Category Archives: Awards

The Shout Syndicate Announces Pilot Round of Grants Totaling $200,000

Teens hosting radio program at Zumix in East Boston.
Teens hosting radio program at Zumix in East Boston.

Last week the Shout Syndicate, an innovative collaboration of Boston music and arts industry professionals in partnership with The Boston Foundation and the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture, announced awards totaling $200,000 in its pilot round of grants to 10 Greater Boston non-profit arts organizations that focus on creative youth development.

Congratulations to the recipients:

The pilot round of grants were made possible in part by donations from early backers Don Law/Live Nation New England, film/TV writer/producer Judd Apatow, and international recording artists The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

“Congratulations to this first group of grantees, and thank you for your dedication to enhancing creative youth development in Boston,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “The Shout Syndicate has already become a central part of our arts strategy in the City of Boston. Together we’re making progress in improving access to the arts in and out of schools, and I’m grateful to everyone who helped us make it a reality.”

Each grantee will receive $20,000 to produce youth-led arts programs in disciplines including music, dance, theater, and visual/media/literary arts during the 2019-2020 school year. The grants also cover stipends for participating youth to receive hourly wages, so they don’t need to choose between an after-school job or an arts program.

“The Boston Foundation is proud to support and partner with The Shout Syndicate on this new funding opportunity,” said Paul S. Grogan, President & CEO of The Boston Foundation. “These 10 grantees are among the very best organizations in youth arts in our region. We applaud Mayor Walsh for noting the need for a new fund in this sector, and we look forward to seeing the outstanding projects that will come from these grants.”

“We at Urbano Project are thrilled to be a Shout Syndicate grantee,” said Stella Aguirre McGregor, Executive Artistic Director. “We’re proud to be part of this pilot cohort and excited to start our work.”

Teens will create their projects — including a city-wide youth publication in Boston, public art murals in Lynn, original dance choreography, a history of hip hop in Cambridge, original music recordings in East Boston and Roxbury, and original LGBTQ theater — with support from arts leaders and teaching artists. In the Spring of 2020, each grantee will share their cumulative work with the public.

Read the Full Release

New Spending Plan Invests $1.6M in Creative Youth Development

Performers in Barrington Stage's Playwright Mentoring Project take a bow
Performers in Barrington Stage’s Playwright Mentoring Project take a bow

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:

  • The Community Music School of Springfield has successfully engaged with the public schools to bring music and the arts to every Springfield school for the first time in a generation.
  • In Lawrence, Elevated Thought actively serves and develops communities through youth empowerment curriculum, beautification projects, youth organizing, and public outreach.
  • The Playwright Mentoring Project at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield is giving voice and opportunity to young people to tell their stories and create theater experiences.
  • GreenRoots is empowering and engaging youth voices on environmental justice issues in Chelsea.
  • At Enchanted Circle Theater in Holyoke, DCF involved youth are telling their stories through original plays and productions.

Read about the development of our Creative Youth work.

Congrats 2019 Commonwealth Award Finalists

Commonwealth Awards logoLast week we announced the finalists for the 2019 Commonwealth Awards, which honor exceptional achievement in the arts, humanities, and sciences. The Commonwealth Award winners will be announced at a ceremony for the finalists and their supporters Monday, April 8 at WBUR’s new CitySpace.

Delivering the keynote address at this year’s ceremony will be renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dudamel will be in Massachusetts to perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Congratulations to the finalists serving youth:

    • Boston String Academy, for its exceptional creative youth development work inspired by El Sistema – an effective intensive music education philosophy that utilizes classical music as a vehicle for personal transformation and social change.
    • Eileen McCaffery, Community Music School of Springfield, for her dedication to changing lives through music. Community Music School brings together people of different ages, abilities, cultural backgrounds and economic circumstances to make music in an environment that respects diversity and encourages creativity.
    • Elevated Thought, for providing Greater Lawrence’s youth with opportunities that encourage artistic expression as the means for creative solutions to social issues through creative youth development.
    • Provincetown Art Association & Museum, for its unique legacy of groundbreaking exhibitions and programming, passion for removing barriers to participation, and commitment to engaging young people through the visual arts.
    • The Care Center, for bringing the power of education, arts and culture to youth and their families in Holyoke. This creative youth development program is helping to break the cycle of poverty and create an economically vibrant city through a rich, humanities-based curriculum for teen mothers.

See the full list of finalists.

Investing in Organizations to Pursue an Artistic Risk

Creative Youth Development is a dynamic field of practice, utilizing the resources of teaching artists and organizations to better serve its target audience. To do this effectively, programming and delivery is in constant evolution to further engagement and impact.

