Celebrating Black History Month and Youth Art

Artists for Humanity celebrated Black History Month on Instagram by highlighting local legends: people they’ve mentored, been mentored by, or who have enriched the local community with their talent and energy. Here are a few of those featured paintings:

Painting by Erica Orsorio, youth artist with Artists for Humanity.
“This was my second painting at AFH. I tend to focus on realism and my ideas are based on things that I’ve faced. This painting represents the power of knowledge; how knowledge helps you expand out of your boundaries and grow as an individual,” Erica Orsorio, youth artist with Artists for Humanity.

 

Painting by Adriana Dalice, Artists for Humanity Alum.
“My art resembles and is influenced by the mental and physical restraint that people of color face in this world. I usually try to make connections to my life and my Haitian ancestors, as well as the struggles of people of the African diaspora all over the world. I encourage and embrace black power, it is evident in my pieces,” Adriana Dalice, Artists for Humanity Alum.

 

Painting by Janelin Pineyro, youth artist with Artists for Humanity.
Painting by Janelin Pineyro.

Follow Artists for Humanity on Instagram.

Gustavo Dudamel Lectures at Harvard University

In November, as part of a series of Lectures at Harvard University called “the Creative Class”, students from both the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, and the Longy Sistema Side-by-Side orchestra had the opportunity to work with the artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel.

In a sit-down conversation with LA Phil CEO Deborah Borda, Dudamel spoke at length of his experience as young Venezuelan musician in El Sistema (Venezuela’s Youth Orchestras and Choirs Program), and his commitment to support music education as an opportunity to develop creative potential, and develop the critical learning and life skills young people need to become active contributors to their communities.

To this end, besides his continued engagement with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Dudamel has championed the creation of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) with the LA Phil and its community partners to provide free instruments and intensive music training to students from underserved neighborhoods, empowering them to become vital citizens, leaders, and agents of change.

Dudamel pointed out the proliferation of Sistema inspired initiatives in the United States, specifically the high concentration of them in Massachusetts, where eighteen programs like these receive support from the MCC through its SerHacer grants.

In recognition of his artistic conscience and commitment as a music educator,  the young Venezuelan Maestro was awarded Harvard’s Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award at the end of the lecture.

Nano-Interview with Ashleigh Gordon of Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra

Ashleigh Gordon. Image by MBSchroederPhotography

Name: Ashleigh Gordon
Organization: BYSO Intensive Community Program
Title: Viola faculty
Music Genre: Classical
Years in the Field: 15

What do you do at Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Intensive Community Program?
I teach viola to beginner students, both privately and in groups, and even find myself teaching Kindergarteners violin as well.

Why do you do what you do?
My goals as an educator are to spark curiosity in the arts, foster necessary life skills through music, and serve as a mentor to each child. With each one of my students, I focus on establishing strong and healthy foundations while supporting them in their musical and life developments. Viewing education as an active process, I encourage all my students to learn how to be their own problem-solvers in and beyond the realm of music. I’m a firm believer in educating the entire person and view myself as a holistic mentor in my student’s growth as a musician and person.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
Being silly and being honest. Teaching allows me to tap into my inner child where I’m not afraid to embarrass myself to make a point, sing, dance, or even pretend to act to show a musical phrase, or think up silly analogies to make my students think and connect to the music they’re making.

What do you do in your free time?
In my “free” time I’m running a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black culture, history, and classical music. As Artistic/Executive Director and violist of Castle of our Skins, I’m either designing concert programs, writing grants, performing viola in an “edu-tainment” program or educational workshop, or doing any of the other myriad things involved with the leadership. I’m also an active freelance chamber music with a passion for contemporary music and play with my own string trio that specializes in new music (called Sound Energy) or other groups in town including BMOP, Callithumpian Consort, and ECCE Ensemble.

Seen any good movies lately?
I’m usually not a big movie goer but I’ve been floored on my most recent trips to see Moonlight, Fences, and I am Not Your Negro. Still itching to see Hidden Figures.

What are you currently reading?
The news. Lots of it.

Podcast: The Potency of Teaching Artistry

Eric BoothOn the Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud, we recently spoke with Eric Booth about the potency of teaching artistry.

Booth, one of the foremost experts in the world on teaching artists,  discusses the field and craft of teaching artistry. He says while teaching artists are recognized as learning catalysts – by the education, business, and healthcare sectors (to name a few) – there continue to be insufficient growth pathways to support the expertise that’s been developed by this global workforce.

Listen to the podcast.

Read the transcript.

Check out other episodes featuring Creative Youth Development leaders.

