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:
Our national CYD network is collecting video URLs from practitioners that feature students’ voices and boldly and creatively tell their stories. Short videos will be embedded on the Creative Youth Development National Partnership website to help communicate our collective story more strategically to funders, government agencies, policy makers, organizations, artists, funders, researchers, and other stakeholders.
Submit your organization’s video URL and be included in our national story. This video directory is inclusive.
- 2-3 minutes average length
- prominent student voice
- demonstrate CYD core values of creativity, social justice, youth perspective
Submission Deadline: November 30, 2018
We’ve seen how creative expression lifts young people beyond poverty, disability, and other societal barriers here in Massachusetts and across the nation.
Today the movement for creative youth transcends national borders. Earlier this month, our neighbors to the south shared some of their insights on the transformative power of the arts in the lives young people at a Harvard University panel discussion.
“Social Development and the Arts in Latin America” was centered around lessons learned from El Sistema, the music education program founded by renowned Venezuelan economist and humanist José Antonio Abreu in 1975. The discussion was moderated by Harvard Business School Professor Tarun Khanna, co-author of a seminal case study on El Sistema.
Eduardo Méndez, Executive Director of El Sistema, noted that it was founded “as a social program, not a cultural program.” It aims not to produce great musicians, or even professional ones, but to nurture children and adolescents in an environment that combines strong social and emotional support, intellectual rigor, and aesthetic inspiration. Programs in more than 70 countries have now
adopted El Sistema principles of “inclusion, ensemble learning, and collective, committed pursuit of musical excellence,” according to Méndez.
But the discussion moved beyond El Sistema model and classical music to highlight the power of all arts disciplines to transform the lives of youth, particularly those living in poverty. Enrique Márquez is Director General of México’s Veracruz Institute of Culture, which has harnessed the time and energy of thousands of middle-class and wealthy volunteers to work with disadvantaged children and adolescents in programs that teach theater, music, dance, and the visual arts. The connections have broken down class barriers and built trust at a time when social isolation threatens to become an international epidemic, according to Márquez.
“The arts have this wonderful ability to bring people together,” he said. “Arts, even classical music, can be very inclusive.”
The Mass Cultural Council is committed to supporting creative youth through grants, initiatives, and advocacy. Through annual investment of more than $1.5 million in national-model programs alongside grants for new and emerging organizations, we support a generation of young people whose creativity and leadership will transform Massachusetts and its communities. 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. Mass Cultural Council is also a founding member of the Creative Youth Development National Partnership.
When: Saturday, November 17 in Baltimore, MD
Who: Young Artists and Creatives ages 13-24
This full-day Summit, entirely designed and led by young people, provides opportunities for youth leaders, ages 13-24, from a range of artistic disciplines, to connect, create, and celebrate.
The Summit has been planned by a core team of young artists from Baltimore, San Diego, and Detroit, who are working in concert with their peers across the country to shape this incredible experience. The Summit is free to youth, but pre-registration is required. Space is limited. Lunch is provided.
This event is being hosted in concert with the 2018 Conference for Community Arts Education, a national convening which aims to ensure all people have opportunities to maximize their creative potential.
Logo Designed by Maya Brooks of the Youth Planning Committee
Questions: Contact Ashley Hare, CYD National Coordinator.
We Want To Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching, Hip Hop Civics & Creativity
Monday, Nov 5, 2018
3 – 4:30pm
939 Boylston Street, 2nd Floor
Dr. Bettina Love is an award-winning author and Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia. She is one of the field’s most esteemed educational researchers in the ways in which urban youth negotiate culture to form social, cultural, and political identities to create new and sustaining ways of thinking about urban education and intersectional social justice. Her focus is also on how teachers and schools, working with parents and communities, can build communal, civically engaged schools rooted in intersectional social justice for the goal of equitable classrooms.
Space is limited.
The space is physically accessible. We welcome people of all abilities
Name: Sean Elligers
Organization: Berkshire Children and Families’ Kids 4 Harmony
Title: Teaching Artist
Music Genre: Mostly classical
Years in the field: 9
What do you do at Kids 4 Harmony?
At Kids 4 Harmony, I teach music theory, composition, trumpet, and some string technique to students ranging 3rd to 11th grade. I work with students on various music theory skills (scales, arpeggios, chord structures) and, through collective improvisation or using the notation software, Noteflight, students compose their own music based on those concepts. I also play the role of unofficial photographer for our program.
Why do you do what you do?
My students are incredibly smart, curious, introspective, often (intentionally) hilarious individuals and I feel incredibly fortunate to have developed close connections with them. As someone who thrives on collaborative work, I am instantly swept away and energized by their ideas and am committed to helping them gain access to the tools and knowledge they seek to pursue their compositional and performance ambitions.
What comes easiest to you in this work?
Engaging with the students and their families. More specifically, one of my favorite things to do is go to a student’s parent at the end of the program and brag about the new composition that their student has started or how great the student played in orchestra. The students will be the first to tell you that I’m far more excited than they are, but the parents still appreciate it.
What challenges you in this work?
I regret never being able to spend a sufficient amount of time to help each student on their individual compositional projects in class. Despite running around to each student, helping them navigate questions with the software or find that initial spark of inspiration for their piece, it’s frustrating when class ends and there are eight students raising their hands begging you to come listen to their compositions or their revisions. I’m thrilled that they are eager to share but it always burns to tell them they’ll have to wait until next class.
What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
Thanks to Berkshire Children and Families, the social service agency that Kids 4 Harmony is part of, our program is given the support and visibility that has helped us make collaborative relationships with the local schools, colleges, and other arts programs in the Berkshire community. Our families are always generous to share their appreciation for our program and for the opportunities the students are given to perform at these events.
