Valley Arts Mentors


Valley Arts Mentors is a network of arts organizations in the Pioneer Valley committed to leveraging the arts to empower youth through a mentorship model.

General characteristics of this type of programming include:

- facilitating programs where young people are in leadership roles

- Offering programs where young people work with artists and staff over an extended period of time

- programs which facilitate sharing the artistic work of young people with the general public

- programs which provide a supportive network of adults that teens and children can count on

cole grignaffini and hazel totino pose above greenfield while filming dexter and the dinosaurs


In spring 2019, Shelburne Falls' Piti Theatre Company, Holyoke Media and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County received a planning grant from the Community Foundation of Western MA through their Valley Creates initiative to lay the groundwork for a new organization dedicated to supporting artists and arts organizations committed to mentoring young people.


The Big Picture

The big picture goal will be to infuse the Pioneer Valley with creativity "from the ground up", ie, making the case that creativity matters, is valued and has value in all aspects of our communities. There will be a particular emphasis on providing opportunities for young people from underserved communities and offering space to address issues around race, class, and environmental justice.


  • Making possible an annual Festival celebrating the work of young people that brings the organizations, youth and the public together for networking, sharing, workshops and media exposure
  • Referrals between organizations of staff and youth (ie, Springfield teen ends up doing an internship for business in Greenfield, vice versa.)
  • Sharing resources, best practices, challenging questions, etc.p
  • Leveraging resources for creating VAM+, a network of "non-arts" organizations in the Valley interested in offering internships and job opportunities to young people who have developed their creativity and teamwork skills with a local arts organization.
  • Creating a VAM online presence for organizations and participants as part of the ArtsHub, further facilitating networking, referrals and event promotion

Initial List of Partner Organizations

Artspace, Greenfield

Center for Design Engagement, Holyoke

Community Action Pioneer Valley, Youth Programs (Rebecca Bannasch, Employer Partnership Specialist)

Franklin Regional Council of Governments Youth Programs (Rachel Stoler, Community Health Program Manager, Partnership for Youth)

Make-It Springfield

MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board, School-to-Career & Connecting Activities Program

Musica Franklin, Turners Falls & Greenfield

RadioPlasma, Holyoke

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