In March of 2014 Paul was awarded a $12,000 grant from the Spark Fund for Early Learning at the Sprout Fund to create First Take: Mobile Media Classroom. Centered around 25 iPad Minis and supporting technologies, First Take is an art education resource that offers low-cost, high-quality media art making for students of all ages. Offered through Pittsburgh area arts organizations, the program is a collaborative effort between Paul and Dreams of Hope, which acts as fiscal sponsor. First Take brings 21st Century skills and media literacy to students through the creation of short animations, videos, sounds, and images. Each arts-integrated residency partners with a school or area arts organization and exposes participants to new ways of thinking about technology and media creation. First Take invites participants take creative control of our media-saturated world.

First Take has engaged in projects with Dreams of Hope, Gateway to the Arts, The Mattress Factory, and Pittsburgh Filmmakers. The programming has been exciting and impactful. First Take allowed a group of fourth graders at Benjamin Franklin Elementary school to animate their career ambitions. Young people at the East Liberty Branch of the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh created stop-motion drawings and interviews about their neighborhood. At Kelly Strayhorn’s East Liberty Celebrates MLK event, First Take invited folks of all ages to create animations inspired by the artwork of Keith Haring. First Take continues to work with area arts organizations to create original programming. To view these and other projects visit First Take on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/firsttakemobilmedia.

Through this programming First Take hopes to ask some large questions. Who gets to create the media that we consume? Who has access to what information and why? Many populations have no access at all. What privileges, technologies and realities impact our access to the constant flow of media-based information that seems to animate our world? The answers to these questions are as complex as the technologies they interrogate. What does seem to be true, is that media-based communications using digital video, photo, and audio are a vital part of contemporary culture. From workplace communications to public and political discourse, participation in these media is becoming more and more synonymous with participation in our Society.

Clear, formal learning about the creation of these media is rare below the postsecondary level. It is rarer still among primary educational institutions. It seems that we are still striving to decide what the primary “grammar” of these new media tools is. The First Take: Mobile Media Classroom offers a unique answer to these unknowns, grounded in art making experiences. Media-based art making is a powerful way for folks to first engage with media technology.

To learn more about First Take: Mobile Media Classroom please contact paulwkruse@gmail.com.