Providence, RI

Contact Name
Meg Sullivan
Project Dates
September - December 2016
Tags
Workforce Development
For our TAG TEAM program, an after-school playwriting course held at MAP’s neighborhood Clubhouse in Olneyville, ten 5th-grade playwrights collaborated on a play about how bicycles empower people and communities. In preparation for writing the play, our students took bike rides along the Woony River Bike Path and became more confident riders, thanks to a partnership with local organizations Recycle a Bike and the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council. Three of our students even learned how to ride for the first time. All the kids took home their very own bikes. We also partnered with the RI Historical Preservation Commission to learn about the ways bikes have influenced social movements. Then, our company of professional actors presented the play to public audiences at sold-out shows.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
MAP is committed to nurturing the unique potential of young people in Olneyville, by unleashing their
creative voices and uniting them with professional artists to create original theatre. MAP offers all of our
programs tuition-free. When they join MAP, all of our students live in Olneyville, and most attend William
D'Abate, a Title 1 school.
The Manton Avenue Project Goals:
To strengthen Creative and Positive Youth Development outcomes of under-resourced kids in Olneyville
To add young voices to important civic discussions through theatre and playwriting
To help young people express their understanding of the world through theatre and playwriting
To expand students' knowledge of the subject/theme of their plays
To expand students' writing skills
To expand students' critical and creative thinking skills
To strengthen students' empathy
To link programming to core subjects and standards, including Writing, Language Arts, Social
Studies/History
To provide safe and constructive after-school programming for young people in Olneyville
To create dialogue around the themes that are illuminated and revealed through the conflicts and
resolutions, memories and stories that each playwright expresses.
To contribute positively to the fabric of the Olneyville community
To build connections between Olneyville and the larger Providence community
Studies tell us that quality out-of-school programming improves academic and social skills, and leads to
improved relationships with peers, connections with community, and a sense of belonging, especially in
lower income communities. By building MAP students' creative problem-solving skills, developing their sense
of community and strengthening their identities through self-expression, The Manton Avenue Project offers
the supports and opportunities necessary for Creative and Positive Youth Development outcomes. MAP’s
long-term, progressive programming measurably strengthens young people's resilience and self-efficacy –
two indicators of healthy adulthood.
The Manton Avenue Project serves over 60 young people each year through free after-school playwriting
programs, community building, guest artist workshops, and a Teen Voices initiative. Since 2004, we’ve
professionally produced over 500 plays written by under-resourced youth (with the help of over 400
volunteer artists), with the goal of empowering young voices and giving young people tools to become
tomorrow’s creative thinkers and community leaders.
MAP provides exceptional opportunities for practice in writing, meeting deadlines, working as a team --
all of these skills will benefit our MAP kids in school and beyond. At MAP, we see theatre as a specifically
powerful tool for social and personal change, and playwriting offers young people ways to practice empathy
and hone critical thinking, improving social and behavioral health, and building classroom skills that will
benefit them throughout their academic and personal lives.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
When we realized that the three young women in our class did not know how to ride a bicycle, we decided we needed to add more class time to work with our partners at the WRWC and Recycle-A-Bike, so that all of the kids would have an opportunity to practice safe riding skills and be comfortable enough on their bikes to go for 3-mile rides along the bike path.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
ONE Neighborhood Builders (In-kind donation of our Clubhouse classroom and rehearsal space)
New Urban Arts (donation of Playwriting Weekend space)
Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council and the Red Shed (for bike path tour, riding lessons, and for donation of bikes)
Recycle-A-Bike (for bike safety lessons)
The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage
Commission (bike tour with Historian Sarah Zurier for Pedal Power Play)
AS220 Blackbox (for publicity and public performances)
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
This project connects to our Health Equity Zone grant goal of partnerships working towards community health outcomes including social and behavior, and physical health. This project also represents the excellent spirit of the Olneyville Collaborative which, lead by One Neighborhood Builders, works to encourage and develop partnerships and cooperative projects.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
We are inspired by the incredible creative community here in our neighborhood of Olneyville, and the strong relationships that have been formed over the years. The work we do as a community every day builds a strong sense of place and belonging for our students.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
Tag Team (Fall 2016) was for our 5th graders, who collaborated on one full-length play on the theme of
"Pedal Power." Playwriting course took place at our Clubhouse in Olneyville -- 10 classes per course
For the first four weeks of class, Tuesdays were playwriting days and Wednesdays were bike lesson days at Riverside Park.

