National Arts in Education Week is a Congressionally-designated celebration of the transformative power of the arts in education. The field of arts education annually joins together to bring visibility to the cause, unify stakeholders with a shared message, and provide the tools and resources for local leaders to advance arts education in their communities. Find many ways to celebrate the week alongside 750+ other communities by visiting www.NationalArtsInEducationWeek.org for more information. Are you in for the celebration? If so, please fill out this form.
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Learn how you can use the recently released Creative Youth Development (CYD) National Action Blueprint as a resource in your work to advance the role of creativity in youth development. Led by the CYD National Partnership and a cross-sector coalition, this one-hour, interactive forum is designed for CYD practitioners and alumni, funders, researchers, and allied youth sector leaders.
During the forum, we will discuss:
The CYD National Movement and Blueprint goals
How CYD aligns with the priorities of allied youth sectors, including education, juvenile justice, and afterschool
Recommendations for advancing CYD in three strategic priority areas VISIBILITY & IMPACT: Documenting and Communicating Outcomes and Impact FUNDING: Expanding Pathways to Funding FIELD BUILDING: Professional Development, Networking, and Technical Assistance
Creative youth development is a long-standing, intentional practice that integrates creative skill-building, inquiry, and expression with positive youth development principles. In these programs, young people create original work—including animated films, 3-D printed sculptures, dance and theater productions, musical compositions, curated book collections, and more—and apply their creative skills to solve problems, shape their lives, and imagine and build the world in which they want to live.
Creative Youth Development (CYD) National Blueprint outlines strategies for positive change
The Creative Youth Development National Partnership, in concert with more than 650 cross-sector stakeholders nationally, is calling for all young people to have equitable access to opportunities to: realize their creative potential; live richer, fuller lives; and develop the critical learning and life skills they need to become active contributors to their communities.
Creative youth development is a long-standing practice that integrates creative skill-building, inquiry, and expression with positive youth development principles. In these programs, young people create original work—including animated films, 3-D printed sculptures, dance and theater productions, musical compositions, curated book collections, and more—and apply their creative skills to solve problems, shape their lives, and imagine and build the world in which they want to live.
With support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the CYD National Partnership—which includes the National Guild for Community Arts Education, Americans for the Arts, the Mass Cultural Council, and formerly the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities—gathered input on strategies to expand the reach and impact of CYD through numerous community conversations throughout the country over an 18-month period.
VISIBILITY & IMPACT: Documenting and Communicating Outcomes and Impact
FUNDING: Expanding Pathways to Funding
FIELD BUILDING: Professional Development, Networking, and Technical Assistance
Woven throughout the Blueprint are core values of the CYD coalition: racial equity and social justice, youth voice, and collective action. Read the Executive Summary.
“Creative youth development has the unique potential to deepen and sustain youth engagement by providing opportunities for youth to develop their creative potential, amplify their voices, and build leadership skills,” said Jonathan Herman, Executive Director of the National Guild for Community Arts Education. “For many youth, CYD programs also can be a pathway to other services such as college and career readiness, mental health services, academic support, and more.”
Participants in this national movement include youth, practitioners, researchers, funders, policy makers, and other stakeholders in creative youth development and allied sectors. The Partnership also commissioned research by the Forum for Youth Investment that mapped opportunities for alignment, e.g. developing social emotional competence; promoting healthy decision making/behaviors; and reengaging young people in positive learning and work environments, among CYD and allied youth sectors, including afterschool, juvenile justice, mental health, education, and workforce development. Three cross-sector Action Teams were then formed to analyze and distill the research and stakeholder inputs and make final recommendations for the Blueprint.
“Providing today’s youth with the skills they need to lead fulfilling lives across all economic, social, and family circumstances is a large-scale undertaking,” said Erik Peterson, Vice President of Policy, Afterschool Alliance. “To do this urgent work effectively, we must work together to share lessons learned, networks, and resources.”
The Blueprint will evolve as implementation unfolds and will be updated online to reflect progress toward goals.
The Creative Youth Development National Partnership aims to ensure that creative youth development is a broadly-implemented, well-researched, and equitably-funded practice and available to all youth so that they may realize their full potential and thrive.
CYD National Partners include:
The National Guild for Community Arts Education, which ensures all people have opportunities to maximize their creative potential by developing leaders, strengthening organizations, and advocating for community arts education. www.nationalguild.org
Americans for the Arts, which serves, advances, and leads the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. www.americansforthearts.org
Mass Cultural Council, a state agency supporting the arts, humanities, and sciences in order to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts and its communities. Over the past 20 years, Mass Cultural Council has invested more than $10 million in creative youth development, resulting in a vibrant community of programs. www.massculturalcouncil.org
All young people deserve to have equitable opportunities to reach their creative potential, live richer and fuller lives, and develop the critical life skills they need to become active contributors in their communities.
