"Using the arts as a uniquely powerful communication device, the youth were equipped with the skills and tools needed to navigate American civic and educational power structures. The program combined anti-oppression and political education curriculum implemented by local activist groups with artmaking workshops led by established artist educators to develop critical thinking skills alongside opportunities to coordinate concerts, performances, lectures and workshops to be held at the Museum and at sites throughout the community.
Each cohort of 25 young adults, who were paid a stipend to participate, addressed the tension points in their communities and interacted with community and political leaders, seniors, local businesses and entrepreneurs, and faith communities through exhibition and presenting theater, photography, film and art projects. Finally they had funds which which to administer grants to community based organizations, through a rigorous process guided by the North Start Fund. In the short term, the initiative sough to promote social integration through cross-cultural interaction amongst the participants. In the long term, it sought to create upwardly mobile engaged citizens of tomorrow trained to effect positive social change in Queens neighborhoods."
We implemented and developed workshops that used popular culture as the teaching tool. I worked with Eyebeam Museum to develop the first Blogging Curriculum with Josh Kingberg that taught community building through popular culture. The youth audio-blogged interviews with their family members. I also had the opportunity to teach and develop the curriculum for the Videomaking class that focused on community storytelling. Under Prerana Reddy's guidance, the program grew into a multi-year initiative.
The Queens Museum of Arts is one of my favorite museums in the world - truly is. It is the only museum of its size that I know of that truly creates community led initiatives. I credit a lot of this to the museum's executive director, Tom Finkelpearl, and to my good friend Prerana Reddy who over sees all public events. The exhibitions at QMA actually reflect the global populations that inhabit Queens. Prerana recently created the Queens community blog that can be read in Spanish and English.