All posts by Dawn Heinen

Nano-Interview with Ashleigh Gordon of Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra

Ashleigh Gordon. Image by MBSchroederPhotography

Name: Ashleigh Gordon
Organization: BYSO Intensive Community Program
Title: Viola faculty
Music Genre: Classical
Years in the Field: 15

What do you do at Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Intensive Community Program?
I teach viola to beginner students, both privately and in groups, and even find myself teaching Kindergarteners violin as well.

Why do you do what you do?
My goals as an educator are to spark curiosity in the arts, foster necessary life skills through music, and serve as a mentor to each child. With each one of my students, I focus on establishing strong and healthy foundations while supporting them in their musical and life developments. Viewing education as an active process, I encourage all my students to learn how to be their own problem-solvers in and beyond the realm of music. I’m a firm believer in educating the entire person and view myself as a holistic mentor in my student’s growth as a musician and person.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
Being silly and being honest. Teaching allows me to tap into my inner child where I’m not afraid to embarrass myself to make a point, sing, dance, or even pretend to act to show a musical phrase, or think up silly analogies to make my students think and connect to the music they’re making.

What do you do in your free time?
In my “free” time I’m running a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black culture, history, and classical music. As Artistic/Executive Director and violist of Castle of our Skins, I’m either designing concert programs, writing grants, performing viola in an “edu-tainment” program or educational workshop, or doing any of the other myriad things involved with the leadership. I’m also an active freelance chamber music with a passion for contemporary music and play with my own string trio that specializes in new music (called Sound Energy) or other groups in town including BMOP, Callithumpian Consort, and ECCE Ensemble.

Seen any good movies lately?
I’m usually not a big movie goer but I’ve been floored on my most recent trips to see Moonlight, Fences, and I am Not Your Negro. Still itching to see Hidden Figures.

What are you currently reading?
The news. Lots of it.

Podcast: The Potency of Teaching Artistry

Eric BoothOn the Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud, we recently spoke with Eric Booth about the potency of teaching artistry.

Booth, one of the foremost experts in the world on teaching artists,  discusses the field and craft of teaching artistry. He says while teaching artists are recognized as learning catalysts – by the education, business, and healthcare sectors (to name a few) – there continue to be insufficient growth pathways to support the expertise that’s been developed by this global workforce.

Listen to the podcast.

Read the transcript.

Check out other episodes featuring Creative Youth Development leaders.

FLOTUS Remarks on Creative Youth Development

First Lady Michelle Obama addresses guests on stage with youth from the Sphinx Organization, who performed at the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Awards ceremony in the East Room of the White House, in Washington DC, on 15 November 2016. Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto.Happy Birthday First Lady Michelle Obama!

ICYMI, here’s an excerpt from the First Lady’s remarks during the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards about creative youth development:

… Well, hello, everyone.  Welcome to the White House for the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program awards.  (Applause.)  Are you guys excited?  Let me start by thanking from the bottom of my heart, oh, gosh, so many people.  …

And to the entire President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities — this is my team.  These are my people here.  I was just talking to them earlier — I mean, we have done some amazing things together.  It’s been a tremendous ride.  And, oh, I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been to just do great things for kids all over this country.  And I couldn’t have done it without you.  Thank you, not just for the work that you’ve done on this event, but for everything that you’ve done for the past eight years.

From the day we started, all of us, we’ve made it a priority to open up this house to as many young people from as many backgrounds as possible, because we wanted them to understand that this is their house too.  (Applause.)  And that’s not always the case.  There are kids all over this country, all over the world who think that places like this are not for them.  So they’re intimidated by it, and it defines the limits of who they can be.

Well, we want to change that.  We’ve worked to change that.  We want them to know that they should always feel home within these walls and so many important institutions all over the world.  At the same time, we also wanted to bring exciting arts programming to students across the country, and to get more kids engaged in the arts at their schools and also in their communities.  …

And finally, I want to thank all of the teachers and administrators, all the volunteers who make these programs possible.  Some of you are here today with us in this room, and many of you are watching and cheering from back home.  And as someone who used to be an executive director of a nonprofit organization, I know that you all are the unsung heroes of these programs, doing the unrecognized and sometimes unpaid work of making these programs work — filling out countless forms, applying for funding, attending endless meetings, going over spreadsheets and budgets in the middle of the night.

This kind of work is hard.  Too often it’s thankless.  But you all do it because you see firsthand the transformative impact that the arts can have on our young people.  And we’re grateful to you all for doing this kind of work.

