Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are some ways that arts organizational leaders are engaging young people in social justice by adapting during the pandemic and using virtual tools. 

• How can donors support arts organizations and leaders during this tumultuous time? Why is it important to fund arts and social justice work? 

• Read about the role of arts and philanthropy during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As public health guidelines limited social gatherings and encouraged social distancing, arts education and social justice programs needed to reconsider their traditional in-person activities—creating a collaborative activist mural, for example, or performing an original play—for the safety of their communities. How did they bring together young people in meaningful, socially engaged arts experiences without being together physically?

I had the opportunity to speak with representatives from three organizations who have fearlessly navigated the complicated world of re-envisioning onstage performances, keeping students of various ages engaged over Zoom, and creating a sense of community among young people who may have never met in person. In their interviews, each leader explained how their organization has adapted and reimagined programs to engage youth in arts and social justice virtually and offered insight on how your community can do the same.

Emphasize process over product, understanding that young people, like everyone else, may require some extra flexibility during this time. Think about who has access to virtual programming and, when possible, provide resources like borrowed laptops or subsidized WiFi to fill in the gaps. Finally, even though connecting students with their communities remains an overarching goal, start small by focusing on connecting students with each other. For if we want young people to create art that promotes social change, we must create a virtual space with enough continuity and community that they feel comfortable speaking up in the first place.

Read the full article about youth in arts in social justice during the pandemic by Rena A. Cohen at ARTS Blog.