The Defining Moments Program is a case study that highlights the ways organizations can find success in engaging a broader spectrum of youth. This example of engaging youth through arts-based programming highlights the following indicators of success: providing arts-based opportunities for participants to self-express in creative ways; dedicating spaces to share artistic creations; inviting artists to share their talent, and having programming to enrich their experience.
The Defining Moments Program is offered by TakingITGlobal and supported by Canadian Heritage. The program is a national digital media arts and citizenship project and was designed to provide youth from diverse backgrounds and experiences opportunities to reflect on and explore their identity, and express and showcase their perspectives and relationship to Canada.
As TakingITGlobal describes, the program consists of three phases that provide youth with the opportunity to create “visible expressions of thoughtful reflection on social environmental/political issues of concern through art (spoken word, theatre, song, sculpture, dance, film, murals). The first phase involved workshops led by youth (train-the-trainer sharing in small groups) and invited open-ended questions provoking creativity and sparking interest in and helping youth express a defining moment as a Canadian.
The second phase was an open contest and collection where youth from throughout Canada could submit their artwork online, even though they were created from a variety of media including photography, painting, collage, video, song, and poetry. These works are showcased in a Global Gallery. This phase of the program would be more effective if there was an art creation workshop to ensure that the art creation takes place.
The third phase of the program is a Travelling Exhibit. The art collection is shown in every province and territory in Canada and is intended to provide youth with the opportunity to share their creative expression with the community and create platforms for audiences to be reached. Arts-based programming is effective because it gives people avenues of expression and inclusion through a range of mediums which invite creativity.
These three phases of the Defining Moments Program engage the artist by offering access points that build awareness around issues; allows young people to interact, understand, and relate with each other through art; supports individual growth as they find ways to understand themselves; and connects them to a range of mediums for expression.