The Carnegie Arts Center is opening a new session for teens who want to participate as docents and volunteers at the arts center. Initially funded with a grant from the Make Dreams Real Endowment Fund in 2020, the Teen Docent program continues to be a first step in getting to know more about art, history, museums, and public engagement for young people who are interested in the arts.
“Teen Docents will work with gallery visitors of all ages – including adults, children and family groups – helping them engage with and understand some amazing works of art,” said Carnegie Director Lisa McDermott. “Our exhibitions change every few months, so there is always something new to talk about. Through tours, directed dialogues, and casual conversations, our young docents can make everyone’s experience at the Carnegie Arts Center more exciting.”
Teen docents will participate in 24 hours of training to learn art history and appreciation, public speaking, and how to have fun in the art gallery. Training helps prepare docents to think on their feet in front of an audience and to encourage multiple interpretations of a work of art. At the end of the training, teen docents will be in the gallery twice a month to practice, observe other docents, and interact with visitors.
The Teen Docent Program is open to students currently enrolled in 8th-12th grade in Stanislaus County. Teen docents should be mature, enjoy working with the public, have enthusiasm for creative learning, and be willing to work as a member of a team. No previous knowledge of art or art history is required. Applications can be completed on the Carnegie’s website (www.carnegieartsturlock.org/teen-docent) and must be received by Aug. 20.
Training begins on Aug. 31 and runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. (snacks included) at the Carnegie Arts Center, through Oct. 7. McDermott acknowledges that some families might be worried about in-person participation, but with COVID-19 restrictions lifted for vaccinated people, she believes the training and tours can be done in a safe manner.
“Participation in the program is limited to just 10 students and training will be done with continued physical distancing and mask wearing for anyone not fully vaccinated. Eventually our young docents will be speaking to visitors, leading group conversations, and they need to develop confidence in that role by practicing in the gallery with their peers,” she said.
Teen Docents will be able to use this experience toward community service hours and will receive a one-year Family membership to the Arts Center ($75 value).
“The community benefits from this opportunity to engage with motivated young volunteers while experiencing the Arts Center’s galleries with fresh perspectives,” said McDermott. “The teen docents should have a great experience as they engage with our visitors; I think we will all have fun learning from each other.”
The historic Carnegie Library opened in 1916, and is now one of only a handful of art centers in the region. The Carnegie's programs include exhibitions, education classes and programs, lectures, and activities in artistic genres as diverse as dance, music, theater and more. At least 25% of all programming is dedicated to children and teens. The Carnegie Arts Center Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. The Carnegie is located at 250 N. Broadway in downtown Turlock.