Sonido Musica Performance Honors MLK Day

Boy from Sonido Musica playing the drums This past Monday the MassMutual Center in Springfield resonated with music and dance to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In a ceremony framed by tremendous community participation, local and regional dignitaries, and the moving eloquence of Dr. King, 700 young artists took to the stage in a dazzling and colorful celebration.

Performers included members of the Sonido Musica School Partnership programs, which features students from 16 public schools in the city that which receive funding from MCC’s STARS Residencies. Sonido Musica is a program of Community Music School of Springfield, a nonprofit organization that unifies youth of different ages and backgrounds through performing arts education and is the recipient of MCC’s SerHacer funding.

“In light of the uncertainties around race relations and the polarization of various groups who feel marginalized, this celebration reminds us we have the opportunity to engage in simple acts – at school, at work, and in our families – that strengthen our community in the spirit of unity that defines the legacy of Dr. King,” said Ronn Johnson CEO of Martin Luther King, Jr Family Services. “We must all open our ears and open our hearts. When someone says something demeaning, we all have the opportunity to be change agents. The MLK Day Celebration inspires us to celebrate the resiliency of our community.”

Girl from Sonido Musica plays the violin

Images by Dave Roback.

Amplify Grants Awarded to 15 Youth-Led Community Projects

Youth leaders with Elevated Thought in Lawrence, MA

 

 

 

 

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.

FLOTUS Remarks on Creative Youth Development

First Lady Michelle Obama addresses guests on stage with youth from the Sphinx Organization, who performed at the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Awards ceremony in the East Room of the White House, in Washington DC, on 15 November 2016. Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto.Happy Birthday First Lady Michelle Obama!

ICYMI, here’s an excerpt from the First Lady’s remarks during the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards about creative youth development:

… Well, hello, everyone.  Welcome to the White House for the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program awards.  (Applause.)  Are you guys excited?  Let me start by thanking from the bottom of my heart, oh, gosh, so many people.  …

And to the entire President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities — this is my team.  These are my people here.  I was just talking to them earlier — I mean, we have done some amazing things together.  It’s been a tremendous ride.  And, oh, I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been to just do great things for kids all over this country.  And I couldn’t have done it without you.  Thank you, not just for the work that you’ve done on this event, but for everything that you’ve done for the past eight years.

From the day we started, all of us, we’ve made it a priority to open up this house to as many young people from as many backgrounds as possible, because we wanted them to understand that this is their house too.  (Applause.)  And that’s not always the case.  There are kids all over this country, all over the world who think that places like this are not for them.  So they’re intimidated by it, and it defines the limits of who they can be.

Well, we want to change that.  We’ve worked to change that.  We want them to know that they should always feel home within these walls and so many important institutions all over the world.  At the same time, we also wanted to bring exciting arts programming to students across the country, and to get more kids engaged in the arts at their schools and also in their communities.  …

And finally, I want to thank all of the teachers and administrators, all the volunteers who make these programs possible.  Some of you are here today with us in this room, and many of you are watching and cheering from back home.  And as someone who used to be an executive director of a nonprofit organization, I know that you all are the unsung heroes of these programs, doing the unrecognized and sometimes unpaid work of making these programs work — filling out countless forms, applying for funding, attending endless meetings, going over spreadsheets and budgets in the middle of the night.

This kind of work is hard.  Too often it’s thankless.  But you all do it because you see firsthand the transformative impact that the arts can have on our young people.  And we’re grateful to you all for doing this kind of work.

Through your programs, students have become poets and dancers. They’ve become filmmakers and photographers.  And more importantly, they become leaders in their schools and in their communities.  They’ve written scripts and short stories.  They’ve organized performances and exhibitions.  And together, they’ve learned the power of discipline, of hard work, right?  And teamwork, right?

These are the exact skills that are critical to success not just in the arts, but in everything — every academic subject that you are going to touch and in any career that you guys are going to pursue.  So you don’t know how much you’re getting, but we do because we’re old.  We know.  (Laughter.)  That’s why kids who have gotten involved in the arts have better grades.  They are more likely to graduate from high school.  They are more likely to then go on to college.

And to anyone who still somehow doubts the power of the arts to transform students’ lives, to anyone who still isn’t completely convinced, I just urge you to find one of these students and talk to them.  They’re here today, but they’re not just here, but they’re all over the country.  They’re in communities everywhere.

But we’ve got a couple.  We’ve got Noemi Negron, who is here.  As recently as this spring, Noemi was a promising young woman growing up in Boston who wanted to serve others but didn’t know where to start.  But then she got involved with the IBA Youth Development Program, and she helped make a video project about women’s rights.  And today, she is a passionate advocate for social justice in her community.  That’s where you can go with programs like these.

