Thank you for helping US deliver high quality theatre arts and mentoring programs to our most underserved youth and communities last year. Thanks to our dedicated supporters, we grew our programs to serve 1,322 youth and family members at 4 local middle and high schools, 3 juvenile detention centers, and 1 community based inter-generational theatre project. That is a 20% increase from 2015!
I’m proud to share that we exceeded our goals with the help of new programs all over LA:
- We expanded Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network programming to 2 new juvenile detention centers
- We added Voices for Art and Social Theatre (VAST) in-classroom workshops at Edison Middle School in South LA.
- We created Parent PrACTice/PrACTica de Padres, mini drama workshops for families aimed at strengthening parent communication skills and furthering children’s social and emotional development.
In 2017, we’re excited to roll out the newly branded S.T.A.R. (Supportive, Trained and Reliable) volunteer mentor program. We’ve enhanced our existing program with more orientations and trainings throughout the year. We are recruiting and training mentors from the fields of technical theatre and visual arts to work alongside our paid teaching artists to provide increased exposure to the various career paths in the arts, media, and entertainment sector. To learn more about volunteering with US click here.
Also this year, we will continue to evaluate, refine, and enhance our program models including our professional development training for LA County’s Probation officers. Already this month we led 60 Probation officers through a typical theatre residency workshop to give the officers a first-hand experience of our process. At the conclusion of the training, many of them reported new insight and strategies to add humor and team building in their daily interactions with the incarcerated minors in their care.
Then in March, we will proudly join the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network at Carnegie Hall for “Create Justice”, a new community of thought partners dedicated to advancing the national conversation and driving collective action around the role of the arts in juvenile justice reform.
At the heart of all our work is our students’ creative playwriting and performance process, guided yet uncensored, by our skilled teaching artists. Each play elicits moments of great affection, transformation, connection and reflection.
One that has really stayed with me is Long Live Lies, written by Maclay Middle School students. The story follows a poor undocumented Mexican family coping with the death of their mother. In the wake of her death, siblings struggle to get along and accept each other’s differences while their father is keeping secrets. One child attempts to cope by pushing her family further away and joining a gang. In the end, only love, acceptance, and the truth can save the family.
This year and every year, your support means the world to US. A powerful gift you can give our youth is to attend a performance and witness the pride and confidence that radiates from the stage! I invite you to check out our website calendar and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date and to RSVP for a performance or workshop visit this Spring.
I hope to see you soon!