Responding to Art Involves Self Expression (RAISE) is a five-session program designed in collaboration with the Berkshire County Juvenile Court System and hosted by the Clark. RAISE participants take part in a series of activities that harness the potential of art to explore what it means to be a human being. Each session is designed to promote positive self-awareness and sensitivity to others. The program culminates in a graduation ceremony that celebrates the participants’ achievements in the program. The final week begins with each participant leading a half-hour gallery talk for their parents or guardians, school personnel, and court officials.
PROGRAM GOALS INCLUDE:
Since its inception in 2006, RAISE has served more than 200 adolescents aged 12–17 from Berkshire County. Following their RAISE program experiences, students report that they find the museum a peaceful and comforting place, and many express the desire to go back because they feel a sense of personal ownership. Court personnel report that the recidivism rate for RAISE program graduates is close to zero, illustrating the power of art to change lives.
The RAISE program has won many national and international awards, and the curriculum has been shared with other museums in the U.S. and across the world.
Regional Head Start students participate in a program of repeat visits to the Clark designed to support the development of language, literacy, and kindergarten readiness skills. Students learn about museums and art through guided discussions and gallery explorations led by members of the Clark’s Education Department.
The Head Start with Art at the Clark program was developed in direct response to the impact of federal budget cuts to Head Start funding. The Clark recognized the role it could play in restoring culturally and socially enriching experiences in which Head Start children may not otherwise have the opportunity to take part, while also empowering them to share the benefits and enjoyment of museum visits with their families.
The program model has been recognized for excellence by the IMLS and has been shared with a number of other museums in the northeast.
People with dementia and their caregivers engage with museum staff in conversation about art on select Mondays when the museum is closed to the public. This special access creates a peaceful, reflective environment for enjoying art.
The primary goal of the program is to encourage self-expression, meaningful interactions, and a positive social experience for people with dementia, the people who love them, and the professionals involved with their care.
Curating a Culture of Respect (CCR) was established in 2013 by the Clark as a collaborative project within the FRAME organization (French American Museum Exchange—a consortium of 15 French and 15 American museums) as a program that addresses violence (from bullying to terrorism) with a goal of prevention. Locally, the program has evolved as a collaboration between the Clark, MASS MoCA, and WCMA. The program utilizes art as a vehicle to expand awareness of human relationships, perspectives, choices, and, in particular, our capacity for acting with both cruelty and compassion. CCR connects middle school students with art museums to contemplate human nature and social issues and to encourage them to be more cognizant of their own personal power in shaping positive futures.
In-depth gallery talks and conversational-style tours as well as complementary activities focused on the power of the arts are hosted at the three museums, at which students implement their observation and critical thinking skills. The program has made a greater impact by involving cohorts from entire grade levels and working with teachers to integrate art-centric methods, content, and ideas into their curricula.
In addition to engaging with art at museums, teachers are reshaping some of their classroom activities to connect with museum experiences and the related analytical thinking about the human condition. The operational strategy for the project is “synergistic co-creation," in which each of the partners determines levels of participation, shares responsibility for initiating activities and contributing to the evolution and potential impact of the project.
Our newest initiative involves working with the mental health community in the county to encourage professionals and clients to spend time at the Clark—engaging with our collection and enjoying our campus as part of their efforts to be healthy. Although we do not “do therapy” at the Clark, we believe that a visit to the museum can be therapeutic, and that a sense of belonging and ownership of a magnificent and beautiful place like the Clark can help people feel well and connected in their communities.
Engaging with art can enhance a sense of well-being and an appreciation of shared humanity for all people. With this in mind, the education department provides educator-led gallery talks for groups of adults with developmental disabilities.