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November 21, 2013

Contact: Gregory Liakos, Communications Director 617-858-2720





(BOSTON, MA)—The Massachusetts Cultural Council will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its YouthReach Initiative with a series of events that culminate in a national agenda to propel the field of creative youth development into the next decade. In March the agency will host a national summit, in partnership with the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities and the National Guild for Community Arts Education, that brings the best and the brightest working at the intersection of the arts, culture and youth development to Boston. Leading up to the summit Mass Cultural Council will also hold regional celebrations throughout Massachusetts beginning this evening with a youth showcase at the Museum of Science, Boston. And today we launch a new blog, Seen & Heard, telling stories of young lives transformed through creativity and of the skilled practitioners who made those stories possible. 

For 20 years Mass Cultural Council has supported out-of-school arts, humanities, and science programs for adolescents at risk of not making the successful transition to adulthood through its investment in the YouthReach Initiative. Its work has demonstrated the power of creativity to transform the lives of our most vulnerable young people, making YouthReach a model for states and communities across the nation. The national partnership organized around the summit is designed to accelerate and elevate this work and ensure that arts, culture and creativity are at the center of efforts to improve the fortunes of at-risk youth.

“The arts and culture play a key role in providing quality afterschool experiences for children and adolescents in Massachusetts,” said Mass. State Senator Thomas McGee of Lynn, Chair of the Legislature’s Afterschool and Out of School Time Coordinating Council. “The YouthReach anniversary provides a unique opportunity to advance this work so that more of our young people can benefit from it.”

Over the course of its first two decades the YouthReach Initiative has served more than 40,000 young people across 120 Massachusetts organizations with a public investment of $10 million dollars. “The impact of YouthReach-funded programs on young people in Massachusetts over the course of the last 20 years is remarkable. The time has come to celebrate this important, transformative work, but also to raise the bar, ignite national attention and energy, and ensure its continued success and impact,” said Mass Cultural Council Executive Director Anita Walker. “I look forward to welcoming practitioners from across the country to Massachusetts this spring to begin the next phase of our work.”  

The full scope of anniversary activities includes:


In partnership with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the National Guild for Community Arts Education, Mass Cultural Council presents the National Summit on Creative Youth Development: Unite. Celebrate. Activate. March 27- 29, 2014 in Boston’s Fenway Cultural District. The summit will convene approximately 200 leaders from across the nation working at the intersection of arts, culture and youth development to celebrate the field’s progress and success to date, to document the impact of the work on the lives of young people, and to chart a policy and advocacy agenda for the next decade.

Participants will be diverse practitioners working in both traditional art forms and new media, seasoned professionals and emerging leaders. Plenary sessions will be simulcast via the web, and virtual attendees can participate in deliberations via social media. Summit attendees will also attend a live taping of the acclaimed NPR program From the Top in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall.

Ahead of the national summit, Mass Cultural Council has commissioned Dr. Lauren Stevenson of Junction Box Consulting in California to gather input from practitioners, policy-makers, young people and other key leaders on the progress and needs of the field with a goal of highlighting what policies are needed to drive the work of the field forward. Findings will be used to shape the agenda of the summit.

“Meaningful engagement in arts and culture can foster not only young people’s creative skills, but also development of identity, self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and other important life skills,” said National Guild Executive Director Jonathan Herman. “We hope the summit will be a stepping stone to uniting the creative youth development field and shining light on the value and positive impact of its work on youth and society.”


Regional gatherings across Massachusetts will spotlight the gifts and assets of the Commonwealth’s young people, celebrate their work and the work of their teachers, and strengthen the network of young people and youth workers working in the arts, humanities, and sciences. The first of these gatherings, Insights & Innovations: Youth Speak through Media & Technology takes place this evening at 4:30 p.m. at the Museum of Science, Boston - home to the Computer Clubhouse, a YouthReach funded program. All gatherings are free and open to the public.

  • Boston, MA
    November 21, 2013, 4:30pm
    Museum of Science, Boston – Co-host, The Intel Computer Clubhouse Network

  • Boston, MA
    January 16, 2014
    IBA's Villa Victoria Center for the Arts – Co-host, Cacique Youth Program at IBA

  • Holyoke, MA
    March 11, 2014
    Wisteria House – Co-host, The Care Center

  • Pittsfield, MA
    May 2, 2014
    Café Theater at Barrington Stage – Co-host, Playwright Mentoring Project at Barrington Stage Company

Following the national summit, Mass Cultural Council will convene past participants in YouthReach-funded programs at the Massachusetts State House to present and promote the resulting policy agenda and frame the need for continued support. The event is intended to take place in April 2014, exact date is to be announced.


The national summit and other YouthReach anniversary events are supported by a consortium of public and private funders, including The Barr Foundation; ARTWorks for Kids, a program of the Hunt Alternatives Fun; and the Slater Family Foundation.

About the Mass Cultural Council
The Mass Cultural Council promotes excellence, access, education and diversity in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences, in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities.

Mass Cultural Council is a state agency committed to building a central place for arts and culture in the everyday lives of communities across the Commonwealth. It pursues this mission through a combination of grants, services and advocacy for cultural organizations, schools, communities and artists. Mass Cultural Council receives an annual appropriation from the state Legislature and funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources.

About The National Guild for Community Arts Education
The National Guild for Community Arts Education supports and advances access to lifelong learning opportunities in the arts. Among its national initiatives is Engaging Adolescents, which aims to increase youth participation in the arts by enhancing the effectiveness and scope of existing, high quality out-of-school time arts education programs and catalyzing the development of new programs. The Guild serves a broad constituency of more than 5,000 nonprofit, arts organizations, and government agencies in the United States that are providing open access to classes, lessons and workshops in multiple artistic disciplines. Many also are providing learning/development through the arts with a focus on youth development, community building, positive aging, and other areas. Of these providers, more than 450 are Guild members. They include community schools of the arts; arts centers; and arts education divisions of performing arts institutions, universities, museums, and other organizations. In concert with this dynamic network, the Guild researches and promotes best practices, provides opportunities for professional development and dialogue, advocates for broad access, and makes grants to the field. Collectively, Guild member institutions offer direct instruction to more than 2 million students each year, employ 17, 500 teaching artists, and reach an additional six million Americans each her through performances and exhibitions. In addition to providing classes and lessons within their own facilities, most members also collaborate with public schools, social service organizations, hospitals, and other agencies to increase communities' access to arts education.

About the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Created in 1982 by Executive Order, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. The PCAH works directly with the Administration and the three primary cultural agencies—National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)—as well as other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines, and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education, cultural exchange, and community revitalization. Mrs. Michelle Obama, like other first ladies before her, serves as honorary chairman of the committee, which is composed of both private and public members.


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