ArtsWestchester recently decided to restart in-person workshops for its popular Teen Tuesdays & Thursdays program after 18 months of virtual offerings. “We wanted to offer youth some semblance of normalcy,” explains Jessica Cioffoletti, the organization’s Director of Arts in Education. The program, which launched in 2018, is designed to engage teenagers aged 12-16 in free art-making activities led by professional teaching artists.
Like many other programs, Teen Tuesdays pivoted to a digital format during the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists from throughout the county offered lessons from their homes, which were featured on ArtsWestchester’s YouTube channel. Some also offered live workshops on Zoom.
Cioffoletti says that virtual programming was an important step for ArtsWestchester during the pandemic, as it allowed them “to continue services for many who needed a means of creative expression during this difficult time.” However, she also stresses that it “can never fully replace the in-person model of art-making.”
After a successful return of the organization’s ArtsMobile, Cioffoletti and her team felt it was time to give the local teen population a safe and engaging way to interact with one another as well. She says: “When the ArtsMobile went back on the road…individuals of all ages expressed their excitement for creating art with us…For that moment, life seemed to return to normal.”
This month, Teen Tuesdays participants will learn customs and traditions related to the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday with artist Zafiro Romero on November 4; create with recycled art in a workshop led by artist Richela Fabian Morgan on November 9; and try their hand at basic techniques of bookmaking with artist Rukhshan Haque on November 18.
Next month, artist Susan Rowe Harrison will teach teens to create a number of festive holiday ornaments using various materials on December 7 and Richela Fabian Morgan will lead a card-making workshop that teaches several techniques, such as paper-folding, on December 16.
According to Cioffoletti, “providing in-person experiences allows youth to socialize more positively, collaborate effectively and gain confidence and self-esteem by expressing themselves in a live platform.”
In order to ensure a safe return, the workshops will divide participants into pod groups to maintain social distancing. In addition, masks will be required regardless of vaccination status. The program, which is usually held in ArtsWestchester’s gallery, will temporarily be held at the White Plains City Center.
A version of this article first appeared in the November issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.
For more than 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest, private, not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to provide leadership, vision, and support, to ensure the availability, accessibility, and diversity of the arts. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. ArtsWestchester helps fund concerts, exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations, and the community. A two-story gallery is located on the first floor of ArtsWestchester’s historic building on Mamaroneck Avenue.