Mass Cultural Council recently released a spending plan for the new fiscal year that will invest more than $1.6 million in creative youth development, increasing investments in national model programs, providing grants for youth-led projects, and expanding support for teaching artists.
This year we are funding 74 programs through YouthReach and SerHacer; and will continue to support Amplify, a groundbreaking program that provides grants to young people for youth-led projects throughout the Commonwealth; the META Fellowship; and the Johnson String Project, which is dedicated to ensuring that all students in El Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts have access to high quality string instruments.
We will also be launching a new Teaching Artist Pilot Program, based on an internationally recognized professional development model created here in Massachusetts.
Creative youth development unleashes the potential of young people as creators, leaders, and architects of a better world. Creative youth development programs empower youth to explore their identities in a safe place, find their voice, and map their future.
Together our support of young people, teaching artists, and organizations empowers new voices to be heard in the cultural and civic conversations of the Commonwealth.
“When we support creative youth development, we are supporting the generation who will shape our world,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director.
What does this support look like? Here are just a couple of examples:
We are please to announce that Käthe Swaback has joined Mass Cultural Council as a Creative Youth Development Program Officer. Käthe comes to us after more than 20 years as the Program Director of the nationally-recognized CYD organization, Raw Art Works. Her work at Mass Cultural Council will be focused on a new initiative connecting the arts and health, in addition to supporting the Creative Youth Development portfolio.
Last week, Mary Anne Carter, Acting Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, visited the Boch Center’s City Spotlights Teen Leadership Program, which empowers young people to become leaders in their schools, homes and communities using their creative voice. The program provides leadership training and employment opportunities and represents excellence in Creative Youth Development programming. As part of a full day in Massachusetts, Chairman Carter spoke with teens in the program about their creative experiences and the role the arts are playing in their development as artists and leaders in Boston.
From September 2016 to August 2018, The Mass Cultural Council (MCC) and The Klarman Family Foundation (KFF) piloted a two-year program focused on music educators and teaching artists from across Massachusetts. Both funders are committed to supporting music programs that provide low-income youth with access to high-quality sequential music training. The majority of Fellows worked at organizations funded by MCC and/or KFF. The goal of the META Fellowship Pilot Program was to strengthen the youth music training pathway by:
Enhancing the practice of music educators/teaching artists and their impact on youth, and
Developing stronger connections between music educators/teaching artists and greater awareness of the resources available to benefit the youth they serve
Core components of the META Fellowship Pilot Program included:
Four learning sessions per year for entire cohort of Fellows
Two site visits by Fellows to the programs of other Fellows
Professional/Artistic development grants of up to $3,000 per Fellow
Group projects presented at a final showcase event
Annual stipends of $800 per Fellow for participation in the Pilot
52 individuals participated over the course of the two-year fellowship and 43 completed the full two years. The composite of the cohort included the following characteristics:
The vast majority of Fellows had formal music education, either holding a Bachelor’s of Music or Master’s degree, most often in performance with a small number in music education. Only two Fellows had no formal post-secondary education and two had non-music degrees.
The Fellows were employed by 25 non-profit organizations and five schools (public, parochial, and charter). The Fellows offered a broad range of music instruction (e.g. classical, jazz, pop, vocal) at a range of levels from introductory to mastery.
The cohort was diverse in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, age, and level of experience.
Evaluation of the META Fellowship Pilot Program
According to an external evaluation of the META Fellowship Pilot, the most significant areas of impact for the Fellows as a result of participating in META were:
Increased connections to peers and the music educator community
Improved skills related to student voice and engagement, classroom management, and lesson and curriculum planning
Stronger sense of, and appreciation for, themselves as music educators and as artists
Greater motivation and engagement with their teaching
Through continued investment in national model programs alongside grants for new and emerging organizations, Mass Cultural Council is supporting a generation of young people whose creativity and leadership will transform Massachusetts and its communities. Since 2015 we have nearly tripled our annual investment in these programs to just over $1.5 million to support creative youth development through a range of grants and initiatives.
Creative youth development—both a movement and a community of practice—has earned this support: Massachusetts boasts more than 40 winners of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, the nation’s highest honor in this field. Last year these programs served more than 6,000 at-risk youth, and our goal is to reach 10,000 by 2020.
“Our young people are creative, full of potential, and eager to lead,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director. “We are committed to the idea that youth has something to say; they bring their voice and their vision to the conversations about how to make our Commonwealth a better place for everyone. Our support for creative youth development helps to ensure they will be heard.”
What does this support look like? Here are just a couple of examples:
In the Pioneer Valley a small program called The Art Garden is growing their work with young people from five counties in a former train station in Shelburne Falls.
Berkshire Pulse is providing youth development opportunities through dance to a high needs community in Housatonic.
Young people in Franklin created their own anti-bullying campaign last year.
In Boston, the Theater Offensive is continuing its award-winning work with LGBTQ youth in Boston.
And students from low-income families are developing a range of workforce skills through an apprenticeship program at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
We invited Elizabeth Pickard from the Missouri History Museum and Lynn Stanley, Curator of Education for the Provincetown Art Association and Museum to discuss their respective institutions as a place for connecting the story of themselves, the story of their communities, and the story of now. Listen to how their own stories brought them into the museum field and how they strive to ‘lift the veil’ between their institutions and the lived experience of young people in their communities.
Our Music Educators and Teaching Artist (META) Fellowship Pilot Program is a two-year program focused on enhancing the quality of music teaching and learning in school and community based organizations throughout Massachusetts. Through work with nearly 50 Fellows from more than 30 schools and non-profits, this program provides four learning sessions per year, site visits, grants, and stipends for participating. Year One brought a rich set of learning experiences to both the Fellows and the Mass Cultural Council.
What we learned in Year One:
Fellows recognized one another as the most valuable assets in developing their practice and impact as Music Educators and Teaching Artists.
Fellows want more time to learn from one another.
There were two main topics the group identified as useful to explore in Year Two: Child Development/Psychology and Cultural Competence.
In Year Two, we have decided build on the greatest asset of the Fellowship and the one that will endure beyond the pilot program – the Fellows. We will continue building the Fellowship around the assets of the group, host a session with the Silk Road Ensemble around cultural competency and another session to focus on child and cognitive development. Year Two will culminate in a showcase and convening for Fellows, other educators in their schools and organizations, principals, executive and artistic directors, and higher education institutions on April 4, 2018.
We invited Katie Wyatt and Dalouge Smith to share a conversation around two different models of growing creative youth development programming at the city and state level.
Katie Wyatt is the Founder and Executive Director of KidzNotes and the Executive Director of El Sistema USA. Dalouge Smith is the President and CEO of the San Diego Youth Symphony and a national leader in crafting an inclusive future of music and education in and out of schools.
Their conversation provides insight into the challenges and successes of working with public schools to achieve community goals, the potential policy implications and challenges that are facing this work today, and the gap between rural and urban environments. The recording is approximately 1 hour long and features a curated discussion by these two innovative leaders.
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.