A group of entertainment industry professionals is working to increase funding for arts programs in Boston by paying youth to make art.
The newly formed Shout Syndicate has raised $200,000 over the past two years to be distributed to eight programs for students ages 15-21 in the Greater Boston area this August. The mission of the project is “to provide a fabulous opportunity for young people in Boston to create art…and be rewarded,” said Julia Gittleman, a consultant for the project.
The Syndicate began in 2017 when a group of non-profit arts organizations met to discuss Boston’s 10-year cultural plan with Mayor Marty Walsh.
One organization planning to apply for the grant is Beat The Odds Boston (BTOB), a visual arts coalition that helps students gain a footing in the entertainment industry. Together, BTOB serves under-resourced youth in Boston’s low-income communities through its Creative Youth Development Program.
“We’re just getting started…that’s why we’re here, to get as much funding as we can to keep the grants flowing,” said Santagie Carew, a BTOB team member.
The collaborative is stressing the importance of youth in its decision making, a focus that hit home with BTOB. Carew, along with Mike Moon and Giovanni Lopez, run the program and hope to instill in younger people what they’ve learned over the years.
“We definitely got the experience hands on…I didn’t have these resources when I was younger. I wish I did. I think I would be a lot more successful today,” said Moon.
The Syndicate is led by Mark Kates, the founder of Fenway Recordings, Jake Brennan, Principal at JBW Media, LLC, Adam Klein, a publicist and marketer for CK Communications Group, and Ami Bennitt, an arts publicist for the freelance firm Motor Media, Marketing & Management.
They reached out to local artists, and received help from larger names like filmmaker and comedian Judd Apatow and Boston-based band The Mighty Mighty BossTones. Smaller groups such as Ernie Boch, Jr.’s Music Drives Us Foundation, Broadway Across Boston, recording artist Frank Turner, and more than 100 individual donors helped raise $100,000. That was then matched by The Boston Foundation to reach $200,000.
Those who will receive grants will be notified the week of August 12. The money will be used to pay youth volunteers and teachers minimum wage stipends for their work. The remaining money would aid programs with their growth and development.
Gittleman said some groups have shown concern regarding the 6- to 8-hour a week work criteria.
“We want this to be a really deep and rich experience for these young people,” she said. “If anything, we would love to see more hours, and that they would forego having to take a job…because they would be getting compensated here. They would be getting better professional opportunities.”