Contact: Americans For The Arts
Americans For The Arts
1000 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202 371-2830
Arts agencies across the country have for many years provided arts programs for youth at risk of juvenile delinquency and other behavioral problems, with the assumption that these programs can alter the course of troubled lives.
In 1995, for the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Americans for the Arts surveyed representatives from more than 600 such programs around the nation. The organization found that while there was abundant anecdotal evidence of "success stories" among art programs for at-risk youth, there was little statistical evidence that these arts programs can enhance youth development.
That same year, our consortium of three arts agencies—the Regional Arts & Culture Council in Portland, Oregon; Fulton County Arts Council in Atlanta; and the City of San Antonio Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs—along with Americans for the Arts, began a collaborative research effort on arts programming for youth at risk.
This consortium, known as the YouthARTS Development Project, had seven primary goals:
to define the critical elements and "best practices" of arts programs designed for at-risk youth populations
to design and test program evaluation methodologies
to conduct a rigorous evaluation at three pilot sites of the impact of arts programs on adolescent behavior and the risk and protective factors associated with behavioral problems and delinquency
to design and test models of professional development and training that prepare artists to work with at-risk youth populations and that prepare artists, social service staff, juvenile justice professionals, and educators to work collaboratively in developing and implementing arts programs for youth at risk
to strengthen collaborative relationships among local and federal partners
to disseminate "best practice" models to arts, social service, and juvenile justice program providers nationwide
to leverage increased funding for at-risk youth programs
To meet these goals, we at YouthARTS began by conducting a field scan of the literature on arts-based youth programming. Next, we interviewed representatives from model programs around the country in order to identify "best practices." Third, we conducted focus groups with artists and social workers in each of the three cities involved in the YouthARTS project. Fourth, we reviewed the juvenile justice literature on risk- and protection-focused prevention and intervention—which would become the underpinnings of the YouthARTS approach: to develop programs that are designed to reduce risk factors, while increasing protective factors.
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