Ten years ago, the ICA galvanized a movement for teen arts education with the first-ever national Teen Convening. On November 2-4, 2018, the ICA hosted Building Brave Spaces: Mobilizing Teen Arts Education, an unprecedented gathering to reflect and build upon the knowledge and field-wide progress made in teen arts education over the past decade. Functioning as a catalyst, this event served as a forum for collaboration and understanding across institutions, generations, and geographies. Through keynote sessions, workshops, and panels this conference addressed three key areas: what we know about the impact of arts education on teens; innovative programs that museums are doing and the leadership required; and how to mobilize a broader field. See full schedule below.

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3–5 PM | Registration @ ICA

5–9 PM | Kick Off Reception & Gallery Tours led by ICA Teen Arts Council

6–7 PM | Main Stage: Building Brave Spaces

Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater, 3rd floor entrance

  • Welcome by Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director, ICA/Boston
  • Introduction by Mithsuca Berry / Teen Arts Council Alum, ICA/Boston
  • Keynote Remarks by Okwui Okpokwasili, Writer, Performer, Choreographer, and 2018 MacArthur Fellow
  • Youth Performance by Berklee City Music

7—9 PM | Reception Continues

  • Pop-Up Talks by ICA Visitor Assistants  ICA galleries, 4th floor


8–8:45 AM | Coffee & Breakfast

8:45 – 10:15 AM | Main Stage: Reimagining Learning

  • Rahn Dorsey, Chief of Education, City of Boston
  • Patricia Frazier, 2018 National Youth Poet Laureate, a program founded by Urban World

10:30 – 11:45 AM | Breakout Sessions                                            

Roundtables: Brave is…  
ICA, Bank of America Art Lab, 1st floor

Museum Teen Programs: Homes of the Brave? Join Gerald Leavell, Artist, Educator and Christian Ogando, Artist, thinker, student, for a roundtable session where participants wrestle with questions concerning bravery in museum teen programs, through small and large group dialogue, short interactive activities, and deep reflection (on conditioning). Space is limited, so be sure to sign up during check-in!

Where Are They Now? Exploring Long-term Impacts of Teen Programs in Art Museums
ICA, Barbara Lee Family Theater, 2nd floor entrance          

  • Diane Exavier, Writer, Theatermaker, and Educator
  • Fabrizio Flores, Education Program Manager, artworxLA
  • Danielle Linzer, Director of Learning and Public Engagement, the Warhol
  • Dyeemah Simmons, Coordinator of Teen Programs, Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Calder Zwicky, Assistant Director for Teen and Community Partnerships, Museum of Modern Art

Have you ever thought about your students from years past and wondered where they are now?  Join a group of former teen program participants who have gone on to become leaders in the field of youth arts education for a discussion about long-term impact and public value of teen programs. In the 1990s Fabrizio Flores participated in the MOCA Apprentice Program at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; Calder Zwicky was a member of the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council; and in the early 2000’s Diane Exavier was in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Youth Insights program.  All have gone on to design and run innovative art programs for teens in museums, schools, and community-based organizations. These practitioners will engage in a reflective conversation about how they were shaped by their own experiences as teens in museums, as well as the kinds of opportunities they seek to create for youth today in a changing cultural landscape.

Cross-Sector Collaboration/Creative Career Pathways for LA’s Opportunity Youth
ICA, Louis I. Kane Board Room, 3rd floor

Creativity is a critical part of the Los Angeles economy, where one in seven jobs is in the creative industries. Who gains access and the necessary preparation to succeed in these work opportunities is of major concern. artworxLA, an LA-based nonprofit arts education organization, received funding from The James Irvine Foundation to conduct a scan that identifies existing programs that re-engage and prepare young people within Los Angeles to participate in the creative economy. The research resulted in a website tool “Elevate:  Creative Career Pathways for LA’s Opportunities Youth.” Elevate identifies the multi-sector efforts for Los Angeles’ young people who are struggling to connect to education and employment—Los Angeles’ Opportunity Youth. A cross-sector approach where institutions and agencies work together to help young people complete high school, take the next steps in their postsecondary education, and find and retain fulfilling jobs in the creative industry can both strengthen and contribute to the local economy and support our most vulnerable youth.

