The Colorization Collective aims to promote diversity in the arts by supporting teen artists of color. We do so through three projects: our web-series, online content, and mentorship and performance pathway. Through each of these programs, we work to provide teen artists of color with resources, opportunities, and a community of peers and mentors who look like them. Updates from The Colorization Collective
Over the summer of 2018, we (Anya and Kat, co-founders of The Colorization Collective) participated in an acting program, where our cohort had many conversations about diversity in the arts. This put a name, so to speak, to the feelings of isolation we felt as teen artists of color in largely-white artistic spaces. We didn’t feel that we belonged in the art world, and we realized that others felt the same way. While the arts industry has been slowly diversifying, people of color still lack representation (as seen through #OscarsSoWhite, for example). Furthermore, a pipeline problem exists: if teens of color lack role models or peers that look like them—as we did—and drop out of the arts, a new generation of diverse artists fails to enter the workforce.
We decided to combat this problem by creating The Colorization Collective. The Collective works to assist teen artists of color by providing our participants with resources, opportunities, and a community of peers and mentors who look like them. In doing so, we hope to create and promote diversity in the art world through inclusive and accessible means. We run three main projects: our web-series, which has received over 1000 views on YouTube; online content, such as interviews, reviews, and social media features; and a mentorship and performance opportunity, which we are working to host online this summer.
We also just wanted to say that we are so thrilled to be part of the Call for Kindness family! We participated in the Riley’s Way Youth Leadership Retreat last fall, so we already experienced the warmth and friendship of this community, and we are excited to meet even more teens and further make connections. In terms of our project, we’ll be using the Call for Kindness funds to become a nonprofit, so we can offer teens service hours for their participation; host our website, which houses most of our content; produce our 2021 mentorship and performance opportunity; and more!
We've been busy during the past few months. In light of current national events, we've posted resources on our website so that viewers can learn more about racial equity and take direct action to support the black community; as we hope to continue updating this list consistently, we welcome any resource suggestions from teens or adults. Additionally, we’re working on producing monthly virtual concerts for the elderly during quarantine—we distributed our first video to more than 30 senior homes and are taking submissions for the second. We’re also planning our 2020 mentorship and performance opportunity, which we will co-produce with our fiscal sponsor, TeenTix. And we’re building up our online content by featuring teen artists of color on our blog and social media, writing interviews and features, and posting about opportunities for teen artists. As well, we’ve just rolled out a chapter program, so teens can start a Colorization Collective chapter in their local community.
In the future, we plan to continue with some of the above projects, as well as restart our web-series after social distancing rules are lifted; plan and host our 2021 mentorship and performance opportunity; collaborate with other organizations; and host an online gallery where individuals can buy artwork created by teen artists of color. It may sound like a lot, but with support from our community and Riley’s Way, we think we can pull it off :)
These past few months have been hectic! As two high school seniors, we’ve been balancing college apps, school, and The Colorization Collective; that being said, we feel really happy with all we’ve been able to accomplish over the summer. Since our last update in June, we’ve…
- Completed our summer virtual concerts program. We collaborated with a club at our high school to bring four virtual concerts, which featured 20+ teens, to 30+ senior homes.
- Featured teens and adults through our organization. We’re in the process of writing up an article about Sara Porkalob (the person who inspired us to create The Collective), and can’t wait to see how that piece turns out!
- Collaborated with several organizations. Along with the Native and Indigenous news site, Last Real Indians, we recently co-produced a three-article series on how climate change affects people of color. We also just closed submissions for our micro-issue with Siblini Journal.
And speaking of collaborations, we successfully completed our mentorship program, which was co-produced with TeenTix! This program was initially scheduled to go live in the spring of 2020, but because of coronavirus, we ended up pivoting to run it virtually. Over five weeks, 13 teens of color from across the country worked with 3 adult mentors of color to create artwork.
We surveyed the mentorship participants before and after the experience. The data shows that this experience was quite valuable!
“On a scale of 1 (no) to 10 (yes), do you feel you can pursue a career in the arts?”
Before the program: average answer of 6.3.
After the program: average answer of 8.2.
“On a scale of 1 (no) to 10 (yes), do you feel comfortable in the arts world as a person of color?”
Before the program: average answer of 6.9.
After the program: average answer of 9.
If you’d like to see the work produced during the mentorship program, our two visual art cohorts’ work can be found here
. To see our performance cohorts’ pieces, you’ll have to attend the Teeny Awards on November 21st and 22nd. Be sure to register here
These last six months have been a whirlwind of senior events alongside our work for The Colorization Collective. Since our last update, we…
- Joined the Seattle Center Racial Equity Cohort. Anya serves on the Cohort Board as a representative of The Colorization Collective. She works with nonprofit representatives to improve racial equity at 25+ arts and culture organizations by organizing events, sharing resources through social media, and directly communicating with those in leadership positions.
- We are collaborating with the Cohort to produce a panel discussion about the intersection of accessibility and diversity.
- Began working with our Washington chapter to produce a zine that features the work of teens of color.
- Were selected to speak about diversity in the arts at TEDxSeattle 2021.
- Decided to expand our mentorship opportunity to offer two cohorts per year. We opened applications for our 2021 summer mentorship cohort in April and will begin our Summer cohort in July.
- Were selected to join a capacity-building program called Communities RISE, through which we will solidify our fundraising and grant-writing strategies over the next 9 months.
- Received a 2021 Continuation Grant from Riley’s Way (!!!)
We are soon heading off to college—Kat in the fall of 2021 and Anya in the fall of 2022 (after taking a gap year)—but our work with The Collective is not complete! We are excited to continue running this organization. Here are some of our goals for the next year:
- Continue the process of becoming a registered nonprofit, solidify leadership structure, and form an advisory board.
- Expand our team to include dedicated roles for Blog Editors, Chapter Directors, Fundraising Directors, and Collaboration Directors.
- Strengthen our long-term financial sustainability plans.
- Expand our chapter program, through which teens of color can promote diversity in the arts at a local level.
It is bittersweet that we will have to graduate from high school in just a few days… but we are glad that we will not be leaving the Riley’s Way community. Thank you so much to the Riley’s Way team for supporting our work. We are eager to see where the next year takes us!