Category Archives: Advocacy

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.

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

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.

Read the Entire Article

A New Vision and Strategic Plan

The Mass Cultural Council is pleased to share its new strategic plan and new vision — the Power of Culture — with the public. The plan is grounded on a vision of our Commonwealth where:

  • Culture elevates the quality of life and well-being of all communities
  • Culture drives growth and opportunity through the creative economy
  • Culture is inclusive, accessible, and embraces our diversity
  • Culture empowers a new generation through creative youth development and education

The result of more than a year of planning and thousands of conversations with our constituents, our new vision will guide our work through the next five years and beyond.

Celebrate National Arts Education Week: Sept. 10-16, 2017

National Arts in Education Week Logo
National Arts in Education Week provides a great opportunity to reinforce the vital role of arts learning in our schools and communities.

Mass Cultural Council invests more than $3 million annually in a range of programs that expand access to arts education in classrooms and beyond across the Commonwealth. We are a national leader in the growing, dynamic field of creative youth development. And with MASSCreative, Arts/Learning and others, we advocate for the arts in debates on education policy and funding.

“The arts foster success in school and after graduation; help students develop discipline and grit; grow their problem-solving skills; and challenge them to deeper thinking, more effective communication, and greater civic engagement,”

– Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, Co-Chair, Joint Committee on Education.

We encourage our partners to use this week to share your stories about why arts education matters to you and the young people in your community. Please join the celebration by:

  • Sharing your story: This year, we want to highlight the impact of arts education in your life. Use #BecauseOfArtsEd on social media and tell us how Arts Ed impacts your life by tagging @MassCultural. You can also use #ArtsEdWeek.
  • Learning more: Check out this toolkit to find a series of ways to join in the national celebration.

Youth Arts Advocates Represent

This Spring, while most Boston teens enjoyed a week off from school, over 50 high school students and youth workers gathered for the 3rd Annual Youth Arts Action Retreat at Zumix in East Boston. Facilitated by MassCreative’s Tracie Konopinski, students brainstormed ways to help their local communities thrive, learned the value of storytelling skills in advocacy, and how to use their art and their voices to take action in their communities.

Participating organizations included the Boch Center, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Community Art Center, Hyde Square Task Force, Sociedad Latina, Zumix, Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (IBA), Urbanity Dance, and the Mayor’s Youth Council of Boston. Students learned the value of storytelling skills in advocacy and how to take action in their communities.

After a morning of theory and lectures, young people used their talents in music, dance, theatre, poetry, and art to explore what Boston would look like without art. They later performed these pieces open mic style. Teens said they looked forward to engaging deeper in advocacy with elected officials around the role of the arts and the state arts budget.

National Stakeholders to Convene Next Week

On July 24 and 25, the Creative Youth Development National Partnership will host nearly 100 leaders from across sectors in Boston for the 2017 CYD National Stakeholder Meeting with a charge to broaden and deepen the impact of Creative Youth Development throughout the United States and the world. This group will include practitioners, youth, funders, policy makers, thought leaders, researchers and government officials who all recognize CYD as a vehicle for positive youth outcomes.

Read more.

Announcing a New Investment in Creative Youth Development and Music Education

Community Music School of Springfield performs at the announcement of the Dudamel Foundation's investment in creative youth development in Massachusetts.The Mass Cultural Council is pleased to announce a $10,000 gift from the Gustavo Dudamel Foundation to deepen its support of creative youth development and music education.

Elected officials and cultural leaders from the Springfield region joined Mass Cultural Council and Springfield Public Schools students, teachers, and administrators at the Community Music School of Springfield today to announce the grant. The Schools’ partnership program, Sonido Música uses intensive, ensemble music to strengthen academic and social-emotional learning, and empowers a new generation of young people to work for social justice. Inspired by the Venezuelan El Sistema model, the program is funded through Mass Cultural Council’s SerHacer Program.

“Music and the arts are central to a complete education,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, who also serves as Chair of the School Committee. “The Community Music School brings together students and families of all backgrounds to learn and grow through music making. We’re delighted to be a showcase for the work that the Mass Cultural Council and the Dudamel Foundation support.”

Established by Venezuelan-born conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, the Gustavo Dudamel Foundation is dedicated to supporting the arts and music education as catalysts in promoting a more compassionate and just society. “Music is unique in its power to unite and inspire,” said Dudamel. “By playing and listening together, music teaches discipline, cooperation, and an appreciation for beauty that enriches lives and binds communities. I am very pleased to collaborate with the Mass Cultural Council in expanding opportunities for children from diverse communities to be empowered through music.”

The Foundation’s grant to Mass Cultural Council will supplement the state agency’s support of 18 El Sistema-inspired youth music ensembles across Massachusetts, and helped to underwrite a student performance supported by the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston this past Saturday. SerHacer provides three-year, $15,000 annual grants to each of these programs, provides an instrument library through the Johnson String Project so all youth have quality instruments, and funds a three-year research study that seeks to document the impact of the El Sistema model on the lives of young people.

Mass Cultural Council Program Manager Rodrigo Guerrero said the Dudamel grant is another sign that Massachusetts is leading the way in creative youth development, an intentional practice that fosters active creative expression through the arts, humanities, and sciences, while developing core social, emotional, and life skills, for youth of all ages. Creative youth development approaches young people as active agents in their own growth, with inherent strengths and skills to be developed and nurtured. The overall goal is for culture to play a major role in supporting the growth of creative, productive, and independent citizens and thriving communities.

Read the Full Release.

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.