Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP)

Students participate in ASTEP program
"We were so fortunate to have Abby Gerdts and ASTEP for the residency. My students in Acting Fundamentals were really moved. It opened their eyes to the possibilities of theatre, not just as entertainment or intellectual creativity, but as powerful enough to foster important communication on challenging subjects and effect change amongst a community."
— Robin Reese, associate professor of theatre arts

From October 8-10, 2015, Penn State Altoona's Division of Arts and Humanities and Center for Community-Based Studies hosted Abby Gerdts, director of New York City-based Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP), to campus for a three-day artist-in-residency program.

Gerdts visited theatre classes taught by Naomi Baker and Robin Reese, an Ivyside Dance Ensemble rehearsal with Caitlin Osborne, and a human development and family studies class taught by Lauren Jacobson. A series of afternoon and evening workshops drew students from a variety of academic disciplines as well as Baker's INART 100H students. The workshops included "The Artist As Citizen," "Creative Teaching Methods," "Building Community Across Cultures," and "Creating New Works with ASTEP."

The residency culminated in a Saturday evening public performance of two newly-created one-act plays addressing the issues of gender inequality and poverty. More than 125 students participated in the residency, which focused on using the performing arts as a vehicle for social change.

The ASTEP residency was supported by a Community-Based Projects grant through the Penn State Altoona Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

FA15 Classes involved with ASTEP:

  • INART 100H Seminar – "Poverty and Power: An Exploration of the Arts for Social Change"
  • THEA 102 Fundamentals of Acting, Sections 1, 2 and 3
  • THEA 112 Introduction to Musical Theatre
  • THEA 324 Movement for Actors
  • Ivyside Dance Company
  • HD FS 311 Interventions