How do you blow off steam?
I chip away at my own compositions, try to make sense of synthesizers, and try to get better at instruments I’m less familiar with, like the violin or accordion.
What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
I drive a lot and I often find myself in a low-stakes crisis of what music I want to listen to. I might pull from a range of artists/genres (Ambrose Akinmusire, Mount Eerie, Bjork) but as of recently, I’ve found myself unexpectedly defaulting to any original soundtrack from SEGA Genesis or Super Nintendo video games.
Do you live with any animals?
I do! Her name is Cammie and she’s a chihuahua mix. True to her breed, she keeps us on our toes: shaking when we come home, shaking when she wants our food and shaking during thunderstorms.
The Creative Youth Development National Partnership is hosting two webinars this month:
Healing Centered Practices through Creative Youth Development
Wednesday, October 17
3 – 4pm EST
Learn about different healing centered practices and how an intentional focus on the principles of this approach: safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment, can support your CYD program outcomes.
Supporting Youth-led Activism through Creative Youth Development
Thursday, October 25
3 – 4pm EST
CYD programs work across sectors to engage youth in high quality arts-based programs that make a real impact in our community. To that end, youth who participate in CYD become activists. Participants both learn about social justice issues and create art work that aims to inspire and activate social change. Join us to hear from CYD program leaders who are creating opportunities for youth to use their art to make a difference
Youth activist and writer Ruby Russell of Books of Hope performs her poem “Shells” at the National Arts in Education Week celebration at MassArt on September 14, 2018. The event was co-hosted by Americans for the Arts and the Arts for All Coalition.
Students are learning the universal language of music
by Jamie Bernstein and Anita Walker
This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.
ON A RECENT AUGUST DAY, students gathered around a piano on a stage at Lawrence High School. They were rehearsing the forthcoming production of “West Side Story,” written by a composer born just a few blocks away almost exactly a century ago.
What would Leonard Bernstein make of these students singing and dancing their way through his mid-20th Century masterpiece? Do they understand the questions he asked about cultural identity and racial conflict in urban America, and do those questions have meaning for them in 21st Century Lawrence?
Would Lenny have seen in these young people a realization of his vision for music as a unique force for creative transcendence, personal transformation, and social justice?
We think he would be delighted. And we believe he would embrace new models of music education taking hold in Lawrence and other communities across Massachusetts and the nation—models that not only transmit a lifelong love of the arts, but foster vital skills and capacities in children, especially those facing poverty, trauma, and other obstacles. The educational process is led by skilled, caring educators who see creative youth not as problems to be fixed, but as lights to be illuminated. The model calls for young people themselves to play an active role in creating art and shaping their future not only through music, but across the arts, humanities, and sciences.
More than traditional arts and music education, this work is called creative youth development. It’s an intentional, holistic practice that fosters active creative expression alongside core social, emotional, and life skills. In supportive spaces, with guidance from skilled and compassionate teachers, children and adolescents immerse themselves in creative work: composing and performing music, producing and directing films, writing and staging new dramas, making and interpreting visual art. Youth learn and create in public, private, and charter schools; cultural institutions; YMCAs; Boys & Girls Clubs; and many other settings. They achieve high levels of artistic skill and a deeper knowledge of themselves and their cultural heritage. In turn, they become empowered to make meaningful changes in their communities.
Creative youth development has proven to be a particularly powerful force in Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities, former industrial centers that have struggled to create new economic models in the 21st Century.
Lawrence was already an established gateway for immigrants when Bernstein was born there in August 1918 to Jewish-Ukrainian parents. They chased opportunity across the state, bringing their son to Boston Latin School and Harvard, laying the foundation for one of the great careers in American cultural history.
When Bernstein became music director of the New York Philharmonic, one of the most respected and coveted positions in classical music, his educational mission was to widen access to the arts to as many young people as possible via the mass medium of television. Many of today’s concert audience members will say that they got their start in loving orchestral music from watching Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic on TV as children. To this day, his Young People’s Concerts are celebrated as one of the genre’s defining moments, their vibrancy and undiluted approach resonating with those who understand the potential of young people to learn and create, when given motivation, skills, and support.
Today Lawrence stands at the vanguard of our nation’s rapidly changing demographics. Nine of every 10 students in its public schools are Hispanic. More than seven in 10 speak Spanish as their primary language, and nearly as many live in economically disadvantaged homes.
Despite those challenges, Lawrence students are learning the universal language of music in new and exciting ways. In 2014, the Lawrence schools launched their first string orchestra program based on the El Sistema model, which employs music to empower generations of youth across the globe. The schools later hired the first district-wide orchestra director.
El Sistema Lawrence was intentionally woven into the school day to leverage parental support and school resources. The program actively recruits students as they enter high school. Students perform in winter and spring school concerts, along with pop-up performances in cafeterias, hallways, and other informal settings. El Sistema Lawrence is now developing pathways for peer mentors and student leaders who will shape the social and cultural goals of their ensembles.
Creative youth development was a nascent concept when Leonard Bernstein died in 1990. But we believe he would endorse its commitment to youth agency, equity, and civic engagement. And we suspect he would be pleased to know that a child born in Lawrence in 2018 would have an even greater chance to create a life filled with music and art than he did 100 years ago.
Jamie Bernstein is an author, broadcaster, filmmaker and concert narrator who travels extensively, speaking about music as well as about her father, Leonard Bernstein. Jamie’s film documentary, “Crescendo: the Power of Music” has won numerous prizes, and is now viewable on Netflix. Her memoir, Famous Father Girl, was published by HarperCollins in June. Anita Walker is the executive director of the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency, and founding member of the Creative Youth Development National Partnership.
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.