2017 Arts Liberation and Leadership Institute (ALLI) application is LIVE!

    The Arts Liberation and Leadership Institute (ALLI) is a one-week intensive summer program where 20 youth are trained in artistry, social justice and organizing. Youth leaders develop as cultural workers in three arts pathways: spoken word poetry, music and mural making. This cohort of youth hones their arts and organizing skills, while deepening […]

 

 

2017-summer-alli-application-copy

The Arts Liberation and Leadership Institute (ALLI) is a one-week intensive summer program where 20 youth are trained in artistry, social justice and organizing. Youth leaders develop as cultural workers in three arts pathways: spoken word poetry, music and mural making. This cohort of youth hones their arts and organizing skills, while deepening their understandings of race and social justice issues. They collaborate, build community and create art that challenges oppression and envisions a more just world.

ALLI 2017 will happen from July 3rd to July 7th at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Interested in being apart of the magic?

For more information, view & download the 2017 Summer ALLI Application

Or apply online at tinyurl.com/SummerALLI2017.

Due May 29th – apply now!

 

Read More

“Leave your pretensions at home, practice making a fist.”

On March 17th, we had our annual benefit at Arts Corps, La Festa del Arte. It was my first gala as the new Executive Director and I was blown away by the talent of the young people, the devotion of the staff, and the passion of all those that attended. The title of this piece […]

On March 17th, we had our annual benefit at Arts Corps, La Festa del Arte. It was my first gala as the new Executive Director and I was blown away by the talent of the young people, the devotion of the staff, and the passion of all those that attended. The title of this piece is a quote from Azura Tyabji’s poem about living in a world of complacency where solidarity is merely symbolic, but that that is not enough. As I watched Festa, I came to understand the importance of her poem.

Hollis Wong-Wear, an alum of Arts Corps’ Youth Speaks Seattle program, energetically opened the event as our host, captivating an audience of over 400 people. The first group that performed were 6-9 year-old dancers in motley attire. Petra, the teaching artist that led that group, told me that days before the young performers were too scared to get onstage in front of a large audience. Petra asked them what would make them feel comfortable.

“A rainbow tutu.”

“My dad’s baseball cap.”

“A cool shirt!”

Petra spent the next few days collecting, creating, and purchasing those items. When we saw those very young students dance in multi-colored outfits, feeling confident and proud, and comfortable in their own skin, I see that power of the arts. 

After watching the teen break dancers, I was told the story of a young man who was suicidal and depressed until he found an outlet in Jerome’s breakdance class. That young man was dancing with a smile on his face, excited to present his hard work to a large audience. An audience that featured his proud mother clapping along to the music.

I see how the arts helped another young man write a song about love and loss and sing, vulnerably, to a crowd of brand new fans.

I see a young woman standing on stage telling an audience of strangers about how the arts saved her life.

I think about how Hollis, the evening’s host, has launched a professional, full-time career in the arts, after working with our Youth Speaks Seattle program.

The same Youth Speaks program I was lucky enough to view this past Friday, at Town Hall. Once again, I was blown away by the lyricism of the young poets and the enthusiasm of the crowd. People from all parts of Seattle filled the seats to celebrate the power of youth voice. We heard poems that touched our hearts and poems that made us jump out of our seats. We heard poems about struggle and poems about victory. We heard poems that told us of a world of inequity and a world where oppression is no more. We heard poems about us, about people, about humanity.

It was beautiful.

At a time when funding for the arts are on track to being obliterated, it is important to see and hear young people expressing themselves through poetry. It is important to sit with other audience members, snapping our fingers, and clapping our hands at a public display of art. It is important for us to come together to show our support for art and artists in our community.

It was important for us to #witnessthelitness2017

While sitting at Grand Slam, another line from Azura’s poem at Festa hits me: “Think of how you pulled the nine-inch knife out six inches, stared at the wound, and called the bleeding progress.”

After she said it, I heard a collective sigh acknowledging how the point hit home. As always, we must look to the youth because they aren’t afraid to stand up for their beliefs. She helped remind me that we need to step forward and dedicate ourselves to equity for ALL.  Yet, the fight has just begun. We need to make a change. We need to keep coming together, not just to resist a dismantling of the arts, but to show policymakers how much we need the arts. To show that the arts change lives. To show that the arts can change the world.

 We need to punch through the barriers of inequity because

 

“We are all the fist.”

