Recognizing and taking advantage of the potential for human development and not just artistic development in arts formation is an integral part of the mission of the CCBN, a goal that is being realized through retreats, recreational activities, and gender discussions with the arts groups. I have spent several evenings and Saturdays in retreats and discussions with youth from all the arts groups at the CCBN: choir, orchestra, theater, painting, and dance. We’ve played, we’ve sung, we’ve danced, and we’ve shared about our experiences as artists and as young people.
Before the closing retreat, several of the youth expressed concern to me that they wouldn’t get along well with the youth from the other groups. Seats on the bus were clearly divided by arts group, and our initial circle of chairs was also pretty segregated. By the end of the day, though, everyone was mixed up, laughing and sharing their art with each other.
I’ve been interviewing some of the youth to document their reactions to the events and get their ideas for the future. Many have shared that they learned much about the values of solidarity, respect, and camaraderie. But what most struck them is the way in which they were able to share with members of the other arts groups, despite the fact that they had never really gotten to know each other before. The youth are energized, and they are taking that energy back to their rehearsals and performances, strengthening both their artistry and their sense of identity.