On June 14-15, join your peers from diverse communities across country for Americans for the Art’s Creative Youth Development Preconferenceand explore new paths forward for arts education during out-of-school time.
Creative Youth Development unifies a longstanding community of practice integrating the arts, humanities, and sciences with youth development principles, sparking young people’s creativity and building critical learning and life skills. At this hands-on workshop in Denver, CO, hear from inspiring youth leaders, adult practitioners, and dive deep into case studies on a range of topics from program development and evaluation to financial models of sustainability.
Mass Cultural Council’s Erik Holmgren 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.
To encapsulate the positive outcomes that occur for young people who participate in CYD programs, the Boston Youth Arts Evaluation Project (BYAEP), a partnership of practitioners, program evaluators, and funders, developed the following theory of change, Framework for Outcomes in Youth Arts Programs (2012):
The BYAEP theory of change posits that:
If youth participate in high-quality arts programs, they will develop specific skills and competencies (I Create, I Am, We Connect),
which, in turn, leads to a set of intermediate outcomes (able to engage and be productive, to navigate, and to make connections with others),
which in turn leads to a set of long-term outcomes (resiliency, self-efficacy and personal fulfillment, and community engagement) that together constitute life success.
The BYAEP framework is consistent with other models of a theory of change for CYD, for example Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit’s Excellence on Stage and in Life: The Mosaic Model for Youth Development Through the Arts, which categorizes the key outcome areas of its CYD program as Skills, Self, and Society. Skills in the Mosaic Model includes what BYAEP calls I Create; Mosaic’s Self relates to BYAEP’s I Am; and Society in the Mosaic Model is akin to We Connect in the BYAEP framework. These theories of change reflect thoughtful deliberation of high quality CYD programs and how they support positive outcomes for young people.
Many youth participants in CYD programs attest that their involvement changed the trajectory of their lives. Additionally, numerous young people state that participation in a CYD program effectively saved their lives. However, there are not enough CYD programs to meet the needs and interests of young people in our communities. While creative youth development is on the rise, not every community has CYD opportunities for young people. And some outstanding programs have waiting lists of young people who never have a chance to participate because demand exceeds the number of openings.
“Parents of 18.5 million children (38 percent) not currently participating in afterschool programs say they would enroll their children if a program were available to them.”
Clearly there is unmet demand among youth and families for high quality afterschool programs. So how do we know that there is unmet demand for CYD programs, specifically?
The Search Institute has conducted substantial research in the area of young people’s deep interests and passions, or their sparks, with compelling results about young people’s interest in creative pursuits.
Creative arts was the number one interest area cited by U.S. teens aged 12-17 among the top 10 sparks categories. In fact, creative arts was cited by 54% of teens, more than twice as often as the number two category, athletics, which was named by 25% of teens surveyed (Benson, 2008).
“…creative life…art, music, drama, dance, movement is the largest category in which sparks fall for America’s kids…that’s the area in which the most kids say, ‘I’m my best self.’ It’s the arena in which most kids will say “ is where life is the fullest and most hopeful.” (Benson, 2011)
Young people are clearly interested in opportunities for creative skill building, inquiry, and expression, which is at the heart of CYD. So policymakers, funders, youth developers, community leaders and others who value supporting young people in identifying and cultivating their sparks, or personal passions, should support increasing access to and investment in CYD. High-quality creative youth development programs are essential pathways for young people to thrive.
Attention to the role of creativity in positive youth development is growing, as evidenced by new opportunities for networking, emerging research, and a recent resolution by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. However, few opportunities exist for youth to participate meaningfully participate in national and regional forums where adults are designing programs and making policy decisions that affect young people. As the primary national convener for community arts education leaders, the National Guild’s Conference for Community Arts Education has a unique opportunity to amplify and support youth voice and leadership within the sector and deepen connections and learning between young people. In addition to a dedicated track of Creative Youth Development sessions and network meetings, this year’s conference (November 15-18 in San Francisco/Oakland) piloted an Emerging Young Artist Residency, which brought together youth, ages 16-24, and teaching artists from Destiny Arts Center (Oakland, CA), Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, and RAW Art Works (Lynn, MA) to collaboratively create an original performance piece that explored critical social issues connected to conference themes.
These young artists participated as delegates, attending conference sessions and roundtables, and then rehearsed offsite at Destiny in the afternoons. The residency culminated in a powerful performance at the Annual Awards Breakfast on Nov. 18. The impact of this experience for the youth involved—as well as for the attendees—was remarkable.
As Jai’Len Smith, a student of Mosaic Youth Theatre, put it: “This experience was truly unforgettable. I think youth are going to be vital in advancing the arts, their communities, and social change more broadly . . . When they’re put in positions and on platforms where they’re able to voice their concerns as well as their desires and be something like a spokesperson for their communities and their generation as a whole, I believe they will be more impactful than any of us can imagine.”