Monday, June 11, 2012

Profiles of Applied Arts-Based Programs

Hello again! For this posting, we have decided to provide mini profiles of some organizations that we think provide an interesting approach to arts-based work and community psychology.

“We are a growing, worldwide movement, led by nearly half a million young people. Through education, we are challenging stigma and taboo, and young people are learning how they can protect themselves and those around them.”

            Working in 27 different countries with national non-profit organizations, dance4life has created a school based program for youth to explore issues of sexual health, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS. This movement, as it is referred to, facilitates sexual health education with youth in school systems while using a 4-step model. These steps include: INSPIRE, EDUCATE, ACTION, CELEBRATE. Step one: A dance4life team travels to different schools to use music and dance to inspire young people to get involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS while providing opportunities for open communication about HIV and related topics. Step two: The dance4life team facilitates workshops and discussions about leadership, decision making, reproductive rights, and healthy sexuality. Step three: Youth involved in the dance4life movement begin to take action. This may take various forms such as using the skills they developed in the workshop, sharing their knowledge with those in their communities, or making change in their communities. Step four: Every two years a celebration on World AIDS Day is planned for those youth who took action (agents4change).   

The Possibility Project
“A society where teenagers are valued, respected and play a leading role in creating a better world.”

            The Possibility Project merges performance art with community action to “empower teenagers to create safe, peaceful, and productive lives and communities.” Throughout an entire year youth throughout New York City meet to engage in “issue-oriented discussions,” exploring diversity, activism, and leadership. Throughout the program youth are also trained on play writing and other skills related to performance art. Together, the youth write a musical that addresses social issues that they face in their lived realities while also creating a community action project. The Possibility Project has four core values that influence their approach to community based work: cross-cultural understanding, youth leadership, integrity, and excellence.

The Center for Urban Pedagogy
“We believe that increasing understanding of how these systems work is the first step to better and more diverse community participation.”
            The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) aims to improve civic engagement through the use of art. Projects pursued by CUP cover a range of social issues such as juvenile justice, urban planning, immigration, and many others. These collaborative projects involve artists, community-based workers, and the staff at CUP. The goal of the projects is to increase diversity in community participation and civic engagement by breaking big system concepts down into a language and state where community members are better equipped to become involved, fight for change in their communities, and shape policies that impact their lives.

Crossroads Institute for Arts, Learning and Community
To spread knowledge and build capacity regarding the use of the creative arts for learning and social change”

            The Crossroads Institute is a team of researchers, artists, educators and youth leaders that works with children, youth and adults across the U.S. to develop and disseminate community-based arts practices. They have developed creative publications and seminars that are available to other artists, educators and communities interested in promoting social change. They also provide free access to their online library which includes best practices from community-based arts programs. This organization has taken a collaborative approach by partnering with local and national community-based organizations and universities.

ArtsCorps Detroit
“In partnership with community agencies, non-profit organizations and neighborhood groups, ArtsCorps Detroit identifies creative arts-related projects”

            ArtsCorps Detroit is a community-based program at Wayne State University. This program offers service learning opportunities for students and community members to help revitalize the greater Detroit community through the arts. For example, LOTS of Art! is a project which involves working closely with neighborhood groups to find creative ways, such as painted  murals or dance platforms, to address abandoned spaces in the city. This program also has a research component that addresses the effectiveness of arts in promoting personal growth and organizational/community change.

The Kresege Foundation
“We seek to foster the power of arts and culture to recharge and rebuild communities of all sizes throughout the United States”

The Kresege Foundation is a great organization for community psychologists who are interested in funding arts-based projects focused on social change. One of their program areas is Arts & Culture. Within this program, there is an Arts and Community Building focus area.  Overall, this foundation is interested in funding organization projects dedicated to integrating the arts and community building activities. In addition, they commission and publish research on efforts to integrate cultural organizations into community building efforts; and evaluating activities for their community arts mini-grant initiatives for grassroots arts and cultural projects that address pressing social issues.