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This afternoon, I accepted a position with The MUSE Machine of the Miami Valley, working with the education department…

About the MUSE Machine

The Muse Machine was established on the belief that the arts can make a profound contribution to every aspect of human life. Founded in 1982 by Suzy Bassani with twenty-two charter teachers from twenty area schools, The Muse Machine now involves 160 schools in twelve counties, serving combined student audiences of more than 70,000 through professional performances and workshops. Approximately 650 teachers across many academic disciplines receive training in the performing and visual arts annually. Cited as a model arts in education program in The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts publication Community Arts: Partnerships in Education, we continue to set the standard for the best in arts education.

At its essence, The Muse Machine is a comprehensive performing and visual arts education delivery system for secondary students. But The Muse Machine is much more – it helps students express their creativity and get excited about learning; it inspires and rewards teachers; it builds enthusiastic and knowledgeable arts audiences for the future; and it helps build vibrant and cohesive communities. The “core” of The Muse Machine is three programs that, working together, create a vital link between the community’s arts organizations and educational system:

1) Teacher Training – Through challenging, hands-on arts workshops and seminars with professional artists, teachers in all disciplines acquire tools that help them motivate and connect with students in exciting new ways. The joy that the teachers receive through their professional development is immediately conveyed to the students in their classrooms. The Muse Machine recognizes that, for every teacher who understands the significance of the arts in our lives, hundreds of students will benefit from a more holistic education.

2) In-School Programs – The Muse Machine helps arts organizations and artists reach into the schools with high-quality arts programs tied directly to curriculum objectives. Early and frequent exposure to the arts helps students develop a lifelong interest in them, even as it makes learning and teaching in all subject areas more effective and fun.

3) Muse Machine Clubs – Teachers and students collaborate with arts organizations to market the arts in their schools. In-school box offices sell discounted tickets to mainstage performances and exhibits, giving students vastly increased contact with different art forms, while helping arts organizations build loyal future audiences. Muse Machine Clubs help young people develop leadership skills, make new friends, and excel through fun activities that enrich their lives.

The Muse Machine also undertakes special projects that involve teachers, students, parents, and communities directly in the arts. Playwriting competitions, professional quality musical theater productions, and juried arts exhibitions are just some of the special projects that have given The Muse Machine tremendous visibility in Dayton, and made it a treasured part of that community.
Most importantly, the flexibility of The Muse Machine’s model means it can be adapted to the needs of different communities. It can be operated by an arts center, arts council, arts fund, foundation, or as a separate non-profit organization.

The structure of the elementary school, and the number of arts-in-education programs offered nationally, allows elementary students the opportunity to experience and enjoy the performing and visual arts. As these students enter secondary school and develop more sophisticated intellectual capabilities, however, they have fewer opportunities for curricular and extracurricular exposure to performing and visual arts education. As a result, only a select few secondary students are served.

The Muse Machine targets secondary school students. The Muse Machine gives them frequent and rich experiences with the performing and visual arts through in-school programs and after-school activities, at a time when young people are developing attitudes and habits they will carry with them throughout their lives. The Muse Machine helps these students channel their emotions into fun, constructive activities and relationships that will reward them – and their communities – well into the future.

I first became acquainted with the MUSE Machine in 1991 when I accompanied the auditions of several students who were cast in the winter production which collected students from all over the Miami Valley. The following year, I received a telephone call from Scott Rogers, asking if I would please consider accompanying the four days of auditions, as well as the several days of call back auditions. I agreed, and for the next three years, had a great time.It was during the auditions for 1992’s production that I first met Susan Pringle, the stage manager who later worked her way up to executive director. I thoroughly enjoyed Susan’s personality and always looked forward to my time spent at the MUSE auditions. Of course, throughout the years, I have had a number of students appearing in the productions in lead roles, and I am always the “proud papa!”

Next Wednesday, I will drive up to downtown Dayton, about a four mile drive, to the building right next door to the Victoria Theatre and begin this new position – which is still under construction.One of the coolest things is that I will not have to battle finding a place to park and pay a typical $5 each day – I will have VALLET PARKING! Jed, Granny, Jethro and Ellie Mae – we be joinin’ Weezy and George and “We are movin’ on up!” Woo hoo! Vallet parking! I never even had that in New York when I was there for projects! Hot damn!

For more information on this outstanding organization, please visit:
http://www.musemachinedayton.com/ or http://www.musemachine.org/index2.htm

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