Creative Expression and Leadership
Research from the National Endowment for the Arts finds that the arts contribute to higher academic performance and are an outlet for those experiencing stressful events. Arts activity at the Center includes a variety of media that allow young people to express themselves creatively through performance and introspective and self-reflective activities. The arts activity is integrated into the fabric of the Center; for example, the Center serves as an art gallery displaying works created by members that are highlighted in Center’s Annual Report and promotional materials. In addition, dancers are routinely called upon to perform at talent shows, meetings and banquets.
The Recording Studio is where members become skilled at recording voice over musical tracks Many of the users of the studio are aspiring and enterprising performers who come to demonstrate their creative lyrical verse. Some earn personal income from distribution of their recorded track, while others do it purely for the enjoyment. This service, on the open market, could cost upwards of $50 per hour. At the Center, it is free to members.
Members use the Dance Studio to participate in activities that embody their creative expression. It is a place where many of them come to unleash their daily anxiety and stress. While much of the dance is self-taught, the quality and commitment is supreme. Many of the older youth help the younger members learn sophisticated, choreographed steps. The studio received an upgrade in 2013 as part of the “Working for Worcester” volunteer action day which was sponsored by the James J. Marshall and Ellen O’Conner Marshall Memorial Fund.
The Youth Reach arts program offers prime activities for budding artists and those seeking an outlet to unleash their creative potential. The Center offers courses in visual, electronics (gaming) arts and craft through collaborations with the Worcester Art Museum, Becker College, Worcester State University’s Center for Arts and Crafts, and Press Pass TV. They work with master artists in their trade to create group and individual artwork using multiple media, for example portraits, sculptures, design of video games, short films, and crafting clay pottery and figurines. Youth Reach is a namesake of the Mass Cultural Council, a funder of this activity.
The Teen Action Group (TAG) provides opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills through involvement in the day-to-day and overall programming at the center. This group is meets weekly to plan activities and offer feedback to the staff, Executive Director and the Board of Directors. In addition, they are involved with community action including advocating for services for youth like summer youth jobs, planning cultural and entertainment events, recruiting new members to the Center and fundraising.