More than 400 youth, community leaders and families gathered to celebrate and view art created by youth in Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) programs at the highly anticipated 7th Annual DYS “Share Your Art, Share Your Voice!” event on Tuesday, May 14. Held at WGBH Studios in Brighton, this year’s statewide event featured 260 art pieces for sale created by 100 young artists. All the creativity showcased was developed by youth in the care of DYS (youth in residential programs, in the community, and Y.E.S. youth). Young people submitted artwork for the showcase, were paid for their participation, and could sell their work. This year the event raised $7,887.24— 15.59 percent more than last year. This event reinforces the Commonwealth’s investment in educational and workforce development for youth in DYS programs. For the last decade, the agency has used arts education as a youth engagement strategy and opportunity for positive youth development.
Display boards of Youth artwork.
Outside of the Art Gallery, more youth artwork was displayed featuring programs and community partnerships where guests met and spoke with the artists, learned more about the various services, and participated in hands-on demonstrations and educational activities. Partner booths included Actors’ Shakespeare Project, representing community and residential theater-arts programming; Bridging the Opportunity Gap programs including Diesel Works featuring original handmade metal work for sale; and Exclusive Tees, the youth-led custom silk screen social enterprise run by Commonwealth Corporation – just to name a few.
Youth and staff of the Diesel Works Welding Program in Holyoke, MA.
Gio, a teen who participated in the Diesel Works Welding Program in Holyoke, expressed how grateful he was for the opportunity to learn a new trade. “Because of this program, I plan to pursue a career in welding,” he said. “I never thought I would be interested in this but I actually like it a lot. It’s fun.” Gio explained that without the program, he probably would be doing something he shouldn’t. After viewing the art and networking, attendees were led into the WGBH auditorium for an array of live performances by the youth. First welcomed by  DYS Deputy Commissioner Ruth Rovezzi who stated how proud she is of the youth and acknowledged their hard work, the audience watched performances that included hip-hop dance, poetry and rap, drumming and singing. For the past seven years, Commonwealth Corporation has supported the DYS Arts Showcase and would like to thank everyone who participated and made a purchase. If you weren’t able to buy any pieces, no worries! An online store will be up in a few weeks of youth Arts available for purchase!
All of the Youth Performers.