Dawry Ruiz is a 17-year-old artist from East Boston and alum of Zumix. In his presentation at TEDxYouth@BeaconStreet, he reminds us how development and placemaking patterns for the “Creative Class” continue to scour communities of their history, social patterns, and identity.
On the Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud, we spoke with Eileen McCaffery, Executive Director of Community Music School of Springfield, and Julie Jaron, Director of Visual and Performing Arts for the Springfield Public Schools, to discuss their work over five years on the Sonido Musica program, a partnership that aims to reduce Springfield’s high school drop-out rate through student engagement, leadership, and performance opportunities. What started with three public schools and 60 students has grown to 18 schools and nearly 1,000 student musicians! Now nearby Holyoke wants to replicate this model. Their goal was not to have the Community Music School replace music education in the public schools, but rather to help principals and administrators see the power of the arts working every day in their school.
High school apprentices at the New Bedford Whaling Museum created an exhibition focusing on New Bedford’s first black photographer, James E. Reed.
Reed, a prominent African-American photographer born and raised in the New Bedford area, captured the city’s landscape and influential citizens over the course of his 34-year photography career.
Studying the history of New Bedford and photography as well as the business of the discipline, apprentices gained insight into Reed’s aesthetic and artistic style.
New Bedford Superior Courthouse: Past and Present (recreated by Joshua).
Reed’s Grace Episcopal Church and Destiny’s modern day recreation.
They explored the history of New Bedford through the eyes of the photographer, gaining inspiration for their project; honoring Reed’s legacy by recreating his work with modern-day influential community members (selected by the group) and local landmarks depicted in his pieces. Through this project, youth also showcased the shift in photography over the years.
Recipients of Mass Cultural Council’s 2018 Amplify grant, Reed’s Modern Studio exhibition was on display in the museum’s San Francisco room in the Summer of 2018.
Last week, the Clare Rose Foundation in partnership with the Creative Youth Development National Partnership, co-hosted the first BOOST creative youth development workshop strand at the BOOST Conference in Palm Springs, CA. Pursuing the goal of bringing the impact of CYD work to a broader national audience, the BOOST Conference was an opportunity to engage with over 2,500 out-of-school time providers, administrators, and professionals.
While we couldn’t be there in person to present, we shared the following video with BOOST attendees. Watch Mass Cultural Council’s Executive Director Anita Walker and Program Manager Erik Holmgren discuss our work to support the field of Creative Youth Development in Massachusetts:
Adobe has some open opportunities available for Creative Youth Development organizations, including:
- Grants to support Projects & Collaborations (up to $7k)
- Hardware grants (up to $5k)
- Free access to Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Premiere, Lightroom, In Design, etc.)
- Webinars to support learning across CYD organizations
There are currently about 50 organizations around the world that are engaged in the network through one or more of the above opportunities.
Last fall at the National Guild for Community Arts Education Annual Conference in Baltimore, MD, Mass Cultural Council and Health Resources in Action presented to a large gathering of teaching artists, educators, and program leadership on the topic of Creative Youth Development and Music Engagement.
This was the start of a full-day workshop and site visits that provided attendees with ways to reinforce the natural alignment between youth development principles and strong music engagement experiences. The speaking alternated with performances from Baltimore’s emblematic OrchKids Program, and the participation of its charismatic and passionate founder Dan Trahey.
The day provided a variety of context for the exploration and execution of Creative Youth Development programming amongst practitioners from across the country, as well as an opportunity to visit and interact with work on the ground at Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School, where youth from OrchKids and Believe in Music gave examples of the roles arts and culture play in their lives, and how it allows them to present themselves as leaders and artists to their communities. Through exercises of collective composition and performance, as well as beatmaking and songwriting, participants engaged with these young leaders.
At Mass Cultural Council, we believe that a consistent, strategic youth development approach can help organizations and teaching artists create a bridge between the hope that music engagement will make transformational change in young people’s lives and the intentional youth development practices for how to do it.
The following are some resources from the day, provided by Health Resources in Action:
by Gustavo Dudamel and Anita Walker
Look and listen closely to the student ensemble from Boston String Academy and you experience something profound. You hear music, of course: works from the classical repertoire played at extraordinarily high levels. You see learning too—rapt attention, mathematical precision, deft coordination. Peer more deeply and there’s still more: creativity, connection, community.
