Little Stories | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Little Stories

The North Dakota Council on the Arts documented how quickly artists and communities across the state pivoted during the pandemic to make sure art was central to new ways of gathering. Hear reports of how it went in these Little Stories.

Special thanks to staff Rebecca Engelman and Troyd Geist for jumping at the chance to alter current NDCA programs, keeping artists employed, seniors engaged, and families/communities involved.   Funded by the North Dakota Council on the Arts.  

Where I'm From 3

Dec 11, 2020
Peiper Bloomquist

This is Bill Thomas at Prairie Public. Where I'm From is a sort of a poetic template to encourage recollection and recording, recording of meaningful things from someone's life. The North Dakota Council on the Arts hired Maureen McDonald-Hins and Matthew Musacchia to help elders create these poems. And when the pandemic hit, they were able to keep on going because it could be done remotely. Here is Matthew Musacchia reading one.

Where I'm From 2

Dec 11, 2020
Peiper Bloomquist

This is Bill Thomas, and I have become fascinated by a process, or exercise, called Where I'm From. It's a sort of poetic memory piece, and in North Dakota it's been promulgated by the North Dakota Council On The Arts. Troyd Geist, who works at the council, developed a protocol where a professional writer works with elders, and... You know what, before we get more into explaining it, let's hear one. Here is Matthew Musacchia, one of the writers who went out and worked on these.


Matthew Musacchia : I Am From a Cream Separator, by Gene Zahursky Klein.

Nita Ritzke: Essential Work and the Arts

Dec 4, 2020

I have often heard the arts defined by what they are not.  They are not essential nor lucrative.  One may survive their entire life without hearing a Shakespeare sonnet or a Muddy Water’s riff.  But then we were confined to our homes, away from established routines and distant from in-person community.  To make peace with daily uncertainty, we made art. 
We wrote, composed, designed and invented.  We performed and filmed and edited. We drew on sidewalks, cut shapes out of colored paper, built forts and painted windows. We told stories and listened to those of others. We sewed. We sang and danced and clapped and cheered.

An Accordion, Radio, and a Church

Dec 4, 2020

Bill Thomas: Little Stories. The North Dakota Council On The Arts reports on arts groups that pivot in the face of disruption, so here's a quick quiz question: do you recognize this tune? [organ music] That is the doxology and you may be saying "Of course I recognize it! I have been singing it every Sunday for my whole life!"

Nicole Gagner and Streaming Color Wheels

Dec 4, 2020
Nicole Gagner

Bill Thomas: Little stories. The North Dakota Council on the Arts reports on arts groups that pivot in the face of disruption.

Nicole Gagner: Yeah, a couple of things that came out that I kind of would have never imagined myself doing... Zoom classes. That would have never even entered into my mind as a possibility. But getting really familiar with how to wrangle a couple of different camera angles and do different things to make online classes, both for Zoom and now that school's back in session, for schools. So much of teaching is that person-to-person interaction. So I never really imagined myself doing it online, but now it kind of became a necessity, and it hasn't been a bad thing to... Learning something new is not a bad thing.

Quilted Cards and the Fabric of Community

Dec 4, 2020
North Dakota Council on the Arts

I like to get mail – real, physical mail.  Not junk mail, of course.  Even before the internet and email and social media and text messaging made physical mail more rare, I liked it. I think most people did and do.  Physical mail that is a real communication from one person to another.  Now, imagine it is coming from someone  you don’t know – not spam, not a itscam – a pen pal.  Now imagine further that is not just a sheet of paper or pasteboard, but a little quilt!  Part of a genre known as tactile mail.  I love it.  Leewana Thomas reads for us this report from Nita Ritzke of the University of Mary in Bismarck.

Art for Life Sparks Connection

Dec 4, 2020
Ken Smith

Bill Thomas: Little Stories, the North Dakota Council on the Arts reports on arts groups that pivot in the face of disruption. You may not have heard of the North Dakota Council on the Arts Art For Life program, unless maybe you or someone you know goes to a senior center, or lives in some kind of senior home or facility. Art For Life started more than 20 years ago, and it was a bit of a trailblazer in this kind of work, which work is, to quote the Arts Council, to improve the emotional and physical health and wellness of elders in care facilities, as well as those living independently through intensive art and artist interaction. Now, you may be thinking of a water color class or a musician coming in for a concert. It can be more, quite a bit more. I was talking to Alicia Glynn, who is a manager with senior facilities in Ellendale. I was talking to her about one Art For Life project that they had there, and I asked her if that one was a one-off.

Parking Lot Easter Service with the Waddingtons

Sep 24, 2020
Courtey of Seth Waddington

Bill Thomas: It's the spring of 2020 and a pastor in Southwest North Dakota wants to do a safe Easter service. He calls on a band for help, a band of brothers. Here's Matthew Musacchia, who looked into what happened for the North Dakota Council On the Arts.

Peiper Bloomquist

Bill thomas: Hi, this is Bill Thomas at Prairie Public. When the pandemic descended on us, a lot of people wondered rightly about being able to continue. You can imagine that this would especially apply to a project for older people, since they have repeatedly been identified as very vulnerable. But at the Burleigh County Senior Center, they used an Arts for Life grant from the North Dakota Council On the Arts to do a poetry project based on a sort of template, Where I'm From. Lisa Bennett works at the Burleigh County Senior Centers where she did this project. And she reads from a poem produced, in spite of the pandemic.