Check out The Alliance's Youth Media Video Roundtable from last month!
As the youth media sector continues to evolve and expand, building both capacity and connectivity becomes a central component to the field’s vitality and sustainability. Through our Collective Action initiative and a suite of programs designed to support and empower youth media organizations, develop media and visual arts leaders and amplify the voices of young artists—The ALLIANCE will be an intentional force in facilitating innovation, collaboration, strategic growth and cultural impact in the Youth Media field.
We carry forward an ethics and character-based approach to this work; we believe in transparency around data-sharing to support best practices in the field, and prioritize the safety and agency of young people. We are working together to embolden the next generation of media artists in a system built around equity and freedom of expression.
In this section of the website, we will feature the latest news from our youth media programs, curate available resources and opportunities for youth media educators and artists-in-residence, and highlight powerful youth-driven creative storytelling.
YOUTH MEDIA + COLLECTIVE ACTION
The ALLIANCE believes that to manifest a world in which media artists and organizations are essential and undeniable leaders in a thriving, global community, we must engage youth directly to help realize this world now. This means building a table where people of all ages are welcome, and that starts with a team of intergenerational artists, media makers, producers, educators, and organizational leaders.
The ALLIANCE is building this table through our Collective Action Initiative, which is lead by ALLIANCE Impact Producers Myah Overstreet (19) and Jason Wyman (40). Our Collective Action Initiative is rooted in the best practices of Collective Impact (i.e. human-centered design, shared data-driven inquiry, scalable prototyping, local engagement, and inclusive and equitable leadership) while simultaneously instigating strategic, coordinated, and easily replicable actions across the United States that engage people of all ages and that surface both crucial civic issues and current creative practices. The goal is to weave a network of networks that leverage their creative practices to instigate strategic activities that address targeted national civic issues and result in media-based works.
To kick off the Collective Action Initiative, we are launching the 50-State Dinner Party Project. Our goal is to have at least 50 dinners in 50 different states in the next one to two years around the central question, “What are our desired futures?” We are being bold and forward thinking at the outset so we can devise dynamic shared goals and the resulting coordinated Youth Media activities create impacts that manifest a world more inclusive and equitable for all.
As youth, adults, and elders across the country convene around physical tables and share their creative practices and desired futures while also sharing a meal, The ALLIANCE will convene dinner party hosts and attendees around a virtual table to review data collected at the dinner parties, identify the strongest common themes and devise a set of shared goals. We will activate and connect regional cohorts, and work towards more targeted and strategic activities that directly address emergent themes and issues. This approach allows all to come-as-they-are in all of their complexity and contribute in a manner that is both self-directed and collective.
The ALLIANCE’s Collective Action Initiative builds on the legacy of its work coordinating the National Youth Media Network, which helped facilitate connections between media arts practitioners and organizational leaders, by expanding the table to include youth and young adults at the outset. This intergenerational approach requires a slowing down of strategy and an increase in intentional relationship building. The 50-State Dinner Party Project collaboratively builds a table with youth and cultivates equitable exchange across the generations.
Additionally, a debt of gratitude is owed to the collaborative efforts that yielded the National Core Arts Standards for Media Arts and the National Summit on Creative Youth Development for providing inspiration for this work. The extensive resources available at the Collective Impact Forum have also informed our process. With this foundation, we look to build together a more intergenerational network that coordinates national engagement and learning activities, cultivates high quality media artworks, develops and celebrates young leaders, and evaluates the most meaningful impacts over time.
What is the 50 State Dinner Party Project?
The 50 State Dinner Party Project is the kickoff of a Youth Media Collective Action Initiative produced by The ALLIANCE for Media Arts and Culture (The ALLIANCE) to spark creative and civic conversations—over simple dinners. Our goal is to have 50 dinners in 50 different states in the next one to two years!
To start this work, we are reaching out across the country to ask a question inspired by the wisdom of Kate Fowler of Appalshop: What are our desired futures?
We believe that in order to work towards collective action and impact, we need to start with local engagement. Through local conversations, we will be able to find, name, and connect the opportunities and challenges facing rural, suburban, and urban municipalities in our diverse 50 states. This will lead us toward discovering shared visions and articulating shared goals that can move our fields—youth media and creative youth development—into more coordinated action resulting in deeper impact.
Our ultimate goal: inspiring coordinated, creative, collective action that identifies and investigates civic issues facing our country and the world and results in media-based works.
What happens at dinner?
People of all ages (youth, adults, and elders) share a meal and creatively and conversationally explore the question: What are our desired futures? This is done through an opening circle, generative conversations inspired by 50 questions related to our futures, creating symbols of our futures, collecting contact information, and sharing in small and large groups.
We have a toolkit that makes planning and hosting the dinner party easy. And it comes with technical assistance and a network of others hosting dinners across the country.
Who’s responsible for the food?
We suggest a potluck! First, we know that everyone is working on limited budgets, so potlucks help keep costs down for any single person and/or organization. This dispersion of costs is also a metaphor for creating something sustainable that lasts beyond a single funder, a single organization, and/or a single person.
Second, we believe that the potluck is an opportunity to learn more about your community. What people bring to the potluck says something about who they are, what they may be able to contribute, and a peek into their possible commitment. Within this space, we also believe that it is crucial to graciously accept all of the offerings brought to the dinner. We know that just showing up ready to break bread is an offering in and of itself. And all offerings are honored equally.
How can I get involved?
There are two ways to join our inquiry into desired futures:
For those who want to know more, click here, and we’ll take it from there.
For the those who already know they want to host a dinner, follow these three easy steps:
- Pull together an intergenerational team of at least three to host your dinner.
- Pick a date, time, and location.
- Register your dinner here, and we’ll take it from there.
Once you inquire or register, you’ll get access to the Toolkit, technical assistance, and a network of others who are hosting dinners across the country.
ABOUT THE TOOLKIT
The Toolkit is out!! Learn what it takes to join the 50 State Dinner Party Project.
Storytelling Matters: Youth Media
By Jason Wyman
“What are our desired futures?” Now, more than ever, this question seems critical to our country and our democracy. This election has brought to the light the significant divides in this country across age, geography, economic class, race, gender, and political ideology.
By Myah Overstreet
When I first began working on this project, to curate an inspiring collection of media created by youth in 2016, I didn’t know where to start—I didn’t know who to contact, what artists to recruit, or what kind of media I was really going for. The only thought that truly gave me inspiration was the thought, the vision, of living in a world transformed by art that young minds created, and how much I yearned to create this world.
A 'blogversation' by Jason Wyman, Myah Overstreet, and Wendy Levy
Introducing the 50-State Dinner Party Project!
Wendy: When I first started at NAMAC a little over a year ago, I had a long conversation with Board Member Kasandra VerBrugghen, the Executive Director of SpyHop in Utah. I was bowled over by the creative energy, solidarity and conviction around NAMAC’s National Youth Media Network programming and the collective desire for growth and change—especially around the inclusion of youth voices at every phase of the process.
The National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) today announces a $250,000 grant from the Adobe Foundation to support NAMAC’s diverse Youth Media initiatives.
By Bill Simmon
The NAMAC Creative Leadership Lab at the Sundance Resort not only helped to recharge my creative batteries and to connect with some amazing change agents in the media and arts worlds, it also allowed me to articulate some pretty fundamental ideas about what we in the field of community media are really doing.