Why join the Creative Community Fellows?

By     Jun 26, 2015
Creative Community Fellow

Aneliese Palmer

I started improv comedy while I was in high school, when my friend dragged me to the annual “Improvaganza” competition in Anchorage. I cannot overstate the impact that improv had on my young adult life- it allowed me to speak easily with people from all walks of life, to think on my feet, to create a world of ideas through affirmation, to present myself and my narrative clearly, to listen well, and to be confident that there are no mistakes.

I currently work to increase college access among underserved youth in Anchorage.  It’s a delightful mix of direct advising and community organizing within a high school. Once I began this work, I realized that many of the skills I had developed as a teenager through improv were intrinsically linked to success in school and educational attainment.  I learned to speak to admissions counselors on the fly, answer interview questions spontaneously with ease, and tell my personal story with narrative and confidence. The grit I learned through improv (you can’t plan for what’s thrown at you on stage!) helped frame real-life setbacks in terms of opportunities and exploration.

So why not create a program that uses improv to build those soft skills, that cultural capital, in other teens?

Achieving social change through the arts requires a strategy and persistence; this is where the Creative Community Fellowship will help me.

I function through talking and interacting with people.  My ideas are formed, developed, and realized through brainstorming, babbling, ranting, and listening to others.  When I first read about the Creative Community Fellows, I was immediately attracted by its structure: here, you would have a vibrant and wise community to work together with on independent projects, to talk with, to bounce ideas off of, and to use as a support system.

This didn’t seem like a Kumbaya circle where we talk about our feelings and how important the arts are (although, I want to do that, too!).  I was drawn to this program because we are really going to do things. I would be held accountable for producing an extremely successful program, one that can function through measurable outcomes and impact.

We have a saying in my troupe to remind people to actually do whatever they’re talking about in an improv scene: “Get to the party.” Well, I am excited to finally get to the party with the other Fellows.