WASHINGTON — Since the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic and subsequent mass closures of businesses, schools and other facilities, many of us have been adjusting to life during the era of social distancing. Online methods of communication and interaction have become the norm as we strive to adapt during the unique circumstances presented by the virus.
ASAP!, the popular and well-known non-profit organization dedicated to providing experiential arts education for students and adults alike, has also been affected by the closures. By mid-March the organization had shuttered its doors, sent employees to work from home and suspended all in-person programming. However, they too have gotten creative by going virtual and making the most of available technology to continue to offer their quality programs.
“We want our organization to always be useful,” said founder and executive director JoAnne Torti. “We as humans best learn best through our senses,” she continued as she mused on ASAP!’s mission. “Our goal quickly became how we could execute this mission virtually.” Going virtual required the ingenuity and collaboration of ASAP’s dedicated team to figure out how to make this possible while at the same time staying relevant. Hence, the Virtual Learning Series was born.
ASAP! reached out to their large community of teaching artists, asking them to prerecord videos that they could post on their social media accounts for kids and adults to engage with in the safety of their own home. “The artists’ videos serve as a guide, allowing people to be creative and develop their own ideas as they follow along,” Torti explained.
“Weekly featured artists and maker sessions with ASAP!’s acclaimed teachers will cultivate engagement that fosters creative hands-on learning. These virtual sessions are produced for all ages and offer a way for communities to stay connected,” Torti continued.
All videos are free, and include fun titles such as “Build a Beat with Emily Robb,” “Movement MadLib with Pilobolus Dance Theater” and Spring Seedlings with Alyssa Robb.” Each video is less than 10 minutes in length and will certainly inspire viewers to explore their creative side while quarantined, using materials readily available at home. A new video is posted each week on all of ASAP!’s social media accounts: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Viewers are encouraged to share what they have created in the comments section.
Torti also hopes ASAP! can be a curriculum resource for teachers during distance learning and even beyond. “I’ve always viewed ASAP! as an educational institution,” she said. She also hopes parents, families and kids will also find ASAP!’s virtual materials useful while learning at home.
“Empathy is the ASAP! 2020 theme and our team continues to incorporate that theme in everything we do, including the Virtual Learning Series. Now more than ever, ASAP! is supporting professional teaching artists that will inspire everyone to make the world a better, kinder, and more loving place,” Torti summed up.
For more information, visit ASAP’s website, www.asapct.org/