Pontius, Maravich net $10k grant for Courageous Stage

MIDDLEBURY — Lindsay Pontius and Craig Maravich, the creators of Middlebury’s Courageous Stage program were recently selected to receive one of the first Thriving Communities Project Grants — each worth $10,000 –– by the Community Engagement Lab. Courageous Stage is an arts integration program, based at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater, that works with youth in classrooms across Vermont.

The Vermont-based Community Engagement Lab (CEL) provides leadership to design bold school-based projects to help develop the creative and critical thinking skills students need to succeed in school, careers and life. The CEL flagship program is the Vermont Creative Schools Initiative (VCSI), which helps classroom teachers, teaching artists, expanded learning providers and community leaders develop more creative learning opportunities for Vermont students.

The projects, of which there are five, include nine teaching artists working with 24 community organizations in four communities: Middlebury, Brattleboro, Marlboro and Burlington. All are expected to share their projects with their communities in the winter or spring of 2020.

Applicants were asked to propose bringing their community together to make an artwork that explores this essential question: “The Earth is speaking — how do we respond?”

“The changing environment is the greatest challenge of our time, and we believe that teaching artists can play an essential catalytic role in helping communities understand how to address that challenge,” said Paul Gambill, executive director of the Community Engagement Lab.

Teaching artists are practicing artists who work in schools and communities, who have expanded their art making beyond the studio or stage into participatory engagement with many different people, in many settings, for many purposes, Gambill said.

Theater artists Maravich and Pontius plan to create “If I say BEE: A Theatrical Pollinator Event” that will incorporate original music, writing and performance to tell the story of humans rapidly displacing thousands of species of invertebrates through our carbon footprint, and to help participants consider how humans occupy the earth. Maravich and Pontius will partner with Bee the Change and Middlebury UndergrounD (MUD) for the project.


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