Setting the Stage: National Summit on Creative Youth Development
On March 27-29, 2014, youth and adult leaders from out-of-school and community-based youth development programs in the arts, humanities, and sciences will convene in Boston. Coming from around the country, they will gather to celebrate their work and collaborate with funders, policymakers, and researchers to chart a strategic agenda to increase the sustainability and impact of their programs.
Presented by the Massachusetts Cultural Council in partnership with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the National Guild for Community Arts Education, the summit convenes arts, humanities, and science-based youth development programs with the recognition that they share a unifying principle—creative youth development. Each type of program teaches young people a discipline that centers on creativity—processes of creative inquiry and expression in particular—and each type of program uses its discipline as a vehicle for youth development. As young people learn the arts, humanities, and sciences in these programs, they develop personal, social, and intellectual skills and capacities that are important for their growth and success in life, school, and work. They also use these disciplines as means to understand and change the world around them, to connect to the greater human experience, and to develop and express their own sense of identity.
Today, too many young people are disconnected from their communities and the means to make a successful transition to adulthood (White House Council for Community Solutions, 2012). At the same time, creativity is coming into focus as a key ingredient for addressing new economic, social, technological, vocational, and environmental challenges. In this context, creative youth development programs are an asset, and supporting and increasing their impact is of great importance. For this reason, the goal of the national summit is to engage creative youth development program leaders, funders, policymakers, and researchers to build an action-oriented strategic agenda that they can use to advance the work of out-of-school creative youth development programs. The immediate measure of success for the summit will be that it yields such an agenda. Long-term success will be defined by the extent to which participants and their allies are able to advocate for and enact the agenda at the local, state, and national levels.
After the summit, the Massachusetts Cultural Council has committed to roll out the strategic agenda in the state of Massachusetts and work with state networks, such as the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, to disseminate the approach it develops and support leaders in other states to implement the agenda. The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the National Guild for Community Arts Education will take the lead on developing collaborations with other national organizations and agencies to advance the agenda nationwide. They will also support their constituent organizations, on the ground in communities across the country, to promote and implement the agenda locally. [p. 1]
This report is based on research conducted to gather insights from arts, humanities, and science based youth development programs on the keys to their practice, impact, and future. The report serves as briefing materials for the National Summit on Creative Youth Development: Unite. Celebrate. Activate held in March 2014. The Summit was presented by the Massachusetts Cultural Council in partnership with the National Guild for Community Arts Education and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.