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Identity Project, Rites of Passage, Bullying Residency,
Wearable Arts Program, Multidisciplinary, Conflict Resolution
The Artists' Collective for Social Change specializes in developing arts programming for disenfranchised populations. The ACSC team of artists have implemented innovative arts programming for such organizations as Children's Aid and Family Services (New Jersey); Morris County Department of Human Services (New Jersey); The Wynona M. Lipman Education and Training Center (Newark, NJ); The Westlake School (Westlake, New Jersey); VSA Arts of New Jersey; and Arts Horizons (Englewood, New Jersey).
Through these programs, clients, artists, and staff employ the arts as a tool to address tolerance and diversity to aid the clients in developing positive relationships with adults and peers. Each program is designed to encourage self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment by completing a task from beginning to end which includes a final presentation. Through a focus on group cooperation, residents develop a positive, appropriate relationship with the artist and each other, improving their sense of self. Artists present professional development workshops to the staff to clarify the intention of the residency and enhance child care skills.
Ego Tripping'
I am the thought in the back of your head
I am the muscle that helps you get out of bed
I am the leaf still growing on the tree
   I am the heaven waiting for thee
I am the control, which stops your bursts
I am the drink that quenches your thirst
I am the star that helps you find your way
I am the spirit that keeps you alive every day
I am the popularity that makes you known
I am a person who is on his own
(student at Lipman Hall
Arthur Wilson ACSC teaching artist)
Children at Path Homes of NJ are working with ACSC artists Leslie Strongwater and Mark Levine for their second year. The mural project is a continuation of the Identity project funded by the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation. These workshops include a combination visual art and drama exercises.
Photo: Leslie Strongwater
 We are now in our third year of collaboration with the Morris County Youth Shelter made possible by a grant from the  Morris County Department of Human and Social Services. ACSC artists and administration have formed a strong bond with administration and staff of the shelter forming positive recipricol relationships with the shelter residents through modeling and team teaching. The residents have created a mural, written a play, composed percussion pieces, and worked on monologues and theater presentations of their work. Currently they are writing poems and doing illustrations that will be bound into a book. They also are learning how to use the computer and video cameras to edit and create commercials. In addition they are developing a presentation surrounding their poetry and art work. ACSC conducts professional development workshops so that the staff can understand the process the residents are asked to go through and provide them with creative/artistic solutions for child care. All participating individuals involved are enjoying a fruitful relationship and are looking forward to continuing our collaboration for years to come.

The Artists’ Collective for Social Change (ACSC) completed a first-year pilot program in two Path group homes of New Jersey with funds from the Matisse Foundation. The PATH homes located in Paramus and Ridgewood, New Jersey are for children ages 6-12 years who are up for adoption. One is for girls and one for boys. They have to live in a therapeutic group home for a period of time to learn how to trust and accept adults before they can be placed in a family. Under the direction of a theater artist and a puppeteer, the project titled Identity combined drama, writing, and mask-making. Identity was begun in February of 2007 and completed in April  2007. Fourteen students were served - seven boys and seven girls.


Rodney Gilbert created and implemented a Rites of Passage program based on African traditions. The workshop gives young men of all color the "permission" to enter into manhood with responsibility. The workshop joined two African-American male artists, Rodney Gilbert and Ron McBee to teach at Children's Haven group home for adolescent boys for Children's Aid and Family Services. The workshop culminated in the late winter of 2006 with a dramatic and musical presentation in which the boys expressed what they learned and what they vowed to continue in the future.

Ted Sod implemented a Bullying Residency at Children's Aid and Family Services Eastlea group home for adolescent girls. His workshop helped students understand and self-govern psychological and physical bullying behavior as they learn to identify, analyze, and respond from three points of view: bully, victim, and bystander. The project culminated in a book of essays that were honest, thoughtful and intense.

The Wearable Arts Program continued this year (see 2004/2005) with Misha McGlown, Xenobia Bailey and Monique Martin. The program was implemented at Woodlea group home for adolescent girls under the auspices of Children's Aid and Family Services. We added a new component of retailing and marketing to the design program. This taught the participants the business side of the arts and what it entails. The original items they created were sold at a local shop on consignment with the proceeds returning directly to the residents.


This was the first year that
ACSC offered crafts. The female residents of Eastlea group home worked with a jewelry designer, fashion designer and fiber artist ( Misha McGlown, Xenobia Bailey and Monique Martin). They made patterns, designed and sewed their own clothes, crafted sculptured jewelry and crocheted intricate patterns on purses and hats. The culminating event showed all their handiwork.

Playwright/actor/directors Rodney Gilbert and Ted Sod conducted a
Multidisciplinary Residency at Woodlea group home where Catlin Cobb offered two movement workshop workshops. Anika Adilifu worked with the residents to document the process and created a DVD.

Playwright/actor/director Mark Levine implemented an age appropriate
Conflict Resolution Program through Drama in the spring at PATH I and PATH II.


An assembly with Seventh Principle, Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn, and Ron McBee was presented at the 8th annual Children's Aid and Family Services motivational awards dinner, October 8, 2003. During 2004 ACSC administered and implemented the Odyssey Therapeutic Arts Program for Children's Aid and Family Services. Vince Ector and Ron McBee each conducted percussion residencies at PATH I and PATH II group homes. Dominique Cieri led a twelve week multidisciplinary theater residency at Eastlea group Home in Bogota, NJ. joined by Catlin Cobb.  Students participated in writing and movement workshops culminating with a presentation of their poems. Alysia Souder led a twelve week theater residency at the Woodlea and Children's Haven group homes. She was joined by actor Rodney Gilbert and percussionist Ron McBee. Alexis Marnel and Ron McBee worked extensively with the students of the Westlake School. The students, who are all classified as multiply handicapped, created their own dance and percussion segments, made their own instruments, and explored literacy through movement and music.

The Wynona M. Lipman Education and Training Center is a residential treatment center in Newark, New Jersey for boys ages 12-21. Lipman Hall continues to investigate diversity through the arts in order to engage their residents in developing positive relationships with adults and peers. ACSC artists worked with residents June 2002 through April 2004 in an innovative approach that combined the arts and treatment. In the fall of 2003, book artist Miriam Schaer, conducted a five week intensive workshop as a guest artist with assistant, actor Andre Fortson. The theme, Life Books, was based on a concept that all children in foster care should have a catalog of their life, where they have lived, milestones, memories, etc. The boys included their most significant mental snapshots through pictures, words, and photographs. In January of 2004, Ron McBee conducted a workshop where the boys composed and recorded original percussion.
During this residency the residents also had a chance to make their own mbiras with musician Kevin Nathaniel. Lipman Hall enjoyed performances by the Taiko Drummers of Japan, Rennie Harris Pure Movement, and an assembly of Irish Music by Mary Knysh. Residents also participated in African Dance and drumming residencies, mask-making, and produced their own short film or "cine-poem." Each residency culminated in a final showing or performance. In addition, guest artists were contracted by ACSC to conduct assemblies in Native American Storytelling, a Holocaust play, African Dance, Cartooning, and Classical Music Appreciation. Guest company performances included street-dance performance company Fly Dance, The New Jersey Shakespeare Theatre's Next Stage Touring Company presentation of Love's Labours Lost, and a performance of Randy James Dance Works "The View" based on the events of 9/11.