Through your programs, students have become poets and dancers. They’ve become filmmakers and photographers.  And more importantly, they become leaders in their schools and in their communities.  They’ve written scripts and short stories.  They’ve organized performances and exhibitions.  And together, they’ve learned the power of discipline, of hard work, right?  And teamwork, right?

These are the exact skills that are critical to success not just in the arts, but in everything — every academic subject that you are going to touch and in any career that you guys are going to pursue.  So you don’t know how much you’re getting, but we do because we’re old.  We know.  (Laughter.)  That’s why kids who have gotten involved in the arts have better grades.  They are more likely to graduate from high school.  They are more likely to then go on to college.

And to anyone who still somehow doubts the power of the arts to transform students’ lives, to anyone who still isn’t completely convinced, I just urge you to find one of these students and talk to them.  They’re here today, but they’re not just here, but they’re all over the country.  They’re in communities everywhere.

But we’ve got a couple.  We’ve got Noemi Negron, who is here.  As recently as this spring, Noemi was a promising young woman growing up in Boston who wanted to serve others but didn’t know where to start.  But then she got involved with the IBA Youth Development Program, and she helped make a video project about women’s rights.  And today, she is a passionate advocate for social justice in her community.  That’s where you can go with programs like these.

We have a young man, Rafael Bitanga, who is here all the way from Kodiak, Alaska.  How was that trip?  (Laughter.)  A few years ago, Rafael and his family came to the United States from the Philippines.  And like so many young people who’ve immigrated to this country, Rafael worked hard in school and quickly established himself as a leader and a role model.  And through the Baranov Museum and Film Intensive, he became both a filmmaker and a photographer, and he even started his own photography business to help support his family.

So Noemi and Rafael, and — I could you about every single student or young person who is here today, but those are some of the stories that you’ll hear from them.  And I want them all to know how proud I am of them.  I’m proud of you guys, always proud of you guys.  You make this job worth doing, just having the honor of getting to meet so many amazing young people.

These kids represent the very best of America, and they remind us all of who we really are.  (Applause.)  That’s for you.  You can’t even believe it, right?  (Laughter.)  It’s all for you.

But we’re a country that believes in our young people — all of them.  We believe that every single child has boundless promise, no matter who they are, where they come from, or how much money their parents have.  We’ve got to remember that.  We believe that each of these young people is a vital part of the great American story.  I can’t say that enough.  (Applause.)

And it is important to our continued greatness to see these kids as ours — not as “them,” not as “other,” but as ours.  Because we want them to know that if they’re willing to work for it — and so many are — that they can be anything they want.  That’s what this country is about.  And we can never forget that.  Anywhere in the country, these kids are ours.  And that’s really the power of programs like these.  That’s the message that they send to our young people every single day.

So I want to end by once again thanking all of you — all the adults here too — (laughter) — for making these programs possible.  And I want to thank all of the young people for working so hard.  And don’t ever lose hope.  Don’t ever feel fear.  You belong here, you got that?  (Applause.)  Those people are clapping for you.  So don’t forget that — for all of you.  Remember that.  Remember that part of this day.  And keep working hard, because it’s going to be so important now to be educated and focused.  Because no one can ever take your education from you.  You got that?  Spread the word, you got it?  I’m looking at all of you all.  (Laughter.)

Read the full remarks.

Nano-Interview with Rodrigo Guerrero of MCC

Rodrigo GuerreroName: Rodrigo Guerrero
Organization: Massachusetts Cultural Council
Title: Creative Youth Development Program Manager
Years in the Field: 17

What do you do at the Massachusetts Cultural Council?
I collaborate with my colleagues in the department in supervising the grant programs and providing applicants with technical assistance. Due to my background with El Sistema inspired initiatives around the world, I also manage the SerHacer Program which supports the growing number of intensive, ensemble-based music programs that use music as a vehicle for social change.

Why do you do what you do?
I had a very rocky schooling experience in my native Venezuela, typical education was not cutting it for me. Thanks to an attentive high school principal that helped me focus on the arts and humanities, I was able to find my way in life into a creative career. I want to make it easier on young people to find that principal, teacher, or mentor.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
There’s a lot of numbers attached to this work, attendance, retention, demographics, dosage, etc. Because I’m usually quite bad with numbers, I tend to look for what’s the story behind them and pull them together into a story that can be retold easily, so I guess translating data into compelling stories…

What challenges you in this work?
Preconceptions regarding artists, audiences, individual growth, and public benefit.  So much of our work balances on challenging these, so that more support is gathered and more communities are benefited. It’s always difficult to understand how different people or positions simply have a very different perspective on what they consider to be valuable, so one always needs to take a couple of steps back and try to realize where the other person or group comes from. This process can happen quickly, but sometimes requires considerable thought and conversation before reaching common ground, and typically time is working against everyone… Sometimes it’s exhausting, but it is always quite rewarding.

