We held our first in-person presentation, Got Art? at The Maryland Art Summit on June 9th! This was both an opportunity to share with the arts community at large the work that we undertake as youth arts advocates and served as a call to action for adults attending the summit.
The team met regularly at the Motor House to perfect our slide deck presentation. On the morning of the Summit we did a final practice run-of-show to loosen up and get rid of any nervous energy prior to departing for UMBC by bus, checked in and got our presenter badges, then headed to the second floor to scope out the room we would be presenting in. Sheena Morrison, Baltimore Arts Education Initiative Manager with Arts Every Day, made sure to collect the badges of our team members who were unable to attend due to schedule related conflicts with graduation commitments, exams and end of summer travel plans. But it still felt as if everyone was present, because they each created pre-recorded videos of themselves that included details about their artistic practice and reasons for joining BYAAC as part of our personalized introductions.
We had a packed house for our session! Folks listened in as we discussed the importance of youth-led advocacy in re-imagining city school arts programs that support equitable access to the arts. It was an amazing feeling to be able to discuss with attendees how they could become more involved in arts education advocacy. We were excited by the opportunity to attend the sessions of other presenters that were of interest to us as artists. After our session, Sandra Abbott, Curator or Collections gave us a tour of the current MFA Thesis Exhibition: Extimacy at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture Gallery.
This event marked the end of our second year of Bmore Youth Arts Advocacy Council. The students had so many memorable experiences as they traveled to Annapolis to meet with policy makers, represented youth voices at city school school budget forums, and familiarized themselves with Baltimores arts and cultural scene.
“On March 31st 2022, my team and I had the privilege of traveling all the way to Annapolis Maryland in order to meet with Senator Cory McCray. The purpose of our visit was to talk with Senator McCray about an art bill that we were hoping to get passed. The bill was about funding for the arts so that all youth have access to the arts education in Baltimore City. While there, we had the chance to ask Senator McCray a ton of questions, hear our bill being announced, tour the building with Senator Mcray’s chief of staff, Tameka Winkler, and meet Senator Guyten. We learned a lot from our talk with each of these wonderful people.
One thing that we all took away from our talk was the importance of leadership. It was important for us high school students to use our voices because we are the future, and us speaking up for what we believe in now will set a new milestone and open the door for other young people to use their voices as well.We have the first hand experiences, and our perspective is important.” – J’Naya Harris
The students have enjoyed their time with us so much that most of them will be returning next year to continue their advocacy efforts and expand their ever-growing network of change-makers.