Thanks to a grant from the Generator Z initiative from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, the  Anton Art Center, 125 Macomb Place, plans to launch a new youth program this fall called D.I.Y.A.C.,  or the Do-it-Yourself Art Center.

Thanks to a grant from the Generator Z initiative from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, the Anton Art Center, 125 Macomb Place, plans to launch a new youth program this fall called D.I.Y.A.C., or the Do-it-Yourself Art Center.

Photo provided by Anton Art Center


A new generation of after-school activities

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published September 8, 2021

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MOUNT CLEMENS — A grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation will help Anton Art Center provide unstructured art opportunities for teens to learn and experiment after school.

Generator Z is a teen-led initiative to reimagine the future of after-school activities from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, which focuses investment on supporting active lifestyles, preparing for success, caregivers, and entrepreneurship and economic development in southeast Michigan and western New York. Through the Generator Z initiative, the Anton Art Center, 125 Macomb Place, received funding to launch a new youth program, D.I.Y.A.C., or the Do-it-Yourself Art Center, coming this fall.

“The idea was that we were going to have drop-ins, a program people don’t have to register for,” said Anton Art Center Executive Director Phil Gilchrist. “The basic idea is akin to an open studio. What we’re trying to create is a safe, creative place.”

In listening to students in Generation Z (born 1997-2012), the art center found the desire for students to have more flexibility and input on the programs being offered. To that end, there will be an ongoing survey so the program can adjust as students give input. Teens will be able to work on their own art, explore new tools and mediums, and talk to local artists at the D.I.Y.A.C.

The $30,000 grant is allowing the Anton Art Center to purchase computer equipment so teens can be exposed to and learn new skills in graphic arts, photo and video editing. The after-school program will be free to students in the community and may even give them a head start in a creative field with the potential for future employment.

There are jobs available in the fields of web design, game design and video production, Gilchrist said.

“This is where we talk about preparing youth for jobs,” he said. “It’s going to be helpful to kids as they move on in life.

“These are the tools kids will be able to (use) to be able to start doing those things.”

The program will allow students to be creative in ways that they want to be creative, he said, giving them the chance to experiment with new things, including digital art forms like animation and movies.

“We’re able to help provide them with some experiences that may help them down the road,” he said.

The Anton Art Center already offers the opportunities for students to work with ceramics, painting and drawing, and mixed media, as well. Each week of the program, which they hope to begin in September, will have a mentor artist on hand to be able to provide guidance and help with problems.

“That’s that mentorship approach, rather than, here’s a project you’re going to have to do. The kids are really driving the creativity and we’re here to support it,” Gilchrist said.

Information on the program will be posted to the center’s website and social media, but Gilchrist said they also plan to print out posters to hang in local schools and community centers to spread the word. The program will be open to all middle and high school students.

“The Mount Clemens area is a real natural audience for us, just for proximity’s sake. There’s no reason we can’t welcome folks from other areas, too. We’re an art center for all of Macomb County,” he said.

The art center appreciates the opportunity provided by the grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

“We’re really excited about being able to offer this new way for younger artists to get involved at the Anton Art Center,” he said.

For more information, visit theartcenter.org.

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