$100,000 NEA Grant Supports Continued Advancement of CYD

National Endowment for the Arts logoThe National Guild for Community Arts Education, on behalf of a coalition of national partners – including Mass Cultural Council, has been awarded an NEA Collective Impact grant for $100,000. The grant will support the implementation of the National Blueprint for Creative Youth Development (CYD) through cross-sector working groups, communications, and professional development. The funds are part of the NEA’s second round of funding in FY 2017, which will award 1,195 grants totaling $82.06 million to support organizations in all 50 states and five U.S. jurisdictions.

The Blueprint, to be released in December 2017, is a living document that will map out opportunities for cross-sector advancement of CYD and prioritize actionable strategies for policy, partnership, and practice to collectively serve the needs of young people. Strategies include adopting effective business models; developing revenue sources; documenting and communicating the benefit of CYD programs for youth; using shared terminology, data, and assessment tools; and connecting programs with in-school arts education and non-arts community development initiatives.

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Creative Youth Development Showcase July 24

La Lenngua de Poder youth showcase at IBA in Boston in 2014.Next week, Edvestors and the Mass Cultural Council are partnering to showcase the creative contributions young people make to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Join us on Monday, July 24, 2017 from 6-8:30pm in the lobby of 10 St. James Ave., Boston.

The showcase will celebrate the Massachusetts creative youth development community and  welcome the Creative Youth Development National Partnership as they hold their national stakeholder meeting in Boston.

Youth programs scheduled to present:

  • Angkor Dance Troupe
  • Berklee College of Music
  • Huntington Theatre Company 2017 August Wilson Monologue Competition, Boston winner Laury Teneus
  • Hyde Square Task Force
  • Institute of Contemporary Arts
  • OrigiNation
  • Theater Offensive – True Colors: Out Youth Theater

RSVP to attend this free event.

Podcast: Why is a Social Service Agency Running a Classical Music Program?

Carolyn Mower BurnsOn the Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud, we spoke with Carolyn Mower Burns, President and CEO of Berkshire Children & Families (BCF).

Berkshire Children & Families is a social service agency serving Western Massachusetts that believes that partnering with families is the best way to promote healthy, happy children to make strong families and better communities.  Burns shared how through Kids 4 Harmony, an intensive classical music program for social change, BCF uses musical excellence as a vehicle for developing whole children and whole families.

Listen to the episode.

Read the transcript.

Check out other episodes featuring Creative Youth Development leaders.

A YOUTH DEDICATION

Marquis Victor, President of Elevated Thought, is a passionate and eloquent advocate for the arts and their central place in our collective struggle for social justice. He shared this poem with youth and their legislators at a recent State House ceremony celebrating the Mass Cultural Council’s Amplify Program, which invests directly in the creative work of young people across the Commonwealth.

A YOUTH DEDICATION

Kings and Queens
Abbreviated sentences
nestled in poetic prose
Rose from obscurity
to fight for your city
The beauty that is shared
can be compared to an opening exhibit
paintings depicting heaven
Holy Gates pushed open
emanating a light
that seeps through celestial boundaries
This light pours from your eyes
like sunlight spilled from a glass
This light is hope
The light of a subversive sequester
cradling progress
until it’s ready to bound forth full speed
tearing through oppression
like tanks carrying culture revitalization
like jets dropping missiles
upon barricades masquerading as a free nation

Kings and Queens

So true
Questioning the questioner
Questioning the system structure
till you puncture a hole
in the bloated belly of the beast
the gold hordes stuffed inside
will hit the streets and countryside
Mama y papa struggle less and less
because your hearts, minds, souls
will conquer the mountain flatten it out
maybe a metaphor
for the redistribution of wealth

Kings and Queens

You make wooden gods crack when you speak
The true God speaks through you
as you gather the voices of the people
The people who are you
You are they
All you needed was to see the way or maybe
just a faint street sign in the distance

Kings and Queens

You are change
You’ve exchanged futility
for brushes that color utopia
That heal the cracks in buildings
That remove that 15 year old girl
from a crack building
That spray paint over vandalism
with the power of Frost and Emerson
if they were imbued with brown hues
Poems of deep introspection
Words of a Revolution
like 24 cities cupped in twelve pairs of hands
Imagination paired
with Young Lord passion
with Black Panther passion
like knowledge was a canvas
and you power washed it in daydreams

Kings and Queens
Through words
Through images
Through truth
please continue to sing the song of Freedom

– Marquis Victor / Elevated Thought

Express Yourself Youth Have SOUL

Express Yourself SOUL 2017 Showcase. Photo is the property of Express Yourself. Image by Mike Dean Photography.Year round, Express Yourself introduces and immerses young people into the world of music, dance, theater, and visual art with transformative results. Through artistic expression, youth move from a place of isolation to one of belonging and learn to use a variety of creative means to express themselves in positive and healthy ways. In the process, young people discover and develop inner strengths and gain a greater sense of connection with others. All of this work culminates in the annual Express Yourself showcase presented in collaboration with the Department of Mental Health.

