What’s next will be amazing.
After over a decade of leadership at Arts Corps, I have never felt more proud of what we have achieved, nor more excited for what comes next.
Organizations, like people, go through key developmental periods of growth. At sixteen, Arts Corps has doubled in size over the past three years to a budget of $1.8 million, and defined and expanded our programs substantively. Arts Corps is not only positioned to have a deep impact on the creativity and leadership of young people in our region, but also to reshape our education system to include the arts and a more youth-centered approach to education.
Our past school year brought groundbreaking new programs. In Fall of 2015, four amazing teaching artists began yearlong collaborations with 5th and 6th grade teachers in four schools in Highline Public Schools as part of the U.S. Department of Education-funded Highline Creative Schools Initiative. By integrating theatre and visual arts into the schools’ writing units, our teaching artists strengthened learning in writing and in the arts, while also deepening classroom engagement and students’ mindsets for learning. This first year was an undeniable success and strongly embraced by the administrators, teachers and students in these four schools.
NEXT: As a research study we will be sharing results and making the case on a national scale, while also expanding the program model to new schools, including at two Seattle elementary schools this year.
This year also brought exciting depth to our Teen Arts Leadership program, which has expanded to include pathways for teen artists to grow their artistic, social justice and leadership skills to the highest level. Teen artists are increasingly at the forefront of leadership and change in our community as a result of our leadership programs, which include our summer training program, the Arts Liberation and Leadership Institute, our break dance and poetry championships, and the Hip-Hop Artist Residency, a Hip-Hop and social justice intensive that we do in partnership with EMP Museum and artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
NEXT: We will be scaling and institutionalizing these groundbreaking teen programs, while actively creating more avenues for youth voice internally and beyond.
Our organization has a clear strategic direction. Our staff, board, teaching artists and youth are powerful collective leaders in our work and community. And we continue to learn and grow as an organization committed to racial and social justice, both in impact and in practice.
As I prepare to hand the reins of leadership to Arts Corps’ next leader after 11 years with this beautiful organization, I am struck with the incredible journey this has been and continues to be. Through challenges and unexpected opportunities, Arts Corps has always remained focused on the belief that through high quality arts education and creative youth development, we can make schools more just and joyful, and youth more able to share and shape the world with their creative voice. This will always be our North Star. As the years go on, the evidence that this is true continues to grow. Arts Corps is now a national model that is changing lives and institutions. I can’t wait to see where Arts Corps will go next.
Yours truly, Elizabeth