Johnson String Project

The Johnson String Project is dedicated to ensuring that all students in El Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts have access to high quality string instruments.  But this is more than a simple ‘donate an instrument’ program.  Instead, students are guaranteed a quality instrument that they can exchange as they grow and can have them maintained and repaired at no cost.

Hear more about the origins of the Johnson String Project from Carol Johnson on Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud.

DYS Youth Voice What Matters at Annual Statewide Showcase

This post was adapted from the a piece by Kim Phan in the Mass Health and Human Services Blog.

Stage for the 2016 DYS Youth Showcase

“Voice What Matters”, the banner above the stage read, and that is exactly what the youth of the Mass Department of Youth Services (DYS) did. From paintings to sculptures, to videos, songs and dance, young people showed who they are and what matters to them. This year the DYS held the 4th Annual “Share Your Art, Share Your Voice!” Statewide Youth Showcase on June 16 at the Paramount Center at Emerson College.

The motivation for the investment in the arts by DYS came about because, as Peter Forbes, Department of Youth Services Commissioner, said, “Many of the youth are not happy to be with us (DYS), so we have to try to figure out what they’re interested in and use that interest as a hook for the change process. Many of the youth have unbelievable artistic talent, but they often don’t have exposure to the arts to see that, so this is something the agency put forward.”

The showcase kicked off with a youth art exhibition, with the proceeds going directly to the artists. Walking through the exhibit, excited chatter of the attendees could be heard as they eyed the pieces they were going to purchase. “They’re going fast,” said one onlooker. “I know they always do,” said another.

DYS Youth Showcase art exhibit

A self-portrait on display that had sold within 15 minutes of the exhibit opening was entitled “Purple Stands for Loyalty.” The artist, Kevin, wrote in his description, “I feel good that I did this self-portrait. Purple is my favorite color.”

Another artist wrote this about her painting “Look Closely”: “Pretty much everyone has a different perspective, a different eye. For this, trees make me feel calmed down, like I’m in a forest alone.”

Following the exhibit, performing artists hit the stage. The performances, while entertaining, also highlighted the realities of life. A youth named Xavier gave a powerful rendition of the “Hath not a Jew Eyes?” speech from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, a performance which had the audience in thunderous applause. A story by a youth named Dion described the struggle of reality vs. perception, and what he called the “Levels to this Frontin’” meaning what the world sees on the outside is not always what it is truly like on the inside. A group of girls – Jessica, Clarisine, Cheyenne, Zorelys, and Irianis – performed a stepping routine with rhythms that resonated throughout the theater.

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.

4 Mass Groups Named National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Finalists

 

Boston City Singers performing in North Cambridge

Four MCC-funded programs have been chosen among the 50 finalists for the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Congratulations to BalletRox, Boston City Singers, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, and The Theater Offensive, Inc. for achieving their Finalist Certificate of Excellence – a testament to the outstanding Creative Youth Development work happening in the Commonwealth, and testimony to all of those committed to working with youth to achieve social change through the arts, humanities, and sciences.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, given by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, is the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities. This award recognizes and supports excellence in programs that open new pathways to learning, self-discovery, and achievement. Each year, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards recognize 12 outstanding programs in the United States, from a wide range of urban and rural settings.

See the full release.

Introducing Creative Minds Out Loud, MCC’s New Podcast

Creative Minds Out Loud logoJoin us for informative and lively conversations with arts and cultural leaders through Creative Minds Out Loud. Our new podcast was created to give a glimpse into Massachusetts’ cultural capital; to inform, to inspire, and to share the stories of our sector. Listen and subscribe now.

Recent episodes feature Artists For Humanity‘s Susan Rodgerson and Boston Children’s Chorus‘ Dr. Anthony Trecek-King.

Apply Now for 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards LogoThe President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is accepting applications for the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.

The 12 award-winning programs this year will each receive $10,000 and an invitation to accept their award from the President’s Committee’s Honorary Chairman, First Lady Michelle Obama, at a ceremony at the White House.

After-school and out-of-school time arts and humanities programs are encouraged to apply. Access the online application.

Completed applications will only be accepted via the online process and are due by Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 5:00 PM PST.

Creative Youth Development

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