The Murphy Centre is a not-for-profit organization that offers a wide variety of programs and services to youth at risk, including the Community Youth Arts Program. The over 8 years of success of this program can be attributed to the dedication of the centre’s co-directors Timothy Thorne and Timothy Turner as well as its invaluable staff. Its mandate is to help youth who have various barriers to obtaining further education and employment, develop their employability skills and goals with a particular focus on visual arts.
Candace Fulford, the program’s current coordinator, explained that at-risk can mean many different things including problems with addictions, mental health barriers, street involvement a loss of a loved one, aboriginal status, a general loss of a sense of direction and, of course the list goes on. The program seeks to help these youth find relevant employment or education in their areas of interest, particularly visual arts. The participants of this program are paid the current minimum wage for 30 hour per week for roughly 47 weeks. This helps to set up the program as a job model where people are held accountable for their actions as they would be in a job outside of the program.
During the program, professional artists host workshops that share knowledge and skills with the participants. These professional artists are invited to teach and are paid fair rates as determined by our national artist advocacy organization’s, Canadian Artists’ Representation /Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC), minimum fee schedule. The focus of the program is on professional practices in the visual arts but it is not closed off to other artistic endeavours like writing and music. Within the program they also incorporate field trips that are geared towards visual arts by using the places they visit as inspiration.
In terms of evaluating the program, many people ask Candace: “Did they go to school for visual arts or get a job afterwards? What is the success rate?” Candace answers by saying that the success for each person is different. The biggest indicator for success, in her mind, is that the youth learn how to interact with each other, work as a group, break out of their shell, improve their social skills and figure out where their strengths lie. Here, youth learn how to share and compromise, express themselves, and work communally. Art is therapeutic and is a vehicle for youth to express themselves and break out of the pattern they may feel they are held back with. It is most important for them to develop their talents and to realize what they have to offer.
In previous years, a peer mentorship position was offered where a former participant from the previous program would return in a supervisory role and aid the new youth arts participants. They’d share their valuable experiences and help to support the role of the program coordinator. This year they are trying something new by employing another professional Murphy Centre staff member, Colleen Banko, who has extensive experience working with people of all ages to help build life skills and career development. Although this new coordinator position is half time there are strong hopes that in the future both positions will be full time.
The program sets up community partnerships and volunteer opportunities for the youth to gain experience working in the local arts community. The program is all about partnering and collaborating with other programs and projects. They are always looking for new ideas and ways that the 12 participants can become involved with the community and help to support the great work that other organizations are doing every day. They are also interested in collaborating with organizations outside of the province and are open to exchanges of artworks and ideas.
The catchment area for the Community Youth Arts Program is Newfoundland and Labrador. However, youth need to live in St. John’s in order to attend. The language of service is currently English. The program is geared towards youth between the ages 15-30. The hours of operation are Monday to Friday from 10-4pm.
The Community Youth Arts Program has a permanent studio in one of the Murphy Centre’s three locations. They rent the 2000 sq ft space, called HarbourSide Studio, in the downtown area of St. John’s where they are more connected to the arts community.
WISHLIST: The Murphy Centre’s Community Youth Arts Program needs paint, paper, textile materials and tools (especially a sewing machine and serger!) as well as sculptural tools and materials. The art program’s annual budget range is close to $300,000 which includes everything from all related wages to supplies and materials- so the money has to go a long way! They also barter and partner with other arts organizations in return for volunteer time and various collaborative projects.
Please see ArtBridges’ Google Map for contact information.