How do you blow off steam?
I’m an avid board and strategy gamer. I find games to be an excellent exercise in management and creativity within set boundaries. Winning or losing is not as relevant to me as the actual social experience.

What do you create in your free time?
I’m a very curious cook and foodie, so I’m always keen on creating and participating in exciting culinary experiences and experiments…I also paint miniatures and components for my gaming hobby.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
I had the privilege of working for many years with the founder of El Sistema, Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, and I find his work falls completely in line with the principles of Creative Youth Development.  Maestro Abreu’s dedication in creating a national network of music education caused dramatic change in the professional landscape in Venezuela, one where the arts and the artist are integral to the communities they exist in.

As much as I realize that this was possible in part to the very peculiar historical moment of El Sistema’s birth, I see much of Abreu’s drive, creativity, and passion in many CYD organizations in Massachusetts, which is why I took this job in the first place!

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
I’m an eclectic mess… my old iPod classic can go from Progressive Rock’s Yes and Rush to Tango all stars like Piazzola and Gardel, Dvorak’s American Quartet or Romero’s Venezuelan Onda Nueva, Tom Jobim’s Bossa with Elis Regina, or Argentinean Rock with Soda Stereo and Andres Calamaro, oh I love Regina Spektor. This is a  a complicated question…

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
“Taking joy in discreetly making things happen”

What’s next?
Learning to deal with four seasons instead of two, hitting the road to all corners of Massachusetts to meet and support amazing programs and young artists, but most of all to keep working to support and showcase the amazing field of practice that is Creative Youth Development, not only to our constituents and legislators, but to the world at large.

Nano-Interview with Jane Money of Boston City Singers

Jane MoneyName: Jane Money
Organization: Boston City Singers
Title: Founding Artistic Director
Years in the Field: 30

What do you do at Boston City Singers?
I do pretty much everything! I conduct several of our choirs, including the most advanced, Tour Choir. I enjoy meeting with our donors, creating new arrangements of music with our outstanding staff (often based on folk songs or spirituals). I work on our grantwriting team, and conduct 5 of our 15 programs. And recommendations! Last year I wrote over 100 for our graduating seniors. We were delighted that they earned over $300,000 in scholarships.

Why do you do what you do?
At Boston City Singers we believe in supporting the upward trajectory of each of our singers.  There is nothing more rewarding than supporting the growth of a young person all the way through to college and beyond.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
I am passionate about excellent repertoire which speaks to the diversity of our singers and audiences.

What challenges you in this work?
As our work has continued to grow, we have been challenged to find rehearsal and performance space that is both safe and accessible in the communities we serve.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
We have always been based in Dorchester, MA. In our earliest years, potential partners, funders, and Board members would be turned off by that. Few would visit, and it was not always easy to be taken seriously. More than once we heard “You are from Dorchester? You can’t be any good…” Over time,  Dorchester has changed and continues to evolve into something far more positive. We like to think that we have been a part of that process.

How do you blow off steam?
Once a year, I go back home to New Zealand for a couple of weeks, where I walk the length of one local beach each day and cook for my brother and his family.

What do you create in your free time?
I am an avid knitter, home cook, and co-restorer of our Victorian home.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
We have had a long relationship with the Corrymeela Centre in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. We led a choir project in Ireland in 2005 aimed at bringing children from both sides of the border together in song. One of the highlights was a residency at the Centre where I experienced first hand the power of creative youth development. We have worked closely with one of their volunteers ever since crafting leadership and youth development  programs across the organization.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
The Brazilian singers Marisa Monte, anything Ella Fitzgerald and the Canadian choir Elektra.

Do you live with any animals?
I am a foster parent for New England Brittany Rescue. We adopted our first dog, Brady, three years ago. He is 12 now, but very active and an awesome host dog to our fosters.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
Let’s find a way to make this happen!

What’s next?
My husband and I are visiting Cuba in February, meeting with local choirs, musicians and teachers, then off to South Africa with 40 members of the Tour Choir in the summer.

2 Mass CYD Programs Receive 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Award

Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción's (IBA) CEO Vanessa Calderón-Rosado receiving the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Award from First Lady Michelle Obama alongside Noemí Negron.For the last eight years, the President Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) led by First Lady Michelle Obama have showcased and invested in the talents of young people through the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards (NAHYP).