This is the power of the ensemble under the El-Sistema-inspired model of music education. Led by highly trained, caring teachers, a rich curriculum, and challenging opportunities for public performance, Boston String Academy students and thousands like them across Massachusetts are redefining what art means to young people, particularly those struggling against poverty and other socioeconomic barriers. They come to understand themselves not only as musicians and performers, but as citizens who matter and can make a difference in their community. This model of learning transcends music and is being adopted in the visual arts, theater, history, and science. It’s called creative youth development and it is drawing attention from educators and policymakers across the nation.
We have come to be champions for creative youth development from very different places: One of us was steeped in El-Sistema from childhood, under its founder and his mentor, Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, who later initiated a ground-breaking cooperation between El Sistema in Venezuela and the New England Conservatory. The other saw El Sistema’s power on visits to South America and other US cities with NEC, then undertook to plant its seeds more deeply and broadly here in Massachusetts.
Those seeds continue to blossom. Mass Cultural Council now supports more than 22 El-Sistema inspired music programs across the Commonwealth through its SerHacer Initiative—from Lawrence Public Schools’ first-even string orchestra, to Kids 4 Harmony, grounded in a social service agency called Berkshire Children and Families that serves some of that region’s most vulnerable youth. At the same time the Council continues a decades-long investment in dozens of creative youth development initiatives that reach youth through other disciplines—from The Care Center in Holyoke, where history and literature open teen mothers to new ideas and new life possibilities, to Provincetown Art Association and Museum’s ArtReach, where teens learn about themselves and the world around them through drawing, painting, and digital artmaking.
On April 8, we joined state legislators, philanthropic and civic organizations, and cultural leaders at WBUR’s new CitySpace to honor these efforts and others with the 2019 Commonwealth Awards, Massachusetts’ highest honors in the arts and culture. These Awards remind us that even amidst our highly politicized and polarized world, art and music unite us. Leonard Bernstein, our great native son whose centennial we just celebrated, put it this way: “It is the artists of the world, the feelers and the thinkers who will ultimately save us; who can articulate, educate, defy, insist, sing and shout the big dreams.” It is true: everyone who contributes to the creation of beauty in this world helps carve out the vital time and space for people of all walks of life, all cultures and diverse political views to dream together. That is the power of music. And we need music today more than ever.”
Massachusetts was not just the birthplace of the American Revolution, it is also at the heart of this nation’s cultural revolution. This state is renowned for creating and fostering some of the most esteemed institutions – both large and small – in the arts and education. And from such institutions come ideas and creative experiences that make people talk, think, and feel. The people and organizations of Massachusetts have brought joy and passion to millions of people, and helped fundamentally shift the paradigms of our social, intellectual and artistic understanding.
Let’s make sure we continue listening to each other and working together to foster a world that cultivates, embraces and empowers the arts. A world without them is unacceptable – and unimaginable.
Gustavo Dudamel is Music Director of Venezuela’s Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra & Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Anita Walker is Executive Director of the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency supporting the arts, humanities, and sciences.
Mass Cultural Council’s SerHacer program is supported by the Dudamel Foundation.
Youth voice is essential to creative youth development. We’re asking youth leaders to speak to the power of culture as active agents in their own growth:
In a true show of collaboration and cross pollination, Groundwork Lawrence and the Mayor of Lawrence’ Health Task Force (MHTF) have produced Healthy on the Block/Bodegas Saludables. This healthy corner store initiative tackles the high levels of obesity and chronic diseases among city residents, assisting corner store owners in Lawrence in offering healthier options, including higher quality fruits and vegetables, at a reasonable price to their customers.
The initiative, funded by Lawrence General Hospital, has received positive response locally, and was joined by yet another creative youth development organization, Elevated Thought, to produce this short documentary.
Projects like this are a terrific example of the role youth voice and agency can play in the community, utilizing arts, sciences, and humanities to address issues in innovative ways.
She discusses their youth program – a national model for creative youth development – where young people not only create original work and share it back to the community, but are true partners in developing a range of expanded opportunities within the program.