During December 9-19, 2013, the Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee (BRSCC) brought Rotterdam theatre artist and educator Kathie diStefano to Baltimore for an artist residency, as part of the ongoing HarborTraces artist exchange.
Kathie diStefano employs participatory techniques and theatre art to create awareness with youth and seniors about the environment through creative strategies to recycle and make smart consumer decisions in Heijplaat in Rotterdam. During Kathie’s December artist residency in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay, she collaborated with Jason Reed, a garden educator and Open Society Institute Fellow, to conduct a series of projects and workshops for community residents, teachers, and students.
A reception was held at the Chesapeake Arts Center on December 17, 2013 to celebrate the residency. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake delivered remarks at the reception.
Photo from the December 17, 2013 residency. From left-to-right: Steve Bradley, Rachel Sengers, and Annet Couwenberg from the Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee; Honorable Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; Rotterdam artist Kathie diStefano; Tiny Christiensen from DC Dutch (Nederlandse Vereniging)
Kathie diStefano’s activities in December 2013 included:
- Kathie worked with art, drama, and English classes at Benjamin Franklin High School (BFHS). Kathie did workshops with the students, to create an ecological-themed theatrical performance. She also showed some students a film about our society’s wasteful consumption habits called “The Story of Stuff,” which made a big impression on many of the kids.
- Kathie met with the principals of Benjamin Franklin High School and Curtis Bay Middle School/Elementary and networked with the staff.
- At Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center (a campus affiliated with Living Classrooms), Kathie conducted workshops with children, and environmental education workshops for local school teachers with a theatrical twist.
- Kathie supported students at BFHS in their efforts to call attention to plans to build an incinerator in the community.
- Meetings and workshop with Curtis Bay Elementary/middle school, which is trying to get a drama club started.
- Filmmaker Exsul Van Helden from the Baltimore-Rotterdam committee filmed some of Kathie’s presentations. He also interviewed Kathie for a film he is making about women who emigrate to different cultures.
- Kathie met with Young Audiences, an organization that works to bring artists into Baltimore’s public schools.
“I have genuinely enjoyed having the both of you at our school and in our class. I hope that this is the start of an ongoing partnership and friendship. Thank for all that both of you do!”
— Chris Wilson, English/Drama Teacher, Ben Franklin High
“My students are so enriched by their work with you. Thanks for sharing your gifts with us.”
— Kelly Klinefelter Lee, English Teacher, Ben Franklin High School
“Kathie’s presentation was eye opening! I had no idea how similar people’s perceptions of garbage in Rotterdam was to citizens in Baltimore. It was awesome when we had to get up and work together to undo the tangled mess we had become.”
— Kate Amberger, Curtis Bay Elementary School