NAHYP recognizes 10-12 outstanding creative youth development (CYD) programs from across the country. It is the nation’s highest honor “for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people.”

This year, two programs from Massachusetts were recipients of the award:

  • The Theater Offensive’s True Colors: Out Youth Theater, the longest-running LGBTQ youth theater program in the country, which provides intensive training, artistic and professional skill building, and leadership development to youth from underserved areas
  • Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) Youth Development Program, a humanities program that prepares youth ages 13-19 for college through rigorous workshops centered on culture, social justice, and civic engagement.

“We believe that every single child has boundless promise, no matter who they are, where they come from, or how much money their parents have. And it is important to our continued greatness to see these kids as ours – not as ‘them,’ not as ‘other’, but as ours. And that’s really the power of programs like these. That’s the message that they send to our young people every single day,” said First Lady Michelle Obama during the emotionally charged NAHYP ceremony in Washington DC this week.

The NAHYP winners were chosen from 50 finalists from all around the country. Amongst the finalists were two additional Massachusetts organizations – Boston City Singers and BalletRox! – demonstrating just how much exemplary work in the field of CYD is happening within the Commonwealth.

The MCC is proud to support all four of these organizations. We salute them in this tremendous achievement.

Nano-Interview with Corey DePina of ZUMIX

Corey DePinaName: Corey DePina
Organization: ZUMIX
Title: Youth Development and Performance Manager
Genre: Hip Hop
Years in the Field: 17

What do you do at Zumix?
I plan and run creative writing and performance programs for teens. I also teach literature through creative writing for the 9th grade class at East Boston High School. I manage, support, and train ZUMIX performance instructors to be their best, so that they can offer the best learning experience for their students.

Why do you do what you do?
I feel like this is my calling. Through my love of hip hop, I was able to learn how to read and write. I help empower so many others though understanding their voice and expressing themselves.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
Taking a boring subject or topic and finding a fun, engaging, and exciting way to introduce it to students.

What challenges you in this work?
Not being paid enough.  I wonder if we will have donors and the money to keep doing this work in the future. I also find it a challenge to continue to prove to the academic world that my spiritual and artistic approach is important, and in a lot of cases, is what’s missing.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
It means the world to me and to my community for everyone to have access to arts and education. In a city where our public schools have no music programs and youth are told to memorize facts like computer programming, it means so much to provide a creative outlet for expression – one that incorporates critical thinking, reflection and growth along with theory and practice.

How do you blow off steam?
Going on long drives.  Getting lost, either physically or with the paper, pen and a hip hop track.

What do you create in your free time?
In my free time I like to evolve my curriculum and create unique, fun approaches to writing and music making.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
My homie, Eric Booth, and my big homie, Mo Barbosa. Eric is wicked smart and has a way with words. He takes this profession and validates it. Mo is super thoughtful and smart in his approach in youth work. It’s comforting every time to talk to these guys about the work. They are so confident in the field and it rubs off.

What music do you like to listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
No shame, I have been feeling the new Bruno Mars track 24KRT. I think I like it, because it’s pretty funky, and I’m sure I can bust like 95% of the dance moves I have to it.

Seen any good movies lately?
Movies, no. But that Netflix though… Black Mirror…

What are you currently reading?
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, by Beverly Daniel Tatum.

What’s next?
I want to write my own book and tell my story about how hip hop helped this young man go from being illiterate to becoming one of the best educators this city has.

Check out Corey’s tracks on SoundCloud.

New META Fellowships Provide Professional Development for Teaching Artists

Eric Booth leads learning session for more than 40 teaching artists on October 13, 2016 at the META Fellowship launch at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) and Klarman Family Foundation have launched a new program to help teaching artists improve the quality of their work with youth in schools and community settings across Massachusetts.

The Music Educators and Teaching Artists (META) Fellowship Pilot Program meets a growing need for high-quality, professional teaching in programs that employ the principles of creative youth development. With an initial focus on music, this two-year fellowship will help teaching artists develop the skills, relationships, and experiences they need to improve their practice. In turn, these artist educators will be better equipped to help their students grow as musicians and develop the cognitive and life skills they will need to thrive as adults.

“This project is a game changer. It is powerful and unique in a number of ways,” says Eric Booth, author and international authority on teaching artistry. “This can serve as a model for the rest of the country.”

