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Wholistic Homecomings: Accelerator Awardee Essays From The Lewis Prize for Music

Date: 11 July 2022

Graphic cover for The Lewis Prize for Music's Wholistic Homecoming essay series. The cover includes four drawn illustrations of people in music performance settings.

We at The Lewis Prize for Music believe that young people with access to Creative Youth Development music learning, performance and creation opportunities will grow into flourishing community members. We identified the second cohort of Accelerator Awardees through a national prize process granting cycle. These organizations underscore the potential for young people to utilize Creative Youth Development as a vehicle to address inequitable systems that have unjustly marginalized their communities.

The 2021 Accelerator Awardees are:
• Celina Miranda, Hyde Square Task Force (Boston, MA)
• DeLashea Strawder, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit (Detroit, MI)
• Matthew Kerr and Christopher Thornton, Beyond the Bars (Philadelphia, PA)
• Susan Colangelo, Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective (Saint Louis, MO)

Each of the Accelerator Awardees received $500,000 from The Lewis Prize for Music to uplift systems change efforts at their respective organizations. These organizations were selected from across the United States as standouts for their work in providing creative spaces for young people to lead in imagining, cultivating and transforming their life paths.

Following the Accelerator Award recognition, The Lewis Prize for Music invited the awardees to share the ways their organizations have emerged as vital spaces for belonging, focusing on the leadership values, practices and strategies that have led youth to thrive. In the resulting essay series, the Accelerator Awardees highlighted the importance of homecoming, reflecting on the ways their organizations have risen to the immense challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the gaps they have already worked to fill in response to systemic inequities.

The essay series is inspired by the theories of homemaking and third spaces by sociologist Avtar Brah, who pioneered the academic work of diasporic studies. The Lewis Prize for Music welcomes the reader to examine the variety of ways that Creative Youth Development organizations recreate the concept of home. By outlining their organization’s approaches to being with and for young people, particularly at the nexus of community care and artistic development, these leaders push our collective thinking forward towards imagining new realities of homecoming in these extraordinary times.

We hope these essays call for increased visibility and support for the ways Creative Youth Development programs serve as home bases for creative inquiry and positive youth development, galvanizing young people to lead us all towards more artful and just futures.

The full Wholistic Homecomings essay series is available on The Lewis Prize for Music website, or view each essay with the links below.

Coming Home by Susan Colangelo
Recreating a Sense of Home by Celina Miranda
Where the heART Lives by DeLashea Strawder
Bringing Together a Tapestry of Community by Christopher Thornton

Additionally, learn about the 2023 Accelerating Change: Creative Youth Development Across the United States video series here.

Title: 2280 Pasos Bajo un Cielo Nublado | Artist: Hernán Jourdan | Medium: Film

When I was asked to create a work of art exploring literacy, I wanted to create a dance but I had no dancers or a studio, so I chose to use my own body in the space I had, my yard. Fluent Nature is video of micro-choreography that explores what cannot be expressed with words, how nature has its own language, and how placing the human body in nature changes the story.

Title: What Is Me and What Is Not Me | Artist: Alex Chadwell | Medium: Music

My thinking on arts and literacy centers around the concept of literacies and artmaking as both sense-making and meaning-making processes that organically and inevitably overlap, intersect, and reciprocate. Compositionally, What is me and what is not me is a sound collage of sorts (there is no notation for the piece, and I'd be hard pressed to recreate it accurately) that abstractly and aurally represents the relationships between literacies and artmaking.

Title: A Curious Honeybee | Artist: Gideon Young | Medium: Film

Offering welcome through traditional and digital elements of literacy, A Curious Honeybee provides an experiential learning environment by activating visual, musical, natural, and emotional literacies.

Title: Tercera Llamada | Artist: Karilú Forshee | Medium: Audio

La Carpa Theatre is a project that I am currently directing in the Detroit Latinx community. The project aims to strengthen and uplift youth voices through devised theatre, in the style of the Mexican Carpas. This audio was created in the theatrical environment envisioned for our project. The ways in which literacies are re-defined are at the heart of La Carpa Theatre's mission.

Title: Literaseas | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite and ink on paper with digital edits

Title: A Riddle | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits

Title: False Binaries | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits