superstar of culture

noun [ C ] / su·​per·​star of cul·​tur /

a cultural change-maker; a champion of all things arts, culture, and education-related; a leader within the arts and culture field; an individual that we can all learn from

see also: cultural superhero, cultural role model

  • Clare Murray

Brittany Liscord, the superhero

Like Batman's Batcave, buried deep down beneath the ground and hidden (in this case, behind fantastical stage curtains!), a super-secret superhero lair lies waiting for Portland, Maine's newest generation of superheroes to throw on their capes, pick up their shields, and set to work to save their city. Enticingly titled Action! Headquarters, this newest exhibition at the Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine, is poised to offer visitors enriching, unguided creative play opportunities while encouraging the development of their social skills like communication, compassion, and confidence.

In the spirit of celebrating the inauguration of this exciting exhibition on Superhero Day this past Saturday, January 26, I reached out to Brittany Liscord, Educator and Community Engagement Coordinator at the CMTM, to not only learn more about how the project may inspire the next cohort of Superstars of Culture, but also to welcome the opportunity of sharing Brittany's own superhero story and superstar role in the community. In my time volunteering at the CMTM, Brittany was a tremendous source of inspiration for me. Always bubbling with energy and enthusiasm, Brittany loves discovering the world through play. She treats all individuals of all ages as her peers and the impact she has had on so many of Portland's youngest shows, as repeat visitors galore run into the Museum day after day, week after week, to meet Brittany at the Tide Pool Touch-Tank, the Camera Obscura, and so many of the other learning spaces. Like the superheroes in comic books, newspapers, and other magazines, Brittany helps inspire those that she interacts with to draw out their most extraordinary powers and superhuman strengths to confront challenges of all kinds -- from fear of touching a strange creature in the Touch-Tank to anxiety around performing in front of a large crowd -- every day at the CMTM. On a mission to help Portland's youth understand more about the world they live in and to feel empowered to help others at the same time, Brittany is a superstar deserving of our attention.

While the Museum celebrated Superhero Day this past Saturday, January 26, let us also honor Brittany, her superhero journey, and her subsequent superstar role in the Portland community. Reflecting upon all of this, here is a condensed version of what Brittany has to share with us today:

This past January 26th, the Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine celebrated "Superhero Day." Like a superhero, I have witnessed first hand how you help transform children into their most empowered selves. What motivates you on a daily basis?

I believe strongly in the moments of discovery, play, and inspiration. To wiggle like a worm, and then hold its fragile body. To look a turtle square in the face as it basks in the sun. To put on a cape and take on a mission to save the planet! Experiencing these moments

children begin to strengthen their empathy, care for the world around them, and think about how they can make it better. Children learn through play. While playing they develop focus, self-control, problem-solving, empathy, and team-work. The Museum & Theatre is a

child led space, meaning kids have the freedom to lead their play, take risks, and tackle challenges within the joys of discovery. This is one part of what motivates me. The other is the natural consequence of encouraging playful children...

By empowering children, we all get to play! Caregivers, staff, and volunteers get to play and explore right alongside. We get to reflect on our passions, joys, and what we draw energy from. We also get to try new things and playfully stretch our comfortable limits. The

Museum & Theatre is an oasis of play, where everyone has the opportunity to remember that we truly learn by following our passions to new levels and taking a chance to explore a new curiosity.

As the Community Engagement Coordinator and Educator at the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine, what impact do you hope to have on the community?

During my job, I get an opportunity to meet so many families -- each with different experiences, backgrounds, knowledge, and cultures. We get a moment, or if I am lucky, a few moments to explore together. At that moment I want people to see everyone gathered as a fellow human and perhaps even as a neighbor or friend. I want people to go just out of their comfort zone to learn a little bit more about themselves and a little bit more about someone else.

The stakes are high. Our communities are made up of individuals that have the power to support, care, and lift each other to a place of strength and resilience. Within this community the Museum & Theatre is a trusted institution readily positioned to facilitate discovering the world around us. Every interaction with a family is precious. My job of facilitating a cultural exploration through play is exciting, messy, silly, joyful, challenging, a risk, and an honor all at once. I am honored to meet people who are willing to take a risk and share their culture with visitors. I am honored to watch children’s faces fill with joy as we make moon cakes for the Chinese Moon Festival or spread colorful dye through the air for the Indian holiday of Holi. I am filled with excitement when I listen to children share about

themselves, their world, their differences, their similarities, and their shared humanity. In every instance, the impact I hope to make on the community is the same: strength through dialog. I propel all my superstar powers to create opportunities for sharing, listening, and

ongoing dialog between the incredible people who call Maine home and for all who find themselves here. I believe that by learning about each other we strengthen our community.

In your opinion, what makes children's museums special? What role can and should they play in shaping the future of society?

Museums are known for curating objects. I see children’s museums as places that curate experiences, creating moments of special discovery and inspiration. These experiences should aim to have a significant impact on all community members.

Children’s museums are often a child’s first museum experience. They are the seed that can sprout into a love of the arts and sciences.

Children’s museums are safe places for everyone. By ensuring all families, regardless of their cultural and socio-economic background have access to safe spaces for play, children's museums are investing in the future generations of civically engaged community members.

Children’s museums celebrate families of every type. They welcome new families, provide support, and join them together in community.

Children’s museums are a resource. They can respond to sadness, challenges, and needs of a community by offering up a place of positivity, generosity, and creative problem-solving.

Children’s museums are a stage. They are a place for people to share stories, theatre, food, crafts, dance, and music. They amplify the voices of traditionally underrepresented minorities. They create a space for sharing and dialog.

Children’s museums are a place to learn through play. They interpret the arts and sciences in relevant and engaging ways ripe for discovery and inspiration.

Superstar Spotlight: Brittany Liscord

Superstar strength: empower-tastic / risk-taking-tastic

Superstar secret talent: ability to make a silly song out of any activity

Superstar noteworthy quote: “If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea" (borrowed from Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

#CMTM #youngsuperheroes

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