Category Archives: Advocacy

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.

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.

NEA Chair Jane Chu Celebrates CYD Achievements

Photo (left to right): Michael Killoren, NEA’s director of local arts agencies; Jane Chu, NEA’s Chairman; Mary Jaffee, Executive Director of Project STEP; Jonathan Herman, Executive Director, National Guild for Community Arts Education; Anita Walker, MCC Executive Director, Nina Fialkow, MCC Chair.Last week National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu joined us as we celebrated a recent NEA grant to the National Guild for Community Arts Education to support a collective impact initiative and the creation of the first-ever blueprint to advance Creative Youth Development (CYD). The National Guild accepted this grant on behalf of the national CYD partners: The Massachusetts Cultural Council, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Americans for the Arts, and The National Guild. Representatives from CYD programs throughout the country attended the event.

MCC Executive Director, Anita Walker praised and thanked Massachusetts leadership in the field which has included investments of more than $11 million over the past two decades.

On her remarks, Chu reinforced the importance of creative youth development, which integrates the arts, humanities, and sciences with youth development principles. “Arts education fosters bright, creative, and socially engaged students who will grow up to be our next leaders, parents, teachers, artists, and engineers. Because of your work, you are giving them the tools to lead their best lives.” Chu said with gratitude.

To conclude the program, Project STEP students performed and Project STEP Executive Director, Mary Jaffee, who is stepping down after 11 years, received a recognition for her work. In 2014 and under Jaffee’s leadership, Project STEP received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award for its rigorous, comprehensive, year-round classical string training program for underrepresented minorities. This is the highest recognition in the nation.

NEA Grants $100,000 to CYD Collective Impact Initiative

Web graphic from CYD Natl. siteThe National Guild for Community Arts Education, on behalf of a coalition of national partners, has been awarded an NEA Art Works grant for $100,000. The award will support a collective impact initiative and the creation of the first-ever blueprint to advance Creative Youth Development (CYD).

The funds are part of more than $82 million granted in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2016. “The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said NEA chairman Jane Chu. “Supporting projects like the one from the National Guild for Community Arts Education and its CYD partners offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

Creative Youth Development is a new term that brings together a longstanding community of practice that intentionally integrates the arts, humanities, and sciences with youth development principles, sparking young people’s creativity and building critical learning and life skills. Representatives of the field met in 2014, to form its first-ever national policy and advocacy agenda and charged a national partnership to oversee implementation. Initiative  partners include the National Guild , Americans for the Arts, the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities, and Massachusetts Cultural Council. The blueprint project will engage additional cross-sector organizations, cultivating partners from the youth development field.

“This Art Works award is a huge honor, and a recognition of the dedicated organizations across the country offering CYD programs that support young people in developing creative skills and becoming active members of their communities,” said Jonathan Herman, executive director of the National Guild. “Our national partnership hopes to organize this field, maximize its social impact, and produce a structure to inspire more organizations to develop programs that unleash the creative potential of youth.”

See the full release.

Join AFTA’s Creative Youth Development Webinar, Tweet Chat on Sept. 15

Learn more about Creative Youth Development as part of Americans for the Arts’ (AFTA) webinar series: “Arts Education: What You Need to Know” on Tuesday, September 15 at 3pm. MCC’s Dr. Erik Holmgren will join partners from the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities, and National Guild for Community Arts Education, to discuss this emerging field. Register for the 20-minute webinar, and continue the conversation in Twitter using #CYD from 8-9pm (ET).