All posts by Rodrigo Guerrero

Mass Cultural Council Convenes International CYD Leaders

International CYD Leaders at Boston ConveningIn July, as part of the Creative Youth Development National Partnership’s stakeholders’ meeting, Mass Cultural Council took the opportunity to host a cohort of international guests to spark a conversation on how the field of practice looks around the world.

With a varied roster of national and local agencies, educators, artists, and academia from South Korea, Scotland, India, Australia, Norway, and New Zealand, our guests participated actively in the first two days of the national meeting, getting to know their colleagues and their programs but most importantly our young people, their needs, and their capacity.

After the national convening was over, our international cohort met to distill the findings of the previous days. Led by veteran teaching artist Eric Booth, we engaged in an incredibly fertile conversation, in which different models and approaches were presented, all unified by the importance of empowering young people and nurturing creativity as an integral part of our communities. The richness and diversity helped us prove that the work of Creative Youth Development occurs in a myriad ways, and opened up a larger conversation in finding opportunities to better support it.

We are grateful to have connected with these distinguished guests and thank them  for their outstanding participation and contribution to this gathering:

Mass Cultural Council is committed to continuing these conversations, and in them, we are hoping to bring in as many of our grantees as possible, showcasing them as examples of excellent practice, and always looking for ways to improve our capacity in this exciting field of practice.

Hyde Square Task Force Youth Writes Musical for Boston’s Latin Quarter

A young woman and young man sing and hold hands facing one another outside on a sunny day. Image by Mark Saperstein.

Couple is singing and holding hands to the left of the frame, while a crowd of mostly standing onlookers watches their performance on the right side of the frame. Image by Jessica Guzman.This year for the first time ever, and with support from Mass Cultural Council’s Amplify grant, Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) youth and staff undertook the immense challenge of co-writing and co-producing an original musical.

What came out of that process was El Barrio: Boston’s Latin Quarter, an interactive show featuring the stories of countless immigrants and hard working families that have contributed to the fabric of the community in the Hyde/Jackson Square neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.

 

“My name is Orlando and I’ll try to say it slow

Puerto Rican boy and my flow runs this show

Raised without a father, just me and my brother and my mother

who every day just keep getting stronger.”

Orlando is a is one of the lead character  and was played by Victor, one of HSTF’s youth dancers.

In a true show of Amplify’s  spirit, Victor and his peers from HSTF’s Ritmo en Acción Afro-Latin dance team co-choreographed original pieces for the musical, derived from bachata, merengue, salsa, and Latin-infused hip-hop. For the first time, Ritmo dancers collaborated extensively with their peers on the Music and Theater teams to produce this musical, using their neighborhood as a moving stage. Ritmo dancers, working with Program Coordinator Audrey Guerrero and Resident Artist Angeline Egea, choreographed steps to original songs written and performed by youth musicians, and followed stage direction and cues from youth on the Theater team.

Young man singing in Hyde Square Task Force's El Barrio! musical. Photo by Jessica Guzman.Hundreds of community members took part in matinee and evening performances, traveling through the show with performers. Through dance and through the arts, this young group shared the history of their community, while growing outside of their primary artistic disciplines and leading this exuberant demonstration of the power of creative youth development. HSTF youth and staff eagerly await the next opportunity to showcase the stories, values, and potential that defines their community.

See more photos from El Barrio: Boston’s Latin Quarter Musical.

Youth Voice Amplified at State House Celebration

Last month, we gathered young people, educators, and leaders from creative youth development programs, and their legislators at the State House to celebrate our Amplify grant recipients.

Now in its second year, Amplify has funded 27 projects designed and executed by young people in programs currently supported by our YouthReach and SerHacer programs. The grants support the creation of work by young people in the arts, sciences, or humanities that demonstrates the capacity they have to be visible and audible participants in developing safe and thriving communities throughout the Commonwealth.​

A young filmmaker from the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Xavier Harvey, described the experience of being an Amplify grantee as “innovation, inspiration, and motivation”:

Amplify grant recipient Boston City Singers shared their voice:

And Marquis Victor, President and Executive Director of Elevated Thought in Lawrence, spoke with passion and poetry.