Introduction to Creative Youth Development: Key Characteristics & the National CYD Movement
District Hall

Creative youth development is a recent term for a longstanding theory of practice that integrates creative skill-building, inquiry, and expression with positive youth development principles, fueling young people’s imaginations and building critical learning and life skills. Young people thrive when they have opportunities to maximize their creative potential. Creative youth development (CYD) programs support young people in developing the personal, social, and intellectual skills that are critical to success in life, school, and work. A growing movement is working to ensure that all young people have opportunities to benefit from creative youth development participation. Youth and adult panelists from best practice CYD programs will discuss what the 6 key characteristics of CYD look like in practice in their CYD programs.

Anti-Racism in Museum Education
District Hall

  • Marit Dewhurst, Director of Art Education & Associate Professor, City College of New York                   
  • Keonna Hendrick, Cultural Strategist and Educator; Co-creator, Multicultural Critical Reflective Practice

This session will explore how museum educators can center their work on anti-racist principles. Through an overview of key vocabulary and useful strategies that educators can employ in relation to their own positionality and spheres of influence, this session will empower us all to embrace liberatory approaches to addressing racism within museums. Facilitators will share common examples of racism in museums and discuss possible tactics and protocols that can be used to work towards racial equity.

Building the Plane as We Fly It: Growth Mindset and Risk-Taking
District Hall

Teens’ development is predicated by challenge and risk. They are establishing their identities, finding their place in the world, and pushing the boundaries of what they know and what they want to discover. This inclination towards risk-taking is the sweet spot where museum programming can support teens’ explorations, and provide them a safe place to take creative risks. By letting teens ask questions, think differently, and try new things in the museum, they can bridge these skills to different areas of their lives outside the museum. The phrase “building the plane as we fly it” embodies this kind of learning. It is the spirit of discovery, iteration, and experimentation that challenges teens to do things they have never done before. This session will facilitate a dialogue around the opportunities, challenges, and values of this approach to teen programming in museums.

Making the Past Present: Teen Programs in Historic and Encyclopedic Museums
District Hall

  • Ella Amouyal, Teens Behind the Scenes, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • Sarah Bloom, Associate Director of Education, Seattle Art Museum
  • Sara Egan, School and Youth Programs Manager, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • Aine Griffin, Teens Behind the Scenes, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • Virginia Hammond, Teen Leadership, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
  • Kat Quash, Teen Art Group, Seattle Art Museum
  • Adi Rallapalli, Teen Leadership, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
  • Maya Santos, Teen Art Group, Seattle Art Museum
  • Holly York, Senior Museum Educator, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Historic and encyclopedic art museums are not as obvious a fit for teen programs as contemporary art museums, but offer enticing ways for youth to engage with art and grapple with contemporary issues. These are spaces ripe for teens to effect institutional change, as youth see through inauthentic posturing and can offer insights to museums reckoning with a history of colonialism and elitism. They are places where socially-engaged youth can use the past to make sense of the present by seeing how cultures have experienced race, sex, gender, class, life, and death over time. By interrogating how historic art grappled (or not) with the issues of today, youth gain new perspective and understanding of how these concerns manifest over time. Four museums that engage youth with historic art will lead an interactive session inviting participants to make connections between past and present.

Anecdote to Action: How to Tell Your Story
District Hall

To youth educators, the value of teens arts education is undeniable. How do we capture, measure, demonstrate, and advocate for the value of teens arts education to those who may doubt it— from parents to bosses, schools to museums, funders to city planners? Crafting an informed and compelling narrative about teen arts education and its impact can seem daunting, especially if you don’t have strong data to back it up or the resources to tell an engaging story. In this session, “Building Brave Spaces” external evaluator (Kate Livingston of ExposeYourMuseum LLC) will present inspirational case studies where artists, museums, teens, and arts organizations have told their stories and demonstrated their value in creative ways, moving people to support and act. Additionally, she will share accessible evaluation strategies to help you tell your own engaging stories and articulate your unique value— including methods that center teens in evaluation and advocacy.

11:45 AM – 1:15 PM | LUNCH BREAK (on your own)

1:15–2:30 PM | Main Stage: Teens and Art

2:45 – 4 PM | Breakout Sessions                                           

Roundtables: Brave is…
ICA, Bank of America Art Lab, 1st floor

Museum Teen Programs: Homes of the Brave? Join Gerald Leavell, Artist, Educator and Christian Ogando, Artist, thinker, student, for a roundtable session where participants wrestle with questions concerning bravery in museum teen programs, through small and large group dialogue, short interactive activities, and deep reflection (on conditioning). Space is limited, so be sure to sign up during check-in!

