Meet Mary Lee Partington!
Relationship with New Urban Arts: Vice Chair of the Board of Directors
Mary Lee is a founding member of Pendragon and the programs of The Blackstone River Theater. She built her performing arts life by creating original songs based on stories of the Blackstone River Valley. Immigrants and exiles take center stage in musical dramas that tell the story of the making of America. Partington twice gained “Best Female Vocalist” honors in the Providence Phoenix Best Music Poll identifying her voice as a powerful vehicle for songs old and new that represent tradition in the making. Passionate about the work of schools, she was honored in 2002 by the National Council of Teachers of English as one of the top 12 secondary English teachers in the U.S. Having retired from the classroom, Partington continues her arts and education efforts through the RI Arts Learning Network, the Pawtucket Arts Festival and the Labor & Ethnic Heritage Festival. Her most recent service in the cultural community was to the RI Council for the Humanities (RICH) Board of Directors.
We interviewed Mary Lee and asked them to share with us how they got started with New Urban Arts. Here’s what they said:
How did you first hear about New Urban Arts?
I first heard about New Urban Arts several years ago while working on a project for the RI Arts Learning Network called “Arts Passport.” The goal of Arts Passport was to welcome high school students and their teachers to attend Rhode Island’s professional arts events as a part of meeting educational standards in the arts for high school graduation in RI. New Urban Arts captured my interest because students and artist mentors create an experience that immerses them in making and living an art-filled life.
How long have you been involved with New Urban Arts?
I’ve been involved with New Urban Arts for four years as a member of the Board of Directors. I come from a secondary education and Board service background, and I knew that New Urban Arts was making strong organizational strides while staying true to a mission dear to my heart..”the young at art.”
What’s something that you think makes New Urban Arts stand out from other organizations?
Young New Urban Arts artists-in the making are primary stakeholders and drivers of their experience; they are not just “served” by a mission. I think that’s why the “New Urban Arts Effect” has extended impact beyond students’ years in the Studio. Creativity is not just some measurable outcome associated with a standard. New Urban Arts guides the setting and the situation that lead to a powerful enactment of the young capacity to create and to organize one’s own learning.
What was the last adventure you chose to go on? What did you do?
I went to London at the end of January to see “Celts: Art & Identity,” a major show of international Celtic art at the British Museum, and the 28th Annual London Art Fair in Islington.
Why do you support New Urban Arts?
When I went to Cumberland High School, my interests in writing, traditional music, literature/theatre and history were supported by teachers who encouraged me to enjoy and employ a capacity to create. I used what I was studying as the inspiration for plays, concerts, poetry and to build my enjoyment of being in the audience, too. All these things have stayed with me through the years in my work…and I see “creative practice”…made perfect, at New Urban Arts, for a new generation.