Affili-Nation: Young Audiences New York’s Sarah Frazier on the Arts in Schools, Family, and Community

Young Audiences Arts for Learning’s Affili-Nation column spotlights the hardworking individuals across the YA Network who make it possible for our affiliates to inspire young people and expand their learning through the arts. Our latest publication features Sarah Frazier from Young Audiences New York.

Young Audiences New York (YANY), one of the YA Network’s longest-standing affiliates, recently welcomed Sarah Frazier as its new External Affairs Manager. We had the pleasure of speaking with Sarah about her background in the arts, YANY’s family and community-focused programming, and much more. 

When meeting new colleagues within the arts-in-education field, it is always fascinating to hear how the arts enhanced their own learning and development, and ultimately shaped their career path. Sarah told us that when she was young, her mother was an elementary school teacher who integrated the arts into her lesson plans as well as her family life at home. Sarah credits her early exposure to the arts with having a major influence on how she approaches the many facets of her life. “When you learn to embrace being creative, you can incorporate that into everything you do,” she told us. She added that she greatly values the trial and error approach to problem solving that participating in the arts taught her. Sarah also explained to us that her early exposure to the arts now influences her role as a parent. Seeing firsthand how her own kids benefit from arts-integrated experiences has only strengthened her belief in the value of the arts in child development. 

Sarah’s love of the arts led her to study film and digital video at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While she was in Philadelphia, Sarah interned at the Philadelphia International Film Festival. Later, she worked at Brooklyn Children’s Museum followed by a children’s creative writing center, 826NYC. After a slight detour in an off-Broadway job at The Play Company, Sarah returned the focus of her career to what she is most passionate about: the arts in children’s development. That is what brought her to YANY in November 2017.

We asked Sarah to describe how YANY brings 21st century learning into New York City classrooms through the arts. She explained that YANY works directly with each of the schools they serve to meet their specific needs, whether that means using musical theater to help ESL students with language, or a digital media residency that teaches storytelling and photography skills. “I appreciate the breadth of artistic mediums our teaching artists bring into schools,” Sarah said. She also admires the organization’s vast reach; YANY’s programs serve approximately 500 children on a weekly basis.

Sarah also told us about YANY’s initiatives that transcend the classroom and carry the arts into the families of children and the communities in which they live. A prime example is YANY’s work with the New Settlement apartments in the Bronx. This program gives parents and guardians the opportunity to participate in arts programming with their children. Last year, YANY also sponsored an art walk, where children displayed their artwork inside local businesses. Parents, guardians, and members of the community were all invited to tour the artwalk. 

Overall, YANY’s core focus on advancing the arts within schools, families, and communities rings true with Sarah’s upbringing, values, and passions. Working in arts-in-education can be challenging at times, but Sarah is optimistic about the future of the field. “We are turning a corner and people are taking arts education more seriously than ever now,” she told us. It is Sarah’s hope that arts-integrated programs will continue to grow in number, so that every child can have the opportunity to enhance their learning and development through the arts.

To learn more about Young Audiences New York, visit their website at yany.org.

 

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