Mayor Thomas M. Menino

96, Inc. 


96 Inc. is nationally recognized for its support of new and established artists. An artists collaborative, it follows the principles of a one-room schoolhouse, bringing together participants with diverse skill levels, racial and cultural backgrounds, and life circumstances. The artists of 96 Inc. write, produce and perform original interactive plays, publish the bi-annual literary journal 96 Inc., and sponsor an annual Community Arts Day. 96 Inc. has formed a seamless partnership with Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a shelter for runaways and homeless people, providing social services.

Quality Instruction & Performance

Established writers, actors and visual artists focus on support and suggestions rather than criticism. Their process-oriented approach allows at-rick youth to discover their creative voices and results in the highest quality instruction and productions.

Literature and writing are at the core of all activities. This year’s theme, Revolutions and Barricades, encourages young playwrights to study history, explore the future, redefine revolution, and rethink barriers. Instruction includes transferable, marketable skills. Participants/writers learn all aspects of publishing, including material selection, copyediting, distribution, design and layout. At the Lansdowne Street Playhouse, where 96 Inc. is the resident company, participants/actors learn all aspects of staging a production by working as assistants to the director, lighting designers and stage managers.

Program Design & Creative Content

All residents at Bridge are encouraged to take part in the year-long weekly workshops. The workshops are designed to discover the talent in everyone: The thinkers, the shy, the introverted, and the extroverted. Currently six volunteers (trained in art, education and often empathetic because of their own life experiences) teach writing skills and acting techniques to help homeless youngsters express fear, anger, hope and dreams.

Engaging Youth

Everyone is given the opportunity to serve on a committee and/or serve on the Board, present works for an audience, and fully participate in all aspects of program design, development and execution. 96 Inc. creatively engages participants by connecting the established and the beginner, the artist and the artisan, the young and the old.

Integration of Services

Adult artists of 96 Inc. meet in "youth spaces"; community centers, shelters, and lockup facilities to work with youth who have fled abusive homes and are recovering from substance abuse addictions. They provide acting and writing workshops that create confidence, teach skills and validate the effort of the students. Psychologists, social workers and teachers concur that the methodology of the workshops, beginning with a simple public speaking exercise, encourages creativity of the speaker, and positive reinforcement by the audience helps to enhance the positive messages. 96 Inc. works in partnership with organizations like the Roxbury Boys and Girls Club and the Brighton Treatment Center.

Positive Impact

Over the past seven years, 200 students at Bridge Over Troubled Waters have participated in workshops, 190 have completed high school, 20 are enrolled in college, 200 have found adequate housing, 100 students have appeared in plays, 30 students have had their plays performed at the Playhouse, and 10 students have been published in 96 Inc. Some of these same students have overcome substance abuse problems and become gainfully employed. Mayor Menino credits 96 Inc. with curbing teenage crimes in Boston.

The Mayor

Mayor Menino has been an advocate of 96 Inc. since 1992, attending events and awarding 40 participants Certificates of Excellence. Mayor Menino has been a "supporting actor" in 96 Inc.’s interactive plays.

The Mayor’s Safe Neighborhood Youth Fund has provided cash grants of $16,500. The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs has jointly published Scenes and Short Plays, a collection of entertaining, interactive plays which raise relevant social themes; used as a text by community groups and schools in Boston and beyond, Scenes demonstrates the potential for replications.

Community Support

Currently, there are more than 500 members of 96 Inc., ages 12 to 89. The Institute of Contemporary Art, the Artists Foundation, and Boston’s First Night welcome 96 Inc.’s members to perform at events throughout the city. At Community Arts Day, Board members, visual artists, musicians, teachers, writers, business people, politicians and actors celebrate the achievements of 96 Inc.’s young people. Well-know adult artists and galleries donate work for a raffle. Over the past seven years, more than 1500 people have attended the community event.


96 Inc. is funded by private foundations, businesses and individuals. Approximately $5,000 comes from journal sales and donations taken at events; to guarantee accessibility, admission fees are never charged. The Lyons group provides theater space at no charge.



The Strand Theatre was built in 1918 as a movie and vaudeville house. With the advent of "talkies" in the 1930's, the theatre began showing first-run and then second-run films until it closed in 1969. In 1972, a group of community residents determined to reopen and revitalize The Strand established the not-for-profit M. Harriet McCormack Center for the Arts. In 1979, this professionally equipped, wheelchair accessible 1,400 seat theatre opened as an educational and cultural resource to area residents and artists. The Strand offers five comprehensive performing arts training programs for youth ages 6 to 19.

Quality: Instruction and Performance

Professional artists/instructors deliver quality instruction while being sensitive to the needs of participants. Current instructors include seasoned actors, singers, storytellers, writers, musicians, and dancers. (See supporting material.) Many, even when moving on in their professional careers, remain present in the lives of their students; for example, former instructor Tom Silcott, currently performing in Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk, recently me with a group of young adults who had studied with him at the Strand.

