Youth and the Arts
Art, social change, and young people have always walked hand-in-hand. Engaging youth in the Arts can promote positive, powerful social change in countless art forms, including dance, music, graffiti art, and more. Young people can change the world in a lot of ways through the Arts.
We are all creative, but by the time we are three of four years old, someone has knocked the creativity out of us. Some people shut up the kids who start to tell stories. Kids dance in their cribs, but someone will insist they sit still. By the time the creative people are ten or twelve, they want to be like everyone else. — Maya Angelou
Ways Youth can Change the World focusing on the Arts
Get Active — When young people interact with art in sustained ways that acknowledge its social impact and meaning, they are critically engaging with art. Whether happening in theaters, on screens, in galleries, at school, on the streets, online, or anywhere else, young people can change the world through critical engagement with the Arts.
Make Art — Studying, practicing, performing, creating, deconstructing, obliterating and recreating art is a skill and ability all young people are endowed with from the youngest of ages, and all people are capable of throughout their entire lives. Engaging youth as artists can happen in countless ways for countless purposes, and as long as they are positive, powerful and purposeful, youth can change the world.
Do Things With Adults — Working together to co-create artistic works can allow young people and adults to work across age barriers and divisions to create unity, community and empowerment for everyone involved. Youth/adult partnerships can empower everyone to make and share what’s in their hearts and on their minds, especially when they’re focused on the Arts.
Things Needed for Youth to Change the World through the Arts
Opportunities — Young people need many opportunities to interact with art in a lot of different ways throughout their lives. Schools shouldn’t be seen as the only source of art in the lives of young people; television, the Internet, cell phones, stores, ally walls and public art all provide opportunities. Children and youth should have different people around them when they interact with art, too, including their families, educators, other young people, strangers, different social classes, different educational levels, and all types of diversities.
Education — As children and youth, young people can learn how to create art, how to critique art, how to observe art, and how to engage with art. They can also teach others how to do the same, interacting with art in yet another way. Creating art is a way to learn, and providing the tools, spaces, educators and activities for young people can change the world.
Inspiration — Feeling the drive and motivation can lead to the courage and inner-strength needed to create and share art. Sharing stories, ideas and other inspirations with young people can drive children and youth to change the world through the Arts.
- “Creative Change: Fighting Injustice Through Youth Art” by Clare O. for Vital Voices
- MLS Multi-Arts Educational Center
- Arts on the Block
- “Creative Youth Development Movement Takes Hold” by Denise Montgomery for the National Guild for Community Arts Education
- TRIBES Project
- The TRIBES Project
- The City Kids Foundation
- Pongo Publishing
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in the arts in your community or organization, contact us.