At ASTEP, we strive to cultivate a community of artists who use their gifts to inspire youth. In order to continue providing ongoing personal and professional development opportunities for our volunteers, we have launched the first A Step Towards Empowering Artists Scholarship for ASTEP volunteers.
We know how important it is for an artist to have the time and space to explore their practice and experience meaningful exchanges or immersions. Partnering with SPACE on Ryder Farm, the A Step Towards Empowering Artist Scholarship will award two 5-day 4-night residencies with a goal of supporting socially conscious artistic endeavors. These endeavors include creation processes, residencies, exploration or research, exhibits, and performances. The residency will provide each artist with room, board, working space, and artistic support from Ryder Farm faculty for the 5-day 4-night stay.
ASTEP received an impressive set of applications, which had to focus on the scholarship’s 2012 theme: Overcoming Discrimination Through Art. After careful evaluation, ASTEP is thrilled to announce the 2012 A Step Towards Empowering Artists Scholarship recipients: Annika Sheaff and Alejandro Rodriguez.
Annika: I am thrilled to receive such a great residency! As an emerging choreographer some of the biggest challenges are finding space and time to work on a new creation. ASTEP is awarding me with 30 hours of time to work in the studio with the dancers of my choice! I could not be more excited! This is the most precious gift; I can’t wait to get my feet wet and dive into a new piece about “Overcoming Discrimination”. ASTEP’s belief in me is encouraging and this space grant will help me further my choreographic career. Thank You ASTEP!!
Alex: The common misconception about the work I do with ASTEP is that it’s entirely selfless. Sure, I think there’s a certain spirit of generosity that fuels our efforts, but I have always received much more than I’ve given. The young people I’ve met, and the artists I’ve gotten to work with, have given me new perspectives and provided me with the inspiration for many characters I’ve played and pieces I’ve written. Now, with the A Step Towards Empowering Artists Scholarship, I get to to take that exchange to a whole new level.
When I learned I’d been awarded a residency at SPACE on Ryder Farm, I was ecstatic. It’s hard to put into words what this opportunity means to me. Like many of us who volunteer for ASTEP, I’m a freelancing artist. As such, I spend a lot of my time in waiting rooms, knocking politely at the doors of the commercial theater, hoping the gatekeepers might let me into play for a while. And, I imagine like most of us, I end up feeling like my Vision cannot be accommodated by the studios at Ripley Grier, or even by some of the beautiful theaters I’ve been lucky enough to play in. My art is for the World; and yet, as a young artist I end up fumbling with it, awkwardly, growing increasingly insecure as I put it on display for strangers to praise or criticize. What ASTEP and SPACE have blessed me with is an opportunity to find stability, and to spend some time in relationship to my own Voice and to my own stories, many of which have been culled from the rich experiences I’ve had on ASTEP sites.
Will I create something that lasts? Who knows. Will I never have to audition for casting directors ever again? Certainly I will. But for a moment, however fleeting, I will feel like an Artist. And, in the final wash, that is the greatest and most transformative gift that ASTEP gives its volunteers: the feeling of actually being what you told your mom you were moving to New York to become.
Thank you ASTEP. I hope our friendship lasts a lifetime.