We know, we don’t look a day over 30, but …

in a few short years, Performing Arts Workshop will be celebrating its 50th birthday!

To help us reflect on our roots and take stock of all our accomplishments through the decades, our star New Sector Alliance Fellow Maya Sussman created this cool interactive timeline. The timeline tracks the earliest of Gloria Unti’s Teen Workshops in 1962 and brings us up to our first annual Student Showcase in May of this year. It also shows us how long some of our foundation supporters have been with us, and fills us with renewed appreciation for all our supporters through the years. Check it out!

timeline screenshot


Bayview Student Showcase: Talented young performers coming soon to a stage near you!

We’re proud to announce that Performing Arts Workshop will be partnering with the 3rd on Third Bayview arts and culture celebration to bring our talented young artists to the stage!

On the evening of Thursday, March 20th, 2014, students from Dr. Charles R. Drew College Preparatory Academy and Paul Revere K-8 School will perform their spoken word compositions and Afro-Peruvian dances at 3rd on Third, a community arts festival that takes place in San Francisco’s Bayview district on the third Thursday of every month.

Students in the after-school dance residency at Drew rehearse the Afro-Peruvian dances they will perform at the Bayview Student Showcase in March.

Students in the after-school dance residency at Drew rehearse the Afro-Peruvian dances they will perform at the Bayview Student Showcase in March.

The showcase is funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission through a Community Arts in the Bayview grant. Thanks to the support of Tyra Fennell, Program Manager at the SF Arts Commission, and Antoinette Mobley, Founder of 941..SF Art Everywhere and host of 3rd on Third, our students will have the opportunity to perform on the same stage that has previously featured such well-known Bay Area artists as the bilingual hip-hop group Los Rakas.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for Performing Arts Workshop at other Bayview community events!

A note from Executive Director Jessica Mele

Whew! It’s been an especially busy but fun few months here at the Workshop. Here’s just a glimpse at what we’ve been up to:

  • Showing our thanks. On November 6, we hosted “A Taste of Performing Arts Workshop,” a party to show BIG appreciation to our current family of individual supporters, and also to welcome new folks into the fold. Thanks to our generous host and partner, the African American Art & Culture Complex in Western Addition, we had a festive and colorful venue for showcasing some of our students’ latest work. Former board member Merti Walker and former teaching artist Taylor Strand read their favorite poems in the anthology of student writing we published last spring from our residency at Marin Juvenile Hall. Three young poets attending one of our partnering schools, Visitacion Valley Middle School, performed a moving poem they wrote about violence in their neighborhood. When they finished, you could hear a pin drop. And as partygoers milled about with drinks and snacks, Core Teaching Artist Amani Manning transformed one corner of the room into an Afro-Peruvian dance class for anyone game enough to try it (including a few intrepid and utterly wonderful board members). With these tastes of the Workshop’s programming, a community of generous individuals and corporate sponsors donated food and spirits to make it a truly festive party. What a fantastic way to kick off a holiday season celebrating gratitude and community. Huge thanks to everyone who made it happen!
Teaching Artist Amani Manning shows Board member Yashica Crawford and a few other game partygoers some of the Afro-Peruvian dance moves our students learn.

Teaching Artist Amani Manning shows Board member Yashica Crawford and a few other game partygoers some of the Afro-Peruvian dance moves our students learn.

  • Sharing our smarts: We just learned that Program Director Karena Salmond’s proposal to the prestigious SXSW Education conference has been accepted! She will head to Austin, TX in March to present at this national conference. It’s a family affair; she’ll team up with sister Kimberlee from the New York-based Girl Scout Research Institute to lead a session on process-based instruction. Karena will present the Workshop’s unique teaching method — the Cycle of Artistic Inquiry — as well as the research and evaluation data we’ve gathered on how our classes develop critical thinking and other cognitive and behavioral skills. Go Team Salmond!
  • Shouting out for artists: As one of the largest and oldest teaching artist hiring organizations in the Bay Area (and the state), Performing Arts Workshop has long been an advocate for building up the profession of teaching artists and giving artists as teachers all the support and security their professional commitment deserves. Read more about my work with Teaching Artists Guild to professionalize the field and provide access to health and other benefits to teaching artists here.

Approaching the Workhop’s 50th birthday, I’m especially interested in seeing a direct line from the fierce commitment and generous spirit of our founder, Gloria Unti, to our teaching artists today. One constant has been an unwavering belief in the potential of each and every child. (In fact, we were just cited in a Wallace Foundation report on after school arts education on holding high standards). I’ll leave you with Core Teaching Artist Sonia Reiter’s inspiring insight into her 4th grade dance students:

I’m asking them pretty challenging questions in class reflection time. Sometimes I don’t get a lot of answers and I was wondering if my questions might be too complex. But I’m starting to realize that these students have the ability to reflect in pretty complex and exciting ways. So I’m going to keep asking hard questions even if I don’t always get answers in class, because I believe they’re thinking about it — even if they’re not answering in the moment.

Here’s to our devoted, dedicated and insightful teaching artists. Here’s to asking hard questions and having the patience to wait for the answers. And here’s to holding the greatest expectations for all that our young people can accomplish – in and well beyond our classrooms.

Wishing you each a warm and peaceful holiday season,

Volunteer and Wish List!

Do you want to get involved with Performing Arts Workshop? There are so many ways to support us and our mission. You can donate time, goods, or resources. If you have questions, please contact Beverly Mislang at 415-673-2634 Ext. 210 or beverly@performingartsworkshop.org.

Scroll down to check out the opportunities then sign up here:


-Day-of-the-event support like set-up, registration, ushers, clean-up, etc.
-Planning support: Are you an event guru? Do you have community or business connections in the Bayview? Then we’d love to get your help in making this a  family-friendly must-see event for Bayview residents.

-Day-of-the-event support like set-up, registration, ushers, clean-up, etc.
-Planning support: Are you an event guru? Do you have community or business connections throughout San Francisco? Do you have a background in developing corporate partnerships or sponsorships? If you said ‘Yes!’ to any of these questions, we’d love to talk to you!

-Visit a class and take pictures of student learning! Your photos will be used on our website, social media networks, promotional and fundraising collateral, and presentations.

-Visit a class and capture the creative process! Your footage will be used for grant applications, our website, social media networks, promotional and fundraising collateral, and presentations.

-Can you help us improve how we use social media to tell our story, or strengthen our social media presence? Do you know how we can make our website one of the most exciting places to visit on the web? Our digital team is ready to meet you!

-Create media connections: Help us generate buzz and excitement leading up to the event
-Acquire corporate sponsorships
-Design 50th anniversary programs, logo, and/or other collateral
-Produce a short commercial
-Help us get reconnect with former students and teaching artists
-Consult on strategic communications leading


• drums: floor toms, congas, small frame drums, mallets
• journals / notebooks
• unbreakable mirrors for dance classes
• iPod docks or speakers
• boomboxes
• painter’s tape (lots of rolls in different colors)
• database licenses (particularly Salesforce)


Shop and give back by selecting Performing Arts Workshop on smile.amazon.com. For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the Workshop!

Join the Gloria Unti Legacy Society. Use your estate to ensure that young people receive the education that they need and deserve.

Host a house party to spread the word about the Workshop!