Having visited David Flores from Dreamyard at his placement at MS45 earlier in the week, I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Dreamyard Art Center, only a few blocks away from the New Directions School, after spending the morning with Paul Allison.
When I first contacted the Hive NYC Learning Network to ask for suggestions of who to visit for my study visit, the activities of Dreamyard immediately resonated with the work of London Connected Learning Centre. An organisation on a much larger scale with a huge range of school based and community programmes, Dreamyard’s focus on the arts, technology, schools and the community, nonetheless, echoes those of the CLC.
Raising donations and grants is what keeps the programmes going and this takes a lot of energy. I was surprised to learn that there is a ‘Gifts season’ in the US when dinners and auctions are held and Dreamyard staff host social events where wealthy donors commit funds to support Dreamyard’s activities . In addition to the school based work, the centre runs a massive range of in depth programmes with young people in the community. This is very much more than a youth centre and work is long term, focussed and frequent. For example 30 students work on an activism project over several years , a theatre and hip hop programme runs over 25 weeks. Other activities include SATs preparation, career and college preparation, social workers and therapists. The space is massive and beautiful with visual art studios, digital media spaces, exhibitions of incredibly high quality art and design work, and multipurpose areas. Exhibitions and showcases for families are a regular part of the process.
It was incredibly useful talking to Hillary Kolos, director of digital and teen programmes and to Keith Kaminski, the director of the schools programmes and partnerships. As with everywhere I’ve been during the study visit, the people I met at Dreamyard were very generous with their time and expertise. I felt a real affinity with Dreamyard , larger scale though it is, and the way they bring together schools, the community, arts and technology. We talked about the family learning programmes London CLC runs and how this model might be developed at Dreamyard. It was so helpful to learn from the experiences of people who make such an impact on young people’s lives across so many contexts.