2022 Grants Challenge

Craft Youth Culture

Craft Youth Culture is Craft Contemporary's free teen program designed to give high school students an opportunity to develop their creativity, work with professional artists, engage in critical discussion around art, and connect and share with other teens. The program includes gallery visits, facilitated discussions about art, working with contemporary artists, hands-on artmaking projects, guest speakers, programs exploring careers in the arts, and first-hand experience of the behind-the-scenes operations of an art museum.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

The creative economy has been recognized as a key driver of the economic well-being of California and Craft Contemporary sees a role in building the next community of makers and creative workers. The teen afterschool program offers in-depth and supplementary art education and exposure to career-based skills and opportunities while also cultivating life-long learning. This teen program was originally conceived during a series of focus groups with leading arts education leaders from well-established education programs, including MOCA, The Armory, The Annenberg Theater, UCLA School of Education, the County Arts Commission, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The advisors provided evidence that there is a need in Los Angeles for teen programs that can offer in-depth and supplementary art education as well as opportunities for leadership training and career-based opportunities that emphasize twenty-first-century learning skills. Current museum-based teen programs are over-subscribed,

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Craft Youth Culture is centered on the artistic development of high school students with a focus on building new artistic and technical skills by providing outstanding teaching through contact with professional artists. Complementing our artistic development goals are goals in personal development including the encouragement of teamwork, decision-making, and expressive and communicative skills. A third goal is to provide access to students who might otherwise lack this opportunity. The Craft Youth Culture program considers all applying students and screens only for motivation and for the applicant’s ability to fully participate in the program thus improving arts access to students with limited previous access to art education. Students meet weekly with a teaching artist for the entire school year. Studio visits, portfolio critiques, and speakers augment studio assignments and build the dynamic content for the development of career-based learning and the growth of critical and creative thinking skills. This program is unique in its ability to give students an insider view of the museum and of an artist’s professional practice. Students’ projects are always unique and give participants the opportunity to experience art-making materials and processes that are not standard in high school settings. Students this past year remarked on the incredible opportunity they received to interact with like-minded teens and to receive so much feedback on their work.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

This program aims to change the lives of teenage participants. A vision of success promises the results of instilling confidence, teaching the value of self-reflection, and developing a habit of constructive questioning in a search to understand. Participants would ideally come to know students from a variety of communities and backgrounds and would find common ground around a shared interest in art. An ideal outcome would be that participants become aware of a myriad of potential art-related careers and they would gain an understanding of the pathways to those careers. Los Angeles would benefit from the opportunity to give youth access to arts outside the classroom, where these future leaders learn creative problem-solving skills that they bring back to their own circles of influence.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Teens are asked questions that assess: the improvement of one’s ability to express oneself through their art, the ability to speak about art and understand contemporary art in new ways, the ability to problem solve artistically and expand one's view of what art can be and communicate. Noteworthy comments include: I have learned about the importance of upholding creative endeavors and maintaining relationships with fellow creatives in these times of uncertainty, even if it is hard. Students shared that they have learned new art-making skills and techniques, as well as an understanding of how “to give my art more meaning” and “how my own culture influences my art-making.” Teens reported feeling “more optimistic and more open to new experiences,” with an ability to “try new things with conviction” and “push myself more.” Another shared “I feel open to a whole new world I didn’t know about.” Students learned to identify with other artists of culture with who they were not familiar.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 20

Indirect Impact: 100