We have a young man, Rafael Bitanga, who is here all the way from Kodiak, Alaska.  How was that trip?  (Laughter.)  A few years ago, Rafael and his family came to the United States from the Philippines.  And like so many young people who’ve immigrated to this country, Rafael worked hard in school and quickly established himself as a leader and a role model.  And through the Baranov Museum and Film Intensive, he became both a filmmaker and a photographer, and he even started his own photography business to help support his family.

So Noemi and Rafael, and — I could you about every single student or young person who is here today, but those are some of the stories that you’ll hear from them.  And I want them all to know how proud I am of them.  I’m proud of you guys, always proud of you guys.  You make this job worth doing, just having the honor of getting to meet so many amazing young people.

These kids represent the very best of America, and they remind us all of who we really are.  (Applause.)  That’s for you.  You can’t even believe it, right?  (Laughter.)  It’s all for you.

But we’re a country that believes in our young people — all of them.  We believe that every single child has boundless promise, no matter who they are, where they come from, or how much money their parents have.  We’ve got to remember that.  We believe that each of these young people is a vital part of the great American story.  I can’t say that enough.  (Applause.)

And it is important to our continued greatness to see these kids as ours — not as “them,” not as “other,” but as ours.  Because we want them to know that if they’re willing to work for it — and so many are — that they can be anything they want.  That’s what this country is about.  And we can never forget that.  Anywhere in the country, these kids are ours.  And that’s really the power of programs like these.  That’s the message that they send to our young people every single day.

So I want to end by once again thanking all of you — all the adults here too — (laughter) — for making these programs possible.  And I want to thank all of the young people for working so hard.  And don’t ever lose hope.  Don’t ever feel fear.  You belong here, you got that?  (Applause.)  Those people are clapping for you.  So don’t forget that — for all of you.  Remember that.  Remember that part of this day.  And keep working hard, because it’s going to be so important now to be educated and focused.  Because no one can ever take your education from you.  You got that?  Spread the word, you got it?  I’m looking at all of you all.  (Laughter.)

Read the full remarks.

Nano-Interview with Rodrigo Guerrero of MCC

Rodrigo GuerreroName: Rodrigo Guerrero
Organization: Massachusetts Cultural Council
Title: Creative Youth Development Program Manager
Years in the Field: 17

What do you do at the Massachusetts Cultural Council?
I collaborate with my colleagues in the department in supervising the grant programs and providing applicants with technical assistance. Due to my background with El Sistema inspired initiatives around the world, I also manage the SerHacer Program which supports the growing number of intensive, ensemble-based music programs that use music as a vehicle for social change.

Why do you do what you do?
I had a very rocky schooling experience in my native Venezuela, typical education was not cutting it for me. Thanks to an attentive high school principal that helped me focus on the arts and humanities, I was able to find my way in life into a creative career. I want to make it easier on young people to find that principal, teacher, or mentor.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
There’s a lot of numbers attached to this work, attendance, retention, demographics, dosage, etc. Because I’m usually quite bad with numbers, I tend to look for what’s the story behind them and pull them together into a story that can be retold easily, so I guess translating data into compelling stories…

What challenges you in this work?
Preconceptions regarding artists, audiences, individual growth, and public benefit.  So much of our work balances on challenging these, so that more support is gathered and more communities are benefited. It’s always difficult to understand how different people or positions simply have a very different perspective on what they consider to be valuable, so one always needs to take a couple of steps back and try to realize where the other person or group comes from. This process can happen quickly, but sometimes requires considerable thought and conversation before reaching common ground, and typically time is working against everyone… Sometimes it’s exhausting, but it is always quite rewarding.

How do you blow off steam?
I’m an avid board and strategy gamer. I find games to be an excellent exercise in management and creativity within set boundaries. Winning or losing is not as relevant to me as the actual social experience.

What do you create in your free time?
I’m a very curious cook and foodie, so I’m always keen on creating and participating in exciting culinary experiences and experiments…I also paint miniatures and components for my gaming hobby.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
I had the privilege of working for many years with the founder of El Sistema, Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, and I find his work falls completely in line with the principles of Creative Youth Development.  Maestro Abreu’s dedication in creating a national network of music education caused dramatic change in the professional landscape in Venezuela, one where the arts and the artist are integral to the communities they exist in.

As much as I realize that this was possible in part to the very peculiar historical moment of El Sistema’s birth, I see much of Abreu’s drive, creativity, and passion in many CYD organizations in Massachusetts, which is why I took this job in the first place!

