A signature characteristic of Vital New Voices will be its boundless variety of formats, themes, participating organizations, and audiences.
The possibilities are as expansive as the arts themselves and the themes will span the issues facing individual communities, regions, countries…or the entire world. So, what would such an experience be like? Consider some hypothetical cases.
A regional conservation organization looks at climate change
To engage urban young people in the evolving challenges if climate change, a regional land conservancy could partner with TGIAL to conduct Our Children’s Voices in several cities.
Young people hear a lot about climate change, and they probably wonder what it means to them. Vital New Voices might give students a way to tackle the matter creatively…and encourage their fellow citizens to take meaningful action. The various facets of climate and conservation can be evocative subjects for artistic expression.
Working with local school systems, TGIAL and the Conservancy engage teachers, students, and local artists to center their efforts around popular parks, natural resources, and wildlands in each area. The young artists learn to appreciate the power of their creativity…and everyone gains an understanding of the role of the arts…and artistic thinking…in a making their world a better place.
A civic organization explores citizenship
What does it mean to be a citizen in a democracy like the United States or Canada? How does one be a “good citizen” when politics and conflict cloud the big issues? What does a citizen “get” by “giving” talents, time, and involvement?
Working with TGIAL. local sponsors, and schools, a civic organization could conduct ongoing programs using the Vital New Voices model to bring young people into the discussion. Through their artistic efforts, the students would learn about the creative expression of big concepts while enjoying the exploration of new ideas. The adult participants might gain some insights too…and commit to applying them in their own lives as citizens.
A Metropolitan Boys and Girls Club considers good life choices
Helping young people navigate the challenges of growing up is central to the mission of a Boys and Girls Club, especially in urban areas. Yet, it’s not just about youth; parents, families, and mentors are very much a part of the process.
In this partnership, Vital New Voices would offer the Club participants a special way to express themselves about what their community might do to help them on the path to adulthood. Neighborhoods, schools, and friends could be rich sources of material for their creative endeavors. Citizens who take note at an event could learn something important about the youth in their community…and decide how they could help. Everyone gets to see the artistic process make a difference.
The model would probably be easily replicated at other Boys and Girls Clubs.
A community foundation and a museum foster critical thinking
From nearly the first days they can talk, young people like to ask why? When they reach high-school, the questions can run deep. They might ponder why things are the way they are…and imagine some alternative ways. In its most intriguing form, this can be genuine critical thinking.
A community foundation could fund a museum program that uses the Vital New Voices structure to encourage high school students to think critically about societal issues…and express their analysis through art and performance.
This would be an elite-level application of the model that could resonate with participating citizens, civic leaders, the arts community, and educators alike.
These are merely examples. Vital New Voices is a framework for energizing the arts for civic engagement.