Category Archives: Research

Innovation in Action: Three Case Studies from the Intersections of Arts and Social Justice

Innovation in Action coverHow can creative change makers walk their talk and more effectively enact the change they want to see in the world? What do innovation and adaptive change look like for organizations that have social change as their core mission? A collection of profiles released this month as part of EmcArts’ Innovation Labs explores these questions in their publication, “Innovation in Action: Three Case Studies from the Intersections of Arts and Social Justice.”

Featuring Massachusetts’ own The Theater Offensive, as well as Alternate ROOTS, and Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, this publication examines the contours, possibilities and limitations of innovation and adaptive change at the intersection of arts and social justice.

The Theater Offensive entered the Innovation Lab to design a national organizing model to support and encourage Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) youth theaters nationally through
the Pride Youth Theater Alliance (PYTA). PYTA’s mission is to “connect and support queer youth theater organizations, programs, and professionals committed to empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied (LGBTQA) youth in North America.” Through the Innovation Lab process, the The Theater Offensive team explored these questions:

  1. How can youth leadership be operationally central to PYTA, and
  2. How can the national PYTA network take advantage of the capacities of the locally grounded organization (The Theater Offensive)?

Download the full publication.

Efforts to Develop Youth Creativity Produce “Ripple Effects” that Benefit Communities

New Research Sets Stage for Boston Summit to Advance Emerging Field of Creative Youth Development
Setting the Agenda cover imageOut-of-school programs that develop the creative capacities of young people are uniquely positioned to drive civic and social progress in their communities, according to new research. The research report, Setting the Agenda, is drawn from surveys and interviews of adults and young people from more than 150 youth arts, humanities, and science programs nationwide.

“Today, youth are increasingly becoming disconnected from their communities and the means to make a successful transition to adulthood,” the report states. “At the same time, creativity is growing in its importance to addressing changing economic, social, technological, and environmental challenges. In this context, creative youth development programs are an asset, and supporting and increasing their impact is of great importance.”

Setting the Agenda was commissioned in advance of the National Summit on Creative Youth Development by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and National Guild for Community Arts Education. The organizations are partners in presenting the Summit, which takes place in Boston March 27-29, 2014. The research was conducted by Dr. Lauren Stevenson of Junction Box Consulting in Oakland, CA.
Read the full press release.

Wallace Releases Something to Say

Cover image from "Something to Say" reportEarlier this week, the Wallace Foundation and Next Level Strategic Marketing Group released a much anticipated and highly useful report, along with a series of videos, Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts. (There’s even an infographic.)

I suspect I will be referring to this report and its findings for a long time as I help people build new programs and reflect on current work.

Among the highlights:

  •  Understanding that in choosing afterschool opportunities, teens and ‘tweens are consumers (whether programs are paid-for or free, young people are shopping with their time) and programs need to meet the young people where they are.
  • The market research offers some highly actionable insights on what the consumers are looking for (and NOT looking for).
  • The success principles for quality programming stress the importance of addressing artistic excellence AND youth development principles — the either/or is a false dichotomy.
  • There is strong alignment between what the consumers (young people) say they want in a program and what providers (practitioners, program people) say are the elements of success (safe spaces, opportunities for mastery, sense of belonging, presenting to larger world…).

The title of the report is also pretty great.

I think this is a really terrific contribution to the field. What do you think?