MOUNT CLEMENS – A grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation will help the Anton Art Center provide teens with unstructured artistic opportunities to learn and experiment after school.
Generator Z is a teen-led initiative to reinvent the future of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s extracurricular activities, which focuses its investments on supporting active lifestyles, preparation for success, caregivers, entrepreneurship and economic development in Southeast Michigan and West New York. Thanks to the Generator Z initiative, the Anton Art Center, 125 Macomb Place, received funding to launch a new youth program, DIYAC, or the Do-it-Yourself Art Center, coming this fall.
“The idea was that we were going to have drop-ins, a program that people don’t have to sign up for,” said Phil Gilchrist, general manager of the Anton Art Center. “The basic idea is like an open studio. What we are trying to create is a safe and creative place.
Listening to Generation Z students (born 1997-2012), the art center found the students’ desire for more flexibility and input on the programs offered. To this end, there will be an ongoing survey so that the program can adjust as students give their feedback. Teens will be able to work on their own art, explore new tools and mediums, and talk to local artists at DIYAC
The $ 30,000 grant enables the Anton Art Center to purchase computer equipment so that teens can discover and learn new skills in graphic arts, photo editing and video editing. The after-school program will be free for students in the community and may even give them a head start in a creative field with potential for future employment.
Jobs are available in web design, game design and video production, Gilchrist said.
“This is where we talk about preparing young people for employment,” he said. “It’s going to be useful for the kids as they move on in life.
“These are the tools that children can (use) to be able to start doing these things.”
The program will allow students to be creative however they want, he said, giving them the chance to experience new things, including digital art forms like animation and movies.
“We are able to help them have experiences that might help them later,” he said.
The Anton Art Center already offers students the opportunity to work with ceramics, painting and drawing, as well as mixed media. Each week of the program, which they hope to start in September, an artist mentor will be available to guide them and help them with any issues.
“It’s that mentoring approach, rather than, here’s a project you’re going to have to do. Kids really stimulate creativity and we’re here to support it, ”said Gilchrist.
Information about the program will be posted on the centre’s website and social media, but Gilchrist said they also plan to print posters to hang at local schools and community centers to spread the word. The program will be open to all middle and high school students.
“The Mount Clemens region is a real natural audience for us, just for the sake of proximity. There is no reason why we cannot welcome people from other regions as well. We are an art center for all of Macomb County, ”he said.
The art center appreciates the opportunity offered by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation grant.
“We are really excited to be able to offer this new way for young artists to get involved at the Anton Art Center,” he said.
For more information, visit theartcenter.org.