Culture Chats with CYD Leaders

Culture Chat graphicThis Spring we hosted a series of “Culture Chats,” to highlight the power of culture through resilience, adaptation, agility, and innovation.

These conversations offered a break from the gloom of the Coronavirus, a little bit of sunshine to remind us that the arts and culture are alive and well, if not necessarily in the theaters and venues where we’re used to finding them.

Watch our conversations with these Creative Youth Development leaders:

Youth Employment in the Creative Economy

with Marquis Victor, Founding Executive Director of Elevated Thought

Essential Work & Workers

with Harold Steward, Producing Co-Executive Director of The Theater Offensive

A Family Affair

with Gretchen Nielsen, Executive Director of From the Top

The Show Must Go On(line)

with Jane O’Leary, Director of Education, and Allison Lerman-Gluck, Education Coordinator, of Barrington Stage Company

Adapting Programs & Engaging Youth

with Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, CEO of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA)

Building Resilience the Shakespearean Way

with Tina Packer, Founding Artistic Director, and Allyn Burrows, Artistic Director, of Shakespeare & Company

Crisis as Opportunity

with Eric Booth, teaching artist expert

Embracing Distance Learning for Young Musicians

with Christopher Schroeder, Executive Director of the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program

Mass Groups Receive Lewis Prize for Music Awards

Congratulations to ZUMIX, Hyde Square Task Force, and Cambridge Community Center – three of 32 Creative Youth Development organizations in the US awarded by The Lewis Prize COVID-19 Community Response Fund for adapting and responding to the pressing needs of the young people they serve.

The Lewis Prize for Music invests in youth music organizations and their leaders to facilitate positive change through access to music education. Each of the COVID-19 Community Response Fund recipients embody this goal; they do extraordinary work providing young people with opportunities to learn, perform and create music while also serving their immediate and unique needs around food, transportation, mental health, and academics.

A total of $1.25 million was awarded nationwide, with grants ranging from $25,000 to $50,000.

“Access to music enriches the social fabric of our lives,” said Daniel Lewis, Founder and Chairman of the Lewis Prize for Music. “The organizations and leaders we have chosen to support in these times play a critical role in the lives and communities of the young people they support. In the face of unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 and racial injustice across the country, Creative Youth Development organizations are devoting all of their resources to uplift both the creative and material well-being of young people and their families. We are thrilled to support these organizations and be an advocate for the entire Creative Youth Development field.”

Podcast: Youth Workforce Development in Creative Industries

On the Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud, we spoke with Kim Dawson, Director of Advancement at ZUMIX. A venerable creative youth development organization in East Boston, ZUMIX works with a largely immigrant community to better equip its youth to be able to navigate the world once they have graduated out of their programs and high school. Dawson shares how they are expanding their opportunities for workforce development to help youth gain the skills they need to be paid well to do something they really love.

Listen to the episode

Read the transcript

Check out other episodes featuring Creative Youth Development leaders.

Opportunities & Resources – June 22

Untitled piece by Joalis Ayala, Performance Project First Gen member.

Reopening Resources


CYD Toolkit Series: Program Evaluation – June 23, 1-2pm
In this 7th webinar in the CYD Toolkit Series, Justin Jalea discusses trends and recommendations from his landscape paper on Program Evaluation, (an Americans for the Arts and the CYD National Partnership). He will be joined by practitioners that are integrating youth participation in program evaluation and using data to boldly and creatively demonstrate impact.

Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of Our Schools June 23, 5-6:30pm
A conversation with Bettina Love, Gholdy Muhammad, Dena Simmons and Brian Jones about abolitionist teaching and antiracist education.

Community Initiative Team Check-In on Public ArtJune 24, 3-4pm
Join Mass Cultural Council’s Community Initiative Team for a conversation on public art-and policy-making across the Commonwealth.

Mass Festivals: To Go Virtual or Not?June 25, 2-3:30pm
Join Mass Cultural Council’s Community Team for a virtual panel discussion on the decision-making process for doing online or virtual events.

American Policing and Protest: Abolition and Ethics from Slavery to Current Times – June 29, 1-2pm
The Radcliffe Institute will bring together experts to examine the historical roots of policing and responses to state violence.