Building Brave Together: Teens + Contemporary Artists
ICA, Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater, 2nd floor entrance

  • Ezri Horne, Young Curators Alum, SITE Sante Fe
  • Sienna Kwami, ICA Teen Arts Council Alum, ICA/Boston
  • Joanne Lefrak, Director of Education and Curator of Public Practice, SITE Sante Fe
  • Sandrine Schaefer, Artist
  • Gabrielle Wyrick, Deputy Director of Learning and Engagement, New Orleans Museum of Art

Contemporary museums are engaging artists to work directly with teens to co-create presentations for the museum. SITE Santa Fe and the ICA/Boston will present case studies of presentations by artist/teen collaborations and address how these projects affect both teen participants, but also the museum as a whole.

Creative Youth Development in Practice
District Hall

  • Gretchen Carvajal, Poet Mentor, Youth Speaks
  • Isha Clarke, Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company Member, Destiny Arts Center
  • Mika Lemoine, Teaching Artist Mentor, Destiny Arts Center
  • Denise Montgomery, Creative Youth Development Researcher and Strategist, CultureThrive

In this session youth and adult panelists from exemplary CYD programs will discuss CYD in practice, particularly as reflected in current trends in CYD program development. Speakers will discuss retaining creativity at the center of work while embracing holistic approaches to supporting youth and helping them thrive; power sharing among youth and adults; and incorporating self-care for teaching artists and educators into program design. 

Making the Sausage: A Youth-Adult Collaboration Simulation
District Hall

Museums widely recognize the power of ‘for youth, by youth’ public events, but how do you square the ideal of youth-led programing with the challenges of institutional timelines, procedures, and permissions? Which parts of the process are young people best equipped to lead, and how can adult staff be good allies in supporting their vision? This session will share case studies and toolkits for effective youth-adult collaboration in designing and producing public-facing events. 

Catalyzing System Change: Creating Arts Opportunities through School Partnerships and Community-Based
District Hall

  • Ruth Mercado-Zizzo, Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion Director, EdVestors
  • Brenda Rodriguez-Andújar, Director of Arts and Education Programs, Hyde Square Task Force
  • Jocelyn Vache, Digital Literacy Teacher, Boston International Newcomers Academy

Youth Voices: Working with Local Artists to Impact our Community
District Hall

This panel discussion brings together young people from 3 different organizations who have partnered with experienced local artists to collaborate, learn, create and impact their community. Youth representatives from each organization will share their experiences working with artists and engaging their larger community in thoughtful dialog and art making. Audience members will be invited to participate in an open dialog about goals for similar programs, lessons learned, and key take-aways. Lessons learned will help other organizations develop successful community based artists’ residencies that intersect with creative youth development.

Self-Care for Teens and Educators
District Hall

  • Aric Crowe-Pina, Teen Arts Council Alumni Assistant, ICA/Boston   
  • Betsy Gibbons, Teen Programs Management Consultant, ICA/Boston

Self-care solutions emerging from ongoing research are simple and yet difficult to achieve. A museum educator who has much experience working with teens and an emerging educator with experience as an ICA Teen and Alumni Assistant spent time learning about that research and reflecting on what was most useful to them. They will discuss the strategies they are trying out and how their differing ages, races, and experiences shaped what they chose to pursue. Take away resources and techniques for self-care that you can apply to yourself.

4–4:30 | SNACK BREAK

4:30 – 5:45 PM | Breakout Sessions

Roundtables: Brave is…
ICA, Bank of America Art Lab, 1st floor

Museum Teen Programs: Homes of the Brave? Join Gerald Leavell, Artist, Educator and Christian Ogando, Artist, thinker, student, for a roundtable session where participants wrestle with questions concerning bravery in museum teen programs, through small and large group dialogue, short interactive activities, and deep reflection (on conditioning). Space is limited, so be sure to sign up during check-in!

High Profile Programming: The High Museum of Art’s Teen Night that Ignited Social Media
ICA, Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater, 2nd floor entrance

  • King Barnes, Teen Team member, High Museum of Art
  • Kristie Swink Benson, Director of Communications, Public Relations, and Marketing, High Museum of Art
  • Sgt. John Dancy, College Liaison Officer, Atlanta Police Department
  • Gabriela Ferrari, Teen Team alum, High Museum of Art
  • Dr. Fahamu Pecou, Visual/Performing Artist and Scholar

Since its inception, the High Museum’s Teen Night has been popular and now serves more than 1000 teens at each event. But what happens when Teen Night becomes a trending topic on social media? After the fall 2017 Teen Night concluded, an altercation between a museum guest and a police officer raised issues of race, police use of force and trust on social platforms within the museum and amongst the High’s teen audiences, including the Teen Team itself. From this panel which includes museum staff, Teen Team members, artists and an Atlanta Police Department representative, hear the reactions and learn about steps taken after the incident to address real concerns. Discover how those who serve and partner with youth audiences can regain their trust and continue to cultivate youth audience.

