Amplify Grantees Honored at State House

Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez speaking at Amplify reception in the State HouseOn May 3, Mass Cultural Council partnered with 15 organizations across the state to bring youth voice to the Massachusetts State House, and celebrate the young leaders who are recipients of this year’s Amplify grants.

Framed by Andrine Pierre-Saint’s thrilling spoken word piece and introspective chamber music performance by Neighborhood Strings, the day brought Representatives Christine Barber, Paul Donato, and Jeffrey Sánchez to celebrate culture’s capacity to empower, elevate, and connect, magnified tenfold by the young performers, activists,  and leaders present.

Amongst congratulations and applause, Rep. Sánchez said, ”To see you here and to see the power of what Mass Cultural Council is doing with state resources is dramatic to me… I see what it’s doing, it’s giving all of you a voice.”

Información del evento de ‘Amplify’ en Español.

Podcast: Youth Community Built on Firsts

Julie LichtenbergOn the Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud, we spoke with Julie Lichtenberg, Director of The Performance Project, and Artistic Director of First Generation Ensemble.

The Performance Project’s First Generation brings together young adults ages 14-23 for intensive artistic training, leadership development, and inter-generational mentoring. Forming an artistic ensemble, the First Generation youth create original multi-lingual physical theater performances based on their discoveries.

Listen to the episode.

Read the transcript.

Check out other episodes featuring Creative Youth Development leaders.

Nano-Interview with Josh Snyder of Sociedad Latina

Josh SnyderName: Josh Snyder
Organization: Sociedad Latina
Title: Manager of Arts, Culture, and Civic Engagement
Artistic Genre: Guitar
Years in the field: 5

What do you do at Sociedad Latina?
I oversee all of our arts programming and most recently, am taking on oversight of our health education and civic engagement program. More specifically, we serve 30 high school youth in our after school programming and are aiming to serve 300 students through our in school arts classes and Saturday lessons program.

Why do you do what you do?
Music had been a passion of mine since early middle school, being an adult and able to sustain my life on something I truly love is extremely rewarding. Beyond this, I really enjoy being able to provide tools and resources to young people who are passionate about music as well; having a supportive figure during my early years as an artist was crucial.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
The front line work with students is by far my favorite part of the work I do. When students discover something they enjoy or have never been able to do before, it pushes me to continue to challenge them and provide guidance.

What challenges you in this work?
Admin tasks! I really struggled with sending emails on time, organizing data, and putting together long term plans when I first started. I’ve since remedied this due to the fact that all of these “no fun” pieces allow me to deliver better programming to the youth
we serve.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
To be honest, I can’t speak for what it means to all of the students. My job is to make sure the access is there for them to develop their own artistic vision and ability. Whether its a student on the track for a conservatory, or a weekend living room musician, I treat every student with the same amount of respect and urgency. I hope
they see me, other instructors, and Sociedad Latina as a safe, fun, and challenging space for them to develop.

How do you blow off steam?
Other than playing music with friends, I like to get rid of stress rock climbing. When the weather is good, I’m often in New Hampshire or Western Mass with friends camping and climbing for the weekend. I’ve also has the opportunity to climb in New York, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Utah.

What do you create in your free time?
I’ve been really inspired lately by solo acoustic guitar pieces. One of my favorite players, Julian Lage, has really pushed me to work harder in this style. I’m trying to get together a full set of repertoire to record a CD of original pieces.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
My supervisor, Juan Maldonado, is someone I’m very inspired by both professionally and musically. His approach to teaching and working with young people commands respect and challenges students to really utilize the time they have in program. Musically, he is a fantastic bass player (among many other instruments) and
composer.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
I listen to a lot of jazz, both contemporary and classic, hip hop, R&B, folk, indie, really all styles besides country.

Creative Youth Development National Blueprint Released

Detroit, Michigan - Mosaic Singers in concert. The Mosaic Singers are part of Mosaic Youth Theatre, which provides free, professional quality theater and music training for teenagers in the Detroit area. Copyright Jim West
Detroit, Michigan – Mosaic Singers in concert. The Mosaic Singers are part of Mosaic Youth Theatre, which provides free, professional quality theater and music training for teenagers in the Detroit area. Copyright Jim West.

