TAG: Together, Art Grows
TAG, “Together, Art Grows,” is a youth-focused initiative that aims to build community and neighborhood pride through the creation and installment of public art in Northwest Rutland, VT.
In October 2016, a team of community leaders from Rutland attended a Community Leadership Institute sponsored by NeighborWorks America. All teams that attend write a grant for a community building opportunity of their design. Ours was TAG: Together Art Grows, drawing from our team members’ art backgrounds who were very passionate about getting kids into the community revitalization realm. We took a lot of courses on youth empowerment and decided to design a program that let kids make decisions about their community. And so, TAG was born.
It’s been a very rocky road getting this going, mostly due to scheduling with interested youth. Originally we were aiming at youth in high school, but scheduling conflicts (getting the youth all together on the same days) made us look for another option. We are very interested in the process, and didn’t want it to be a one/two day activity – we want the youth to form bonds, to understand community revitalization, and to feel proud at the end.
So, that’s how we ended up here: meeting with 9-12 year olds at the Boys & Girls Club every Thursday to tour public art, have conversations about the impact of public art, and to imagine transforming spaces with art. The youth voted to focus on Baxter Street Alley, and chose sculpture and murals as their top “type of art” preferences (see voting PDF below).
That’s where we currently are. We’ve tagged two experts, Josh Morse and Nick Santoro, and split the group of 9 into two: one to focus on mural and the other to create sculpture.
Because we leave the decisions up to the youth, between every Thursday we are writing the curriculum for the next meeting and trying to get all the people and resources in place. It’s hectic, but so exciting and fun – stay tuned for updates.