Inevitably, this dynamism makes it difficult for programs to fit certain funding models, leaving gaps that take far too long to be addressed.  On the other side, funders have very specific targets and models that need to be met for organizations to be eligible, which in turn might stunt the advancement of programs and their capacity to reach new audiences and all together experiment with their medium. To address this, Barr Foundation and The Klarman Family Foundation shifted the paradigm by establishing an artistic risk fund with the purpose of providing risk capital for projects that would take organizations out of their comfort zones.  The fund supports projects that have the potential to change how organizations work.

To document the journey and impact of their seven funded projects, the two foundations commissioned a series of videos.  With  personal stories from teaching artists and program participants as well as leadership, these documentaries are evidence of how both sides of the equation, program and funder, can work and stimulate each other to find new avenues of impact and growth.

Announcing 2019 Amplify Grants

Groundwork Lawrence's Green Team at Den Rock Park Hike.Mass Cultural Council is proud to award 15 new Amplify grants for 2019 totaling $15,000. Directed to projects designed and executed by young people in programs receiving YouthReach or SerHacer funding, Amplify furthers the Commonwealth’s investment in youth leadership and empowerment.

The Amplify grant process incorporates youth voice throughout, including the participation of young professionals and program alums in the panel review. This unique approach ensures that the Amplify program continues to strive not just for the highest quality and innovation in programming, but to naturally and actively incorporate youth leadership in its rightful role in cultural provision across the state of Massachusetts.

Congratulations to this year’s Amplify recipients:

Ballet Rox (Boston)
Women’s Empowerment through Dance: To choreograph and perform a dance piece about  women’s’ rights and empowerment. The project will use music made by female artists, who advocate for women’s rights, and performed at the Wake Up the Earth and Dance for World Community festivals.

Books of  Hope  (Somerville)
To host a series of writing and community organizing workshops for a group of teens at the Mystic Learning Center led by Youth Artist Andrine Pierresaint. This program will culminate with Andrine sharing her own insights as a youth artist and organizer, and guiding the teens as they plan, host, and perform their own original work in Book of Hope’s annual Somerville Youth Arts Festival in June 2019.

Boston City Singers (Boston)
Combatting Loneliness with a Gift of Song: To create a forum to discuss the “epidemic of loneliness”. Boston City Singer’s Tour Choir will host and videotape interactive sing-a-long social events and discussions with nursing home residents and staff in Dorchester, and utilize it to encourage the creation of positive communities to assist with suicide and addiction prevention (common results of loneliness).

Elevated Thought (Lawrence)
Immunity: To create a film documenting the stories of various Lawrence community members and their families who were directly affected by the September 2018 gas explosions. The film will capture in a non-exploitive manner the resilience of the community in the aftermath of extreme adversity.

Enchanted Circle Theater (Holyoke)
Heroes Youth Truth Performance Ensemble: To create and present a youth performance focused on raising awareness of out-of- home-care experiences and stories. This work will be presented at regional Massachusetts Department of Children & Families meetings, classes for potential foster parents, and legislators, as well as the general public.

Express Yourself (Beverly)
The Bee Project: To promote constructive conversation and to destigmatize mental health in youth by creating an exhibition of linoleum Bees. Besides the exhibition, a video of this project will be featured in Express Yourself’s 25th Annual performance.

GreenRoots, Inc. (Chelsea)
Environmental Chelsea Organizers (ECO): To design and paint Chelsea storm drains to raise awareness about storm-water runoff through the means of public art.

Groundwork Lawrence (Lawrence)
Green Team recycling art and awareness project: To collectively create a piece of artwork using a piece of recycled pipe from the recent gas explosions in Lawrence. This piece will represent the strength of the Lawrence community in the face of adversity. The art piece will be revealed to the community at the Lawrence S.A.L.S.A (Supporting Active Lifestyles for All) Festival.

Hyde Square Task Force (Boston)
Ritmo en Acción Showcase: To collectively choreograph a showcase of 11 different Afro Latin dances, and perform them for the community in a public event.

New Bedford Whaling Museum (New Bedford)
Once upon a teenager: a storytelling project: To record each of NBWM’s Youth Apprentice’s life stories and showcase them in an exhibition for the community,  as well as the 10th anniversary celebration of NBWM’s Apprenticeship Program.

New England Aquarium (Boston)
Prompting Youth Action: It’s our time: To create an educational video in collaboration with Zumix. This  video will be shown at four public events to educate and inspire young people in the pursuit of  community and state action to promote an ecologically aware legislature.

