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Nathan Poukish is the new Office Manager for Arts Missoula and serves as the Public Art Coordinator for the City of Missoula’s Public Art Committee. Nathan comes from an education background where he has taught kindergarten, first grade, and elementary music. He holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Montana State University and has a passion for the arts specifically in music. Nathan has been involved with local choirs, opera companies, and musical theater. He has witnessed first hand the importance of arts in the community and works towards sharing that same experience with as many people as he can.

You might have seen Nathan tapping with four legs on the MCT stage as the character Squidward in The Spongebob Musical. It is during this production that he realized the impact that the cast, directors, and community had on him during this time and how much local art communities can truly shape a person. This is also where Nathan met Heather Adams who was the director of The Spongebob Musical. This opportunity led him to explore other passions in art and performance and he has not looked back since. You can also find Nathan on Tik Tok with his 25K plus following singing, acting, and sharing his love of all things pop culture (@nerdynatey).

Nathan feels honored to be a part of the Arts Missoula family and is excited to continue his involvement with this amazing community.

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Note: The 2022 Montana Book Festival is this week from 09/15-09/18. This year, the Montana Book Festival has partnered with the Missoula Public Library, along with MCAT and the ZACC, to bring authors from around the region and around the world to our special literary community. We’ve planned dozens of panels and readings, as well as our Exhibitor fair and four different workshops, all because we believe the written word is best celebrated together. Find out more.

In March 2015, The Montana Book Festival signed a formal agreement with Missoula Cultural Council (now Arts Missoula). Arts Missoula became our fiscal sponsor as we, the sponsored organization, formed new ownership of the book festival and began the process of obtaining our own tax exempt status. The Montana Book Festival became an Arts Missoula incubator. We were given a chance to provide a book festival while looking into the legal and financial obligations on becoming a separate organization. There are many steps and stages to becoming a tax exempt organization. There are state and federal levels of registration: EIN numbers, accounting systems, bylaws, directors and statement of purpose. In essence, ArtsMissoula held our hand, managed our money, and filed needed state and federal reports, while the volunteer advisory board of MBF went about organizing a yearly event in Missoula

Seven years and a pandemic later the MBF is now one program under the Montana Literary Cooperative, a new 501c3 with the goal of implementing year round, state-wide author events and fundraisers. Along the way of running a yearly book festival in Missoula, the advisory board realized that a local festival was only one piece of meeting literary programs across the state. Because of the pandemic, virtual programs were provided that reached a statewide and national audience. So bylaws were written to form the Montana Literary Cooperative. Just this week we were granted our 501c3 classification.

What does this mean to you? Arts Missoula can now provide group incubation to another local program. The Montana Book Festival will be held in Missoula from September 15-18, and the Montana Literary Cooperative will begin to develop ways to bring workshops, authors and literary events to people across the state.

I hope to see you at The Montana Book Festival and look forward to promoting the Montana Literary Cooperative and finding out how together we can expand Montana reading and writing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Theroux is the President of the Montana Literary Cooperative.

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While students prepared to return to their classrooms, Udo Fluck offered the first seminars for the 2022-23 academic year at the University of Montana. He has been part of orientation presentations for international students for the past two decades and this year is no different, with a presentation titled: Cultural Adjustment and Reduction of Culture Shock, to the new international students that have arrived at UM, getting ready for their start of fall semester.

In addition, Udo offered a seminar for the Montana Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA Pre-Service Orientation. Montana Campus Compact offers a mandatory training to all AmeriCorps VISTA members intended to provide them with an overview of AmeriCorps service, as well as to welcome new residents to the state of Montana and the Missoula community. 16 AmeriCorps leaders participated in the seminar. 13 individuals were from states with a shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean and California. Only three were from Montana! So, naturally talking to this group about what one might expect and experience when leaving one’s familiar surroundings and venturing out into more unfamiliar surroundings, seemed like an appropriate training focus.

The challenge for many students is the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, confusion, etc.) felt when they have to operate within an entirely different physical, cultural or climate environment. The cultural adjustment process typically includes seven individual stages and individuals experience these adjustment stages differently, and the impact and order of each stage vary widely. Udo’s seminars provide a guideline of how to adapt and cope, and help make that transition more effective and efficient. Participating in the trainings, helps students to learn more about themselves and to develop greater confidence in their ability to navigate new situations. It also increases trainees’ knowledge, encourages them to see the personal and organizational benefits of cross-cultural competence, and increases their skill and capacity to work in, and with, diverse settings. Through cultural adjustment trainings, individuals also develop effective communication skills, are much more likely to motivate others, and are empowered to be culturally-sensitive leaders. Udo’s own diverse cultural background, education and experience make his cultural adjustment seminars, something the audience can easily relate to, apply and benefit from. Cultural adjustment seminars are part of Arts Missoula GLOBAL’s educational programming and services.

