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The DreamYard Arts Center unveils new YOUmedia expansion, and plans for the future

On October 23, the DreamYard Project celebrated the opening of the YOUmedia expansion to their art center located in the Bronx. The addition of the new space, which they’ve been developing for more than a year, has allowed them to double in size and add a new series of digital learning programs. Some of the new programs were featured at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which included interactive stations in fashion re-mixing and music recording, as well as performances from the center’s students.

The center, which opened its doors in 2009, focuses on both the visual and digital arts, holding classes on subjects like poetry, dance, and movie-making. “We have the luxury of having multiple spaces,” said Director of Digital Learning with DreamYard, Hillary Kolos. Some of the center’s rooms are informal art galleries, while others are studios designed for classes, media labs, or places for the students to come and socialize. “We’re moving toward the “hanging out” model,” said Kolos. Future goals include planning less-structured open studio time, which will provide students with more access to technology. Kolos also said they’ve been tossing around the idea of a youth council that would create and host events to encourage students’ families and other community members to get involved.

“As a center, we’re always trying to think of ways to engage families,” she said. DreamYard already hosts open mics and potlucks that have helped foster participation from their students’ communities, but Kolos said that the center wants youth to design and carry out future events. The importance of student-motivated and student-led programming is a central component of YOUmedia spaces.

She also had some advice for those who are in the early stages of developing their own YOUmedia sites. Foremost is to: keep in mind that the core principals can look different in every space and that they can be modified to fit your needs. “YOUmedia can be adapted to almost any space. You just have to be aware of what your constraints are,” said Kolos. “You have to make it work in your community.”

Kolos also suggested YOUmedia space organizers keep the following things in mind:

• Your mission: Ask yourself, “What are we trying to do for our community?”

• Your audience: Think about whom you are working for, and what their needs are.

• Content: Be sure that what you are delivering is meeting those needs, while also being effective and, of course, fun.

• Physical space: Keep your physical limitations in mind. Understand what would work best in your space, and in your neighborhood.

“The main goals of DreamYard,” she said, “are to encourage students to follow their passions, be collaborators, makers and doers –-not passive consumers.” The center’s recent expansion will certainly help them continue to do just that.

Follow this link for more on YOUmedia Programs at the DreamYard Art Center, and be sure to watch this video that captures the excitement of the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Correction: A previous version of this story included the sentence, "Future goals include planning more structured time events, rather than focusing on open studio time, and providing students with more access to technology," which should have read: "Future goals include planning less-structured open studio time, which will provide students with more access to technology." We regret the error.