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Engaging Adolescents: Building Youth Participation in the Arts

Meaningful engagement in arts education can have a life-changing impact on teens while benefiting your organization and your community. Engaging Adolescents: Building Youth Participation in the Arts describes a holistic approach that integrates arts learning with principles of youth development. If you are developing new programs and services for teens or rethinking and strengthen existing programs, you'll learn from the principles and strategies explored in this publication.

Engaging Adolescents defines engagement and explains its benefits for both teens and arts organizations. It describes adolescents’ key developmental needs, reviews points to consider when building relationships with them, and outlines nine fundamental strategies for developing successful programs. Profiles of eight outstanding programs illustrate the strategies in action and contain practical advice culled from practitioners’ experience.

“This timely guide presents national models and practical advice for developing and sustaining arts programs for teens that foster youth development and build transferrable life skills. Informed by an expert group of practitioners and scholars, it’s a must-read for anyone working with teens.”

Traci Slater-Rigaud, Director, National Youth Arts Program Awards, President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities

“This lively and very useful guide pulls together lessons learned from a broad range of successes in community arts education. It is a tremendous resource for arts organizations. The field, and more important, our teens, will be well served by this contribution.”

H. Mark Smith, YouthReach Program Manager, Massachusetts Cultural Council

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Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1 - Why Engage Adolescents?

  • What Is Engagement?
  • Incorporating Youth Development into Arts Education
  • Deciding to Take a Fresh Look at Teen Programs
  • Getting Started

CHAPTER 2 - Connecting with Adolescents

  • Understand Adolescent Development
  • Focus on Youth Assets and Potential
  • Plan Around Competing Demands

CHAPTER 3 - Creating the Conditions for Deeper

  • Youth Engagement
  • Organizational Commitment
  • Youth Empowerment
  • A Supportive Environment

CHAPTER 4 - Fundamental Strategies of Engagement

  • Assess the Need
  • Identify Barriers to Participation
  • Create a Youth Advisory Council
  • Design Engaging, High-Interest Programs for and with Teens
  • Choose Teaching Artists and Staff Who Enjoy Working with Teens
  • Explore Partnerships
  • Create a Welcoming Environment
  • Develop the Right Marketing and Recruitment Strategies
  • Evaluate to Invigorate Teen Programs and Promote Retention

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.