Next, we developed the characters for the play based on what we learned from our trips and from a visit from Sarah Zurier from the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. We collaborated on the overall story. And once we developed an outline, and determined which playwright would be writing each section, we headed to our 2-day playwriting weekend.

Each playwright was matched with a dramaturge. The dramaturges were professional theatre artist. Their role: to question,
inspire, and support the playwright through the writing process, to bring the child's ideas to the page.

Next, we rehearsed the play with the playwrights present at our Clubhouse, and finally brought the play from the page to the stage, with the talents of local adult actors, for public audiences at the Blackbox at AS220.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
One of the greatest changes to our process has been the ability to invite our playwrights to rehearsals, and to take part in the production acting as smaller characters and reading scene introductions. The playwrights have taken more agency over their plays, and this is really thanks to having our Clubhouse, which opened in 2013. The Clubhouse's central location in Olneyville enables MAP to have a very real presence in our community and allows for our students to take part in more of the development of our productions. We have also been able to add more programming, including Teen Voices every Tuesday. The Teen Voices group has become our EMcees and backstage crew for our shows, introducing our shows, running the lights and sound booth, and stage managing.
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
N/A
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
N/A
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Choose partners that you know and trust, and continue to ask your students about ways that they would like to become more involved. Keep your projects student-centered by enabling your students to participate in all aspects of the program and production.
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
Our classes meet afterschool at our Olneyville Clubhouse, where kids are taught the basics of playwriting: character development, monologue, dialogue, conflict and resolution. Kids are asked to consider creative alternatives to solving problems and think about ways to bring their imaginations to life through characters and actions on stage. Kids are able to talk about difficult subjects and speak their minds through their character's voices, in the safe spaces that the page and the stage provide. Classes culminate in intensive playwriting weekends, where playwrights work one-on-one with adult dramaturges to craft their final plays. The one-on-one attention children receive in the playwriting process teaches them that what they have to say is important and worthwhile.he Manton Avenue Project is doing what we can to infuse theatre arts into the lives of under-resourced children during their formative years. Theatre skills help them gain the tools they need to forge ahead with confidence to become tomorrow's creative thinkers and community leaders. The recent report by the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities (PCAH) shows that low-income students engaged in the arts and arts education performed better in school and stayed in school longer than those without these opportunities.By respecting underserved kids' ideas and presenting those ideas to public audiences, The Manton Avenue Project cultivates kids' resilience and improves their self-efficacy, both indicators of Positive Youth Development that lead to long-term success in adulthood, including healthy relationships, community connections and economic self-sufficiency.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
Yes. Because of the following playwrights' responses to the project:
"It was spectacular" - Arly
"I felt proud" - Tristan
"Excited" - Guadalupe
"I felt like I accomplished a big goal" - Rose
"To do it and follow your dreams" - Edgar
"Never give up"- Jordany
"Every fall matters because you will get better and better and better." - Julian
How did you measure this success or progress?
We measured our success through student surveys, audience surveys, and parent/family surveys.

Along with making sure we produce each of our deliverables, our evaluative process includes surveys for
the participants designed using The Community Action Framework for Youth Development (Connell and
Gambone, 2002) and the Boston Youth Arts Education Project’s (BYEAP) Handbook (2012).
We ask the kids to complete the following:
"The Manton Avenue Project class has helped me:
(Check only the answers that are TRUE for you! You may check as many or as few as you wish.)
____ Express myself in new ways
____ Feel like I can achieve my goals
____ Create or strengthen supportive friendships
____ Interact with supportive adults
____ Show respect for myself and others
____ Feel proud of myself
____ Feel excited about the future
____ Believe that I can write more plays
____ Feel like I can solve problems
____ Feel like my ideas are important and worthwhile
What is your favorite part about The Manton Avenue Project?
What is the hardest part about The Manton Avenue Project?
What have you learned because of The Manton Avenue Project?
3 words to describe how you feel about The Manton Ave Project:"
These surveys were designed to align with specific indicators and supports of Positive Youth
Development using the Community Action Framework for Youth Development, including: Resilience, Self efficacy,
and Community Engagement.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
One unexpected impact was teaching three young women how to ride bikes - empowering them in new ways that they were able to express in their play. As Arly told us, "It felt like magic happened."