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Amplify Grants Made to Support Youth-Led Projects

Käthe Swaback, Program Officer

youth performing on a stage
Berkshire Pulse performance

Last month, Mass Cultural Council proudly awarded 15 new Amplify grants for 2020 totaling $22,500. Directed to projects designed and executed by young people in programs receiving YouthReach or SerHacer funding, Amplify furthers the Commonwealth’s investment in youth leadership and empowerment.

The Amplify grant process incorporates youth voice throughout, including the participation of young professionals and program alums in the panel review. This unique approach ensures that the Amplify program continues to strive not just for the highest quality and innovation in programming, but to naturally and actively incorporate youth leadership in its rightful role in cultural provision across the state of Massachusetts.

Congratulations to this year’s Amplify recipients:

Ballet Rox, Boston
Individuals who come from various cultural backgrounds such as Vietnam, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Ireland, are all part of BalletRox. To celebrate this diversity, teens will work to investigate dances from these cultures, understand their uniqueness, and then work to incorporate every culture into one dance piece. They will showcase different styles of dances that expresses who they are and where they come from by preforming at the Earth Festival and Dance for World Community.

Berkshire Pulse, Inc., Great Barrington
The Berkshire Pulse Young Choreographers Initiative will be choreographing a dance around the topic of body image and will showcase it in two culminating events. The process will include different sections that will be choreographed by each of the Youth Project Leaders working with other teen intermediate level students as well as dancers ranging in ages 30-60 from the community, in order to more comprehensively understand how this topic affects people of all ages.

Elevated Thought, Lawrence
Teens will create a “Housing Initiative” documentary and build connections through their voice and platform as they work with their community to creatively analyze and address housing instability for young people.

Enchanted Circle Theater, Holyoke
Young people will lead spoken word, dance/movement, music, poetry, and other creative arts to express personal stories about their experience in foster care and adoption. The HEROES Youth Truth is a creative arts and media performance ensemble focused on creating awareness and positive change for foster and adoptive kids.

Express YourselfBeverly
Utilizing multiple art forms, including songwriting, stop motion animation, claymation and set design, youth leaders will collaborate to create an original animated short film and theme song for Express Yourself’s annual exhibition gala at Endicott College. Themes will educate the public about the realities of what youth experience who have mental health issues.

GreenRoots, Inc., Chelsea
The ECO Youth Crew will provide new white sneakers, a variety of art supplies, and inspiration at their Kustomize Your Kicks event. ECO will outreach to their peers, offer a fun creative night that will provide teens with new sneakers for those who need them, and connect those who are interested to the important work in environmental justice.

Mystic Learning Center, Somerville
Youth Peer Leader, Andrine, will plan curricula and host a series of writing and community organizing workshops for teens at the Mystic Learning Center. She also will help other teens to plan, host, and present their own original work in Books of Hope’s annual Somerville Youth Arts Festival and at the Mystic Housing Development.

New Bedford Whaling Museum High School Apprenticeship Program, New Bedford
Young people will educate and inspire people to take action around the United Nation’s Life Under Water Sustainable Development Goal by working with organizations and other youth who will focus on a one-day marine area clean-up in New Bedford.

New England Aquarium, Boston
Through a partnership between the New England Aquarium ClimaTeens and the Institute of Contemporary Art teens, young people will create artwork on the issues of climate change and display it on World Oceans Day at the New England Aquarium. The exhibit will educate Boston area youth to advocate for climate action and demand climate change in our communities.

The Performance Project, Springfield
Young artist, Joalis, will create a mixed-media exploration of her city entitled, “A Vision of Holyoke.” Through the eyes of a young person, using the mediums of drawing, painting and photography, the community exhibit will focus on people and places that are familiar and unique to Holyoke.

Raw Art Works, Lynn
Young men of color in RAW’s leadership program, RAW Chiefs, will create a sculpture entitled, “Talk About It.” In creating art in Lynn, and exhibiting the art in South Hamilton, it will inspire others to explore themes of immigration, injustice, and separation, and hopefully have the courage to talk about difficult injustices in their own lives.

Sociedad Latina, Boston
Two Youth Artists will organize and lead an open mic series, The Raíces (Roots), in the Youth Arts Mastery Program for youth and community. A “Question & Answer” session with renowned Latino guest artists will help guide a themed discussion centered around a social justice issue chosen by our Youth Artists.

South End Technology Center @ Tent City, Boston
Teens will design the project, #MakingLiberation with the Local Voices Network & Everyday Boston to explore a social justice issue important to them. Through facilitated and recorded conversations, their feelings and ideas will be seen through the creation of interactive art, performance, and through a technology project exhibited in three venues.

Worcester Chamber Music Society, Inc., Worcester
Teens will find inspiration as they educate themselves about Baroque music. Along with learning how to play and perform with greater expertise, they will also take a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts to study the historical instruments. They will actively inspire others as well through the design and presentation of a workshop and a concert for their younger peers involved in WCMS and their community.

Worcester Youth Center, Worcester
Five youth leaders will plan, recruit, and offer a monthly series of talent shows. This program will allow organizers to practice and strengthen their organization skills, as well as give talent show participants an opportunity to showcase creative talents to the community.

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