The Creative Youth Development National Partnership, in concert with more than 650 cross-sector stakeholders nationally, is calling for all young people to have equitable access to opportunities to: realize their creative potential;  live richer, fuller lives; and develop the critical learning and life skills they need to become active contributors to their communities.

Read the Creative Youth Development National Blueprint and subscribe to the CYD Partnership eNews to receive regular updates on creative youth development (CYD) news, opportunities, and resources. The CYD National Partnership will host an online forum in May to discuss the Blueprint’s three strategic priority areas for advancing CYD:

  • VISIBILITY & IMPACT: Documenting and Communicating Outcomes and Impact
  • FUNDING: Expanding Pathways to Funding
  • FIELD BUILDING: Professional Development, Networking, and Technical Assistance

Join Us – Amplify Reception on May 3

Mass Cultural Council invites you to join us for a reception to celebrate Amplify, a grant program that invests directly in young people whose leadership and creative expression is driving social change in communities across the Commonwealth.

The event will take place on Thursday, May 3 at 4pm at the Massachusetts State House, Room 350. We will be joined by State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, other legislators, education and cultural nonprofit leaders.

Amplify grants support work by young people in the arts, sciences, or humanities that demonstrates their capacity to use creative expression to develop safe and thriving neighborhoods and communities.

Register now

Triptych of Teen Art on the T

Last week, art by Boston-area teens premiered at numerous MBTA stations.

Created in collaboration with the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA)  and Massachusetts Department of Transportation, these innovative video works share the creative voices of young people in Boston.

“The ICA’s award-winning teen arts program serves 1000s of young people every year, creating informed future artists, leaders, citizens, and audiences,” said ICA Charlotte Wagner Director of Education Monica Garza. “This partnership with the MBTA presented an exciting opportunity to share their creative voices with a larger Boston community.”

Three Teen Arts Program members—Mithsuca Berry of Revere, Gabe S. of Boston, and Sydney A. Bobb of Boston—proposed and created short videos around the collaborative themes: “whimsy,” “love letter to Boston,” and “peace and quiet.”

Berry’s video Shades of the City makes use of hand-drawn stop-motion animation and tells the story of a woman of color who falls asleep on the train and dreams about painting the city of Boston in her likeness.

Bobb’s work Fraternal Eclipse tells the stories of three passengers whose lives intersect for a brief moment on public transportation, leaving them with deeper thoughts than they had expected.

S.’s work A Walk in the Park pays tribute to the beauty of Boston through a series of timelapse videos capturing moments of life throughout Boston Common, from the statehouse to the frog pond.

“In addition to providing critical customer-focused information, the T’s new digital network is providing a canvas to highlight excellent creative work from local teens, ” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez.

Even Pears Speak to Me

Andrine Pierresaint, sitting on the floor smiling, looking up, a small fluffy dog on her lap looks up at her. Photo: Alexandra Wimley.Meet Andrine Pierresaint, a longtime Books of Hope youth leader and a 15-year-old force to be reckoned with.

In her mid-teens, Andrine is not only an award-winning poet and  performer, but also a published author who facilitates a weekly series of creative writing workshops for a group of pre-teens at the Mystic Learning Center in Somerville, MA.

For Andrine, poetry has been an outlet for processing challenging emotions in a constructive way as well as a bridge to new worlds, connecting her to a community of mentors and young people from all walks of life.

“I have other people that I know that, like, if I want to talk about something I can talk to them about it, but the first person I’m going to think about to talk about poetry and what happened in an event and how I’m feeling about a poem, is Erich. He brought me to Louder Than A Bomb, and it was like a whole new world,” Andrine reflects.

Erich Haygun is the Program Director at Books of Hope (BOH), created in 1990 by Anika Nailah as a creative outlet for young people in and around the Mystic Learning Center. Specializing in poetry, BOH provides opportunities for young people to develop and refine their creative writing skills through peer mentorship.

Locally, BOH features their youth leaders at Boston Public Library’s Teen Central in Back Bay from 3-5pm the last Friday of every month. Additionally, BOH hosts “BEEN OUT HERE,” an all-ages open-mic and workshop every second Wednesday from 6-9pm at The Center for Arts at the Armory in Somerville, in collaboration with The Center for Teen Empowerment. BOH also prepares a team of young people to compete in the annual statewide Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Slam. In her time at Books of Hope, Andrine has participated in the competition multiple times.

