Apply to SPOKES!

Spokes is the youth leadership body of Youth Speaks Seattle, as well as Totem Star and the Teen Leadership Program. This crew of 13 leaders commit to a 7-month internship where they lead open mics, writing circles, poetry slams and produce a multi-arts album. They meet weekly for deep leadership development in event planning, public speaking, facilitation […]

Spokes is the youth leadership body of Youth Speaks Seattle, as well as Totem Star and the Teen Leadership Program. This crew of 13 leaders commit to a 7-month internship where they lead open mics, writing circles, poetry slams and produce a multi-arts album. They meet weekly for deep leadership development in event planning, public speaking, facilitation as well building their social justice analysis through artistry and cultural work.

Spokes applications are OPEN! View application here.

Or apply online: tinyurl.com/Spokes2018

 

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An open letter in support of the arts:

Imagine a future without the arts generating vibrant communities, shaping culture, and pushing boundaries. Is this the stuff of dystopian novels? Or is this what we’re becoming right now? The current administration’s budget plan eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and this could very well become a reality. Thousands of programs and projects […]

Imagine a future without the arts generating vibrant communities, shaping culture, and pushing boundaries. Is this the stuff of dystopian novels? Or is this what we’re becoming right now? The current administration’s budget plan eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and this could very well become a reality. Thousands of programs and projects could lose their funding, all of which bring art to rural and urban Americans, and many of which bring art to those who arguably need it the most – young people.

Arts Corps reaches over 2,500 K-12 students in South Seattle and South King County each year. Approximately 80% or our students are youth of color and 70% come from low-income families. Arts Corps is a force for justice in a region where race is greatest predictor of whether a young person has access to an arts education. Our programs are proven to foster creative and critical thinking skills as well as sense of belonging, connection and mindsets for learning. Evaluation also indicates that Arts Corps students are more engaged in school and test better in reading and math, an important contribution to closing the achievement gap.

In past years, Arts Corps has received NEA funding for our teen programs. These art classes and leadership trainings make space for the next generation of young artists to cultivate artistic skills while honing capacities for community leadership and cultural work. Our teen leaders agree that these programs develop their understanding of systems of oppression, help them create deeper connections to local social justice movements, and provide a safe and supportive community where they can authentically express themselves. Carlynn Newhouse, a teen artist and youth leader reflected on her experience with Arts Corps programs:

“At the age of fourteen I was so broken and sad with little direction in life. Arts Corps’ program Youth Speaks gave me the support system and tools to become a strong leader, organizer, artist, activist, and human being. This dynamic organization not only grows youth into artists, but into passionate change makers. They cultivate space for marginalized groups and individuals in need of safety and support. They are amazing employers, coworkers, and mentors, but most importantly I am very blessed to be able to call them my family. I give Arts Corps, Youth Speaks, and its staff credit not only for shaping me as an artist and activist, but for giving me a new found passion for life.”

Art isn’t a want for youth, it’s a need. Arts Corps is one of many youth arts organizations around the country that knows this and lives by it. It is a sad day when this country tells our young people that the arts don’t matter because it is telling them that what they need doesn’t matter, that what inspires their passion is not a priority. It tells them, in essence, that they don’t matter.

At Arts Corps, we believe that youth matter and that the arts have the power to give youth a deepened belief in their own capacity to learn, take risks, persist and achieve.

If you believe in the power of the arts, please write to your congress members to show your support.

In the spirit of creativity and community,
Arts Corps

 

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Poetry Slam Celebrates Two Years of Creative Schools in Highline

By Angela Brown Arts Corps’ Creative Schools Initiative (CSI) just wrapped another year of arts integrated instruction in Highline Public Schools! Almost 600 students in 5th and 6th grade SW King County elementary schools experienced Language Arts classes embedded with theater and visual arts. This marks the end of the second year of instruction for […]

By Angela Brown

White Center Heights Elementary 6th graders celebrate the end of two years of Arts Corps’ Highline Creative Schools Initiative as they prepare to head to middle school this fall.
White Center Heights Elementary 6th graders celebrate the end of two years of Arts Corps’ Highline Creative Schools Initiative as they prepare to head to middle school this fall.

Arts Corps’ Creative Schools Initiative (CSI) just wrapped another year of arts integrated instruction in Highline Public Schools! Almost 600 students in 5th and 6th grade SW King County elementary schools experienced Language Arts classes embedded with theater and visual arts. This marks the end of the second year of instruction for our Department of Education funded research program Highline Creative Schools.

In collaboration with classroom teachers, Arts Corps teaching artists are supporting social-emotional skill development through arts-integrated instruction and a focus on helping students develop growth mindsets. Through this arts education program we are observing how pre-middle school students learn and what inspires them.

White Center Heights 6th graders Annie, Sahra, and Lydia rehearse group performance.
White Center Heights 6th graders Annie, Sahra, and Lydia rehearse group performance.