The Strand was honored by Vice President Al Gore through a video which featured a former STP participant when addressing the state of education in the nation's cities. The Strand was also selected by the Massachusetts Cultural Council to receive Youth Reach funding an award rewarding excellence in arts, culture, and community.

Program Design

All five programs reach out to the diverse cultural communities (Cape Verdean, Haitian, Latino, African-American, West-Indian) that coexist in its Dorchester neighborhood; this neighborhood is characterized by low income households and high unemployment rates. Two programs target some of the most high-risk youth: court-involved youth and youth at-risk for gang involvement.

Arts in the Afternoon introduces youth ages 6 to 13 to the performing arts through sessions led by professional performing artists specializing in music, movement, and/or drama; this program fills the need of neighboring after-school programs and of children who are not involved in after-school programs. Acting Out is a six week summer program focusing on writing, movement, and improvisation; this program targets youth ages 11 to 14 who are often too old for summer camps but too young for summer jobs. The Youth Performing Arts Training and Production Project "Strand Teen Players" (STP) for youth ages 14-19 has existed since 1990 with participants meeting twice a week for 15 weeks. Using original material addressing important issues in their lives (violence, teen pregnancy, the breakdown of the family, education, drugs, career goals, etc.), the teens create an original piece that they perform four times at the Strand Theatre in May (including a performance for 700 middle and high school students).

New Landscapes, the creation of Shakespeare and Company's Brent Blair, targets court-involved youth. Participants study the central themes ofShakespearean literature such as betrayal, survival, and trust. During a 6-week intensive sessions6-hour long daily workshops and rehearsals the group studies and discusses the text and reworks the material to reflect their life experiences. The group performs their contemporary adaptation at The Stables Theater in Lenox, MA and at The Strand.

WEBTEK, housed at Bird Street (a neighboring youth Center), was created in direct response to high gang activity and the need for a stronger relationship between community police and neighborhood youth. Approximately fifteen youth work as paid interns during the summer and school year; they study with professional theatre artists, computer specialists, a life skills counselor, and community police officers. The youth design and maintain a website for the theater (

Engaging Youth

Recruitment for all performing arts programs is done by mailing letters and flyers to schools, local community agencies-more than 300 local agencies, listings in local newspapers, word of mouth, direct calls, and canvassing to local businesses and centers.

The Strand successfully engages youth by engaging families. The Mini-Moves program teaches pre-school age children numeracy and literacy skills through movement and music. Teens benefit from the Center's intemship program, learning all aspects of theatre operations. Adults come to the Strand for community meetings and performances by local, professional artists.

Integration of Services

The Strand Theatre has developed its own "rapid response" system to deal with a variety of issues that at-risk teens may face. Through close relationships with the Uphams Comer Health Center, staff can refer participants for routine health care, issues of pregnancy and parenting, and a variety of mental health issues. The Strand, has a similar relationship with First Academy, a substance abuse detox and comprehensive treatment agency.

Most New Land/scapes participants are in DYS custody. Because of their court- involvement, they are accompanied by probation officers, counselors, or other involved adults who are able to provide on-site supervision and counseling at the Strand,

Positive Impact

Since the inception of youth programs in 1989, more than 1,000 youth have been directly served. Ninety percent have completed high school; approximately 80% have gone on to college or continuing education programs. The New Land/'scapes program has shown remarkable success: only 2% of participants have returned to lock-up, many have earned a high school diploma or GED, most are working full-time, and two are currently attending universities one is studying film. One former participant from the second year of STP graduated from Emerson College and is an anchorperson for MediaOne. Three Strand staff are former youth program participants.

The Mayor

The mayor has been a staunch supporter of MCA/Strand Theatre programs and its Youth programs. On July 1, 1979, the City entered a twenty-five year lease (renewable for 15 years at the end of the term) with the M. Harriet McCormack Center for the Arts to rent the Strand Theatre for $1 per year. Additionally, the City entered a contract for services (primarily utilties and major building needs) each year to ensure that the Strand will serve as a cultural resource to Greater Boston. This contribution has amounted to $1,334,000 over the past twenty years; the Mayor's Safe Neighborhoods Youth Fund has awarded the Strand's youth programs $22,825 over the past nine years. Strand Theatre Manager Che Madyun was appointed by the Mayor to serve on the Cultural Assessment & Planning Task force; this task force is charged with creating a new comprehensive cultural agenda for the City.

Community Support

MCA/Strand Theatre youth programs have been endorsed by such agencies as the Upham's Corner Health Center, Upham's Comer Main Streets, Bird Street Community Center, and the nationally-recognized Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI). The M. Harriet McCormack Center for the Arts received an award from the Dorchester Board of Trade in 1998 for its excellence in programming and community service as part The Strand's Eightieth Anniversary celebration.


