Amplifying Youth Voices and Unleashing Potential.
OutLoud is unlike any other organization. It’s a place where youths emerge as artists, storytellers, and changemakers. OutLoud believes that all youth have voices that need to be heard, and that they are powerful right now, not just in the future. They use storytelling projects, creative discovery, activism and restorative practices to create a space that values youth as drivers of social change. At OutLoud, youth are shifting the perspectives about the capabilities of young people, and it all starts with art.
OutLoud is a current tenant at M2G’s Archetype (3131 Irving Boulevard) in Dallas, where mural installations will ignite creativity and foster a creative community. OutLoud utilizes their space at Archetype as a true arts center, including a blackbox space for youth theater performances and an exhibition area. Pairing professional local artists with youth artists in the making, OutLoud creates public exhibitions about the issues that matter most to them. Through sharing their voices, OutLoud youth emerge as changemakers, moving audiences to action around critical issues.
We recently caught up with Allison Caldwell, the executive director at OutLoud, to learn about their drive, impact, and how the community can get involved. Learn more below!
“By providing professional artistic resources, mentorship, and platforms to be seen by the community, we’re delivering the message that their voices matter now and that they don’t have to wait to change the world.”
– Allison Caldwell, Executive Director
What inspired OutLoud?
OutLoud was created to provide platforms for youth to share their voices and stories with our community. Young people have wisdom and valuable perspectives about important issues, but they so often go overlooked. Art is the perfect avenue to share youth voices because it has the ability to inspire, transform and unite us. When young people create an exhibition about an issue they care about, they have the power to move people to action.
Why does OutLoud focus on youths?
Young people have been central to nearly every changemaking movement in history, yet so many people view youth as only having future potential. We want to shift perspectives about what young people are capable of and show our community that young people are powerful right now, not just when they grow up.
How have you seen art lead a participant towards being a change maker?
One of the questions that we ask all of the youth we work with at the beginning of a project is, “who needs to hear your voice, and what do they need to hear you say?” We talk about how viewers might emerge from the exhibition, how it might change them or help them realize something new. The youth artists think about their message to the community from the beginning of the project and how it might be conveyed through their art.
Young people are the future, and the work OutLoud is doing is clearly changing the lives of the kids who participate. How have your storytelling projects, creative discovery, activism initiatives, and more helped kids to change the future and become drivers of social change?
Youth come to us with perspectives and opinions about the world, but are so seldom asked to speak on them by the adults in their lives. By providing professional artistic resources, mentorship, and platforms to be seen by the community, we’re delivering the message that their voices matter now and that they don’t have to wait to change the world. We’ve seen former program participants go on to study documentary filmmaking, run a youth poetry organization, and speak out about important issues in their daily lives. We believe that young people come to us full of wisdom and brilliant ideas, but don’t often have an outlet to share them or adults who take them seriously. That’s where we come in!
Tell us about the collaborations with local artists!
Local artists really help bring our young people’s visions to life! They bring their expertise in film, photography, painting, dance, whatever their art form may be, and help OutLoud youth share their stories while learning how to use professional tools and equipment.
Can you briefly describe OutLoud’s discovery journey program? Why do you feel nature is important for kids, especially those interested in the arts?
Our Discovery Journeys program develops leadership, expands horizons and cultivates a connection with nature for youth that lack access to outdoor learning opportunities. We bring youth from over 30 different zip codes in the Dallas area to state and national parks across the country where we hike, camp, backpack, kayak, and disconnect from the city for a bit. We often bring local artists on the trips to facilitate writing, watercolor or photography workshops.
Outdoor exploration and the arts might seem totally unrelated, but one of our young people, Jade, explains the connection perfectly. “I’m a writer, I’ve been writing poetry all through high school. But being outside like this in nature for the first time, it was like a whole new way to express myself – a form of self-expression I didn’t even know I had inside of me. Like poetry in action.”
We believe that everywhere you go becomes part of your story, and something as simple as seeing a full sky of stars for the first time is transformational.
How has OutLoud integrated with schools?
One of our primary partners is Uplift Education, a charter school network in the DFW area. We are helping them reimagine well-being for their teachers and students by using our own artistic backgrounds to create restorative spaces and programming that facilitates growth, decompression, and introspection. We have built multisensory well-being rooms, transformed a school bus into a meditation studio, and facilitated outdoor programming for teachers.
Why was Archetype the perfect fit for OutLoud, and how will the art installations at the property continue to inspire the work OutLoud is doing?
Archetype is the perfect fit for us because there is a real sense that a creative community is being built here. The art installations on the property will help ignite the imaginations of the youth we work with and we’re thrilled to be a part of a community that values beauty and innovation.
Can you share some of your plans for OutLoud space at Archetype?
We are continuing to build out our space to be a programming and exhibition hub for the work that we do with young people, a true youth arts center. We are working on creating a blackbox space for youth theater performances, as well as an exhibition area to showcase some of our visual artwork.
What archetype would you use to describe OutLoud?
We identify as the “curator,” archetype. Our work is really about curating spaces that help young people realize their creative change-making potential and building platforms for adults to witness the power of youth voice.
Feeling inspired? Here are ways that you can get involved or support the initiative:
OutLoud exists because of the generosity of our community. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and accept tax-deductible gifts on our website: weareoutloud.org/donate. Additionally, we always have a use for gently used camera equipment, laptops, projectors, or power tools for creating our exhibitions! Please reach out to Allison@weareoutloud.org if you would like to make an equipment donation and we can provide you with a receipt for your contribution.
To learn more about our work and upcoming exhibitions, follow @outlouddallas on Instagram or facebook and sign up for the mailing address on our website, weareoutloud.org.
Get to Know OutLoud!