Teens and CYD Alums

The Virtual National Youth Summit on Education, Justice, and Leadership – June 24, 1-1:30pm
A virtual opportunity to engage twice weekly with leading experts on education, justice, entrepreneurship, engineering, and more. Sessions begin each Wednesday at 1pm and 5pm.

Pandemic and Protests: An Online Town Hall for Black Teens  – June 26, 3-4pm
Processing the effects of systematic racism and the isolation of a pandemic at the same time is a lot, especially for teens separated from usual support systems like school and sports. This town hall connects Black teens and professionals to shed light on healing and activism.

BASQUAIT!Writing the Future Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation and learn more about Basquiat, his peers, and New York’s post-graffiti era. DIVE INTO “WRITING THE FUTURE”

Opportunities & Resources – June 15

Artwork by Kathe Swaback
Artwork by Käthe Swaback.

Call to Action: Recently submitted bill H.4755 will set aside and distribute funds to support non-profit arts & cultural organizations in the wake of COVID-19. We encourage organizations and individuals to submit testimony in support of this bill by June 16, 2020 at 5pm. Learn more.

Harvard/Radcliffe webinar on Music in the Moment on June 18 at 4-5pm. (Excellent past webinars, like Naming Racism, are also available online for free.)

In a 17 minute film, Segregated by Design examines the forgotten history of how our federal, state and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in America through law and policy.

ArtsBoston offers 10 Podcasts to Make Your Commitment to Anti-Racism a Long Term One.

Artist Opportunities are posted every Tuesday on Mass Cultural Council’s ArtSake blog.

NPR aired a segment on encouraging white people to reflect on how race has shaped their lives: There Is No Neutral

Community Conversations

Boston Relief Artist Fund and Resources group meeting with Office of Arts and Culture, Artist Resource Manager Julia Ryan. June 16 4-5pm. Register now.

National Guild for Community Arts Education hosts:

Social Justice Resources

cover art for "No Going Back: A COVID-19 Cultural Strategy Activation Guide"

The core values of Creative Youth Development – racial equity and social justice, youth voice, and collective action – must be centered now more than ever.

Resources for Talking about Race

Resources for Talking with Young People

Resources for White Allies

Opportunities & Resources – June 5

New Narratives: Reclaiming Asian Identity Through Story
Call for Artists: Unbound Visual Arts invites Boston-area Asian and Asian American creatives to submit work that explores notions of Asian identity within the U.S. Deadline: June 22, 2020.

Teaching for Equity and Justice: An Online Equity Summit
Facing History and Ourselves hosts the online seminar from July 20-23, 2020. Learn more.

Advocate for Arts Education during COVID-19
MassCreative offers some actions you can take.

NAAC Boston Virtual Socials
The Network for Arts Administrators of Color (NAAC) Boston hosts virtual socials every Tuesday from 5-7pm on Zoom. Learn more.

PBS to Address Race and Racism in America through Broadcast and Streaming Content

  • June 5 at 9pm – Race Matters: America in Crisis: A PBS Newshour Special
  • June 15 at 9pm –  American in Black and Blue 2020

Learn More.

Weekly Call with the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture
Each Friday from 3-4pm, the Mayor’s Office connects weekly (via video conference call) with local arts organizations to share a briefing on the coronavirus from the City, what resources are available to you, followed by time for you to voice your questions, concerns, and suggestions. Learn more.

Opportunities & Resources – May 27

Woman making a 2D art work at the Care Center in Holyoke. Photo: Käthe Swaback.Artists 14+

Radical Imagination for Racial Justice
MassArt and the City of Boston announced a $1.2 million award from the Surdna Foundation to support artists of color who live or work in Boston (artists of all ages 14+) who are excited to bring to life their visions of a racially just society. This three-year regranting program titled Radical Imagination for Racial Justice (RIRJ) is in partnership with MassArt and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, who will distribute funds to artists seeking to advance racial justice through 260 collaborative projects in their communities.  Application deadline extended to July 8, 2020.