Youth programming (FY'98) had a budget of $63,824 with 44% from government sources, 53% from private foundations and corporations, and 3% from earned income. The organizational budget (FY'98) totaled $482,358 with 29% coming from government sources, 21% from foundations and corporations and 50% from earned income.



ZUMIX is a non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of racially and ethnically diverse, low-income, at-risk youth. ZUMIX provides year-round quality music and cultural programming to youth ages five and up in East Boston, a geographically and socially isolated working-class community. ZUMIX has 11 adult and approximately 25 youth staff members. The adult staff has extensive academic training and experience in teaching and performing. Group discussions, writings, and rehearsals culminate in live, citywide performances. Each year ZUMIX holds Student/Teacher Recitals highlighting the achievements of participants. Additionally, ZUMIX has produced two professionally mastered CDs in their in-house recording studio. The work of ZUMIX is recognized by the New England Foundation for the Arts and The Boston Foundation as an exemplary arts program rooted in community.

Program Design

ZUMIX creates comprehensive programming for at-risk youth by linking together four principal programs. The HANDS-ON Initiative includes the Street Program, the StreetWise Program, the Z-TECH Program, and the Adventures in Music Program (AIM). The Street Program addresses the difficulties of urban life through music. Participants explore the root causes of racism, violence, poverty, and drug abuse, and discuss solutions to these problems. Learning the basics of rhythm, melody and harmony, participants collaborate to transform ideas into songs.

StreetWise is an after-school song writing and recording program. In the past, students have addressed the issue of drugs through the recording of two CDs. Currently, students are addressing the issue of violence and violence prevention.

The Z-TECH Program is an after-school technical training program that introduces young people, ages 14-20, to technology using an experiential approach. The AUDIO section teaches participants to use a 16-channel mixer, power amps, cables, speakers, CD player, tape deck, microphones, compressors, and effects units for live performance events throughout the community. The VIDEO section teaches participants to use a video camera, lights, light meters, gels, and tripods. Participants critique media, discuss the power of media, and script and produce their own video project. In the COMPUTER section participants learn basic computer hardware, construct their own computer, install and use up-to-date software, and publish NEWZMIX – a newsletter highlighting developments at ZUMIX, other youth programs, and community issues. AIM supports the development of artistic excellence. AIM provides private or small group lessons in piano, guitar, bass, drums, voice, saxophone, flute, and clarinet.

Engaging Youth

AIM serves as a primary "point of access." AIM supports outreach for transition into all ZUMIX Programs. The ZUMIX Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is comprised of program alumni who meet monthly to critique programs, suggest improvements, and discuss new ideas. The YAB assists in hiring staff members. Members of the YAB are involved at all levels of the organization.

Integration of Support Services

With the establishment of the HANDS-ON Initiative, ZUMIX made an explicit commitment to supporting young people in all areas of their lives. ZUMIX staff work closely with collaborators to help participants access health care, obtain legal assistance, find mentors, locate affordable housing, and improve academic achievement. Collaborators include the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Boston Police Department, Mass Mentoring Project, Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, East Boston Healthy Boston, Guild and McKay Schools, Boston Youth Theater Network, and East Boston Social Centers.

Positive Impact

Approximately 2,060 people (adults and children, audience members, participants, students) benefitted from the services provided by ZUMIX in FY99. Numerous youth have received their GEDs or high school diplomas, gained employment, joined the military, received full and partial scholarships to colleges, and graduated from college.


The Mayor’s Safe Neighborhood Youth Fund has provided $28, 365 in cash grants since 1991. Additionally, staff members and youth have participated with the Mayor and other City officials in many city-wide events including the Mayor’s Conference on Youth, Eastie Pride Day, the Jeffries Point Tree Lighting Ceremony, and National Night Out.

Community-wide Support

In 1997 ZUMIX was chosen as the lead cultural organization responsible for coordination of Cultural Connections, a broad based community-wide effort to increase and support arts and cultural development in East Boston funded by the Pew Charitable Trust. Residents and small business owners provide in-kind products and services while ZUMIX advances an agenda of arts based economic development; 27 volunteers and 27 businesses contributed to a ZUMIX benefit this year. The Board ensures that all programs are developed with input from staff, the YAB, past program participants, and members of the community.

Pro-active programming involves community members who are often forgotten or neglected. East Boston has the largest percentage of senior citizens in the City of Boston. During the winter months, the Warmth Program promotes inter-generational contact and understanding. Youth work directly with seniors to learn about music from past eras and develop a 45-minute show to present in long-term care and health care facilities.

ZUMIX successfully builds community in the City’s fastest changing neighborhood. While East Boston as a whole is 76 percent white (down from 96 percent in 1980), the majority of children under 18 are children of color. Of ZUMIX’s participants, 42 percent are Latino/a; 30 percent are white; 20 percent are Black; and 8 percent are Asian.


ZUMIX has a diversified revenue base with 11.8 percent derived from individuals and small groups, 58.9 percent from foundations, 14.2 percent from corporations, 10.1 percent from government and 39.9 percent from other sources.


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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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