The Colorization Collective
We aim to promote diversity in the arts scene by highlighting the work of teen artists of color.
J'Dyn Plater, a web series interviewee, practices a monologue.
Photo credits: Seattle Rep and Angela Nickerson
Kaylyn Ready, a web series interviewee, performs in a hip-hop dance piece. Photo credits: Joseph Lambert.
Additional categories (optional)
Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Eligibility: Date of Birth
Help us stay in touch!
Phone number: 425 615 0792
Address: WA: Bellevue (98004)
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Website: www.colorizationcollective.org. Blog: https://www.colorizationcollective.org/blog. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn4H-Ao4v9I0Rpe6CzLXBLA. TeenTix website: teentix.org.
Date You Started Your Project Started
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
I want to support teen artists of color (TAC), because they are tomorrow's artmakers. People tend to see art as representative of real life; when an event features diverse individuals, we subconsciously become more empathetic towards others. We must highlight inclusive art that features artists of color, who, due to various obstacles, made up only 17% of artists in 2014 (Huffington Post).
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Over the past six months, The Colorization Collective has developed our plan to promote TAC. To do so, we’ve aligned with TeenTix, a youth-centered nonprofit that advocates for teens in the arts community. They have over 62,000 teen members, a weekly newsletter reaching 17,000, and a strong social media presence, allowing us to broadly distribute our message.
First, we are creating videos highlighting the accomplishments and experiences of TAC, so TAC can learn more about their peers’ work and realize that they, too, have the power to succeed in the arts. We produce and upload one video a month and use both our personal networks and TeenTix’s to find interviewees and distribute the videos.
Second, we’ll highlight TACs' artistry to a live audience. In the spring of 2020, we will host mentorship sessions for 10 TAC. Teens will create an art piece in their discipline of interest; they’ll pair with a mentor of color in that art genre to do so. Mentors, found through TeenTix partners, will educate students not only in their artmaking, but by providing a window into life as a working artist. The TACs’ work will culminate in a final performance at TeenTix’s teen-led arts fair.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
It’s difficult for youth of color to feel connected to the art community when they lack role models who look like them. I’ve been performing since I was young. But when asked which actor would play me in a movie about my life, I could think of only one South Asian actress; I was one of five people of color in an acting program of thirty. But the tipping point was when a white director asked me to wear something I wasn’t comfortable with (I dress rather conservatively). Because I didn’t feel he would understand my background and culture, because I lacked a supportive group of people who could relate to my experiences, I didn’t speak up and felt uncomfortable for the rest of the show. After that incident, I realized that we need to support artists of color to prevent other TAC from feeling as I did. We must foster a community of artists of color, so TAC know they aren’t alone.
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
Our minds believe that what occurs in art has some connection to the real world, so seeing diverse bodies, stories, and cultures in artwork is important for all. The Colorization Collective works to support artists of color by educating TAC about their community and power as artmakers. Through videos and performances, we showcase TACs' work and share their stories. Additionally, organizations and white allies can learn from our projects and implement change in their own practices.
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
TAC don't often have the opportunity to speak about their experiences in the arts, but our projects allow them to do so. Kaylyn, a hip-hop dancer and recent interviewee, had never talked about her background as a TAC and so was initially uncomfortable on camera. But as we spoke about her artistic experience, she opened up about the isolation she had faced in the arts as an actor and dancer. Now, with hip-hop, she’s found a supportive, diverse environment that celebrates her identity as an artist of color. We hope her story will allow teens to learn about the inclusivity of various art communities and feel empowered to continue art-making. Kaylyn’s video, posted only three weeks ago, has been viewed 225 times, speaking to the power of her story. Her video's viewers have also learned that there is always a welcoming space for TAC in the arts.
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
We’ve not yet found a project by teens, for teens, that combats racism in the arts by providing a platform for youth voices. As TAC, we recognize the many barriers keeping our peers out of the arts, from busy schedules to a lack of representation, which is why our short videos amplify TAC artmaking. Additionally, our partner, TeenTix, has connections to 100 Seattle arts and cultural organizations. With their support, we’ve explored programming ideas, spoken to the community, and researched outcomes to produce content that best fits TACs’ needs.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Everyone I’ve contacted has been enthusiastic about this project's creation. When I shared Kaylyn’s video with her dance group, they posted it to Facebook, with my contact describing it to me as “beautiful, powerful.” A theater professional, noting that a video was “full of essential content,” shared it with A Contemporary Theater’s equity committee. (For context, we posted our first video two months ago and it has been viewed 300 times. YouTube Analytics shows that, in the last 90 days, our videos had 290 unique viewers.) Even white teen artists have connected to our content: “Watching this truly made my day… seeing people have the courage to share their experiences really resonates with me.” Seeing so many people excited about this work has also taught me that there is space for me in the arts, making me proud to continue our project and create change.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
In the next six months, we’ll highlight twenty teens through our video and performance opportunities. As well, we will run our first mentorship program, which we plan to make an annual event. In the next two years, we will work with Seattle arts organizations to highlight more TAC and create shows featuring artists of color. Additionally, as this problem doesn’t just affect our city, we’ll expand our program to interview artists from all over the nation in our web series. Everyone, artists and non-artists alike, is impacted by a lack of diversity in the arts, so we must continue to combat this issue.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
Communities of color
Religious minority (non-Christian)
How did you hear about this challenge?
Word of mouth