Focused on building community in the classroom, CSI activities challenge students to speak their truth and engage with their own learning processes. Students work to develop a sense of belonging, make effort to persevere, self-regulate, collaborate, and empathize with one another.

Kylah, a 6th grader at Gregory Heights, shared that during Arts Corps lessons students are interactive with each other, one big group, and helpful towards each other. White Center Heights Elementary held an impromptu poetry slam to wrap up 6th grade theater writing projects. Teaching artist Jéhan Òsanyìn has been working with 5th and 6th grade classrooms at White Center Heights and Mount View Elementary since Fall of 2015.   During a focus group with program evaluators one 6th grader said during Arts Corps’ integrated classes, “We can express ourselves more, we have more confidence, we can challenge ourselves more.”

Almost one hundred 6th graders gathered in a tightly packed classroom last month to witness-the-litness of these bold 6th grade voices. In theater integration, students performed a character-based literary monologue they had written or performed a persuasive spoken word poem responding to a social issue. Student generated topics at the slam included speeches about immigration, deportation, racism, injustice, discrimination, equal rights, civil rights for LGBTQAI+, same sex marriage, police brutality, war, violence, colonization, President Trump, the U.S. travel ban, border control policy, gender, sexual assault, social anxiety, low wages, workers’ rights, animal rights, and pollution.

Before the slam begins, students gather in chairs placed in a theater style around the stage and Jéhan explains what a poetry slam is, what to expect, and how the student audience can encourage performers with soft hands or snapping fingers. Students bravely rose, group by group, to perform their speeches in front of peers and teachers, some poets performing solo or with teacher partners.

White Center Heights Elementary 6th grade students perform collaborative spoken word during theater arts integrated instruction. Featuring classroom teacher Tien Vo and students Amini, Jonathan, Jason, and Charlie.

Adding to students’ embedded theatrical instruction with Jéhan, the students had an equal number of sessions of visual arts integrated instruction with visual teaching artists Nate Herth and Sabrina Chacon-Barajas. Both worked with students on personal narrative writing and persuasive essays. 6th grade students wrote character-based literary essays leading to a character portrait and wrote a persuasive essay that was then expressed through a 3-dimensional advocacy pop-up poster.

Hazel Valley Elementary 6th grade students Esmeralda, Ana, and Trevontay prepare a performance about climate change and polar bears in Lauren’s theater integration class.
Hazel Valley Elementary 6th grade students Esmeralda, Ana, and Trevontay prepare a performance about climate change and polar bears in Lauren’s theater integration class.

In the next 6-week session, 5th graders used drawing and printmaking to become artist-

Mount View 5th grader in dual language class works on persuasive argument poster.
Mount View 5th grader in dual language class works on persuasive argument poster.

activist for an issue. Visual arts teaching artist, Carina del Rosario, and theatre teaching artist, Lauren Appel, lead sessions at Gregory Heights and Hazel Valley Elementary schools, respectively. In theater integration 5th graders used personal narrative to perform a collaborative spoken word piece or they performed a scene to argue their stance on a current issue. 5th grade visual arts integration work included reading a graphic novel and writing a personal narrative expressing their story as a comic.

Coming in fall 2017, Highline public middle schools can expect a cohort of powerful 7th graders to arrive – ready to put art and growth mindsets on the middle school agenda. They will join a community of 8th grade Creative School alums who have experienced the joy of learning through the arts. Arts Corps looks forward to this fall and the return of a fresh crew of young artists and writers.

 

Angela Brown is Arts Corps’ Highline Creative Schools Initiative’s Digital Media and Evaluation Manager. She is a writer, photographer, and botanical hydrologist living in White Center with her partner and semi-famous cocker spaniel.

Photos and videos by Angela Brown

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We are Water

Charleena Lyles.   Say her name.   Say her name.   This weekend, Charleena Lyles was shot and killed in her home, in front of her children, by two police officers. Charleena Lyles was a 30-year-old Black mother. Charleena Lyles was a member of the Sand Point community. Charleena Lyles was pregnant. Charleena Lyles was […]

Charleena Lyles.
 
Say her name.
 
Say her name.
 
This weekend, Charleena Lyles was shot and killed in her home, in front of her children, by two police officers. Charleena Lyles was a 30-year-old Black mother. Charleena Lyles was a member of the Sand Point community. Charleena Lyles was pregnant. Charleena Lyles was shot and killed Sunday morning by two White police officers while they investigated her report of an attempted burglary. 
 
We at Arts Corps, grieve for Charleena’s four children, for the child in her womb, for her extended family, and for her community. There is a hole in their hearts that can never be filled.  We also feel saddened for the school community at Sand Point Elementary where Charleena was a parent and where Arts Corps’ Creative Schools Initiative  integrated arts into academic curriculum, boosting students’ confidence and creative freedom.  
 
