Podcast: Pioneering Youth Entrepreneurship & Sustainability

Susan RodgersonOn the Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud, we spoke with Susan Rodgerson of Artists For Humanity (AFH).

AFH was founded 25 years ago by Susan Rodgerson with a seemingly simple idea: Engaging urban young people in collaborative art making gives them a voice in the arts – and business – community. Rodgerson describes the evolution of AFH’s creative jobs program, which now employs 300 kids annually and earned just under $1.5 million last year. Committed to a sustainable future, Rodgerson also shares expansion plans for the EpiCenter, AFH’s building and first Platinum LEED building in Boston.

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Check out other episodes featuring Creative Youth Development leaders.

New Year’s Inspiration

Boston Children's Chorus performing. Image: Gretjen Helene.

Happy New Year! Social justice is at the heart of Creative Youth Development work. Join us in celebrating Dr. King and his legacy with YouthReach and Ser Hacer programs’ young artists across the state:

COMMUNITY MUSIC SCHOOL OF SPRINGFIELD
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration
11am-1pm – MassMutual Center
Free
Presented by Community Music School of Springfield, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, DREAM Studios, and Springfield College.

Performances CMSS youth musicians from our ensembles, chorus and Springfield school partnerships.

BOSTON CHILDREN’S CHORUS
Take My Hand: 15th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert
7pm – Symphony Hall
Just before sunset on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke with musician Ben Branch in the courtyard of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Branch asked Dr. King what to play at a meeting planned later that evening. Dr. King replied, “You should play Take My Hand, Precious Lord. Play it like you never played it before in your life. Play it real pretty.” The lyrics “lead me on to the light… lead me home” proved prophetic, as Dr. King was assassinated that night. Five days later, Mahalia Jackson performed this same hymn, one of Dr. King’s favorites, at his funeral in Atlanta.

This 15th annual MLK concert reflects the message that a seemingly small gesture – the taking of one’s hand, for example – can lead to enormous change. Small gestures bring us together, unite us, and help us build movements, just as Dr. King’s gestures of love, compassion, tolerance, and hope led to a civil rights movement that transformed the world.

BOSTON YOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
MLK Tribute Concert
NEW TIME/PLACE: 10:30am – Metcalf Hall, Boston University
Free
BYSO performs classical music, spirituals, and freedom songs, with a sing-along and a keynote speaker.

PROJECT STEP
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Open House
10am-5pm – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Free
Project STEP students will perform at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Open House at the Museum of Fine Arts. Mayor Martin J. Walsh is expected to attend and introduce Project STEP. More detailed information regarding Project STEP’s performance time will be posted on the MFA’s web site.

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration
5pm – Hibernian Hall
Free
Students playing classical music plus a panel discussion featuring musicians of color in Boston.

 

Nano-Interview with Tony Jones of Enchanted Circle Theater

Tony JonesName: Tony Jones
Organization: Enchanted Circle Theater
Title: Teaching & Performing Artist
Artistic Genre: Performance Arts
Years in the Field: 27

What do you do at Enchanted Circle Theater?
As a Teaching and Performing Artist, I work in the classroom, in communities, and anywhere learning happens using the arts as a tool to teach, to empower, and to bring about change!

Why do you do what you do?
I wouldn’t know what else to do. I have spent my entire career as an actor and educator. It is my heartbeat.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
Connecting with people whose voices get silenced comes naturally to me. I know what it’s like to feel unheard and unseen. My objective is to make everyone’s voice count.

What challenges you in this work?
I wish there were more time in the day.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
My community becomes an example of how education and the arts are stepping stones for further advancement. Working with disadvantaged youth and being an example of what could be if you work hard and work for change is the example I am always trying to set. I want every community to have a voice.

How do you blow off steam?
I read. I cook. I eat. I listen. I learn.

What do you create in your free time?
I write a lot of poetry. I create spoken-word. I create a peaceful atmosphere around me.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
I admire everyone’s work in this field. It all matters.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
Erykah Badu, Whitney Houston, Black Star, Conscious Hip-Hop

Do you live with any animals?
I want a dog so bad, but I am never home long enough to take care of one.

Seen any good movies lately?
Get Out was excellent!

What are you currently reading?
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Maria Kondo

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
Slow and Steady Wins the Race

What’s next?
Rehearsal

Multimedia Hip Hop Civics Curriculum for Youth

Web graphic from Get Free siteAward-winning author and Professor Dr. Bettina L. Love has developed and launched a new online educational resource called GET FREE. A multimedia Hip Hop civics curriculum for youth and young adults, GET FREE introduces students to a national network of young community leaders, artists, and activists who advocate for social change and democratic inclusion driven by grassroots organizing. In her own words, “GET FREE is inspired by the exuberance, ingenuity, political energy, resistance, love, and DIY model of underground Hip Hop [and aims to] push and extend ideas of democracy, citizenship, freedom, community, civic engagement, and intersectional justice.”

Dr. Love presented GET FREE to Boston Public Schools educators and teaching artists this fall as a resource to foster cultural competency and to develop a more diverse, inclusive, and relevant curriculum to engage students of color.

GET FREE covers resources that span music, poetry (including curated poetry by queer youth of color), literature, and art disciplines and includes interviews with local activists in select cities along with reflection questions. Articles and syllabus readers are also featured as are resources for mental health and self-care in the face of tragedy.

Dr. Bettina L. LoveAs an Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia, Dr. Love’s research focuses on the ways in which urban youth negotiate Hip Hop music and culture to form social, cultural, and political identities to create new and sustaining ways of thinking about urban education and intersectional social justice. Her research also focuses on how teachers and schools working with parents and communities can build communal, civically engaged, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and anti-sexist educational, equitable classrooms.

