“Unsteady” is a conceptual dance project created to address social issues present among young teens including bullying, body image, and cultural differences. Recipients of Mass Cultural Council’s 2018 Amplify grant, the piece was choreographed entirely by BalletRox dancers and performed at the Wake Up the Earth Festival this year in Jamaica Plain.
On 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.”
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.
For the third year in a row, Mass Cultural Council is proud to award 15 Amplify grants totaling $15,000 to projects designed and executed by young people in programs receiving YouthReach or SerHacer funding, furthering the Commonwealth’s investment in youth leadership and empowerment.
This year the Amplify process not only encouraged young people to design and lead their own projects for their communities’ benefit, but also included young people and program alums into the evaluation panel. This unique panel worked with impeccable professionalism to ensure that proposed projects had the right balance of quality, innovation, and youth involvement, and thrived in the opportunity to have a voice in how these funds are helping programs across the state.
Thanks to our 2018 Amplify panelists: (Left to right) Gladys Hidalgo, Raw Art Works; Rachel Cummings, Express Yourself; Corey DePina, Zumix; Raquel Navarro, Sociedad Latina; and Marquis Victor, Elevated Thought. With Shaneez Tyndall, Mass Cultural Council.
2018 Amplify Grant Recipients
A conceptual dance project demonstrating and addressing social issues present among young teens such as bullying, body image, and cultural differences. The dance will be performed at the Wake up the Earth Festival and Dance for World community.
BIRD STREET COMMUNITY CENTER
Youth will experience a career exploration of the fashion field learning how to create and put on their own photo shoots, design and construct custom made clothing using fabric materials and equipment, and publish a magazine highlighting their efforts and successes throughout the year.
BOOKS OF HOPE
Teen facilitator Andrine will plan the curriculum through 2017-2018 and execute monthly lessons and a series of creative writing workshops for teens and preteens in coordination with Books of Hope and Mystic Learning Center staff and administration.
BOSTON CITY SINGERS
Through music and illustration, the tour choir will compose works of art that visualize ‘what music means to me.’ Members will use various mediums to personalize their work which will be presented to the choir, photographed and made into a banner which will be displayed at local cafes, Boston Public Library Dorchester, and the Strand Theater.
Through a series of hands-on workshops, students will use Vocaloid – a software program which enables users to synthesize “singing” – to learn about vocal synthesis, music production, animation, and creative collaboration through the creation of original songs and music videos.
COMMUNITY ART CENTER
Students will create the Port Art blog to document stories, articles, videos, updates, and personal podcasts focusing on two community needs – the important role of arts in Cambridge and youth voice. The blog plans to engage 150 teen contributors.
Falling under Elevated Thought’s ‘Nature of Home’ focus, the documentary project ‘Immigrant Narratives’ will capture immigration stories of members of the community. Stories will come to life through camera interviews, photography, and interpretation of these narratives through poetry.
ENCHANTED CIRCLE THEATER
Designed by leaders of the Youth Truth performance ensemble, ‘Sharing our Truth’ is an abbreviated performance of the Youth Truth script. The project will spread awareness of teens experiencing out of home care and teach peers how to support these students.
Using the Storytelling Project Curriculum created by Columbia University, students will learn about race and racism and consider how diverse stories can make a difference. Each student will share positive personal stories of living in Lawrence and redefine the media’s narrative on the Lawrence community through art, writing, and performance.
HYDE SQUARE TASK FORCE
Ritmo en Accion youth leaders will collaborate with the music and theatre youth teams to adapt Afro-Latin folktales into a public performance to share with the community. Students will work with project scholar Dr. Lorna Rivera and other content specific experts to ensure the authenticity and relevance of the dance to the folktale’s culture of origin.
KIDS 4 HARMONY
Students will perform original compositions along with accompanying visual and written components guided by the theme of “The Berkshires” in which students will explore a location, event, or feeling associated with living in the Berkshires.
NEW BEDFORD WHALING MUSEUM
Apprentices will create an exhibition at the Museum focusing on New Bedford’s first black photographer, James E. Reed. Students will explore who James was, learn about the history and business of photography and explore the history of the city of New Bedford through the eyes of the photographer. The final exhibition will showcase original work by the apprentices as well as provide access to materials in the Museum’s collection including the original cameras, backdrops and photographs of James E. Reed.
PROVINCETOWN ART ASSOCIATION & MUSEUM (PAAM)
Five workshops taught by 10 current Art Reach student-artists with focuses on dry point etching, painting, color theory, writing and character development, and life drawing will be presented to the public over the weekend of May 12-13, 2018. This is an intergenerational project allowing Art Reach students to showcase lessons from PAAM and an opportunity for adults to learn from the younger generation. The project will provide income to student teachers for curriculum planning and teaching/co-teaching as well as a platform for creative leadership in the community.
