A Fond Farewell

Picture of an artist teacher with two campers
Michael hanging out with two campers in 1999

(From Michael Brix, our outgoing Executive Director)

It was the summer of 1999 when I first stepped nervously onto the stage at Eastern College, which would serve as my classroom for the next four weeks. I was expecting 12 middle schoolers to walk through the door in just a few moments, waiting for me to teach them everything I knew about acting. I was prepared, but terrified. It would be a lie to say that I remember what I taught that day, but I remember reading to them from a picture book called Amazing Grace, and then starting instruction with neutral acting bodies.

In the coming years, I would continue to teach acting, direct the summer shows, and become part of a dynamic young team of artist-educators who wanted to change the world through our work with these kids. Brooke, Jake, Sarah, Joanna, and I would dream and plan for hours, often at the foot of Mark Hallen, our mentor, co-conspirator, and (as time went on) our friend. Except for one year when I was on a sabbatical trip, I have been a part of every year since I joined in 1999. When our team agreed to trust me with leadership as our Executive Director, I was so very honored. I was determined to not let them down and we built an amazing, vibrant, youth-focused program that I am extremely proud of.

Cast picture of Shadow Company
Shadow Company, circa 2010

Some of my favorite parts of my time here included: creating and shaping our teen program (Shadow Company), their first show in the Fringe Festival-a flash mob we performed on South Street, dropping off my kids for their first summer camp experience, getting our 501(c)3 letter in the mail, the first time our summer camps had to start a wait-list, our kickball tournaments, auction parties, and VIP receptions, as well as having the chance to meet the Phillies! Of course, there were hard times and moments I’d rather forget as well, such is the way of every job.

As I turn the page on this chapter of my life, I want to encourage all of you to step forward to make sure that this life-giving organization continues on into the future. Please take a minute to click and pledge today – perhaps a monthly gift to sustain this work – or maybe a one-time gift that will help us mark this transition time.

I’ve spent this week tying up loose ends and trying to find moments to reflect, remember, and enjoy this period of my life. In all of the whirlwind of last-minute things as I prepare to leave the office for the final time as the Executive Director, I must remember back to my first lesson to my theatre campers and find that “neutral” again. I can’t wait to see all of the good that Yes! And… Collaborative Arts will continue to do and I look forward to supporting it with you all!

Thank you all, for everything.

Theatre Camp session 1: A Dollar Tree Jam!

A Dollar Tree Jam, when an unexpected run-in at the local dollar store ended up being a journey to a magical kingdom in the midst of a royal family dispute.

(From Debbie, our Theatre Camp Director)

What I love about Theatre Camp is knowing that I could not possibly fathom what our show will end up being and our first Theatre Camp session was no exception!

Our first session theme, Discover, Explore, Encounter, turned into an exploration of different worlds using drum circles, movement, and the environment.

The two tribes fell into their own lands, Sugar Sweetened and Dollar Tree, and began to think of how each person’s character ended up in the world. From the outside, it looks like the students are simply playing a game of imagination, but they are also learning different ways people interact with different members of the community by inventing new ones.

What was super interesting about this session was that each tribe chose a different way they came together. One, more focused on the the tribe as a whole, started as a community–a kingdom–and discovered individuals within it. The other focused on each individual and found a way to make them come together–an unexpected meeting in a store.

While the scene, characters, and plot line are all creations of our students, it is the direction of our amazing staff that guides the two stories together to create a final script for our show. Sometimes all you need is one key character to tie the two lands together, for us it was a Jelly Jam Ghost and a Bugatti that could travel to another dimension.Video

Video shot and edited by by Aidan Kaye.

An Important Board Update

Dear Friends and Supporters of Yes! And… Collaborative Arts,

First, we thank you so much for your continued support of our wonderful organization. We really appreciate your involvement in so many ways — financial, physical and emotional — ways which have made it possible for our organization to continue to serve children as we have done so for 21 years.

We write on behalf of the board to provide some important news. It is with very mixed feelings that we share with you that Michael Brix will be stepping down from his position as Executive Director of Yes! And… Collaborative Arts. Along with being one of our founders, Michael has served as Executive Director for nearly 8 years. During that time period, Yes! And… Collaborative Arts progressed from a small organization serving children through summer theater camp and after school programs to our incorporation as a 501(c)(3) organization. Michael is largely responsible, along with our staff and the founders, for the growth and success of our summer programs, Winter (and Summer!) Sort of Thing performances, Studio Classes, our After-School Program and Shadow, our teen program.

Michael has really taken our organization to new heights through his devotion, hard work, expertise and unflagging optimism. He is now ready for a new challenge. For now, Michael is continuing to look for – as he put it – “his next adventure”, and will continue to lead Yes! And… Collaborative Arts during his search. At the same time, the board has begun the search process for a new executive director and we will keep you updated on our progress. Michael has promised us that he will remain involved in other ways, even after he has moved on, by sharing his experience and insight to help guide Yes! And… Collaborative Arts to the next stage.

We look forward to our future and also will have more opportunity to look back and celebrate Michael’s amazing contributions to our organization. In the meantime, we are very excited for our excellent camp programs to begin this week and hope to see many of you at our events and celebrations!

D’vorah Horn-Greenberg and Claudia Huot
Yes! And… Collaborative Arts Board Co-Chairs