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Tarbut 4 Teens

The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre has a longstanding reputation as a ‘hub’ for vibrant and diversified arts & culture, through its Gallery, its programs and its multi-purpose, state-of-the-art Al Green Theatre. With a SixPoints JVPF grant, we can offer much more, by providing Jewish teens with an all new arts program to discover and express their Jewish identity, through professional mentorship, performance and exhibition.

Need: 

Too many Jewish youth live outside of organized Jewish circles -- learning, youth groups and summer camps. Many who live downtown tend to be more secular and liberal. They are drifting away from Jewish identity and life, and need to find their way. We can help them. Through Tarbut 4 Teens, we will help them connect to their Jewish roots in their own voice, through the arts. In this pilot project, we estimate that 75-100 youth aged 13-19 will be served directly, while family, friends and members of the broader community will be exposed exponentially to these new Jewish voices through public performances, video and live web streaming .

Goals, Objectives & Measurement: 

Our goal is to develop an all-new arts program, specially geared to today’s Jewish teens. Called Tarbut (Hebrew for Culture) 4 Teens, the program will create a professional environment to foster the artistic, intellectual and personal growth of Jewish youth by honing their skills while exploring their Jewish identity.

Our objective is to invite professional singers, sound producers, comedians, actors, directors, photographers and filmmakers, all with two things in common: a Jewish identity and a passion for teaching youth. Each teen will be coached by a professional mentor, and together they will create workshops and master classes to explore new Jewish identities in the 21st century – through various art forms. We will inspire Jewish teens to think about their identity on their terms - through their art. - Through the performance, recording and exhibition elements of this pilot project, we will provide the teens a way to link their journey of discovery to the broader Jewish community.

Measurement/Evaluation Criteria
The success of the Pilot Project will be evaluated using a multi-dimensional format. Objective measures will include:
• Self-report data will be collected from participants at the outset and conclusion of the program.
• A post –evaluation of the program’s impact in helping the registrant identify with their Jewish values will be completed by Staff and mentors
• Tracking audience response to live performances and viewership stats on web streaming
• MNjcc’s ability to attract professional mentors in all artistic disciplines
• MNjcc’s ability to attract a diverse youth market
• Teens' engagement in further projects with mentors in the Jewish community, or with other teens they meet in the program.

Opportunity for Involvement: 

SixPoints JVPF's technical assistance and fund Member experience would be invaluable - as sustaining partners and assisting MNjcc in presentations to funding bodies, as program advisers, mentors and media spokespersons; and to assist with relevant community research and outreach..

Time Frame: 

MNjcc envisions a two year pilot project, funded jointly by SixPoints JVPF investors and MNjcc funders. Initiatives in the 1st six months of 2012 would involve stakeholder surveys, developing workshop curriculum, engaging professional artists, producers, directors and sound engineers, and transforming the Al Green Theatre into a sound recording studio. Over the remaining 18 months the registrants will: present at least two interactive music concerts (fall 2012 & spring 2013), hone their photographic skills for entry into Toronto’s annual spring CONTACT International Festival of Photography, .present two interactive spoken word performances (spring and fall) and mount a short Film Festival in conjunction with our partners Toronto Jewish Film Society, Jewish Family and Child and Toronto District School Board. Commencing January 2014 MNjcc will sustain the Tarbut 4 Teens Program through registration fees, performance admission and product sales, and funding from corporate, foundation and individual philanthropists whose giving criteria includes youth, the arts and/or access subsidies.

Sponsor/Staff: 

The current team of MNjcc staff plays a valuable role in program design, arts presentation and instruction, however, teens are not well-served in current programming and we wish to address their needs. The MNjcc will invite 20 of the GTA’s finest professional musicians, film makers, photographers and visual artists to join the Tarbut 4 Teens Program as part-time mentors/professionals.

Our roster of professional mentors would include:
MUSIC - Danny Greenspoon (Music Producer, The Audio Truck) and other mentor-musicians from Ashkenaz Festival and the Jazz FM Youth Orchestra;
PHOTOGRAPHY - Three Jewish photographers who have had exhibitions at the MNjcc Gallery: Mircea Popescu; Mark D. Freedman; Jason Schwartz;
SPOKEN WORD – There is no end of mentors in this area – with actors, directors and comedians including those from the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company; Yuk Yuk’s; The Comedy Network; Yiddish rap artist DJ Josh Dolgin (AKA Socalled); as well as names like Alon Nashman, Daniel Brooks, Richard Rose, Jen Capraru; and Leah Cherniak – all of whom have solid relationships with the MNjcc.
FILM/VIDEO - Toronto Jewish Film Society, and Jewish Family and Child /Toronto District School Board (through a special program that brings filmmaking workshops to Grades 7 and 8 youth with mental health challenges).

The MNjcc will also draw upon its established partnerships with community groups and is committed to building a positive future for Jewish youth living in the GTA.

Organizational Structure and Expertise: 

Our best resource is the expertise of the MNjcc programming staff, along with our theatre and other facilities, and our relationships with professional artists. The Al Green Theatre has proven technical expertise to accommodate the needs of performance, recording and webstreaming -- in partnership with guest mentors. MNjcc programmers in music, theatre, film and visual arts work regularly with Toronto's most professional artists to present events and exhibitions that have been recognized by funders, Arts councils and audiences across the GTA. This strong management and programming team is well poised to incorporate professional arts mentors and teens into a feasible, responsibly managed pilot project. We understand the needs of funders to be well-informed and engaged, and work hard to create a collaborative environment with our partners. SixPoints JVPF's funding will permit us to realize a great creative opportunity to provide something amazing for Jewish teens in Toronto -- a chance to explore their Jewish identity with the city's best artists, and to transform the JCC into their Jewish cultural hub.

Criteria that Enhance Competitiveness: 

At the conclusion of the Tarbut 4 Teens pilot project , the MNjcc will document and disseminate findings and share best practices through various presentations to the broader Toronto Jewish community and larger JCC Association of North America. While the individual participants will naturally be the most immediate beneficiaries of this project, our goal is to ensure that family members and the Jewish community at large benefit from the experience. In the short term. MNjcc would be delighted to assist the Schwartz-Reisman and Prosserman Jewish Community Centres to replicate Tarbut 4 Teens for Jewish teens living in the northern sector of the GTA. In the longer term, we would be pleased to assist JCC Associations across North America to implement the program.