applicants through ASTEP staff if they have any comments and questions about the application. The panel will score the application, including any modifications, according to the following guidelines:

Clarity – how clearly the idea is presented and how it connects to the theme.
Practicality – how feasible is the project as a whole based on the budget and timeline presented.
Impact – the potential for impact on the artist and the community.

Application Deadline

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on August 26, 2013. Email applications to Mauricio Salgado at

Scholarship Recipient

  • Applicants will receive an initial response by September 2, 2013 and will have until September 6, 2013 to respond to any questions about their applications.
  • The scholarship recipient will be announced on September 13, 2013
  • The scholarship recipient must confirm the number of guest dancers joining them by September 20, 2013.
  •  The scholarship recipient will also be required to present 4 blog posts about their creative process for the ASTEP website. Blog posts need to include pictures or video.

For questions, please contact Mauricio Salgado, Director of Domestic Programs, at

ASTEP art institute with Teach for India

Flying Ebola Brothers_Nick

When ASTEP was asked to implement an arts institute for 35 students in Pune, India through Teach for India, we jumped at the opportunity! These inspiring students have no arts training and were selected from among hundreds of extremely low-income children to participate in four weeks of arts immersion.

ASTEP Volunteer Artist Nick Dalton joined ASTEP Founder/Executive Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell in leading music, dance and drama classes that taught artistic skills and highlighted important social issues such as health and HIV/AIDS awareness.

In addition, ASTEP conducted a series of workshops for Teach for India teachers in training, focusing on how to incorporate the arts into their curriculum. The arts not only have the power to engage children but excite them about learning — the teachers were thrilled to gain tangible tools to bolster their classroom teaching.


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+ Nick Dalton with Teach for India staff and Mary-Mitchell Campbell leading a music class for the Teach For India students. +

What’s been going on at our arts program in the Bronx?

ASTEP Volunteer Artist Lucie Baker, Adam Miller, and Kyle Netzeband spent the fall and spring semester leading after-school arts programming at Claremont International High School in the Bronx — visual art, dance, and drumming classes. Since the majority of the students are English Language Learners, the focus of our classes is to engage the students in language development through creative expressions as well as build their self-confidence and critical thinking skills.

This video shares the final project for the visual art class — screen-printing! Check it out!

Crystal Boyd selected as 2013 A Step Towards Empowering Artists scholarship winner!

ASTEP is thrilled to recognize ASTEP volunteer Artist Crystal Boyd as the 2013 A Step Towards Empowering Artists Scholarship winner!

The goal of this award is to support socially conscious artistic endeavors among the ASTEP community, and this year’s theme focused on “Taking Refuge”. In partnership with SPACE on Ryder Farm, this scholarship consists of a 5-day 4-night residency with room, board, working space, and artistic support from Ryder Farm faculty.

Crystal’s proposal was selected among an exceptional set of applicants and is titled “Currency”. She is working with Bound for Success, the Homeless Coalition’s youth program, and will engage their students in the making of a short film about a week in the life of two homeless youth in NYC. Based on her original screenplay, Crystal and the youth will collaborate from pre-production to post-production, culminating in screenings at film festivals.

“With this film, I intend to celebrate the individual human mind of two children as they make their way through New York City. I aim to impact the children of Bound for Success, as I will teach not only a film skill set but the importance of “Taking Refuge” in their own voice.”

ASTEP would like to thank the members of the review panel and all of the applicants. Most importantly, a big thank you to SPACE on Ryder Farm for providing this opportunity to our community.

Congratulations, Crystal!