A few thoughts about ways we seek to engage young people in trad participatory
- Belfast Flying Shoes--our local dance organization, and a 501(c)(3) through
affiliation with CDSS--helps fund contra dance residencies in schools. In
recent years, that's really expanded via generous foundation grants. Since our
dance series inception (2005), we've been part of residencies in over 20 K-5 or
K-8 schools, 3-5 Middle or High schools, and a few small K-12 schools. Most
residencies are multiple visits, with a culminating school/family dance. We
give out passes to our local dance via those residencies. And lately we've
also been distributing teaching resources for interested educators who might
want to continue dancing w the students after the musicians and I are gone.
- We had two teens on our board for 2-3 years (there were pros and cons, but it
was a good step to take, and overall a big plus.)
- This past fall, by request, we sponsored a weekly 'contra class' for teens.
Small numbers but high level of engagement.
And we just have a lot of young people at our dances. Our 12-21yo cohort is
huge. But that's all word of mouth. Locally there is a sizeable 'alt schooling'
population (Waldorf, Montessori, homeschool, other) and that may be part of it,
although there are teens from the local public schools too.
- The last four years, we also have collaborated with a local youth
organization (non-electronic games, such as role-playing), adding a contra
dancing component to their role-playing history programs.
But... Who knows why young people attend our dances in such numbers. Clearly
they're having fun. Beyond that, hard to tell.
We're building on this though, and have three new outreach programs for 2018,
all incorporating young people to some degree. The one I'm most excited about
is a panel discussion, which we'll record for posterity, of young people in
their teens and 20s explaining more about why they choose to make contra
dancing part of their social lives. I'm super-curious to hear what they have
From: Mary Collins <native...@gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:48 PM
To: Chrissy Fowler
Subject: Re: [Organizers] Lower attendance this year?
How exactly are you reaching those young people?
Mary -Buffalo NY
On Dec 6, 2016 10:47 AM, "Chrissy Fowler via Organizers"
Interesting data so far! Are there dances out there that have seen an INCREASE
in average attendance in the last year?
Besides asking for help from the "converted", perhaps we need to increase our
reach to the non-dancer community to boost the pool of potential attendees for
a given dance. (Meaning, somehow become more visible to the majority of people
in our geographic area - the non-dancers - so that we get our message out to
those non-dancers who would want to come to our dance if they only knew about
In Belfast, we've got a major component for outreach to youth (schools, youth
programming) but we could do more to raise the visibility of both our series
and our organization.
Any brainstorms for potential efforts to support sustainability?
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