Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
I would argue this is doubly so for our youth facing insurmountable challenges with intangible solutions; challenges at school, at home, and the community at large. Recently, students I serve have been left to cope with the loss of their performing arts program. They have lost their space, courses, funding, and equipment. Their ability to thrive has been stolen from them and they are now forced to survive.
For many of our youth, belonging is crucial to their development, especially in regards to their social-emotional growth. Some students have sports, some choose houses of worship, and for others the arts provide a familial home away from home. Theatre arts, as it did for me when I was young, gives youth an inclusive learning environment to explore, create, fail, and grow; a place where collaboration and all of the skills associated with teamwork can foster; a place where their voices matter and empowerment comes as second-nature.
To combat this, I have decided to launch an initiative this summer called Education Ensemble . The program will work to cultivate inclusive creative spaces for youth by fostering community and utilizing art as a form of direct-action.
Education Ensemble seeks a just society where all are valued and able to hold space. The organization aims to disrupt traditional art and learning spaces that often leave youth marginalized and disenfranchised.
Education Ensemble will work to elevate narratives of community members and amplify the voices of our youth. Armed with art, youth will usher in a world where justice, inclusion, and empathy are crucial elements to the creative process, collaboration, and community building.
One way in which we intend to do this is to produce and incubate youth-led projects as well as student-created works. We begin this summer with our inaugural production of Resonant: Student Voices Anthology. With the help of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, we will be able to run five performances at the Theatre of Note in late June. While we are off to a great start thanks to the generosity of so many, I am asking that our community rally behind these young artists.
Education Ensemble hopes to raise enough funds in order to: 1. Create a scholarship fund for recent high school graduates headed to 2-year, 4-year, or trade and vocational schools. 2. Support alumnis’ work with stipends. 3. Save enough money in order to run a production next summer. 4. Expand programming in the coming year.
We’d like to provide at least $600 in scholarships and another $600 in stipends. In addition, we need to save at least $2,100 to cover the costs of next year’s production (HFF Fees, venue, insurance, costumes, props, marketing, etc.).
Your continued support and donation can help make this happen. You can directly affect the lives of our youth by saving a space for them to exist, express themselves, and discover even more about who they will become. More importantly, your support affords these young artist the opportunity to develop the tools they’ll need to save our communities.
There are two things I know to be true: One, we are in desperate need of positive change in the world and, two, these young people will be the ones to bring about said positive change. And they will do so through art because, “Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.”