Queering Institutional Space: Centering Youth Voices in LGBTQIA+ Teen Programming
District Hall

  • Eli Burke, Education Director, MOCA TucsonShannon Thompson, Artist Educator, Andy Warhol Museum
  • Jimmy Coblin, Andy Warhol Museum Teen
  • Lindsay Harris, Teen Programs Manager, Brooklyn Museum
  • Anna Kinlock, InterseXtions Member, Brooklyn Museum
  • Akir Stuart, InterseXtions Member, Brooklyn Museum
  • Shannon Thompson, Artist Educator, Andy Warhol Museum
  • Eileen Viloria, Youth Programs Coordinator, Andy Warhol Museum
  • Matt Venturini, Teen, Andy Warhol Museum

Art museums are often characterized as sites of unfettered creative expression. However, there remain invisible—and sometimes very visible— barriers keeping marginalized communities from realizing the promise of free expression. Teens who are coming to these institutions from LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and more) communities may not have many areas in their lives where they receive social support, and thus museums hold incredible possibilities. Join educators and teens representing three museums that have created innovative LGBTQIA+ teen programs for this interactive panel discussion. Session participants are encouraged to come ready to ask questions, as well as to reflect on their own experiences of belonging and validation, rejection and invalidation.

At the Table: Amplifying Youth Voices in Complex Conversations
District Hall

Our country is increasingly polarized, and contemporary artists are often actively engaging in and responding to these divisive political conversations through their work. Youth, too, are actively witnessing, criticizing, and engaging in these dialogues. How can museums and arts organizations support youth and educators in navigating these conversations, during the school day and beyond? How can engagement with the arts help teens voice lived experiences, build empathy for different experiences, and even inspire action?

Unfinished Business: Strengthening and Lengthening Connections with Teen Programs Alumni
District Hall

How is the presence of teen programming in museums and organizations allowing these institutions to reach and engage a wider audience? How can teen alumni equip museums and organizations with the ability to tap into different resources and build stronger relationships with its communities? Join educators and teen alumni from the Brooklyn Museum, the Marwen, and the Smithsonian Latino Center as we explore these and other questions in this interactive panel session. Listen to the experiences of teen alumni; reflect about lessons learned by educators; and collaboratively envision what institutions can do to remain relevant for present and future audiences.

The session will begin with quick icebreaker intended to welcome and include all participants. Then, educators and teen programs alumni will lead a panel discussion on how their respective institution aims to strengthen and lengthen connections with their respective alumni, as well as what are the challenges they continue to grapple with. Lastly, delve into a discussion to explore the possibilities for the future of teen programing in museums and organizations.

Building Brave Together: Teen Convening Alumni
District Hall

  • Charlie Diaz, The Contemporary Austin Teen Program Alum; 2016 Teen Convening Participant
  • Amireh Rezaei-Kamalabad, ICA/Boston Teen Arts Council Alum; 2015 Teen Convening Participant
  • Hayley Mackenzie Bain, Queens Museum Teen Program Alum; 2015 Teen Convening Participant
  • Carlos Moreno, Artpace Teen Council Alum; 2015 Teen Convening Participant

Carlos Moreno, Artpace Teen Council alumni and 2015 National Teen Convening presenter, will lead a conversation about the history of the ICA’s National Teen Convening and Regional Teen Convening’s. Teen program alumni from The Contemporary Austin, Queens Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston will join Carlos’ session to share their unique teen program experiences and involvement with the ICA’s National Teen Convening. In spirit of the Teen Convening’s goal, listen and learn how museums are leading vital conversations on a national and regional level about empowering young people in the arts.