Teaching Artists

Nominations Open for 2020 ATA Awards
The Association of Teaching Artists Awards aim to increase the visibility of teaching artists working within the arts in education and community arts fields, and celebrate the organizations and institutions where they work as well as honor innovation in teaching artistry.  Nominations will be accepted for: Innovation in Teaching Artistry Award, Teaching Artist Ally Award, Distinguished Service to the Field Award. Teaching artists of any artistic discipline are eligible for consideration. Nominations will be accepted until June 5, 2020.  Submit a nomination.

Survey for Creative Workers + Artists
The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston and MassCreative are gathering information about creative workers and artists in Massachusetts to help advocate for freelancers, gig workers, and the self-employed in our cultural communities to get the support they need. Complete the survey.

Teens and CYD Alums

Books of Hope
Young people ages 13-19 are encouraged to submit to the Massachusetts Youth Writers Anthology 2020. This will be a published collection of poems and other pieces of writing from young people. Submission deadline: May 30.

826 Boston
The 826 Boston Youth Literary Advisory Board is now accepting poems, narratives, essays, and original artwork about self-identity to be featured in a professionally bound book. Students who are residents of Boston in grades 7-12 are welcome to submit their writing or artwork. Submission deadline: June 7 by midnight. Submit your work.

CYD National Youth Network Meeting
Every Friday from 7-8:30pm (ET) the National Youth Network offers a space for and by young artists ages 13-24 from all across the United States, to check in with each other, and to share challenges and opportunities to thrive together. Meetings explore different ways to combine art forms and artistically express, share, and create. Register to join.

CYD Programs

Adapting Culminating Events for Right Now in Creative Youth Development
Respond to this short survey to share your strategies, ideas, and challenges. CultureThrive and The Clare Rose Foundation will share the creative ways that young people and the programs they are part of are being nimble. Everyone who responds to the survey will receive the survey findings.

US/UK Longitudinal Study
The University of Florida and University College London invites participation in a study on enforced social isolation and mental health – the psychosocial effects of quarantine during COVID-19.

Image: Woman making a 2D art work at the Care Center in Holyoke. Photo: Käthe Swaback.

Teacher Voice during COVID-19

Corey DePina, Musician and Youth Development and Performance Manager at Zumix, talks with a youth musician.
Corey DePina, musician and Youth Development and Performance Manager at Zumix, talks with a youth musician.

An amazing thing happened in March of 2020 – with no preparation, no warning, and no training, teachers around the world had to pivot toward creating learning experiences with empty classrooms and studios. There was no policy. Guidelines were late in coming. But the change happened. Teachers at the Community Music Center of Boston moved most of their lessons online, teachers at the Community Music School of Springfield began making YouTube videos of lessons for students to access asynchronously, and education staff at Barrington Stage Company facilitated four hours of youth-developed theater on Zoom.

Other teachers recognized that their role might be different as youth were inside of homes that may have contributed to trauma in their lives. So they started connecting with young people as exactly that – young people. To ask how someone is, rather than ask them to create art or music, was needed and teachers were quick to recognize this. From simple questions to directing youth to food shelters, teachers were – and continue to be – that essential connection between cultural organization and youth.

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists we have seen cultural organizations go to great lengths to retain their teachers for many reasons. Chief among them is the fact that these people cannot be replaced. There is a significant and systemic gap between higher education and the realities of community-based work, particularly in creative youth development. There are great musicians, artists, and poets in the world but few have experience and a deep understanding of youth development. There are tremendously talented youth workers in the world, but few have the skills to create high-quality cultural experiences.

As we emerge from the current environment and reconstruct our communities and institutions, it is essential that we include and value the voices of these educators. They are the people who connect institutions to communities and to people. They are finding ways to sustain programs, young people, and themselves during the pandemic. They are the people at institutions everywhere who have a unique experience of this work at a community level. Historically, these are the people who are cut first and the people who are not always represented at decision-making levels of organizations. They are the keepers of institutional knowledge. Their voice in planning, sustaining, and leading organizations out of this crisis is imperative. Just as we found ourselves in a reality we could never have expected just two months ago, as we collectively rebuild, educators should find themselves at tables they never expected as key voices for connectivity and change.

Creative Youth Development