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
I’m an eclectic mess… my old iPod classic can go from Progressive Rock’s Yes and Rush to Tango all stars like Piazzola and Gardel, Dvorak’s American Quartet or Romero’s Venezuelan Onda Nueva, Tom Jobim’s Bossa with Elis Regina, or Argentinean Rock with Soda Stereo and Andres Calamaro, oh I love Regina Spektor. This is a  a complicated question…

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
“Taking joy in discreetly making things happen”

What’s next?
Learning to deal with four seasons instead of two, hitting the road to all corners of Massachusetts to meet and support amazing programs and young artists, but most of all to keep working to support and showcase the amazing field of practice that is Creative Youth Development, not only to our constituents and legislators, but to the world at large.

Nano-Interview with Jane Money of Boston City Singers

Jane MoneyName: Jane Money
Organization: Boston City Singers
Title: Founding Artistic Director
Years in the Field: 30

What do you do at Boston City Singers?
I do pretty much everything! I conduct several of our choirs, including the most advanced, Tour Choir. I enjoy meeting with our donors, creating new arrangements of music with our outstanding staff (often based on folk songs or spirituals). I work on our grantwriting team, and conduct 5 of our 15 programs. And recommendations! Last year I wrote over 100 for our graduating seniors. We were delighted that they earned over $300,000 in scholarships.

Why do you do what you do?
At Boston City Singers we believe in supporting the upward trajectory of each of our singers.  There is nothing more rewarding than supporting the growth of a young person all the way through to college and beyond.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
I am passionate about excellent repertoire which speaks to the diversity of our singers and audiences.

What challenges you in this work?
As our work has continued to grow, we have been challenged to find rehearsal and performance space that is both safe and accessible in the communities we serve.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
We have always been based in Dorchester, MA. In our earliest years, potential partners, funders, and Board members would be turned off by that. Few would visit, and it was not always easy to be taken seriously. More than once we heard “You are from Dorchester? You can’t be any good…” Over time,  Dorchester has changed and continues to evolve into something far more positive. We like to think that we have been a part of that process.

How do you blow off steam?
Once a year, I go back home to New Zealand for a couple of weeks, where I walk the length of one local beach each day and cook for my brother and his family.

What do you create in your free time?
I am an avid knitter, home cook, and co-restorer of our Victorian home.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
We have had a long relationship with the Corrymeela Centre in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. We led a choir project in Ireland in 2005 aimed at bringing children from both sides of the border together in song. One of the highlights was a residency at the Centre where I experienced first hand the power of creative youth development. We have worked closely with one of their volunteers ever since crafting leadership and youth development  programs across the organization.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
The Brazilian singers Marisa Monte, anything Ella Fitzgerald and the Canadian choir Elektra.

Do you live with any animals?
I am a foster parent for New England Brittany Rescue. We adopted our first dog, Brady, three years ago. He is 12 now, but very active and an awesome host dog to our fosters.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
Let’s find a way to make this happen!

What’s next?
My husband and I are visiting Cuba in February, meeting with local choirs, musicians and teachers, then off to South Africa with 40 members of the Tour Choir in the summer.

2 Mass CYD Programs Receive 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Award

Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción's (IBA) CEO Vanessa Calderón-Rosado receiving the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Award from First Lady Michelle Obama alongside Noemí Negron.For the last eight years, the President Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) led by First Lady Michelle Obama have showcased and invested in the talents of young people through the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards (NAHYP).

NAHYP recognizes 10-12 outstanding creative youth development (CYD) programs from across the country. It is the nation’s highest honor “for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people.”

This year, two programs from Massachusetts were recipients of the award:

  • The Theater Offensive’s True Colors: Out Youth Theater, the longest-running LGBTQ youth theater program in the country, which provides intensive training, artistic and professional skill building, and leadership development to youth from underserved areas
  • Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) Youth Development Program, a humanities program that prepares youth ages 13-19 for college through rigorous workshops centered on culture, social justice, and civic engagement.

“We believe that every single child has boundless promise, no matter who they are, where they come from, or how much money their parents have. And it is important to our continued greatness to see these kids as ours – not as ‘them,’ not as ‘other’, but as ours. And that’s really the power of programs like these. That’s the message that they send to our young people every single day,” said First Lady Michelle Obama during the emotionally charged NAHYP ceremony in Washington DC this week.

The NAHYP winners were chosen from 50 finalists from all around the country. Amongst the finalists were two additional Massachusetts organizations – Boston City Singers and BalletRox! – demonstrating just how much exemplary work in the field of CYD is happening within the Commonwealth.

The MCC is proud to support all four of these organizations. We salute them in this tremendous achievement.

Creative Youth Development

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