Rising Youth Theatre

Rising Youth Theatre was one of the recipients of grants approved by the Glendale Arts Commission. 

The Glendale Arts Commission met last month to discuss and continue partnerships with art organizations in the West Valley.

At the meeting,  West Valley Arts (WVA) and Rising Youth Theatre shared their work from previous contributions to the community in Glendale and presented some of their upcoming projects.

The city of Glendale has previously partnered with West Valley Arts’ Vision & Sound: An African American Experience program.

Sandra Bassett, CEO and president of West Valley Arts, shared a new initiative within the Vision and Sound program with the effort to include a Peacebuilding Through the Arts program.

As the program’s mission states, it will help to reach out to more “multigenerational and multicultural audiences” and provide a space where these audiences can express themselves using art techniques. Bassett said it will serve as “conversation starter.”

“We have to be included in the process of understanding our roles and diversity, equity and inclusion,” Bassett said.

The West Valley Arts Council is an award-winning organization that has served the West Valley for 50 years—although for Bassett, those awards mean much more.

“It’s not about the awards for us. It’s really about how do we serve our community, how do we connect and keep everybody engaged, growing, participating and supporting the arts—that’s what’s most important for us.” Bassett said.

In 2018, Glendale Arts Commission partnered with West Valley Arts Council’s program Gallery 37 to work on the project, named SoundBloom, for Elsie McCarthy Sensory Garden.

The Gallery 37 program allows young artists from the age of 15 to 18 years old “to design, develop and install a permanent piece of public art for display in the West Valley” during the summer, and they earn college credit from Estrella Mountain Community College, along with a stipend.

America Trujillo, a third-semester student from Estrella Mountain Community College shared her experience with West Valley Arts’ Gallery 37 program.

“When I first joined the group I met a lot of people with different kinds of art medium. Some were photographers, graphic designers, animations, etc. I truly recommend this program for students that want to earn college credit and want to engage with new experiences and learn more about different mediums of art,” Trujillo said.

Thameenah Muhammad, 19, also attended the Glendale Arts Commission meeting. Muhammad has been part of Rising Youth Theatre, a “youth-driven, multigenerational and justice-centered” organization, for six years.

“Everything that we create is through a lens of social justice.” Muhammad said.

Rising Youth Theatre’s ongoing project, a storytelling film experience, is a collaboration with Glendale Community College. It’s a focus on the current political climate and “seeing how specifically young people in Glendale have interacted with these things,” Muhammad said.

The Glendale Arts Commission approved grant applications of $4,000 each for Rising Youth Theatre and 11 other organizations.

On Oct. 13, Glendale City Council voted to approved the recommendations for funding the dozen arts organizations.