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Local Cultural Councils: Amplify Youth Voice in Your Work

Jay Wong, Program Officer

photo of 3 people standing under a tent tabling at a community event. the table in front of them has brochures and the banner behind them has the text: Need funding for a program? Apply for a grant from Dover Cultural Council.
Dover Cultural Council tabling with youth member Antonio Saenz.

The purpose of Mass Cultural Council’s Local Cultural Council Program is to provide access to cultural activities for all segments of the Commonwealth’s population. Each year LCCs are responsible for making decisions on how to award public funds locally that will best serve their community’s needs.

One way LCCs can ensure they are serving all segments of a community’s population is to include people from a variety of populations in the work of the LCC. This includes young people.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen various cities and towns appoint high school students and college students to join their respective Local Cultural Council, including: Amherst, Melrose, Brookfield, Dover, Sterling, and Westborough. These LCCs have reported seeing the significance and power of having youth voices on LCCs.

“Having high school students on the LCC adds a different perspective. Having many diverse perspectives on the LCC is important for good discussion and decision making. And for high school students, it also offers them a leadership opportunity. It has been great having youth on the LCC. They are often very busy but have good ideas and we benefit from their perspective,” said Jason Webb of Melrose Cultural Council.

Upon the municipality’s appointment of a youth member to their LCC, student members have had the opportunity to:

  • Have full voting privileges.
  • Create and manage the LCC’s social media for greater outreach.
  • Conduct outreach in the community.
  • Raise more awareness of their Local Cultural Council in their schools.
  • Connect and educate younger folks to local and state government resources.

To support LCCs in exploring how they might bring on youth members, the Agency has added a “Working with Youth” section to its LCC Toolkit to provide guidance on how LCCs can begin or expand their youth membership efforts. It even includes a recorded panel discussion with youth members speaking about their LCC experiences.

Are youth voices missing from your LCC? Consider engaging with students and providing them with an opportunity to serve the cultural sector and their communities.

Working with Youth – LCC Toolkit

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