Monthly Archives: March 2008

Budget Cuts Hit DTE

by Martha Bowers, Executive Director

Spring. A time to feel renewed and hopeful.

This spring is different.

It’s not news that the economy is crumbling. With Wall Street’s troubles, government agencies are trimming back, but the non-profit sectors and school art programs are being decimated. The New York Times reported on February 1, 2008, that the Education Department will cut $180 million in this fiscal year, with an additional $324 million disappearing next year. Effective immediately, school budgets have been cut by 1.75 percent. As stated in the article:

Principals said they were particularly upset because the cuts come in the middle of the year, when they have already hired teachers, planned their schools’ schedules, and promised their students and parents certain perks, like after-school programs.

DTE has successful programs at three Brooklyn public schools. Our arts education programs are not “perks.” They provide services that use the arts to address important issues such as tolerance, conflict resolution and offer alienated youth a much needed community. School principals are faced with difficult choices, and no matter how much they may value our services, these programs will be the first to go.

Around 30% of DTE’s income comes from arts education programs. These programs are funded by the Department of Education as well as private foundations, the New York State Council on the Arts and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. All of these organizations are also facing budget reductions.

Combined, the proposed cuts will severely limit DTE’s ability to operate and serve our community. DTE, like many non-profits, already stretches every dollar. Nothing can be cut without reducing services and laying off vital staff.

Short term, the City and State may balance their budgets, but at what cost? More teen crime, fewer students graduating and higher unemployment are just a few of the problems that will increase government costs in the future.

Constituents must contact their local city council member as well as their state and federal representatives to let them know culture and education are not perks. Ask them to consider carefully where they look to trim the budgets and demand that they restore funding to the New York City Board of Education, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York Council on the Arts.

ACT NOW — the deadline for the State budget is April 1.

Help Dance Theatre Etcetera continue our programs: DONATE NOW

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A Hard Day’s Night


Zoe and Julia finally strike a bargain.

Getting Ready for the Waterfront Arts Festival!


Bob and Therese in a heated debate over who should perform at this year’s Red Hook Waterfront Arts Festival.

TheaterWorks Working Hard

Bob and TheaterWorks spent Friday working hard at DTE.

They took a moment to pose with Martha and the dog.

Happy Purim!


Our Queen Esther.

A Day with Akil Dasan

On Friday March 14th, teens from DTE’s TheaterWorks program at SBCHS went to P.S. 27 to watch Akil Dasan perform for elementary and junior high students. He performed songs that he had written and produced.

One thing I liked about his performance was his beat boxing skills. He would beat box a famous song and all the children in the auditorium would start to sing the song. It was a nice sight to see. After the beat boxing, he rapped things he had written while playing the guitar. The only problem was that the kids started to lose attention during the more serious songs.

After performing, he took questions from the kids in the audience. All of his answers had a positive message. One of the kids asked him how he learned to break dance. He said he learned it from youtube, and at first it was hard, but if you keep trying you can do anything. I appreciated how he was trying to encourage kids to follow their dreams and never give up.

When the questions were over, the audience left and a group of kids stayed for a workshop. The purpose of the workshop was for the students to learn some of the skills Akil uses when he performs. TheaterWorks was asked to participate to act as role models. At first, many of the kids didn’t want to participate, but once we stepped up many of the kids did as well. After Akil shared his skills, we put on a little show which we only had fifteen minutes to put together. We were split into three groups: music, dance, and vocal. The performance was very powerful and we all had a great time.

by Daesan Lassiter, photos by David Etienne

Ready to Audition?


Martha and BIHS Teachers and Staff prepare for the International Festival Auditions.