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.

Nano-Interview with Betsy Hinkle of musiConnects

Betsy HinkleName: Betsy Hinkle
Organization: musiConnects
Title: Founder, Resident Musician and Curriculum Design
Music Genre: Chamber Music
Years in the Field: 20

What do you do at musiConnects?
After founding the organization in 2007 and being its only director for 8 years, currently I perform as a violinist in our chamber music performances, and I teach private violin lessons, Chamber music and a K2 String instrument readiness class. I design (with a collaborative approach) and help implement all of our private lesson and chamber music curriculum.

Why do you do what you do?
I firmly believe that access to the highest quality music education and performances is a right, not a privilege. I also firmly believe that to fully reap the benefits that music education has to offer, it must be done in a tailored, one-on-one approach, and that chamber music is the best model for young children to learn self-expression, peer leadership, and community development skills.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
It seems that ideas for teaching approaches and solving problems seem to flow out of me. Sometimes my ideas get changed right after I try them, but there are always new ones to take their place. I also love when some ideas stick and continue to work, so I try and find ways to keep these ideas solidified and continued, by helping to make them second nature for teachers. I also love hearing others’ approaches and identifying new approaches that work, and adopting them.

What challenges you in this work?
Going with the flow when the unexpected happens: a student you’ve invested so much in, and whom you communicate so well with, just quits all of a sudden. When an audience or community is completely different than you imagined and your wonderful planning doesn’t get used at that moment.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
Students whose previous experience in school or other activities wasn’t positive are suddenly revered, praised, role models. It takes a few years for some community members to trust that what we bring will be positive or lasting or relevant. But when they do, their commitment to the work takes on a new role, as collaborator.

How do you blow off steam?
Watch TV, knit, do yoga, walk or hike, cook and bake.

Whose work in the Creative Youth Development field do you admire and why?
Sebastian Ruth of CMW, he was a pioneer in this work, and who directly inspired musiConnects. Also Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music – a collective and long standing organization where chamber music ideals are really practiced in all aspects of the organization and passed along to all who encounter it.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
Carolina Chocolate Drops, Pixies, Crooked Still, AC Newman, and the New Pornographers

Do you live with any animals?
One cat and I’d love to get a dog. Do my two kids and husband count?

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
Slowly but Surely: the search for order amongst chaos inside the mind of a creative perfectionist

What’s next?
I’m going to continue to create, test, hone, and eventually publish my curriculum which includes a systematic approach to working with kids (violin, viola, cello) with few home-based supports and a graded chamber music curriculum with original compositions and arrangements for similar students.

“La Mesa” Project

Check out META Fellow Nicolas Perez’s “La Mesa” project:

“La Mesa” is a video series that is inspired by NPR’s Tiny Desk series. The goal of this video series is to provide a recording and performance space for rising artist to share their music. There is a brown table (la mesa) in the video that all performer sign at the end of their performance. This table serves as a symbol of community amongst all of the performers who use this space.

The first episode features youth from Hyde Square Task Force’s music program performing an arrangement of a song they learned during band rehearsals.

See all 3 episodes of “La Mesa” on YouTube

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.

Visualizing ‘What Music Means to Me’

As part of their 2018 Amplify grant, the Boston City Singers Tour Choir created visual art works reflecting on the theme “What Music Means to Me”.

Using various mediums –  paint, chalk, water colors, crayons, glitter and other materials – the choir stepped outside of their musical comfort-zone to showcase their love for their craft. Each member of the choir presented their pieces to the rest of the group and selected their top 12 favorites.

Works were photographed and made into a banner which was displayed at the Dorchester Public Library, local area cafes, and the Strand Theatre throughout the summer.

Bold colors, distinct patterns, and powerful words centered around themes of unity, acceptance, love, and hope made up the final collection of pieces. Here are a few:

Drawing by Meredith, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

“I drew a tree with leaves that are flags, and wind blowing the leaves. The tree represents the world, and the leaves are the countries in it. The wind blowing the leaves represent music, because no matter where we come from, music is something we all have in common. The flags I used for leaves are all the countries I have sung songs from in Boston City Singers. Because of Boston City Singers and the music we sing, I feel more connected to the rest of the world.”
– Meredith, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

 

Drawing by Gita, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

“Music continuously evolves but what was before never disappears. Like the stems and branches of a tree, music is growing from the earliest prehistoric times to modern popular and alternative music. It grows and grows”
– Gita, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

 

Drawing by Kristen, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

“My drawing represents what music means to me because it shows that music is a universal language. I drew the people around the world being connected with lots of colorful music notes. While I was in South Africa, I saw firsthand how music connects people regardless of where they are from. At some of the schools we visited the kids did not speak English very well. One of the schools was for blind children. Despite the differences between us, we were able to bond over our common love of music.”
– Kristen, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

 