 

Practice making a fist

Read More

Youth Speaks Seattle Grand Slam, hosted by Nikkita Oliver

Arts Corps presents Youth Speaks Seattle 2017 Grand Slam Doors at 6:00pm Show at 7:00pm @ Town Hall Seattle (First Hill) 1119 8th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101 Hosted by Nikkita “KO” Oliver Featuring Otieno Terry Music by Reverend Dollars 10 finalists grace the Grand Slam stage for 1 transformative night of poetry. Witness stories of […]

Arts Corps presents

Youth Speaks Seattle 2017 Grand Slam

Doors at 6:00pm
Show at 7:00pm
@ Town Hall Seattle (First Hill)
1119 8th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

Hosted by Nikkita “KO” Oliver
Featuring Otieno Terry
Music by Reverend Dollars

10 finalists grace the Grand Slam stage for 1 transformative night of poetry. Witness stories of love, loss, resistance and survival, told through the raw medium of spoken word. The truth will change you.

The top 5 poets will be named the 2017 Youth Speaks Seattle Slam Team and will rep Seattle at the 2017 International Brave New Voices Festival in San Francisco, this July.

Competing poets: 

Zora Seboulisa
Ana Walker
Ivy Jong
Marcus Lindenburg
Carlynn Newhouse
Deqa Mumin
Mercury Sunderland
Azura Tyabji
Emma Conklin
Devon Summers

TICKETS HERE: tinyurl.com/grandslam2017
$10 youth / $20 adults / $25-40 sponsor ticket
// Homie discount for groups of 5+ youth = $7 per ticket

**No one is turned away for lack of funds. Email slam@artscorps.org for details about free & sliding scale tickets**

The Grand Slam is Youth Speaks Seattle’s biggest annual fundraiser. In order to continue providing incredible youth-led programs such as our writing circles, open mics, poetry slams and paid internships, we need you to support us!

Accessibility:
This event is ADA wheelchair accessible.
To request ASL interpretation, please email us by April 3rd. (We are confirming interps now but want to confirm they will be utilized by folks!)
This is not a scent free event/space but to request a scent free zone, email slam@artscorps.org by March 24th (acknowledging that Town Hall is not a scent free space overall)
Nearby bus routes (many of these stop in downtown, near Town Hall): 2, 3, 4, 12, 64, 7, 120, 125

For more info, please contact slam@artscorps.org

 

2017_youthspeaks_grandslam

Read More

We Gonna Make Art Anyway

“What the arts teach is innovation and the ability to combine things that are otherwise disparate. And that’s the stuff of genius.” John Frohnmayer, Former Chair of the NEA On November 9th, the Wednesday morning after the election, I walked in to observe one of my mentees teach his 6th grade drama class. I went […]

“What the arts teach is innovation and the ability to combine things that are otherwise disparate. And that’s the stuff of genius.” John Frohnmayer, Former Chair of the NEA

On November 9th, the Wednesday morning after the election, I walked in to observe one of my mentees teach his 6th grade drama class. I went to shake his hand but he hugged me and started crying. He was at a loss for what to teach. He asked me to help. So I led a process drama through the lens of patriotism. Students explored concepts, did the mannequin challenge in pairs and then developed scenes. The scenes needed to have one moment of conflict. By going through this process, the students were able to express their emotions about election night and then find a solution as a group to help navigate their frustrations. Students left the room more open and ready to talk. They also left the room with ideas of how they can make a difference in their school, community, and city. They began writing plays, designing posters, and sharing speeches about human rights. 

This happened because the arts awakened a sense of belonging and a sense of power in the minds of young people. We need art now, more than ever. Our young people are directly impacted by the current political climate and many are experiencing fear and frustration. They need avenues for self-exploration and a sense of ownership and power over their own education. As the new Executive Director of Arts Corps, I pledge to continue to work diligently with young people in their schools, school districts, and communities. I pledge to continue to unlock the creative power of youth and embrace arts education as a medium for social change. Our Creative Schools Initiative increases growth mindset and academic performance for students in the Highline School district. Our Hip Hop Artist Residency provides pathways to music production and vocal production for teens throughout Seattle. Our Youth Speaks Seattle program empowers young people to find their voice, take action and stand up for their beliefs.

Arts Corps knows the arts will bring us the next generation of leaders. Leaders that will help shape a future that is more equitable and just for all students. Arts Corps knows the power of the arts. We believe it. We see it. We need it. 

No matter what, we gonna Make Art Anyway. 

 

James Miles is the Executive Director of Arts Corps. A Master Teaching Artist who has worked in arts education for 20 years, he has facilitated workshops and designed curriculum for the New Victory Theater, Roundabout Theatre, Disney Theatrical Group, Theatre for a New Audience, Center of Arts Education, Lincoln Center Education, and (Out)Laws & Justice. He is on the Board of Directors for the Association of Teaching Artists and the Teaching Artist Journal. He has worked as an actor, an accountant, comedian, and a model. He can be frequently found on Twitter, as @fresh_professor, writing about arts education, educational policy, and academic inequity.

 

 

 

Read More

Meet James Miles.