Read more about Arts Missoula GLOBAL here.

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by Robbin Roshi Rose

My earliest memory of singing in a choir is also a memory of the kindness and stubbornness of Missoula school teacher, Jim Cole. Mr. Cole taught choral music in in Missoula in the 1960’s-70’s at all the elementary schools. Choir was both fun and scary when Mr. Cole stood in front of us, thumping his yardstick to keep us in time, and in line! 

I was a shy, bookworm-ish kid, in a family who listened to AM Country radio, and watched Lawrence Welk on Sundays.   Pop music was not really on my radar, although I did have a few favorite 45 records, including The Beatles’ I Wanna hold your Hand/I Saw Her Standing There. Dancing in my basement with my tiny record player blasting was a good way to keep the brothers from interrupting my inner life.  

So, about the day I almost died – with embarrassment:  

 In choir class, Mr. Cole called me to down to help teach (i.e., sight -sing) with him.  I stumbled over the 100 or so other middle -schoolers on the risers, sniffed the ditto sheet he handed me, and felt the sweat run down the back of my knees. Yesterday.  All my troubles seemed so far away… 

Did I know this song before that day he asked? No. Did I know this song was by… THE BEATLES? No. But, I did know some Beatles’ songs! I Wanna’ hold your Ha-a-a-a-and  I sang… Red faced, I realized my mistake. Snickers & guffaws from boys in the “change” section. On the spot, Mr. Cole asked me to join the Missoula Choraliers – and my blush turned from embarrassment to excitement. The Choraliers got outfits!! Embroidered pink peasant tops for the girls!  And they travelled to perform for other schools!! And, best of all, they sang pop music like … The Beatles!! 

That day was a good day – but later, after I got my pink peasant top, and after I had attended weekly rehearsals in the basement of the MCPS Administration building, and after I had memorized a concert-full of songs (including Yesterday by the Beatles!!), I disobeyed some silly rule of my parents. Such a silly rule that I do not remember it 50 years later. But it was an important rule at the time. My punishment? No Choraliers tour to Kalispell for me the next week. And, I had to tell Mr. Cole.  

Mr. Cole was unimpressed with my parents’ plan to deny Kalispell the beauty of all the Choraliers’ singers. Mr. Cole also happened to have shared a few pack-trips through the Bob Marshall Wilderness with my father. Mr. Cole knew how to get my father to back down!  

Each day that week, I walked straight home from school, no dawdling, best behavior, to try and sway my parents into letting me go. I set the table, weeded the garden, and babysat my younger brothers without complaining. They were unyielding. Then one day, I arrived home from school to find two mules picket staked in our front lawn.   

My mother was in the kitchen on the phone calling my dad. “Yes, there are two mules on our front lawn… staked.” Her voice pitched louder, “No, I don’t know who put them there. Come home right now – and find out how this happened!” The mules were casually munching the grass and pooping to the delight of my brothers and assorted neighborhood kids.  

My dad arrived home, and while he was looking for identifying brands, blustered a few ripe words about “who would leave perfectly valuable mules in our yard?” Just about then, Mr. Cole pulled up with his horse trailer in tow, his head out the window and in his booming bass singing Mule train!! Hyah! Hyah! Git alo-ong, Mule Train!  He threw open the truck door and strode to my father’s side, laughing loudly and slapping his knees. We are friends now, aren’t we Bob? And you wouldn’t want to ruin our little choir tour by being a *mule* would ya’, Bob?  

My mom came out of the house with a bottle and two glasses, and miraculously my father finally said, OK Jim, just this once. Robbin? You are hereby un-grounded – only because I have nowhere to put these damn mules!!  The neighborhood cheered as Mr. Cole loaded up those mules and drove off. 

I got to go on the Choraliers Choir tour!! 

21 years ago, I invited some friends to a potluck to find out if they would help me start a choir in Missoula for anyone who wanted to sing. They said yes! and Missoula Community Chorus has been singing together since 2001. Now, we are starting the Missoula FORTE Children’s Choir for kids in grades 1-5.  We have sibling-discounts for families with more than one singer, and needs-based scholarships so that every interested child can participate. Choir is one of the best places to learn teamwork, gain self-esteem, and help make the world a more harmonious place.  

How would my life have been different if Mr. Cole had not secretly staked those mules to our front yard that day? What a funny thing to do, and how did he know how to jolly my father into letting me sing with his choir?  My life has been filled with music, and singing, and choir tours, and I would not trade a minute of it. Music can take you places – Let’s go!! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbin Roshi Rose is the Founder & Executive Director of Missoula Community Chorus, a family of choirs for everyone! She and her husband, Jon, own a local business with national presence.


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