At this year’s 23rd annual showcase, over 200 young people performed at Boston’s Boch Center – Wang Theater.  They entertained an enthusiastic audience sporting festive glow stick necklaces and bracelets. Celebrating this year’s “SOUL” theme, the program featured set pieces designed by youth as well as a medley of singing, drumming, and dance performances.

The showcase also featured guest performances by Afro-Brazilian percussionist Marcus Santos, Cammie Griffin and John Angeles of “STOMP”, funk soul, reggae singer Toussaint Liberator, Boston Children’s Chorus, Joyspring Community Chorus (directed by Jonathan Singleton) and West African Master Drummer Joh Camara.

Hyde Square Task Force Youth Writes Musical for Boston’s Latin Quarter

A young woman and young man sing and hold hands facing one another outside on a sunny day. Image by Mark Saperstein.

Couple is singing and holding hands to the left of the frame, while a crowd of mostly standing onlookers watches their performance on the right side of the frame. Image by Jessica Guzman.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.

Young man singing in Hyde Square Task Force's El Barrio! musical. Photo by Jessica Guzman.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.

See more photos from El Barrio: Boston’s Latin Quarter Musical.

Nano-Interview with Marquis Victor of Elevated Thought

Marquis Victor of Elevated ThoughtName: Marquis Victor
Organization: Elevated Thought
Title: President / Executive Director
Artistic Genres: Film, Poetry
Years in the Field: 7.5

What do you do at Elevated Thought?
I lead Elevated Thought’s vision, objectives, goals, and mission and facilitate many of our programs and workshops. Additionally, I’ve developed various art and social justice based curricula including our youth empowerment programs Creative. Community. Change. (C3) and Wall Speak.

Why do you do what you do?
Every year that passes affirms my passion for and desire to see art infused, social action education introduced in the city of Lawrence and cities like it. Studying the history of colonization, slavery, and immigration, I know generations upon generations of the poor and marginalized have suffered from a lack of education and opportunities to expand their creativity and imagination. This passion has given me the confidence to do my small part in providing tangible hope within the current educational climate and within the communities we serve.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
Waking up everyday and never questioning what I do and its purpose.

What challenges you in this work?
For many high school youth who have never been asked to embrace and utilize their imagination, the process of creative discovery can be novel and, at times, utterly confounding. The majority of them have been creatively stunted in their schools and environment. Disillusioned by content that is far removed from their reality, their personal meaning is often defined largely by despair, escapism, self-aggrandizement, or base means of survival that develop in poverty-stricken areas. Opportunities afforded for the select few further marginalize the majority and deepen the dehumanization process. The dehumanization process begins early on and, for many of the youth we serve, takes place when their creative interests and imagination is demeaned and begins to deteriorate. Breaking down the barriers to creativity and reemphasizing their standing as creatively capable beings can be a long and arduous process.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
We believe, as do other organizations and individuals spearheading this recent insurgency of arts in the city of Lawrence, creativity and imagination are keys to progress and empowering the individual and larger community.

How do you blow off steam?
Basketball, watching films with my wife, reveling in family and fellowships.

What do you create in your free time?
Poetry, experimental films, and ways to make my 7-month-old laugh.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
My mentor and good friend Dr. Lou Bernieri, Director of Andover Bread Loaf (ABL). ABL uses literacy to enable participants to release the power of their voice and their capacity for school and civic leadership. Elevated Thought has been greatly influenced by ABL, now working in Lawrence for almost 30 years.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
Movie soundtracks, chillwave, ambient, and synth beats.

What are you currently reading?
The Magic of JuJu by Kalamu ya Salaam.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
Inside the Outside of Self

More Elevated Thought:
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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.

4 Mass Programs Named Finalists for 2017 NAHYP Awards

Young people work on a photo shoot for Shakespeare Inside and Out, a program of Actors' Shakespeare Project, Somerville, MA.The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and its cultural partners – the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services – are proud to recognize 50 outstanding programs in the field of Creative Youth Development across the country for their work in providing excellent arts and humanities learning opportunities to young people. From big cities to small towns, the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Finalists reflect the diversity of disciplines and settings of these exceptional creative youth development programs that are taking place from coast to coast.

Congratulations to the Massachusetts programs named as finalists for 2017:

Codman Academy Summer Shakespeare Institute
Huntington Theatre Company, Inc., Boston

New Bedford Whaling Museum High School Apprenticeship Program
Old Dartmouth Historical Society, New Bedford

RAISE (Responding to Art Involves Self Expression)
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown

Shakespeare Inside and Out
Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Somerville

Creative Youth Development

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