The Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (MAPP)

The Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (MAPP)

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Last Update: April 23, 2012

Empowering youth and their communities through arts based literacy programs.

Type: hybrid

The Problem

Young people are not finding appropriate ways to express their feelings; at a critical point in their lives, when the need to be heard is so important, they are too often silent. This not only creates a lack of empathy, but also a climate of distrust and a culture of disengagement. When their voices are not integrated into the emotional life and decision-making of the community, they often feel worthless and act out in socially-inappropriate and criminal ways. Nowhere is this is more evident than in schools and neighborhoods made invisible by isolation and poverty. Arts education programming in the United States has been gutted, and few people are teaching a shared language of emotional literacy throughout these communities. This is a crisis threatening our most basic values.

The Solution

Young people deserve a voice! MAPP places youth at the center of the learning process and empowers them through an intensive arts immersion program. They write one-act plays, through mentored playwriting workshops. In the creative process they learn to listen and to trust, develop their emotional literacy, reveal their aspirations and fears, think and write into the midst of conflict and crisis, and use their voices to impact others. They participate as the writer, in a rehearsal process with a director and professional actors. Live presentations with professional actors are offered, in elementary, middle and high schools, community centers, universities, and other public forums, with the young playwright present on stage, as the honored playwright. They participate in post-play discussions to talk about their work, especially with other youth. This cultivates positive media attention and instills a greater respect for creative education .

Example

We are an arts education provider that partners with schools and not-for-profit youth development organizations to bring unique playwriting workshops to young people and to provide community presentations of their work. Development: Meetings organized by MAPP with leaders, advocates, artists, and educators to create an active base of community awareness and support. The Playwriting Workshops: This a literacy enrichment program. A group of young people, each paired with a mentor actor/writer, participates in a progressive series of intensive playwriting workshops. Training: toward building community infrastructure. We provide specialized workshops on the role of the mentor artist, capacity building in community and fundraising consultation. Presentation: The production of a staged reading series of the young playwright’s work, where the young person plays an active, central role. These dramatic presentations are seen by hundreds of their peers and adults. During these events, all of the youth are asked to respond to the themes present in the work. Starting from within the community, we work with a small group of young people, who commit themselves to the process of exploring their hopes and fears. From there, we are able to engage the larger community, especially the young people's peers, families, and educators. In the multiple communities we have worked with thus far, we have witnessed a huge change in behavioral problems. as well as a greater compassion and better understanding amongst young people about other peoples challenges.

Marketplace

Competitors: Arts education organizations that place youth in a passive role. A peer: Virginia Avenue Project in Santa Monica, California. What differentiates MAPP is our broader focus on community support. By placing a greater awareness on the reciprocal relationship the community must play in a young person’s education, we engage peers, parents, educators, and elders in a dialogue. This aspect of "listening" at the program development stage and later through audience participation at the youth centered events, ensures that the young person's needs are heard and addressed. We also focus on rural areas and urban populations with limited access to creative resources and funding. My hope is more organizations will focus on and have access to this youth empowered approach.

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