“Isn’t poetry the fuel that pulls you out of bed? Something you do by yourself, for yourself, for your team, for your family, with your dreams, despite money, despite anxiety? Isn’t poetry something you do with your heaviest heart, with your last breath, with your whole life?”

Andrine Pierresaint embracing in a hug. Photo: Alexandra Wimley.Profoundly supportive of young people, BOH also offers paid fellowships to participants who demonstrate a commitment to their craft and are dedicated to sharpening their skills. Through these fellowships, young people have access to writing workshops, publication and performance opportunities, professional development as well as peer-mentoring training. Young people learn skills to explore their creative paths while also gaining technical assistance and financial rewards for their hard work.

Andrine’s first book entitled Even Pears Speak to Me features a collection of poems that address race issues, fat-phobia, mental abuse, neglect and its lasting effects. Her poetry also explores familial relationships and the power of learning to love yourself.

More on Andrine’s journey:

 

Video by Alexandra Wimley and Breana Stephen.

Photos by Alexandra Wimley.

Nano-Interview with Pedro Cruz of IBA

Pedro CruzName: Pedro Cruz
Organization: IBA (Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion)
Title: Youth Arts Program Coordinator
Artistic Genre: Photography/Poetry
Years in the Field: 11

What do you do at IBA?
I am currently the Youth Arts Program Coordinator for IBA’s Youth Development Team. This means I work with teens on a daily basis throughout the school and summer cycle. According to my job description my duties are to design art based curriculum that introduces the idea of social justice, as well as help the youth express their own views and concerns through art. But anyone in this field knows it’s more than that. If you ask me, my number one job is to build strong, long lasting relationships with my youth. The type of relationships that save lives.

Why do you do what you do?
I was born and raised in what I like to call a concrete jungle. It’s easy to be overlooked or judged when you’re a young minority from a community that suffers from poverty, turf wars and gentrification. I remember while growing up the only safe space I had was the local community center and teen spaces. I will never forget the impact those places had on me. I guess now I just want to be who I wish I had when I was younger.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
The easiest thing for me about this job is connecting with the youth. There is no science to it. I just do it. I was born and raised in the same streets they are navigating today. I know their struggles, their challenges and their desires. I know what they have to go through on a daily basis. I know how it feels to leave your neighborhood and feel as if you’re crossing into enemy territory. I know how it is to stay out of trouble but still be considered part of the problem just because of where you live or who you hang out with. These things can’t be thought. They must be lived.

What challenges you in this work?
The one thing that challenges me most is not being able to serve every youth that I come across. Sometimes it’s because of limited space or funding, but it hurts me to meet a youth and not be able to serve them the way they need to be served. Some youth require a lot more attention than others do, and that is not something easy to live with. In this job you need to know when to ask for help, and asking for help wasn’t something I did a lot of growing up.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
The beauty of all of this is that I currently work for the same Creative Youth Development Program I attended when I was a teenager. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work in my community and serve children I literally saw grow up around me. At this point, I can only speak from what I been told and I like to think that it means a lot to my community to see me doing this type of work. There has been many cases where parents feel a lot more comfortable allowing their kids to participate once they know it’s me who’s running the workshop or activity. That has to count for something.

How do you blow off steam?
Believe it or not, I go for walks around the city. No destination in mind. I just leave my house and wander around. There’s something about this process that I find therapeutic. I let my spirit guide me as I am studying people, soaking in the sounds and just watching an entire city live around me.

What do you create in your free time?
Easy- photographs and poems.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
I must admit, I am possibly the biggest Blackbear fan in Boston. I love his music because it’s real. There’s no filter or sugarcoating to it. It is what it is. I like to think my art is the same way.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
“Building New Rome”

What’s next?
That’s always a good question to think about. Truthfully, I am currently working on a poetry book and building my photography brand. I just want to continue building my name as an artist and youth worker in the Boston area.

See Pedro’s work:
www.flakoveli.com
www.instagram.com/mrflakoveli

Creative Youth Development

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