Teaching LIVING CULTURE (TLC):                                                   



Teaching Living Cultures (TLC) is a PreK-12 arts education program that immerses students in the music, dance, theater, moving image, and the visual arts of the African Diaspora. TLC is unique in its focus on strengthening students’ critical thinking skills and academic performance while strengthening students’ confidence and creativity.

Beyond providing high caliber arts-based educational programs that meet NY State Common Core Standards, TLC addresses the crisis of disengagement and exclusion amongst Black and Latino youth. Incorporating everything from traditional drum orchestra residencies, African-inspired mask making, Afro-Brazilian Capoeira, to various forms of Diaspora dance - and beyond - these programs are often the only interaction students have with the arts as NYC public schools struggle to deal with reductions to their arts education funding.  

Each year, CCCADI partners with schools throughout the five boroughs to create culturally diverse arts curricula tailored to particular needs, such as culturally-responsive learning, art skills development, and extended-day experiences. Our highly experienced roster of professional teaching artists make CCCADI one of the expert arts providers to New York City schools for effective learning in African, and African Diaspora-based art forms.  In addition to increasing literacy, impacting school attendance, and supporting overall academic achievement, our objectives are to work with public, independent, and charter school populations in order to:

  • Develop greater interest in the arts and a greater appreciation of students’ own cultures

  • Build leadership and confidence towards college, careers, and community engagement

  • Empower educators with innovative and stimulating teaching methods

  • Encourage students to attend cultural events with their parents, guardians, and families

  • Develop future patrons of the arts


Workshops and extended residency programs range from individually-experienced classroom-based activities to group performances and/or exhibitions. TLC workshops develop performance, language, visual, and digital media skills, contextualizing the students’ classroom experience into a broader history that incorporates vibrant cultures from our diverse global community.  Placing special emphasis on hands-on interaction between students and master artists, workshop activities focus on providing a comprehensive understanding of the cultural arts expressions of a number of different Diaspora communities. Terms generally range from 3 to 12 weeks.  

Program curriculum is designed by education department staff, with key logistical input from the assigned teaching artist(s), as well as from the school partner. Curriculum and lesson plans utilize the NYC Blueprint for the Arts’ five strands for teaching and learning, using a standards-based approach to teaching music, dance, visual arts, theater, or moving image. Evaluations are done by using simple, or complex, combinations of quantifiable, and/or qualitative methodologies including: completion of projects, analyzing of information mastery through pre and post surveys, authentic reflections (an in-depth writing assessment tool), writing assessments, and portfolio reviews to measure outcomes and improve upon and strengthen students’ knowledge.

In an increasingly globalized world and a historically international city like New York City, educational offerings from CCCADI are invaluable in city schools where large portions of the population are first and second generation immigrants from various corners of the African Diaspora, and are otherwise of African and Latino descent. The TLC program addresses a crisis of alienation that hampers educational achievement for primarily Black and Latino students and which reinforces false divisions amongst students of all backgrounds. CCCADI's offerings not only provide insight to particular cultures, but are designed to demonstrate many pervasive commonalities of these communities. In this way, TLC not only provides an opportunity for students to see themselves and their cultures reflected in the courses of study, but they are able to posit this understanding in a continuum of world culture and world history.  Additionally, students of various cultures are able to understand where they share common social interests, and how the foundations  for cooperation are strengthened in the classroom.  Through its high caliber arts- based educational opportunities, TLC fills a void in the curriculum where hundreds of thousands of New York City's students should be represented, and where those students can dialogue creatively with one another and the world.