Arts Corps is excited to welcome James Miles as our next executive director. James brings extensive experience in arts education, most recently as the Director of Education at Urban Arts Partnership in New York City. James has led workshops for multiple celebrated theater programs and taught theater and education as an adjunct professor at NYU. […]

Arts Corps is excited to welcome James Miles as our next executive director. James brings extensive experience in arts education, most recently as the Director of Education at Urban Arts Partnership in New York City. James has led workshops for multiple celebrated theater programs and taught theater and education as an adjunct professor at NYU. He serves on the board of directors for the Association of Teaching Artists and the Teaching Artist Journal. A graduate of Morehouse College and Brandeis University, James has presented on arts, technology and education and provided teacher professional development around the world.

james_family-300x298
James Miles and his (potential) family band album cover

“When I first read about Arts Corps, I knew I had to find a way to work here. It is such a dynamic organization, rooted in artistic exploration and dedicated to social justice,” says James. “I am thrilled and overwhelmingly grateful to be asked to join Arts Corps as Executive Director. I look forward to collaborating with staff, youth, board, and Arts Corps supporters, so that we can build on the already impressive accomplishments of this wonderful organization.” 

James was selected after a rigorous search that drew more than 60 highly qualified applicants through an inclusive process that involved Arts Corps board members, staff, teaching artists, and youth. “We set out to find someone who would both respect the incredible work that Arts Corps is already doing AND bring new passion for our next chapter,” says Sara Lawson, Arts Corps’ board president. “We were looking for a leader with a lived commitment to racial and social justice, a passion for youth empowerment, and the resourcefulness to work for change within. And we really wanted someone who would embrace—and grow with—our passionate community of risk-takers, artists, teachers, and young leaders. James is an extraordinary match for what we envisioned. He brings tremendous experience along with deep curiosity, humility, and a strong collaborative spirit. We’re excited about what’s next, and we’re approaching this transition with a renewed appreciation for the strength of the Arts Corps community and the power of this work.”

James will join the Arts Corps team starting Monday, January 30th. Outgoing executive director Elizabeth Whitford will be on hand though mid-March to ensure a smooth transition. “I’m so happy to be handing the reigns to James Miles, someone I admire tremendously,” adds Elizabeth. “James’ deep understanding of arts education best practice, his racial and social justice leadership, and his national connections will serve Arts Corps well. And he’s a really funny, kind, and dynamic person to boot!”

Please join us in welcoming James to the Arts Corps team, and plan to join us at La Festa del Arte on March 17th at Fremont Studios to meet James in person!

Read More

Thoughts on asking for donations in a post-election world

From Elizabeth Whitford, Executive Director “Now more than ever.” How many times have we heard that in this season’s end of year appeals? I confess I even put it in our appeal letter, and yet it has not sat comfortably with me. It is not that it is not true—it is true—it’s just that while […]

From Elizabeth Whitford, Executive Director

“Now more than ever.” How many times have we heard that in this season’s end of year appeals? I confess I even put it in our appeal letter, and yet it has not sat comfortably with me. It is not that it is not true—it is true—it’s just that while some organizations must make big shifts to respond to the challenges ahead, I woke up to a Trump presidency with the unwavering clarity that what Arts Corps needs to do is to stay the course. From long before that day, Arts Corps has been doing the work it needs to do—growing the creativity, resiliency and leadership of low-income youth of color.

Arts Corps’ work is deeply rooted in our commitment to racial and social justice. 4 out of 5 of our students are from low-income families, and 77% are youth of color. Many of our youth are also Muslim, immigrants and/or identify as LGBTQ. These youth have the least systemic access to an arts education and have also long been targets of both systemic oppression and acts of hate. This harmful environment has only heightened, and the landscape of educational funding and priorities that will impact our youth under the Trump administration is of great concern.

Arts Corps programs create a buffer from this oppressive environment—bringing joy, cultural expression and belonging into schools and after school programs—which is essential to the resiliency and development of our youth. Arts Corps programs also foster the creative and critical thinking skills that we know will be needed to address the complex and growing challenges we face now and long into the future.

These are the leaders we need. Witness the power of our youth at Arts Corps’ 2016 Arts Liberation and Leadership Institute through this short documentary made by Arts Corps alumna and Communications Lead, Amy Piñon.

Arts Corps is investing in the creative leadership of today: in young people doing cultural work to create spaces for healing and resistance for themselves and their communities, and in the courageous young people who are at the front lines in our social justice movements, giving us hope for a more just, inclusive and culturally-vibrant future.

I say all of this in the midst of the year-end giving frenzy. There is a lot of noise this year, and I feel unsure about entering it. But I fear that an ironic added impact from Trump’s election is that our annual giving will slump amid all the pressing needs. So I say this: We need your support today. We need it as much as we always have. Please make a year-end gift to Arts Corps, so that we can keep investing in the resiliency and creativity of our current and future young leaders.

Read More