By: Dick Scanlan

In preparation for a game I want to play with the kids at Nkosi’s Haven, “Trivial Pursuit: The artsINSIDEOUT Edition,” I compiled a list of the volunteers who’ve been part of our team since our first program here in 2011: 53.

I was astonished.  I was thinking, “It must be over three dozen.”

But 53!

Since Kobi Libii (Team Member 2012-15) suggested that artsINSIDEOUT expand the number of South African artists on its team—which in each of our first two years totaled two—we’ve done precisely that.  This year, 8 of our 18 team members are South African.  One of them is a Co-On-Site Administrator, a crucial role in managing a team this large.  Another is our director, who will decide how the work the teachers are doing in the classroom will fit together in a presentation that is cohesive despite having been developed simultaneously in two different classrooms.  And of our nine returning teachers, six are South African.  The result is a community of artists that I’ve come to love and admire, and that can (and do!) take the kids to shows, dance concerts, interactive arts festivals and all sorts of cultural outings year-round.

The expansion Kobi and I discussed in 2012 is so complete that virtually all of artsINSIDEOUT’s classes are taught “zonke-bonke.”  Both are Zulu words; zonke (pronounced zonky) means “ all of it” and bonke (pronounced bonky) means “all of them.”  Practically speaking, it means using English, using Zulu, using all cultural references available, none with more weight than the other, none understood by everybody which makes all of it understood by all.

Another thing that floors me is how the kids remember songs and exercises we taught them in 2011, and touched on since.  Some of the veteran ASTEP volunteers are dumbfounded when they start teaching a fairly complex game with words and movement.  They get three words of instruction out, and the kids are off and running.  In some cases, these are children who are too young to have been part of artsINSIDEOUT in those early years, so they’ve learned the games from the older residents here—and learned them perfectly.  The history of artsINSIDEOUT is now part of their history.  Indeed, for the kids under 13, they can’t remember a time when artsINSIDEOUT didn’t show up every June for a few weeks of intense arts training that culminated in a show.

They are thrilled that, once again, this year’s show will be off-campus at the Lab at the Market Theatre—the Market Theatre being where Athol Fugard developed many of his groundbreaking, Apartheid-shattering plays.  We’re expanding our time off-campus, too, this year: we’ve rented several nearby studios so we’ll hold classes off campus for the entire second week, and we’ll be able to more effectively integrate the younger kids into the production, and the moms as well.

Speaking about the moms, the second most significant change in artsINSIDEOUT is the inclusion of the moms.  It started as one-off workshops the held by the teachers, and the response from the moms was so overwhelming, in 2014 we added two moms teachers to focus on the mothers.  So much of the moms’ energy and focus is on the children, and for them to be the center of attention for a change brings out the most unexpected, moving and fun colors imaginable.  Working with the moms is truly zonke-bonke because, in general, the moms are not as fluent in English.  Working with them is also what’s made artsINSIDEOUT part of the entire community here.  They’ve made us part of the Nkosi’s family.

All 53 of us.

Join ASTEP in India this fall

It’s summertime and the living is easy, and we hope you are having tons of fun in the hot sun!! Are you wondering what you are going to do once it’s time to hang up the flip-flops and swimsuits? Do you know what your post-Labor Day plans are? Well, we’ve got the answer for you. Put away the white pants and Hawaiian shirts and head to Southern India with ASTEP!

This September, ASTEP is sending a team of Volunteer Teaching Artists to Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project in India to deliver a week-long arts camp that focuses on music, theatre, dance, and visual art. Together, ASTEP and Shanti Bhavan teach students that their voices matter, that their ideas have value, and that they are capable of transforming India and their communities. By bringing the arts to these children from India’s lowest castes, ASTEP provides students with the opportunity to develop their social and emotional skills and to imagine a world where anything is possible. All volunteers receive room and board and live on campus with the children.

Dates: September 6 – September 19, 2016
Application deadline: July 18, 2016
Location: Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project near Bangalore, India
Who: All artists! We need a diverse team and hope that you are a part of it!

** Room and board is provided by ASTEP and Shanti Bhavan for all Volunteer Artists
** Email Aaron Rossini at aaron@asteponline.org or give us a ring at 212.921.1227 to learn more!

Guess who’s celebrating a birthday? #10for10


The next ten days are going to be exciting for us.

That’s because ten years ago, a little organization called ASTEP was born.

Today, ASTEP puts diverse artists in classrooms around the world to share their passion with underserved kids.

I am proud to celebrate this milestone with ASTEP’s community who believes the arts can create a safe space for a child to thrive and grow. Coming together to support this belief is what the #10for10 Campaign is all about.

Our goal is to raise $10,000 in 10 days through $10 and $100 donations from
June 20 – June 29, 2016.

Join us by giving today to make our next 10 years even brighter. DONATE NOW!


Jennifer Anne Saltzstein Kaffenberger, 1976-2016, was a loving soul. Her sparkling personality bubbled over with joy and happiness. She inspired everyone she met with her quick wit, compassion for others and passion for the dramatic arts.

Jennifer’s love for drama started early in life in Kansas City. At the age of four her mom took her to see the hit musical Annie. It was a transformative and jaw-dropping experience for her. From that point forward she was destined to follow her passion in the arts and make it a career. The live stage and sound of music captured her heart for the rest of her life. The thrill of the theatre and her admiration for all things related to drama was a hallmark of her life.

She majored in Drama at Duke University and went on to play parts in several off-Broadway shows in Manhattan. Off-stage she was a star of stars, caring deeply about others, doing what she could to lessen the sting of poverty everywhere, and speaking out against racism, bigotry and anything that divided people.

Jen waged a 26-year courageous battle with kidney disease. Despite the tremendous challenge, Jen managed to live a rich life. She was an educator; publisher; playwright; loving aunt; caring sister, and devoted wife. She formed deep, meaningful relationships that lasted for years.

Jen was an intellectual that deeply cared about people, and about the world around her. That’s why we know she would support every effort that ASTEP is making to help the world eradicate poverty while inspiring a new generation to appreciate the arts.

Jen’s private ASTEP fund will make annual gifts to transform lives, through the power of the arts. We would like to keep you informed on those events over the years so that Jennifer’s spirit and love for life can remain in your lives, too.

Many thanks for your contributions that will help us honor her memory.

+ To make a donation, please follow this link and list Carol Kaffenberger’s email address as the recipient (ckaffenb@gmail.com). In addition, you can mail a check to: ASTEP, 165 West 46th Street, Suite 1303, New York, NY 10036 and include Jennifer’s name in the memo line.



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165 W.46th Street, Suite 1303, New York, NY 10036
(212) 921.1227

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