WORCESTER YOUTH CENTER
Students will work with an artist to explore social justice issues and design a mural for the WYC building in a 7-week creative expression program. A culminating event will be held in which youth and the community will paint the mural over a recently demolished portion of the WYC building.
WORCESTER CHAMBER MUSIC
Students will have the opportunity to work in a studio to record chamber music which can be streamed online and visit WCATV to talk about the program and perform live on television. This project will bring classical music to populations who don’t normally hear or have access to it (i.e. nursing homes).
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.
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.
Nic is an Express Yourself participant of 16 years and a long-time youth mentor – the longest running participant in Express Yourself history. He is leading youth and junior mentors in creating two large panels inspired by the theme SOUL to be displayed outside Express Yourself’s studio. Using quilting patterns and a specific color palette, Nic designed a modular project to be individually painted by youth and then assembled into the final piece.
His project fosters youth leadership within the studio setting and brings public art to the Cummings Center in Beverly, MA. The exhibition will be presented during a studio reception and will be on full display in the Cummings Center after the show at the Boch Center Wang Theater on May 25.
This article originally appeared on Express Yourself’s site.
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:
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.
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.
Amplify, MCC’s grant program created to support youth led and designed projects, is starting to bear fruit, the first of which was the wonderful Pop-Up Parasol exhibit by Youth Mentor Rachel at Express Yourself (EXYO).
Originally conceived as a smaller project involving 20 hand-painted parasols to be on public display at Cumming Center, the idea took hold and blossomed due to the leadership of Rachel, an EXYO mentor, who empowered by the Amplify grant took it upon herself to fundraise and manage the entire project, recruiting peers and participants from EXYO and eventually more than tripling the original project scope. The parasols were displayed in a 70 foot long installation which opened on April 26, bringing color to a cold spring afternoon in Beverly.
Following the pop-up exhibit, the parasols took center stage at EXYO’s annual showcase “Illuminate”. The parasols were twirled and paraded before a completely packed Wang Theatre in Boston, their intricate mandala-like patterns and joyous brightness carefully choreographed into a dazzling performance by EXYO’s participants.
“The Amplify project helped us to focus on a unique opportunity to create a youth-inspired exhibition that engaged the community at-large”, said Paula Conrad, Co-Executive Director of EXYO. “The grant challenged Express Yourself mentors to define and push forth on an empowering and illuminating art idea, guided by Rachel.”
Amplify grants provide support for projects designed and executed by young people in programs that currently receive YouthReach or SerHacer funding. This year $11,440 was awarded with each grantee receiving up to $1,000.
We also have our social imagination: the capacity to invent
visions of what should be and what might be in our deficient
society, on the streets where we live, in our schools.
– Maxine Greene
Today the MCC introduces Amplify Youth Voices; a new initiative to raise the voices of young people whose creative expression is driving positive change in communities across the state.
Amplify grants provide support for projects designed and executed by young people in programs that are currently receiving YouthReach or SerHacer funding. A total of $11,440 was awarded with each grantee receiving up to $1,000.
Amplify projects include:
Actors Shakespeare Project, Boston – To lead a group of youth to create an original play based on Shakespeare’s plays.
BalletRox, Boston – To create a Soca Dance for the Spontaneous Celebration’s Wake up the Earth Festival on May 7th, 2016.
Books of Hope, Somerville – To solicit work from fellow competitors at the Louder Than a Bomb poetry festival to publish into an anthology.
Community Art Center, Cambridge – To curate a portion of the ‘Do It Your Damn Self’ National Youth Film Festival in Cambridge and host screenings for young people at a Cambridge public school and MIT.
Community Music School of Springfield, Springfield – To follow the musical journey of 200 students in Chestnut Middle School’s El Sistema-inspired program by creating a video diary for the fellow students, parents, and administrators at the school.
Community Music School of Springfield, Springfield – To follow the musical journey of 40 students in Duggan Middle School’s El Sistema-inspired program by creating a video diary for the fellow students, parents, and administrators at the school.
Express Yourself, Beverly – To lead Express Yourself participants in creating large scale public art exhibition at the Cummings Center in Beverly.
Mass Audobon, Lowell – To create a two-day event in Lucy Larcom Park to introduce youth and families to the parks in Lowell and help young people move away from screens and into natural settings.
Performance Project, Springfield – To co-create a new physical theater piece for 10 youth participants entitled ‘Tenderness’.
Raw Art Works, Lynn – To partner with The Food Project in Lynn to bring healthy food and food education to participants in RAW’s Creative Youth Development programming.
Sociedad Latina, Boston – To lead the creation of a community art exhibit entitled ‘Quien Soy Yo’ (Who I am)
Worcester Youth Center, Worcester – To lead a visual arts program developed for other youth at the Center who have not engaged with art making, entitled YouthARTWorkz.