Who was that teacher, relation or peer without whom you would not have become who you are? What relationship changed your life? What skill, passion or vocation can you trace back to a mentor?
These are the kinds of questions that drive the mission of our new neighbor in the Bromo Arts district, Baltimore Youth Arts (BYA), an arts and job readiness program for youth ages 14-24 with a focus on those who have contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
“What I’ve learned from working with young people, working within these institutions, is that there is too much that is needed,” says Gianna Rodriguez Founder and Open Society Institute, Baltimore -- Community Fellow. “The young people are constantly losing their connections to services, to education, to adults with whom they’ve established a relationship. The goal is to create relationships with adults while they are incarcerated and continue those relationships once they return to the community” (quote from Rodriguez OSI Community Fellow profile) As reported by The Baltimore Sun, funding from the mayor's YouthWorks program created jobs last summer for sixteen teenagers who created murals, prints, clothing and digital works that were displayed throughout the city and sold at local galleries.
Recently featured on WYPR’s On the Record hosted by Sheilah Kast, Rodriquez and her staff’s efforts have been recently hampered by sudden and damaging developments ranging from eviction to the tragic loss of one of their emerging stars from gun violence. However, the youth and staff of BYA have banded together through these tough weeks and managed to secure a space from The Platform Gallery, two blocks from Everyman. Funds are urgently needed to turn the gallery basement into a vibrant arts studio and workforce development space.
Last week a group of BYA students joined Gianna at Everyman to see Great Expectations, then joined in on an engaging discussion during the theatre’s “World of the Play” panel discussion series.
Everyman Theatre will be donating $5 for every full-priced ticket sold to our Saturday, March 4 8PM production of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations to this worthy nonprofit right here in our neighborhood. Reserve your seat here or call our Box Office at 410.752.2208.
Everyman theatre goers can also go directly and give to BYA’s most recent crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the renovation of a space that will enable BYA’s youth to, according to their website, gain “the creative, personal, and educational skills that will enable them to become leaders in their communities.”