Drawing by Brooks, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

“The idea was simple: a heart made of sheet music surrounded by colorful melted wax to show how music can bring love and hope and beauty in this crazy, busy, and intricate world. Few things went as planned. The crayons kept rolling off of the page. The melted wax went everywhere. But as soon as my fellow choir members saw me struggling, they pitched in. They helped me hold the crayons and the hair dryer to keep the wax from spraying everywhere. Music, and all forms of art, help bring people together, and that made my piece stronger than I could have ever hoped.”
– Brooks, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

 

Drawing by Emmie, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

“The Tree of Dreams & Song – I painted this while I was listening to the song “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman, and it is what music means to me. A million opportunities, a million songs, a million dreams. Every song that I listen to or sing holds a special place in my heart. This tree represents all the songs and all the dreams I’ve experienced  and ever will experience. A song is a magical thing. It can trigger so many emotions and hopes and dreams, that it’s almost impossible to comprehend. This is what music means to me.”
– Emmie, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

Podcast: Museum Apprenticeships Transform Lives of New Bedford Youth

Sarah Rose (left) and Christina Turner (right)On the Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud, we spoke with New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Christina Turner and Sarah Rose.

The City of New Bedford wanted to increase its high school graduation rates. As their response, New Bedford Whaling Museum launched the High School Apprenticeship Program, which provides resources and support to students that deepen community engagement and cultivate college and career readiness. Director of Apprentices and Interns Christina Turner and then Vice President of Education and Programs Sarah Rose share how the apprenticeship program has grown into a nationally-recognized model for creative youth development – with a 100% graduation rate for its participants.

Listen to the episode.

Read the transcript.

Check out other episodes featuring Creative Youth Development leaders.

Findings from META Fellowship’s First Cycle

META Showcase

META Fellows share their projects at the 2018 META Showcase

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

 META Fellows

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

Read more about the META Fellows and Program

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.

Nano-Interview with Paul Pitts of Boston Latin School

Paul J. PittsName: Paul J. Pitts
Organization: Boston Latin School
Title: Director of Fine Arts
Music Genre: Band, Jazz, Orchestra and Vocal
Years in the field: 38

What do you do at Boston Latin?
I organize and coordinate a large arts department consisting of 1,100 music students, 900 visual art students, and 300 drama students. We have 11 full time arts faculty as well an additional eight adjunct faculty. I also conduct the Wind Ensemble, the Symphonic Band, the Big Band, and the Dues Band.

Why do you do what you do?
For a few reasons. I really love music, all kinds, some more than others but it is all really cool. The idea is if you love what you do most days it is not like work but more like a great way to spend a day. The groups that I teach are really quite good and we are able to play music that I find quite challenging to conduct and it is awesome to get to study and conduct this great music. Last year we played lots of Bernstein’s music, it was great. Great music and the students played it really well, a joy to work on with my groups. In jazz band we do a lot of Mingus and Ellington and other more contemporary charts but the charts that they are able to play has really gotten better every year so it is great to work on this music at such a high level. The other reason I do it is because I really like kids, I guess it keeps me young, talking to young people, I tend to think about what they are thinking about instead of my feet hurt and I need to sit down.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
The music, the passion for the music.  I spend a lot of time searching for music, at times it can be tough but I have been able to find music that is great, and once the students get to a certain level that can appreciate great music as well.

What challenges you in this work?
The daily grind is demanding, it is relentless, there is always something to do. So many students, events, festivals, auditions, concerts,  etc etc. I am concerned for younger teachers, it seems like they keep asking for more and more from teachers that is not related to student instruction, but things that require more and more time. It seems to be getting even tougher to do a great job teaching with all of the non-teaching requirements.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
That is sort of difficult to answer, they seem to enjoy the concerts, the auditorium is pretty well packed for most all of our major concert throughout the year. I get many positive comments from alumni when we perform for them several times throughout the year. I know the students enjoy it otherwise they would not take the elective classes.

Whose work in the Creative Youth Development field do you admire and why?
Some band directors in Massachusetts who have been role models for me and had outstanding programs. Paul Alberta from Norwood, Steve Massey from Foxboro,  Jeff Leonard from Lexington and Vinney Macrina from Brockton. They have all had fantastic programs for many years, unfortunately all but one is retired but I still use them for questions about musical and administrative details.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
Jazz all the time, in the last two years I have become a big fan of Dudamel in LA I love the music he selects, lots of classical music from Latin America that is so rhythmic and groove oriented. I always love to go to the Boston Symphony when I can, it is such a fantastic orchestra and a beautiful hall. Sixties rock and roll, I saw Led Zepplin live at the garden back in ’72 when I was 15 and it blew me away, they were incredible. I saw the Eagles last summer and they were also great.

What are you currently reading?
Mostly magazine articles, the last book I finished was Miles Davis’ autobiography. I am reading Mingus’ now, Beneath the Underdog. A friend gave me John Coltrane’s book but I have not started it yet.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
Mistakes in music, learn from mine.

Creative Youth Development

css.php