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The Whitney’s Community Partnerships are sustained, extended relationships that bring educators and artists into an organization for extended programming and promote the Museum as an essential resource.
The Center is the largest LGBT multi-service organization on the East Coast. The Whitney works with teens from its Youth Enrichment Services (YES), which provides free and confidential support and recreational services to LGBT young people to foster healthy development in a safe, affirming, inclusive environment. Teens engage in open-ended conversations facilitated by a Whitney Educator about works in the Museum’s collection and exhibitions, explore foundational concepts in art, and make meaningful personal and social connections. In addition, they have the opportunity to express themselves and learn new techniques through hands-on art-making activities—from collage and sculpture to printmaking and performance.
In 2011, the Whitney sponsored a multi-week artist’s residency at the LGBT Center, bringing performers from the Streb Extreme Action dance company together with young people through YES to collaboratively choreograph a pop-action performance.
The Whitney began a new partnership in 2011 with Hudson Guild, a multi-service community center serving those who live, work, or go to school in Chelsea, with a focus on those in need. The Guild serves 14,000 people a year in diverse programming, ranging from day care centers for the area’s youngest residents to art programming for seniors.
The Whitney has facilitated multiple extended programs in partnership with Hudson Guild’s after-school, summer, teen, and senior programs. In fall 2011, the Whitney brought artist Xaviera Simmons together with a group of 6th-8th grade students in the Hudson Guild’s SchoolBridge program at the Beacon Center. Over several weeks the students developed projects using mask making, photography, and collage, which were later exhibited as part of Partners in Art, a gallery exhibition at Hudson Guild.
In the summer of 2012, Hudson Guild summer campers worked with a Whitney educator to explore artist Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition with hands-on artmaking, visiting her retrospective at the Museum, and through educator-led discussions.
The Whitney has a long-standing partnership with the Regent Family Residence, a transitional housing facility for families, operated by Volunteers of America. The Residence provides 24-hour security, on-site childcare, classrooms, and recreational space for 140 families, each with their own apartment. Since 1991, the Whitney has provided free afterschool art programs for children at the Residence, primarily ages 6 to 12.
Each week, children from the Regent Family Residence join staff and teens at the Whitney for art education workshops. The program brings artists, children, and high school interns together to develop creative skills and motivate self-empowerment through self-expression. Projects and activities related to current exhibitions are designed to stimulate looking, learning, and questioning, develop visual and critical thinking skills, and foster a meaningful relationship to art by connecting it with the children’s lives.
Teens who have participated previously in the Whitney’s Youth Insights after-school program are eligible to apply for Contemporary Community internships with the Regent Family Residence partnership. Interns receive special training on education, artistic development, and the effects of homelessness in young children, and work closely with an experienced museum educator throughout the semester to develop activities for the children and serve as mentors.
Each semester, the Regent program culminates with an art exhibition and celebration for families at the Residence, organized by staff from the Whitney Museum.