Creative Action: Change Through Art in Austin Schools

Creative-Action_Art

Somewhere out there in the whole wide world you may wish there were an organization doing after-school, in-school, and community-based programs that teach the arts, build community and help kids develop socially and emotionally.

You’re in luck.

There are organizations doing important work like that in schools. Here in Austin, one that’s doing great work is Creative Action.

Capital Metro has partnered with AISD’s Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media & Performing Arts Institute and Creative Action to ask students to create environmentally focused art to adorn Austin’s first pair of zero-emissions electric buses. We spoke with Christa Berry, Creative Action’s Chief Marketing & Development Officer, to learn what Creative Action does and how the Electric Bus Artwork Contest came to be.

What is the role of Creative Action in the Austin Community?

Every Creative Action program uses arts learning to help young people become creative artists, critical thinkers, courageous allies and confident leaders so they may contribute to and live in a more equitable world.

Creative Action is the largest arts education organization in Central Texas, leading the way for the innovative application of the arts to support positive youth development.

We deliver more than 800 weekly programming hours in six urban, suburban and rural area school districts, reaching more than 20,000 youth annually and the adults who care for them.

Since our founding in 1997, we have reached 200,000+ youth and adults; delivered 250,000+ hours of arts enrichment programming; employed 600+ teens to produce original art; held 1,000+ performances; and employed 800+ local artists.

How did this partnership between you and CapMetro come about?

CapMetro is a long-time supporter of Creative Action and has been particularly supportive of Color Squad, our visual arts teen program.

Each year we choose a different social justice issue or theme and launch a youth-driven, arts-based collective impact project as part of our mission to help young people become courageous allies who stand up for equity and use their creative voice to make a difference in the community.

This year, our efforts will focus on climate change and environmental justice, inspiring students and community members to DREAM GREEN by practicing sustainability at school and at home and advocating for environmental justice.

CapMetro’s zero-emissions electric buses came about in parallel with our DREAM GREEN impact project, so we saw it as the perfect alignment to expand our existing partnership.

Can you tell us about the opportunity you saw to merge student art with the launch of Capital Metro’s first pair of zero-emissions electric buses?

We saw the opportunity to help launch CapMetro’s zero-emissions electric buses as a way to merge arts-based learning with your vision for a sustainable future.

Students at our Spark School, Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media & Performing Arts Institute, will use their artistic skills to design bus wraps for the new buses while learning about environmental sustainability.

This collaboration illustrates what can come from an innovative application of creative expression.

Students involved will further develop their 21st century skills and social and emotional competencies, critical skills for developing personally and making positive contributions to their communities.

What matters most when working with children to create art?

What matters most is the sense of freedom and possibility that’s sparked through art-making.

Watching each child create, you see them expressing something unique about themselves, their personality, their thinking, their culture and their place in the world.

While they are working, experimenting, revising and crafting, children are free to make hundreds of choices about innumerable details, using their senses, feelings and ideas to create a work that is entirely new, vibrant and vital.

The nature of art-making and collaboration reminds us that we are all learners regardless of age, and that the most exciting discoveries are when we learn more about ourselves and our community.

If you had one wish for the Austin Community – what would it be?  

For us, the arts provide young people with a dynamic pathway for developing the academic, social and emotional skills for success.

As participants express themselves and build critical 21st century skills through hands-on creative projects, they also connect with their peers, their local communities and the global community beyond Austin.

Our one wish would be that all youth in the Austin community have equal access to arts education.

The new Capital Metro bus electric fleet launches this month.

Learn more about Creative Action!

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