Teen Interpretation in the Museum and Beyond
District Hall

  • Michael Barclay, Teen Council Member, Art Institute of Chicago
  • Zimra Chickering, Teen Council Member + Intern, Art Institute of Chicago
  • Maura Flood, Program Manager of Teen Engagement and Partnerships, Art Institute of Chicago

What is more intimate than whispering into someone’s ear? Hearing confessions of not knowing or of fear or of feelings? What is more inspiring than a “real” conversation? Or more stirring than the telling of a personal memory? This past year, Art Institute Teen Council, a group of 15 passionate teens creative activists from across Chicago produced the museum’s first ever teen audio guide. Sound is a powerful tool in a quiet gallery space. Wall labels present static, passive interpretation to visitors. The teen audio guide, an ephemeral interpretation material, transports listeners to another place and time. Launched in June, audio stories and interpretations are now available to all audiences as a way to navigate the museum through the voices and experiences of youth. For this session we will host a workshop for participants to design their own audio experiences inspired by works of art.


10 – noon | Can You Hear Me Now?: Building Brave Spaces

An all-participant, youth-led session centering teen voices through an interactive audio experience and panel discussion. Organized with youth and educators from ICA/Boston, MCA Chicago, MCA Denver, and Park Avenue Armory.

12:00 – 1:30 PM | LUNCH BREAK (on your own)

1:30 – 4 PM | Boston-Area Site Visits

Buses depart ICA/Boston at 1:30 PM. Luggage storage at the ICA will remain open until all participants return from site visits.

826 Boston

Participants in this site visit will delve into the inner workings of 826 Boston, a nonprofit youth writing and publishing organization that empowers traditionally underserved students ages 6 to 18 to find their voices, tell their stories, and gain communication skills to succeed in school and in life. Each of 826 Boston’s free programs seeks to empower students to express their ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in their individual voices. Upon entering the door, participants will find themselves in our unique and creative storefront, the Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute (GBBRI). Surrounded by cryptozoological specimens, 826 Boston staff will give a brief history of the GBBRI and the role that a whimsical “third space” plays in sparking creativity and voice in our young student authors. Participants will then be invited through the secret sliding panel at the back of the store into the 826 Boston writing and tutoring center, where participants will engage in one of 826 Boston’s signature programs: a scriptwriting field trip. Bus departs for the ICA at 4.

RAW Art Works

For three decades, Raw Art Works (RAW) has passionately pursued its mission to ignite the desire to create and the confidence to succeed in underserved youth. RAW is a youth arts organization rooted in art therapy. At its core, RAW believes that all kids should be seen and heard and that everyone has a story to tell. Located in Lynn, RAW offers a variety of free programming for kids ages 7 to 19. From painting to printing to film-making, RAW uses art to ask kids, “What’s really going on?” in their lives, giving them the tools to create in unexpected ways and envision new possibilities for their future.  Come see RAW’s space of more than 15,000 square feet, with four art studios, a film school, a letterpress print shop, an art gallery, and more. Learn about the newest exhibit, “EleMEnts,” with more than 150 pieces of youth-made art and showcasing a few award-winning films from the Real to Reel program. Engage with teen leaders as they discuss the art that reveals the elements needed to build strong connections, the critical elements of their identity, and what it means to be a young artist today. Bus departs for the ICA at 3:30.


ZUMIX is an award-winning cultural nonprofit, dedicated to building community through the arts. Join our teen leaders as they bring us through a day at ZUMIX. You’ll take part in live performances and music making, and be on the radio. Come share your voice with us! Bus departs for the ICA at 3:30.



As part of our planning, the ICA convened a national, multi-disciplinary advisory group starting the summer of 2017 to help shape this conference and its agenda. The committee includes young people, artists, educators, and leaders in the museum field. Thank you to the following individuals for your time, expertise, generosity, and advice aong the way: Anthony Barrows (New York), Donovan Birch Jr. (San Francisco), Antonia Contro (Chicago), Karla Diaz (Los Angeles), Turahn Dorsey (Boston), Radiah Harper (Brooklyn), Danielle Linzer (Pittsburgh), Rasheem Mohammad (Boston), Carlos Moreno (Austin), Amireh Rezai-Kamalabad (Boston), Dario Robleto (Houston), Steve Seidel (Boston), and Mario Ybarra Jr. (Los Angeles). Thank you also to 2017–18 ICA program participants, Denise Montgomery, and various program alumni for generously sharing their thoughts and knowledge.

The ICA also expresses its thanks to the many generous funders who support Teen Programs.

Okwui Okpokwasili_byPeter Born.JPG
Writer, performer, choreographer
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Filmmaker, activist, student, National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States
Chief of Education for the City of Boston
BBS_Shawn Ginwright.jpg
Author, Associate Professor of Education at San Francisco State University, CEO of Flourish Agenda
BBS_Berklee City Music Boston.jpg
Nonprofit providing music education to 4th through 12th graders in underserved communities