Counting Chickens: measuring impact in the youth arts sector

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Counting Chickens: measuring impact in the youth arts sector

January 21, 2015 2 – 4pm
Weston Family Learning Centre, Art Gallery of Ontario

Youth arts programs are intended to make a difference in the lives of young people and the world they inhabit. However, when it comes down to outcomes, indicators and how, exactly, measurement of subjective experience happens, things can get a little fuzzy. This problem is compounded by the fact that we're often asked to measure effects that may not manifest for years, counting chickens well before they hatch. This panel brings together some of Toronto’s leading practitioners in youth arts and asks them to carefully, methodically, and rigorously share their strategies for plumbing poultry.

Irfan Ali is an educator, program developer, arts administrator, and youth mentor. Currently, Irfan is the Education Manager at ArtReach Toronto. Previously, he was the Operations Manager of the Academy of the Impossible, a west-end community hub; Tutoring Program Facilitator at Pathways to Education in Regent Park; and Senior Program Coordinator of the LOFT Youth Program at the Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Centre. Irfan was born and raised in the northwestern Toronto neighbourhood of Rexdale. He has invested much of his energy to supporting young artists and leaders in the city through innovative programs that bridge the fields of art, entrepreneurship, community building, and social innovation -- something he hopes to continue doing as part of the ArtReach Toronto team. He is also a practicing artist, currently at work on a poetry collection and a manuscript of short stories set in the city.

Judith Koke was recently appointed the Chief, Public Programming and Learning at the Art Gallery of Ontario, after spending  three years as the Director, Education and Interpretive Programs at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri.  She has spent many years as a visitor researcher and program evaluator, and will speak about her experience leading a two year research project into the impact of some 250 youth programs for the Institute for Museum and Library Services.  Judy has published broadly in the museum field, and her most recent publications are Interpretive Planning for Museums: Integrating Visitor Perspectives in Decision Making, and a chapter on participatory exhibition development in Multiculturalism in Art Museums Today.

Darren O'Donnell has a M.Sc. in Urban Planning from the University of Toronto and attended University of Bern's Center of Competence for Public Management, introductory intensive on QCA, taught by Eva Thomann and Fritz Sager.  Darren is a novelist, essayist, playwright, director, designer, performer and Artistic and Research Director of performance company Mammalian Diving Reflex. His books include: Social Acupuncture (2006), which argues for aesthetics of civic engagement and Your Secrets Sleep with Me (2004), a novel about difference, love and the miraculous. His stage-based works include White Mice (1998), [boxhead] (2000), and All the Sex I’ve Ever Had (2012), and Promises to a Divided City (2014).

Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, youth advocate, activist, researcher, curator and educator. He has worked for over a decade as the Program Coordinator of the Art Gallery of Ontario Youth Program.  As a visual artist, Syrus works within the mediums of painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and activist culture. Syrus’ recent curatorial projects include The Church Street Mural Project (Church-Wellesley Village, 2013), That’s So Gay: On the Edge (Gladstone Hotel, 2014) and Re:Purpose (Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2014). He is part of the PDA (Performance Disability Art) Collective and co-programmed Crip Your World: An Intergalactic Queer/POC Sick and Disabled Extravaganza as part of Mayworks 2014.  Syrus is part of Blackness Yes! and produces Blockorama and other related events throughout the year. In 2005, Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by NOW Magazine, and in 2012 was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award for LGBT community leadership and activism. Syrus is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.



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