In practice, every implementation of Vital New Voices will have its own special character, theme, and community relevance.
To get an idea of what these experiences would be like, consider the basic framework and envision the ways a typical community would put it into action.
First things first: local organizations form partnerships with TGIAL.
- The partners mutually develop a plan of action and clear delineation of responsibilities
- The partners identify and connect with regional sponsors and donors.
- By connecting with local art institutions, the partners recruit artists in a range of genres.
Reach agreement on finances.
- A full budget and funding commitments should be in place before launching the program.
- Funders and sponsors agree to support the initiative for at least a year.
- Wherever possible through funding, artists should receive compensation in recognition of their contributions to the community, the value they bring to society, and their dedication to honing their skills and talents. The form of compensation could include stipends, continuing support, wages, grants, or a combination. The message would be as important as the amount.
- This would have several essential impacts that are fundamental to the message of Vital New Voices and the overall mission of TGIAL:
The active and enthusiastic engagement of the arts community.
A highly visible demonstration of the value of the arts in addressing social challenges.
Practical support for a vibrant arts scene in the community.
Working with local school systems the partners recruit students and teachers from grade four through high school.
- The focus should be on schools with established curricula in the arts and civic involvement.
- Find “champions” at the grassroots – arts and civics educators who are innovators in making their curricula relevant, engaging, and fun for students. This will likely require networking at the personal, professional and social media level.
- Working with the champions and their peers, approach school principals to ensure that engagement and support emanate “from the top.”
- Approach mayor’s offices and district superintendents to get a sense of other potential school partners. The flexibility and sense of innovation offered by charter schools and magnet schools could warrant special attention.
- Emphasize a continuous process, benchmarks, deadlines, and a commitment to primary outcomes.
- Encourage school leaders to be advocates for the program with parents, families, other schools, and the community
- Use school system communications resources to keep everyone informed.
- Encourage school art teachers to take on roles of advisors, connectors, and advocates for the program.
The partners, artists, and educators develop a calendar of activities
- The partners secure a venue for public programs.
- Everyone collaborates on a coordinated schedule of activities, creation, practice, and events.
- Emphasis is a continuous process with benchmarks, deadlines, and a commitment to primary outcomes.
- School leaders should be the most visible advocates for the program with parents, families, other schools, and the community, using school system communications resources to keep everyone informed.
Teams of students, artists, and teachers get to work
- The young artists determine the community problem(s) they intend to address (with the help of their teachers and families).
- They then choose the artistic medium(s) for presenting their ideas – individually or in collaboration with each other. This determines the artists who will be their partners in creation or performance.
- Adult artists collaborate with their youthful partners, teachers advise them…and everyone looks forward to the events where the creations connect with their audiences.
The community gets ready
- The partners and sponsors work with the news media to build awareness and encourage the public to take part in the presentation event.
- TGIAL works with the partners to gain a community media event partner for coverage and public engagement
- Social media builds engagement and involvement across all partner and local sponsor channels
- TGIAL website, school website, and relevant community websites promote the event through news items and calendar listings.
- The partners engage parents, families, and friends to support the children and take part in the events.
- The partners arrange for a local celebrity or well-known community leader to deliver a brief keynote.
- The partners decide who will be the master of ceremonies.
Two weeks before an event.
- Young artists finish and refine their presentations…preferably in consultation with their adult collaborators and teachers.
- Email reminders go to citizens planning to attend, encouraging them to consider what their commitment of time and resources will be in response to the artistic presentations
- TGIAL and the partners take responsibility for staging and logistics.
- The partners produce programs and audience commitment forms.
- All media channels engaged in building interest and involvement.
- The young artists present and perform their creative visions.
- Audience members select a problem presented in those creations and commit to acting on it in their communities.
- News media, social media, and organizational news channels cover the creations…and the commitments to make the community a better place.
- The partners recognize the young artists for their work through tokens of appreciation, gifts from sponsors…and a reminder that the journey can be the reward…and a better community is a very worthy goal for the arts.
- The young artists talk about the experience…and how they grew as creators, activists, and citizens. The adult artists comment on their experience…and perhaps what they’ve learned from it.
- The partners connect with the citizens in the audience to offer support for the commitments.
- The entire community reflects…and assesses what the experience means for their communities.
- The partners assess the experience relative to expectations and goals.
- The media and social media take note…and convey the experience to the public.\
- Through surveys and other forms of feedback, the partners track the results: action taken, participant evaluation, critiques, and suggestions.
- All partners, with the help of the community, help document the experience, detail lessons learned, and make a joint decision on refining the program and making it annual, semi-annual, quarterly or even monthly.
- School officials and teachers offer recommendations for tuning the program for specific age groups such 4-6th grades, 7-8th grades, and 9-12th grades.
- Artists offer new ideas and recommendations for making the program even more rewarding, fun, and relevant for the kids.
- TGIAL creates a summary document for submission to funders, sponsors, parents, civic leaders, and the public.
- If approved and funded…the ten-step process starts anew.
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