Legislators were on hand to congratulate the youth leaders, including Senator Adam Hinds, Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development.

“I’m so glad that you are stepping up in helping your communities, and I want you to know that in this building you’ve got a bunch of people who are going to get your back, and make sure that you can keep doing that,” he said.

Gustavo Dudamel Lectures at Harvard University

In November, as part of a series of Lectures at Harvard University called “the Creative Class”, students from both the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, and the Longy Sistema Side-by-Side orchestra had the opportunity to work with the artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel.

In a sit-down conversation with LA Phil CEO Deborah Borda, Dudamel spoke at length of his experience as young Venezuelan musician in El Sistema (Venezuela’s Youth Orchestras and Choirs Program), and his commitment to support music education as an opportunity to develop creative potential, and develop the critical learning and life skills young people need to become active contributors to their communities.

To this end, besides his continued engagement with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Dudamel has championed the creation of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) with the LA Phil and its community partners to provide free instruments and intensive music training to students from underserved neighborhoods, empowering them to become vital citizens, leaders, and agents of change.

Dudamel pointed out the proliferation of Sistema inspired initiatives in the United States, specifically the high concentration of them in Massachusetts, where eighteen programs like these receive support from the MCC through its SerHacer grants.

In recognition of his artistic conscience and commitment as a music educator,  the young Venezuelan Maestro was awarded Harvard’s Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award at the end of the lecture.

Sonido Musica Performance Honors MLK Day

Boy from Sonido Musica playing the drums This past Monday the MassMutual Center in Springfield resonated with music and dance to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In a ceremony framed by tremendous community participation, local and regional dignitaries, and the moving eloquence of Dr. King, 700 young artists took to the stage in a dazzling and colorful celebration.

Performers included members of the Sonido Musica School Partnership programs, which features students from 16 public schools in the city that which receive funding from MCC’s STARS Residencies. Sonido Musica is a program of Community Music School of Springfield, a nonprofit organization that unifies youth of different ages and backgrounds through performing arts education and is the recipient of MCC’s SerHacer funding.

“In light of the uncertainties around race relations and the polarization of various groups who feel marginalized, this celebration reminds us we have the opportunity to engage in simple acts – at school, at work, and in our families – that strengthen our community in the spirit of unity that defines the legacy of Dr. King,” said Ronn Johnson CEO of Martin Luther King, Jr Family Services. “We must all open our ears and open our hearts. When someone says something demeaning, we all have the opportunity to be change agents. The MLK Day Celebration inspires us to celebrate the resiliency of our community.”

Girl from Sonido Musica plays the violin

Images by Dave Roback.

Amplify Grants Awarded to 15 Youth-Led Community Projects

Youth leaders with Elevated Thought in Lawrence, MA

 

 

 

 

This year, 15 Amplify grants totaling $15,000 have been awarded to projects designed and executed by young people in programs receiving YouthReach or SerHacer funding. (See last year’s recipients, too.)

Amplify shines a spotlight on the contributions these young people make to their communities by supporting them directly in creating and publicly sharing their work.

Amplify projects include:

ACTORS’ SHAKESPEARE PROJECT, Boston
To present a documentary film showcasing Massachusetts Department of Youth Services youth artists and the creative process behind their work.

BIRD STREET, Boston
To offer a glass blowing arts program exclusively to teenage boys ages 13 – 18 which will provide the opportunity to design, construct, market, and sell hand-blown glass art.

BOSTON CITY SINGERS, Boston
The Tour Choir Youth Leadership Team will host and perform a concert dedicated to raising funds and awareness to the ongoing refugee crisis and immigration policy reform as it relates to Dorchester while celebrating the diversity of the community.

ELEVATED THOUGHT, Lawrence
To present “This is Where I’m From”, a second installment of short films focused on promoting a positive narrative of Lawrence, MA. A panel discussion aims to change views on the city, highlighting the beauty of a community often overshadowed by tales of crime and poverty.

