Transformative Culture Project launched this year (formerly Press Pass TV), is an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise that uses arts and culture as tools for transformation in society through creative youth development, social entrepreneurship and community building.
With a new identity to reflect their growing priorities, Cara Berg Powers (Executive Director) and her team are building on Press Pass TV's legacy to engage diverse communities, tackling youth and creative workforce development in new and exciting ways.
Tell us about the communities TCP serves and how its programs empower youth through media and art?
If you have to choose between feeding your family or creating a film that radically reimagines our future, would you be able to make the brave choice? We don't think you should have to. We want to make sure that artists, especially those that have traditionally not had access to paying careers in the arts, have the resources, support, and community they need to thrive. For our kids, the stakes are even higher. The racial and economic inequity around them in their schools, their neighborhoods, and the media that they see makes them feel hopeless.
Our Beyond Creative program is a full-service media agency through which youth participate in 2 years of paid, career-oriented training. We use creativity to support the development of 21st century skills like problem solving, critical thinking, and global awareness. Our adult producers are trained in positive youth development and mentor youth through client engagements as they proceed. In addition to paid mentoring opportunities, adult artists and producers in our network are also able to design curriculum and be paid as teaching artists in our creative classrooms.
Why the decision to rebrand and refocus now?
These kids need mentors and instructors that look like them, that care about the same things as them, and can help make their ideas a reality. Artists need economic opportunities that recognize their artistry as more than a distraction from their day job, and the support system to help them make a living of their life's work. And our communities need the visionary ideas and inspiration that all of them can create. That is where we come in.
It's not a huge stretch from our original goals of supporting young people to use media arts to tell a different story about their community. We're still doing that. But as we began to work with more artists, and our youth grew into adults, we realized that we needed to adapt to serve all of the different arts they were engaged in. We also know that it takes a village, and we're investing in that village being whole, healthy, and sustainable. So our umbrella is a little bigger than it used to be.
Can you share a memory from a favorite project?
One of my favorite projects, that was the most emotionally challenging to do was a video for My Life, My Choice - an organization that works with survivors of trafficking. The challenge was to create a video that let the young women speak for themselves without actually showing their faces, since many were still minors and the stories were very sensitive. It was exciting not just to help those young women tell their stories, but to work closely with one of our Beyond Creative youth to manage the process. The leadership transformation she underwent through the process was enormous. She went from not being on track to graduate, to graduating a year and a half later as valedictorian. She's about to finish her Associate's Degree and says she didn't think she could go to college before being part of our program. This project was just such an all around example for me of what's possible when we connect young people to their passions and give them the resources to be creative and courageous.
Where are some media trends that you're following closely?
We keep a close eye on how we can affordably up the quality and style of our original content and client work. With a small production team and limited resources, it always feels a little bit like catching up, but there's more that we can do than ever before and new stuff coming out all the time. Seeing how much streaming services taking production into their own hands has diversified the content available for us to watch is inspiring. And with more and more companies building in house production units, we're keeping a close eye on how that impacts our business model.
How can fellow MPC members be supportive?
There are lots of ways to get involved with our exciting work. We're always looking for new guest speakers for our Career Night events, where participants talk to youth one on one about their work in mini-mentoring sessions. We'd love to build partnerships with local production houses and small studios for tours, equipment donations, workshops on special skills, and placing our more experienced youth in internships in these organizations. We'd love to keep building partnerships with the industry to ensure we're really preparing our youth producers for the right skills to be successful.