As 2013 accelerates its way to a finish, it’s a time both for reflection and a time to look forward and make plans for 2014. Wait, 2014?! As a former pre-school student of mine once said: “Holy Moly Smokes!”
Time sure does fly. This past year, my first as Director of Youngstown, has been one of many successes. Honoring the rich history of youth programming at DNDA and Youngstown, we have been working to bring back free arts classes for youth in our facilities. In 2014, we will kick things off in partnership with Totem Star, an up-and-coming music education organization that started working here this Fall and will continue offering classes and working with youth to help revitalize our Recording Studio for community use. In addition to this music programming, we are working with Nature Consortium to bring youth visual arts classes back to Youngstown. Nature Consortium is prioritizing this in addition to the opportunities they already provide for youth to get service learning credit through their environmental restoration projects. Arts Corps is also interested in continuing the youth poetry classes they have offered here in years past.
My focus for youth programs in all this is to offer programming that can serve students at the Southwest Interagency Academy, an alternative branch of Seattle Public Schools that is based here in our building. The high school students enrolled here bring a vital energy to our community and represent youth culture from throughout the Delridge corridor. These kids need as much support as they can get, so I see it as my job to bring arts educators to the table to work collaboratively with other organizations and the youth themselves to find classes and projects that can get and keep young people excited about the arts. This type of integrated programming requires time and money, and a major focus for us in 2014 will be finding funders who can help see Youngstown’s vision for youth arts education take flight.
Another top priority for 2014 will be the revitalization of all our building’s rental spaces: our Recording Studio (already underway as mentioned above), as well as our Theater, Movement Studio, Kitchen, and Classrooms. These spaces were equipped with state-of-the-art equipment when Youngstown opened in 2006, but now much of that equipment is in need of repair or replacement. We rely on this equipment to support our youth programs and to remain a competitive rental venue for regional events. So this will be a priority for us in 2014, and we hope to give ourselves a much needed facelift for our 8th birthday in February!
Speaking of, mark your calendar for our March 1st, 2014 celebration of Youngstown’s 8th Birthday. It’ll be a dance party and then some!
DNDA and Youngstown are in a growth phase, so stay tuned for more plans and community collaborations as we close out 2013 and gear up for 2014.
And in honor of Thanksgiving, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone in the Youngstown and Delridge communities who make this such an interesting place to live, work, and play. Happy Thanksgiving!!