Nano-Interview with Rebecca Frost of Margarita Muñiz Academy

Rebecca FrostName: Rebecca Frost
Organization: Margarita Muñiz Academy
Title: Lead Teacher of El Sistema-Inspired Music Program
Music Genre: Varied Genres – Wind Ensemble
Years in the Field: 9

What do you do at Margarita Muñiz Academy?
I teach instrumental music (wind ensemble) to high school students ranging from beginners to students with 3-4 years of experience.  On a typical day, I coach students in sectionals and/or direct full ensembles.  When in sectionals, I work mostly with woodwind players, while our faculty who specialize in brass and percussion typically work with those sections accordingly.

Why do you do what you do?
Since I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to go into music, and then I fell in love with teaching when I was in college.  I love watching students grow as people and as musicians; their excitement fuels my motivation on a daily basis!  I am also passionate about providing quality music education to students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
Teaching beginners.  They are eager to learn and their enthusiasm at every accomplishment fuels their motivation to continue learning more and improving.

What challenges you in this work?
Supporting students through many challenging situations that happen outside of school.  It is hard for me to imagine what many of my students live with on a daily basis – violence, interrupted schooling, language barriers, living in a shelter, or being the primary caretaker at home.  I am constantly wondering how we can better support our students not only as musicians, but as people.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
There is a need for high quality music programs in Boston Public Schools, and the Margarita Muñiz Academy attracts students not only for its dual-language curriculum, but also for its music program.  We also provide opportunities for teaching artists at local universities and music organizations to come in and work with our students, in addition to accepting student teachers from Boston Conservatory/Berklee.  Our students participate in collaborative community events with the El Sistema community, Boston Public Schools community, Charles River Wind Ensemble, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra through their residency program in Jamaica Plain.

What do you create in your free time?
I try to “create” space to relax in and focus on life.  I practice flute regularly and I fill-in as a flautist with various local ensembles.  I also enjoy making modern needlepoint artwork.  I have many of them framed in my apartment, and I make them for friends sometimes too.  I also “create” time to volunteer.  In the past, I have volunteered weekly at a soup kitchen and a senior home; I am currently volunteering at Daily Table in Dorchester – a non-for-profit grocery store that provides high quality healthy food at affordable prices.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
I like a wide variety of music, and what I listen to depends on my mood.  I like classical music, especially Shostakovich, Copland, and Mahler.  I also really like a lot of international music – lots of Latin music and sometimes Irish music.  I am a huge fan of Broadway shows, so I often shuffle some Broadway soundtracks into my listening.  Right now, I’m listening to a lot of “Hamilton”, “Les Miserables”, and “Book of Mormon.”

What is Creative Youth Development?

Students performing their original play, "Illuminate," at Destiny Arts Center in Oakland, Calif. Last month, Jessica Mele, Program Officer in Performing Arts at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, wrote a piece detailing the state of the national creative youth development field:

When you invite young people to the table, be prepared for some serious truth-telling.

This is what happened when I attended the creative youth development national stakeholder meeting in Boston this summer. Shoulder to shoulder with teachers of art, the humanities and science, we gathered to craft a policy agenda for a newly-defined field — creative youth development. CYD is a recently-coined term for a longstanding community of practice that intentionally integrates the arts, sciences and humanities with youth development principles, sparking young people’s creativity and building critical learning and life skills that they can carry into adulthood.

We were joined in the meeting by five students who gave us a much-needed reality check. They told us, “We hear a lot of teachers who work with youth say, ‘How can we help them be people?’ Well, we are people. We need tools to grow.” Creative youth development programs, they believe, can provide those tools. And that makes these programs different from schools.

CYD practitioners usually work outside of traditional school settings — in places like community centers, juvenile halls, at museums, wetlands and theaters. CYD sits at the intersection of many fields — education, youth development, arts, humanities and science. As a result, new ideas are hard to share among individuals and groups that aren’t always in regular contact, and strong program models often don’t get the recognition they deserve. But they exist in every state, in every county, in every corner of this country.

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New Bedford Whaling Museum Named 2017 NAHYP Awardee

L_R Yamilex Ramus Peguero, Maria Cardoso, Christina Turner (Dir. Apprentices & Interns) with the NAHYP Award in Washington, D.C.Mass Cultural Council extends hearty congratulations to New Bedford Whaling Museum for receiving the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Award for their High School Apprenticeship Program. The High School Apprenticeship Program immerses students in skill-based humanities and interpretive sciences projects, mentorship, and valuable life skills instruction such as financial literacy, college preparation, public speaking, and audience engagement.

For almost two decades, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has presented the NAHYP Awards, the nation’s highest honor for out of school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities. Presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts , National Endowment for the Humanities  and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the award recognizes outstanding Creative Youth Development (CYD) programs from all over the country from a range of urban and rural settings. (See all 2017 Awardees.)

The NAHYP Award showcases and supports excellence in programs that open new pathways to learning, self-discovery, and achievement. Programs are also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.

To date, 51 students have graduated from the Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program, 100% have graduated from high school and 94% pursued some form of post-secondary education. About 40% of alumni have returned to the museum as part-time employees, interns, volunteers, and guest speakers.

Out of a pool of over 350 NAHYP nominations nationwide, three Massachusetts programs were also recognized as finalists this year:

The achievements of these programs speak to the exemplary work in the field of CYD happening across the Commonwealth and a strong testament to all of those committed to working with youth to achieve social change through the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Creative Youth Development

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