Sociedad Latina (Boston)
Raices open mic series:  To design and lead a monthly open mic series titled “Raices” featuring guest artists and youth performers. These sessions will be open to the community to discover new artists of different backgrounds whilst providing a safe place for all.

The Clubhouse Network (Boston)
Digital illustration with Paintool SAI: To offer a series of youth-led digital illustration workshops for the community and Clubhouse members. The product of these workshops will be presented in exhibitions around the community to promote youth engagement and productivity.

Worcester Public Schools (Worcester)
Unites Master Class Project: To design and deliver a series of high school student-led master classes for elementary school students in seven different Worcester public elementary schools.

Worcester Youth Center (Worcester)
YouthSpeak!: Talent Show: To design and host a series of monthly talent shows, January 2019 to June 2019; with Performers recruited from current Worcester Youth Center participants, as well as youth from the City of Worcester and beyond. This program will allow talent show participants an opportunity to showcase creative talents whilst creating more events for the local community.

New Spending Plan Accelerates Efforts to Deepen and Widen Support for Creative Youth

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.

This year we have expanded our grant recipient pool to 74 programs through YouthReach and SerHacer, and will continue to support Amplify, the META Fellowship, and Johnson String Project.

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.

Read about the development of our Creative Youth work.

Check out our complete FY19 spending plan.

New Bedford Whaling Museum Named 2017 NAHYP Awardee

L_R Yamilex Ramus Peguero, Maria Cardoso, Christina Turner (Dir. Apprentices & Interns) with the NAHYP Award in Washington, D.C.Mass Cultural Council extends hearty congratulations to New Bedford Whaling Museum for receiving the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Award for their High School Apprenticeship Program. The High School Apprenticeship Program immerses students in skill-based humanities and interpretive sciences projects, mentorship, and valuable life skills instruction such as financial literacy, college preparation, public speaking, and audience engagement.

For almost two decades, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has presented the NAHYP Awards, the nation’s highest honor for out of school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities. Presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts , National Endowment for the Humanities  and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the award recognizes outstanding Creative Youth Development (CYD) programs from all over the country from a range of urban and rural settings. (See all 2017 Awardees.)

The NAHYP Award showcases and supports excellence in programs that open new pathways to learning, self-discovery, and achievement. Programs are also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.

To date, 51 students have graduated from the Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program, 100% have graduated from high school and 94% pursued some form of post-secondary education. About 40% of alumni have returned to the museum as part-time employees, interns, volunteers, and guest speakers.

Out of a pool of over 350 NAHYP nominations nationwide, three Massachusetts programs were also recognized as finalists this year:

The achievements of these programs speak to the exemplary work in the field of CYD happening across the Commonwealth and a strong testament to all of those committed to working with youth to achieve social change through the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Mass Cultural Council Spending Plan Includes $2.2M for Creative Youth

This week the Mass Cultural Council released a spending plan for the new fiscal year that will invest more than $12 million in programs and initiatives that drive economic growth and opportunity, elevate the quality of life in communities, embrace accessibility and inclusion, and empower a new generation through education and creative youth development.

Included in the spending plan is $2.2 million for Creative Youth Development & Education. With this investment Mass Cultural Council will work to expand access to quality, creative learning experiences for young people in school and community settings through:

  • YouthReach, which supports nonprofit organizations that provide in-depth arts, humanities, and science programs for young people at risk. See FY18 funding list.
  • SerHacer, supporting intensive, ensemble-based programs that use music as a vehicle for youth development and social change. Through grants and technical assistance, Mass Cultural Council fosters this emerging field of music education across the Commonwealth. See FY18 funding list.
  • STARS Residencies connect artists and creative educators in the humanities and sciences with elementary and secondary schools with deep learning experiences that help students grow, develop new skills, and expand their imaginations.
  • Big Yellow School Bus grants help schools meet the transportation costs of educational field trips to cultural institutions across Massachusetts.
  • Poetry Out Loud, a national competition in which high school students perform classic and contemporary poems while exploring elements of slam poetry, spoken word, and theatre in their English and drama classes. The Huntington Theatre Co. has expanded Poetry Out Loud to more than 50,000 Massachusetts students each school year. It is funded with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Creative Youth Development Grants Available

Mass Cultural Council’s YouthReach and SerHacer provide funding for a three-year period to programs that infuse the arts, sciences, and humanities with principles of youth development. Application deadlines for the next three-year cycle are:

  • YouthReach:
    • January 19, 2018 (New Applicants)
    • May 1, 2018 (Returning Applicants)
  • SerHacer: February 15, 2018 (All Applicants)

Register for an information session:

$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.

Read more.