Booth led learning sessions for more than 40 teaching artists on October 13 at the program’s launch at Boston’s Symphony Hall. They were joined by state Representative Alice Peisch of Wellesley, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, MCC Executive Director Anita Walker, and leaders of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Public Schools, and others.

MCC and Klarman will provide META Fellows with professional development in instructional practice, site visits, and access to a support network of more than 30 creative youth development organizations statewide. Fellows will also receive stipends of $800 annually for participating, and are eligible for grants up to $3,000 to further develop as teachers and artists. For their part, the META Fellows, with the support of their organizations, will participate in up to eight group learning sessions and visit two programs of other participating organizations each year. Finally they will develop and present projects that document new knowledge for broader dissemination within the represented organizations.

This pilot project builds on MCC’s 20-plus-year support of creative youth development, an intentional, holistic practice that fosters active creative expression through the arts, humanities, and sciences alongside core social, emotional, and life skills, for youth of all ages. In supportive spaces, with guidance from skilled and compassionate teachers, children and adolescents immerse themselves in creative endeavors: composing and making music, producing and directing films and journalism, writing and staging new dramas, creating and interpreting visual art. Programs take place in public, private and charter schools; nonprofit arts, science and history institutions; YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, and many other settings.

Youth in these programs achieve high levels of artistic skill and a deeper knowledge of themselves and their cultural heritage. They build self-esteem, resilience, and civic agency. They create works of art and culture, and in doing so create meaning in their lives. The programs share an overarching goal to help them reach their full potential as individuals and as contributors to their communities.

MCC has been a national leader in this work for more than two decades. Its YouthReach Initiative integrates substantive out-of-school arts learning opportunities into a collaborative community response to the needs of young people – especially at-risk youth. More than 40 YouthReach programs have been honored over the years with National Arts & Humanities Youth Program awards from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In 2014, MCC hosted the National Summit on Creative Youth Development, which shone a national spotlight on the work of YouthReach and generated an ongoing national partnership between the MCC, the National Guild for Community Arts Education, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and Americans for the Arts. Later that year Massachusetts became the first state in nation to create a public support system for El Sistema-inspired work. SerHacer is an innovative program that provides grant support to programs, supports an instrument library through the Johnson String Project so that young people have access to high quality instruments with insurance and maintenance included, and includes a three year research study that seeks to establish the impact of the El Sistema model on the lives of young people.

A Journey Through the Eyes of Boston Teens

 

Take a journey through the eyes of teen artists from the ICA’s nationally recognized Teen Programs. The exhibit ICA Teen Photography (through October 30, 2016 at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art) features new works made by 16 Boston-area ICA teen participants. Throughout the school year, participants in the museum’s rigorous digital photography courses learned to use museum-issued cameras, and established positive relationships with peers and the professional artists and educators who led the classes.

When asked what he looks for in a photography subject, Edward Tapia, a teen whose work is featured in the exhibit said, “There are certain things that seem attractive to the eye as it is, but honestly, anything can become attractive and interesting if someone looks at it with a different view. I try to turn things into outstanding compositions with photography, so I look at things in a different way than usual and capture what seems interesting about it to create even more.”

“One of my biggest take-aways from participating in the Teen Programs at the ICA is to learn to appreciate art and discover the meaning behind it, and then apply them to my personal life.”

Krystal Cai, another teen whose work is featured in the exhibit said, “One of the biggest take-aways I have from participating in the teen programs at the ICA is a clear understanding of the basic technical features of the camera, which I think was a valuable lesson for me as a beginner. Also, this program taught me do not ever delete pictures, because you can always look back at your previous work to see how you progress and learn areas for improvement.”

More information on ICA Teen Programs.

Announcing the CYD National Partnership

National CYD Partnership logo

New Collective Impact Strategy to Strengthen Community-Based Organizations and Empower Practitioners & Youth

Today marks the formal launch of the Creative Youth Development National Partnership between the National Guild for Community Arts Education, Massachusetts Cultural Council, The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and Americans for the Arts. These four organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize their joint commitment to advancing creative youth development (CYD) as a field of practice nationwide.

Creative youth development is a recently coined term that organizes 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 carry into adulthood.

This new coalition is collaborating to organize and accelerate the CYD movement through a collective impact strategy with a common agenda, shared systems and activities, cross-sector engagement, and continuous communications. The Partnership aims to strengthen community-based organizations working in youth development and the arts, sciences, and humanities; develop and support adult practitioners in the field; and benefit youth by increasing access to CYD opportunities throughout the United States.

See the full announcement on www.creativeyouthdevelopment.org.