Month: February 2016

Green Street Teaching and Learning Center

by Julia O’Halloran Faraci

greenstreet building

Green Street Teaching and Learning Center is one of Middletown’s cornerstone arts organizations. Opened in the North End in 2005 as the Green Street Arts Center (GSAC), it is a collaboration between the City, the North End Action Team (NEAT) and Wesleyan University. In 2015, GSAC’s tenth year, it combined with the Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science (PIMMS), encompassing the mission of the organization to work with children and teachers in art, science, and math.

Green Street provides a wide range of services to the Middletown community as part of its mission. Many children from the North End neighborhood and beyond attend after-school classes in the arts, sciences, and math. The Wesleyan Bound program opens up
possibilities of college to middle-school children. Homeschool students meet for classes and activities. Green Street To Go provides a traveling program to provide arts participation to the community; ConnectBook3-169x300.pngicut Valley Hospital and Ädelbrook Behavioral & Developmental Services are also served. The mission also includes professional development for teachers and artists including arts integration workshops and statewide Science Safety Workshops.

As part of Wesleyan’s Center for Community Partnerships, Green Street Teaching and Learning Center (Green Street TLC), shares Wesleyan’s web platform, Cascade; however Green Street uses an embedded WordPress site for its blog. The Director, Sara MacSorley, is the administrator of Green Street’s social media presence.

MacSorley says that Facebook is the most effective platform for her audience, which includes mostly parents of Green Street’s students, the Wesleyan community, and artists. Static pages provide basic information such as schedules and upcoming programs. She uses the Administrator “Insights” page to review the impacts of posts. She noted that videos are particularly popular, garnering “engagement” post clicks of likes, comments, and shares; links are also popular and photos, especially of the children at programs. She also monitors “likes” and “unlikes” by date. MacSorley notes active times when families start their day in the morning, peaking before bedtime. She will sometimes schedule her material to be posted during peak times.

MacSorley commented that she follows a “70-30” rule for Green Street’s posts. Seventy percent of the time, her posts are “fun”, “engaging”, “interesting”. Only thirty percent of the time will she ask for anything or do any fundraising.

GSTLCThe social media presence for a non-profit should strongly feature a logo, photos, and other branding.  They must provide clear direction for their web presence, in order to protect their reputation and their branding. Shares and posts must be carefully monitored. Posts from the Mayor, Wesleyan, NEAT, are shared; anything that could be construed as political is not.

Green Street uses Twitter for events and for classes that need to be publicized for signup. Tweets are directed to the Middletown Press, to Middletown Youth Services, and other Wesleyan groups; Tweets from those groups are retweeted. Again, knowledge of the audience is important; Twitter is popular with middle-school kids, as it’s a way to get around the cost of texting.

Lists are used for Green Street’s varied audiences; often appearing in Green Street’s “trending” feed is “science communicators”, which includes teachers, national science writers, and college and university writers. Freelancers in particular up visibility because they tend to promote each other. @Sci_Art, in particular, sponsors live chats on Sundays. MacSorley curates her multiple Twitter accounts with Tweetdeck.

To a lesser extent, the organization uses its blog to publish accounts of classes and events, especially featuring photos of students participating in the programs.

Building readership of the organization’s Facebook and Twitter accounts is key to announce and publicize Green Street events and to build community involvement.

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Middletown – Arts in the River City

Bauer
Photo by David P. Bauer

 

 

 

The town where the residents don’t hate the traffic on Route 9 nearly enough, because a stop at the only two red lights on the state road, less than a mile from each other, gives commuters the chance to glance at the sunrise over the river, the fog veiling the river, the Arrigoni Bridge rising majestically over the river. The town where murals and artwork adorn restaurant windows and shop walls on Main Street. The town where residents phoning City officials ask to be placed on hold so they can hear local musicians on recordings, and visitors to City Hall can see paintings, photographs, sculpture and fabric arts by local artists when they go to pay their taxes and parking tickets.

Middletown is home to poets, writers, musicians, artists of all kinds, and a wide range of residents – natives, transplants, academics, students. It’s a diverse population – and a small world. There are many collaborations on projects and promotions.

Cooperation and camaraderie flourishes. untitledThe recently appointed Poet Laureate was not expected to be well enough for a scheduled reading at Russell Library – and poets and members of the public showed up to read her work for her. dic chion marcellaPoets, actors, children, and performers of all types are called by email and Facebook posts to recite, declaim and cause a ruckus at ArtFarm’s annual fundraiser, the Shakespeare Slam. Local musicians are called to play in the Circus Orchestra at Oddfellows Playhouse’s Children’s Circus – years after they (and their children) have “graduated” from the summer program. The Russell Library has to cancel the “dog whisperer” program – word gets out by Twitter.

 

Often, the need for speed necessitates promotion by social media. Artists and arts lovers from Middletown and surrounding areas are brought together through all forms of social media from email chains to Facebook and Twitter to Meetup. Most of the TBT front_12town’s arts venues promote their events through Facebook and on their websites.

The Buttonwood Tree hosts events of all kinds and welcomes music and performance lovers from all over New England. As one of the cornerstone arts organizations of Middletown, it’s tied into the nightlife of the City, especially of the North End, and hosts jazz performances, comedy groups, open mics, community groups, homeschool classes, and a myriad of other events. Though it has an extensive fan base, The Buttonwood Tree relies on free and low cost promotion and communication, and social media is an ideal ways to get their message out.

The Middletown Commission on the Arts produces Arts2Go with support from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Arts2Go calendar is mailed to City residents, but the website lendslogo itself to a more intensive presence. The website promotes readings, performances,  exhibits and and other events in the Middletown area and further afield in Middlesex County. The site also has information for artists – a directory with resources for artists, including links to grants applications, work opportunities, and city agencies.

The arts are intrinsically bound in with the identity of Middletown. Events like Art Farm Shakespeare performances, the Oddfellows Children’s Circus, Cruise Nights and the monthly Arts Walks attract residents and tourists to the downtown area. Business and civic organizations partner with non-profits – and through cross posts on social media, help make these events successful.