It is too early to determine if the officers involved will be brought up on charges. It is not too early, however, to advocate for justice. Arts Corps calls for a fair and thorough investigation into these events. Knowing that the criminal justice system disproportionately affects people of color, we ask that the police departments reexamine how officers are trained. Police in other countries are trained to deescalate a situation, fire warning shots, or aim for non vital areas. Yet, that seems to be missing from US training protocol. Why?
 
Black people are repeatedly killed by police officers. The police officers responsible for the shootings are either acquitted, or not indicted at all. We, at Arts Corps, mourn. We cry.
 
We demand justice.
 
Charleena Lyles is the most recent victim of police violence, but unfortunately she is not the only one. Arts Corps continues to grieve the countless other black lives lost at the hands of police officers, including Philando Castille, whose shooter was acquitted in court on Friday. In May, the Department of Justice decided not to bring charges against the killers of Alton Sterling despite cell phone footage of the incident. Officer Betty Shelby was recently acquitted of murdering Terence Crutcher, though that was also caught on video. The officer that killed thirteen year old Tyre King killer was recently acquitted, and his actions justified. 
 
Say their names.
 
The criminal justice system in our county has deep-seated biases that urgently need to be addressed, and Arts Corps lends our voice to the growing movement of individuals and organizations calling for reform, namely the Black Lives Matter movement  and its work to “build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.”
 
Fred Hampton said, “you can’t fight fire with fire, you fight with water.” Arts Corps knows the power of the arts, and wants to extinguish inequity in our communities. We need to come together as a community to help end this brutal cycle of police violence and create a better world for all of us.  
 
If you wish to donate directly to Charleena’s family, please visit her gofundme page: https://www.gofundme.com/bdgbc8pg
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Questions from our Executive Director

Last week I saw “Barbecue” at the Intiman theater where one conceit was telling the same story through a lens of whiteness, and through the lens of blackness. “Barbecue” was story of a down on its luck family trying to save their drug addicted sister. The play started with an all white family planning an […]

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Last week I saw “Barbecue” at the Intiman theater where one conceit was telling the same story through a lens of whiteness, and through the lens of blackness. “Barbecue” was story of a down on its luck family trying to save their drug addicted sister. The play started with an all white family planning an intervention, and after the blackout, the story continued, but the same characters were now all Black. It was interesting how race shaped the narrative. I won’t ruin the rest of the play, but I began wondering how a paradigm shift would impact other stories and possibly boost empathy, in audiences.

Then I saw Wonder Woman.

It was an enjoyable movie (quite enjoyable actually), and examined feminism through the lens of whiteness. The first time we meet Diana Prince she is being sought after by her black mammy. The next black woman we meet is a brute that speaks no words but is beaten with a large bat, yet feels no pain. That is the extent of women of color in that film.

Wonder Woman fights for humanity, but not all humans. This of course, is fine, but I wonder what would happen if the same story were told with black women. Black heroine chased by her white nanny. Big white woman hit with bat and says no words. Then black Wonder Woman battles the evils of African genocide and saves us from 500 years of oppression.

Or, would she fight alongside the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II? Would we see the character the same way, or would she be too militant? Would the movie get cancelled like ‘Underground,’ on WGN? Would white women be upset because they couldn’t see themselves in the character? Would the actress be chastised for supporting Black Lives Matter? Would it be a feminist movie or a black movie? Would my daughters leave the theater looking proud, instead of confused? Would she fall in love with an abolitionist? Would a love story even exist? Would Ares be the Egyptian god, Set? 

Would young people still make art?

Would it matter?

Would there still be educational inequity? 

What does representation mean, in 2017?

I guess we will find out next February…

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Announcing The Residency

Arts Corps, MoPOP and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are collaborating to host year 3 of The Residency (formerly known as  Hip Hop Artist Residency) from July 31- August 23, 2017.  The Residency breaks down the barriers of access to equitable arts experiences for underserved youth, ages 16-19, in the Seattle region in order to build […]

hhar-pinon-102Arts Corps, MoPOP and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are collaborating to host year 3 of The Residency (formerly known as  Hip Hop Artist Residency) from July 31- August 23, 2017.  The Residency breaks down the barriers of access to equitable arts experiences for underserved youth, ages 16-19, in the Seattle region in order to build their skills in collaboration, self-expression, technical acumen, leadership identity, and confidence as cultural change-makers. The intensive program will serve 40-45 emerging artists through two tracks over three weeks.  Each track will be led by two teaching artists and a youth intern serving 15-20 youth. 

hhar-pinon-255The Vocal Track will  foster self-expression through lyricism, rhyme structure, and delivery and the Production Track will emphasize media literacy, beat-making, and song construction. Participants will feature their work at the culminating event taking place at MoPOP’s SkyChurch.  The final three days of the summer intensive will focus on music industry business training and program evaluation with participants.  In the fall,  youth will participate in four monthly 3-hour cyphers, from September through December, as a way to advance their collaborative learning, workshop ideas with their cohort artists, and sustain the sense of shared community and motivation gained through the summer intensive. 

To apply to the program, go to the link below:

APPLY HERE

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