Youth Take the Lead in Planning Annual Art Festival


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By Jennifer L. Warren

POUGHKEEPSIE – Destiny Kearney and Harrison Brishon-McKinnon can both envision what it looks, feels and sounds like, and they could not have been more invigorated to share as much of that experience as possible with guests Wednesday evening inside of the Trolley Barn Gallery.

The two are part of a youth committee that is energetically and creatively involved in the development of the First Annual 2022 Youth Arts Festival as well as The Art Effect’s new Youth Arts Empowerment Initiative. The aim of both is to empower youth involved in the Festival to directly collaborate with City Officials, businesses and other entities as well as share that networking and its ideas with the public. All of that was at play Wednesday evening from 5:30-7pm, when guests of all ages joined in on a lively discussion, led by Destiny Kearney and Harrison Brishon-McKinnon, both of the Youth Planning Committee.

“I would love to see more color, and people able to walk by and really see it’s an art place,” explained Kearney, Lead for the America Fellow for the Art Effect. “I also would love to see paint all over the place.”

And when it comes to the theme, “Wonderland” for next year’s Festival, Kearney has a clear vision as well.

Guests at Wednesday’s PK in the Know outreach event, sharing ideas about and plans for next year’s 1st Annual Youth Arts Festival in the City of Poughkeepsie listen in to some of the vibrant and creative dialogue, led by a panel of youth, who will be spearheading the exciting activities.
Guests at Wednesday’s PK in the Know outreach event, sharing ideas about and plans for next year’s 1st Annual Youth Arts Festival in the City of Poughkeepsie listen in to some of the vibrant and creative dialogue, led by a panel of youth, who will be spearheading the exciting activities.

“I see it as one that is about activating all ages as well as highlighting what’s here already in Poughkeepsie,” Kearney stressed. “Let’s activate this location (The Trolley Barn), and let people know it’s here.”

Brishon, McKinnon, who stood alongside Kearney during the program’s segment that provided a recap of the latest happening of the Youth Committee, was also eager to relate details of the Festival reality he would like to see come to life as well as just the overall priority art should have in the City of Poughkeepsie.

“I want to see more murals here,” affirmed McKinnon. “The ‘Wonderland’ theme is a fun one; with everything happening in the world, we need a place to just go and wonder and explore.”

It’s that very “mission” that The Art Effect’s Youth Arts Empowerment Zone Initiative was intent upon by allowing young artist members to proactively be immersed in the dynamic design of the Festival. Whether it was engaging in hands-on activities with the audience Wednesday night, creatively collaborating or simply providing information updates to spark conversation, the overriding aim of this First Youth Arts Festival, scheduled for September, 2022, is to place the youth themselves at the epicenter of all of its pieces.

“This Initiative really displays how local youth embody resilience, empathy and creativity to empower the community and transform the neighborhood around the Trolley Barn, the future home of the Art Effect,” said Joanna Feng, Director of the Trolley Barn Gallery. “The benefits of the PKX Festival are far-reaching; youth leaders collaborate with partners in the City of Poughkeepsie, MASS Design, Hudson River Housing and more, as they learn how to realize their vision of a youth-inspired, vibrant City.” She added, “Through their collaborations with the City of Poughkeepsie and partners across the City, youth develop as creative civic leaders who inspire and engage entire communities in ways that Poughkeepsie has not experienced before.”

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