NASAA Notes: March 2021

March 3, 2021

Arizona, Massachusetts: Youth Arts Councils

The arts constitute a vital part of youth development. They prepare students for academic success, equip young adults with the skills needed to thrive in the workplace, and foster meaningful relationships and community (learn more). State arts agencies support this growth through a variety of programs that promote artistic development and engage aspiring artists and arts administrators in the greater arts community. Recently, Arizona Commission on the Arts and Mass Cultural Council have taken innovative steps to establish statewide youth arts councils. These councils provide a space for young creatives to work in parallel with the state arts agency, build their personal and professional skills, and advocate for youth. In addition to the benefits that participating youth experience, youth councils benefit state arts agencies by meaningfully informing state arts agency policies and programs and by expanding the circle of stakeholders who are invested in the future of the arts.


Young residents of Douglas celebrate the completion of a new community mural. Photo by German Padilla, courtesy of Border Arts Corridor and Arizona Commission on the Arts

The AZ Youth Arts Council began in 2019 and includes young artists between the ages of 14 and 19. The pool of youth arts council members is selected to represent young creatives across Arizona’s 15 counties, and a cycle of new members is appointed every year. As part of the youth council, members advise the arts commission on agency grant programs and services affecting young people. Members also gain valuable networking opportunities, strengthen their advocacy muscles, expand their policy knowledge  and create their own artistic projects, all while directly participating in policies that affect them, their peers and the larger arts sector. In February, the council launched the Youth Arts Engagement Grant program. The grant provides funding support to youth-led projects that center young people’s stories and ideas through creative expression. For more information, contact AZ Youth Arts Council Youth Coordinator Jesús Galaviz Arreguín.


Mass Cultural Council’s CYD BIPOC Alumni Council members. Photo courtesy Mass Cultural Council

As part of its work with 73 distinct Creative Youth Development (CYD) programs representing more than 9,000 youth, Mass Cultural Council has begun the Creative Youth Development BIPOC Alumni Council pilot. The BIPOC Alumni Council will involve BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and/or people of color) youth—who represent nearly 80% of the state’s CYD program participants—in the process of creating more equitable CYD programs. Members of the council will have the opportunity to network with peers, develop their creative vision, build cross-sector partnerships, and act as “thought partners” and advisors for the Mass Cultural Council.

For the initial pilot program, nine youth alumni between the ages of 18 and 24 have been chosen. Each applicant to the program had to be a CYD alumnus and show commitment to CYD programming, creative practice, social justice and innovation. The alumni council will facilitate biweekly CYD meetings, hold weekly meetings and work with the Mass Cultural Council to effect social change. Members will receive an $1,800 stipend for their work and are expected to finish the program with a capstone project focused on “truths and learnings.” For more information, contact Mass Cultural Council Program Officer for Creative Youth Development Käthe Swaback.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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