CMA’s school and community programs are made possible through the dedicated work of Mackie Saylor, an artist and educator from Des Moines, IA. She earned a BFA in Musical Theatre from Webster Conservatory in 2014, and she is currently pursuing an MA in Educational Theater for Colleges and Communities at NYU Steinhardt. Since moving to NYC in 2015, Mackie has worked as a teaching artist, director, playwright, and arts administrator with schools and arts organizations throughout the five boroughs. She is also the Founder and Director of Ashworth Theatre Company. As the child of a music teacher and fine artist, Mackie knows the impact the arts can make in a child’s life, and she deeply believes in making the arts accessible to all learners and families.
Tell us about your artistic practice and how working with children inspires you.
When I am not coordinating field trips and group visits to CMA, I am a writer, musician, and theater-maker! After training and working as an actor for many years, I now create original theater pieces with and for young people. I believe kids’ voices and ideas are important, and I believe they deserve opportunities to discover and share their ideas in a welcoming and creative space. I love working with children because kids are tenacious. As a teaching artist, I am joyful when celebrating their successes, and heartened and inspired when I see them face challenges and work together to keep going. I am so grateful for the teachers and artists that made me the artist and educator I am today, and I love welcoming new generations into the worldwide, lifelong arts community.
Do you have a favorite memory of making art as a child?
Because my parents were also artists and musicians, the arts were a staple in our home. When my sister and I were preparing for an audition or performance, my parents would gather around the piano – our mom at the keys as our accompanist, and our dad sifting through albums and songbooks – to create together as family. My parents were my first arts teachers, and as we got older, they worked hard so we could attend music lessons and see professional shows. That feeling around the piano – of warmth, community, and the freedom to create – motivates my work with young people and my own artistic practice.
What do you enjoy most about working at CMA?
CMA’s inclusive, child-centered philosophy. Everyone here cares deeply about the children and families who visit the museum, and they go out of their way to make sure all learners are welcome in our spaces and programs. I am proud to work for an organization that makes equity and dignity a priority.
Battle of the Boroughs
Astoria Performing Arts Center Summer Stars 2017
an original musical created by the company
Book & Additional Lyrics: Mackie Saylor
Original Music & Lyrics: Assaf Gleizner
Directed & Choreographed by Mackie Saylor