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Tuesday, January 13 was a big day at Youth Radio headquarters where staff and students were honored to welcome National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu during her Northern California tour of NEA grantees. We gave Chairman Chu an insider’s tour of Youth Radio headquarters and the various spaces of the Youth Radio Arts Pathway.
NEA Chairman Chu brought along a delegation of state and local arts leadership, including California Arts Council (CAC) Director Craig Watson, City of Oakland Cultural Arts Manager Steven Huss, and Oakland School for the Arts President Donn Harris.
Deputy Director Jabari Gray and Community Arts Director Maeven McGovern led the tour of Youth Radio headquarters and our 1719 Youth Arts Center, where Chairman Chu got to see the Arts Pathway in action. Starting where the Arts Pathway work begins, Chairman Chu and guests learned about the multi-media classroom where Youth Radio students gain hands-on experience in digital arts, including music editing and composition, digital media production, and journalism.
Upstairs at Youth Radio Interactive, students and staff discussed the varying opinion around digital media and technology being considered as part of the arts. Both Chairman Chu and CAC Director Watson expressed the strong belief that digital arts are crucial to the younger generation’s place in the creative economy, and the nation’s future economy in general.
Oakland’s new mayor Libby Schaaf made a surprise visit to NEA Chairman Chu as Youth Radio staff showed them around the production studio, sharing original music and vocals produced by Youth Radio students.
Mayor Schaaf also ran into one of her former interns and 18-year-old Youth Reporter Desmond Meagley. The Oakland Mayor was happy to see her former intern, and encouraged him to continue reporting, since media creation is “one of the best forms of exercising democracy.”
We then engaged in a round table discussion with Chairman Chu about her emerging priorities for the arts in 2015, and her vision for her role at the NEA. She explained how her view of the arts today is a world in which artists are no longer off to the side, working alone in a studio, but rather a group of people working together and sharing creative ideas.
Chairman Chu and her guests then headed next door to the 1719 Youth Arts Center, where she met 17-year-old YR Reporter Savannah Robinson. Savannah and the Chairman sat down for a one-on-one camera interview, discussing the artists’ role in community revitalization, and how at it’s 50-year anniversary, the NEA aims to make the arts accessible and valuable to younger generations for the next 50 years.
Chairman Chu thanked Youth Radio for its contribution to the Oakland youth arts scene, and commented that “Youth Radio is playing a very important part in keeping the vibrancy of the whole community.” We thank Chairman Chu for her visit and support of the Youth Radio Arts Pathway!