EXPRESS YOURSELF, Beverly
Assisted by youth participants, Nick Bennett will create two 5’ x 5′ panels to reflect Express Yourself’s 2017 “SOUL” theme based on character brainstorming sessions.

EXPRESS YOURSELF, Beverly
Express Yourself youth will learn basic origami folding technique to create modular pieces for a large outdoor installation bringing art to the public and business community while highlighting their artistic voices.

HYDE SQUARE TASK FORCE, Boston
Ritmo en Acción’s Afro-Latin Music and Theatre Arts mastery teams will collaborate to create an original musical about the unique Boston Latin Quarter community.

MULTI-ARTS, INC., Hadley
Musica Franklin’s Project Helpful will create bus signs for six routes in Greenfield, Sunderland, Montague, Northampton, and Charlemont to raise awareness about bullying, how to respond, and how to prevent it.

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE, Boston
Youth-led, bi-weekly science themed workshops will offer hands-on activities, a short talk from a guest speaker and a visit to relevant exhibits within the Museum. Post activities, participants will draw and interpret what they saw during their experiments.

MYSTIC LEARNING CENTER, Somerville
Published youth author Andrine Pierresaint will host a monthly series of creative writing workshops for a group of pre-teens at the Mystic Learning Center. Workshops will culminate with an anthology of the participants’ work.

PERFORMANCE PROJECT, Springfield
To create an information pamphlet about mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline in support of the stories and scenes in the show “Tenderness”. The hope is for the pamphlet to be a study guide for high school groups who’ve seen the show and serve as a catalyst for conversations around the topic of mass incarceration.

PERFORMANCE PROJECT, Springfield
An hour long performance about the artistic struggle of female artists from India, Cuba, South Africa, and West Africa and the historical and cultural contexts of their lives. Performances will incorporate interviews, creative writing, music, and dance from each culture.

SOCIEDAD LATINA, Boston
Multidisciplinary art projects (short videos, poems, animations, art) will be used to raise awareness about student-centered learning and its benefits to Latino youth and families in Boston.

WORCESTER CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY, Worcester
Teens from the Neighborhood Strings Club will perform chamber music in three community locations (a women & children’s shelter, a senior center, and Union Station) and create a documentary of their experience and that of their audience.

WORCESTER YOUTH CENTER, Worcester
YouthSpeaks! spoken word café series combines writing workshops (showcasing different themes and styles) with performances. The series encourages youth to explore social justice fundamentals through response to global, local, and individual events.

Mass. Youth Represent at 1st National Take a Stand Festival

Boston String Academy youth concert. Photo courtesy Marielisa and Mariesther Alvarez.Last week,  in New York’s Hudson valley, Bard College hosted the first National Take a Stand Festival, bringing together student-musicians participating in El Sistema-inspired programs from across the country for a 5-day music camp.

The National Take a Stand Festival is provided to students free of charge through a partnership between the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Venezuela’s FundaMusical, Longy School of Music, Aspen Music Festival and School, and Bard College.  For some students, the Festival was their first experience traveling out of state, and gave them the opportunity to collaborate with peers from different parts of the country as they work with exceptional master teachers and musicians on challenging musical repertoire.

Approximately 80 participants, ages 11-17, were selected for the Eastern Festival. (The western states’ Festival was held in Aspen in June.) Twenty-five participants were from Massachusetts, making it the largest delegation from any single state. Most of the Massachusetts students (including 13 from Boston String Academy, whose program is pictured above) also participate in programs supported by MCC’s SerHacer Program.

In addition to its large student contingent, Boston String Academy’s excellence was recognized with the selection of Co-Director Mariesther Alvarez to join the Festival’s roster of 10 Master Teachers who ground both the Western and Eastern Festivals. Co-Director Marielisa Alvarez was also invited to teach at the Eastern Festival.

The El Sistema model originated in Venezuela with the goal of promoting social change and citizenship through music, primarily by providing orchestral music experiences universally.  In its 40 years, El Sistema has inspired thousands of music educators around the world.