Ashkenaz: Youth Involvement in Creative Games
This interpretive project focuses on activities for children who visit Ashkenaz. The venue already hosts Sunday matinees geared towards children, but the creation of more pervasive and accessible games and activities would make
Ashkenaz a more enticing and accessible place
for young people in the Bay Area. These would,
out of necessity, be cost-effective and low-
maintenance to ensure sustainability, but could
still have a significant impact on children’s
cultural and affective development. This
interpretive project encompasses all four of our
themes of education, community, political
history, and music in various and intersectional ways: Through education and music, the plan seeks to create a passionate future for stakeholders by exposing them to Ashkenaz’s political history and engaging them with its present community.
Cost is a major factor for any and all projects Ashkenaz seeks to implement; as a nonprofit, Ashkenaz depends heavily on donations, especially from well-heeled “angel benefactors” to meet its expenses. Therefore, “analog” or technology-free ways to engage and educate children are not only the most financially feasible for Ashkenaz to implement but are also most in line with its ethos of embodied community. Activity sheets—incorporating word searches, coloring pages, and games centering around the venue and its political and artistic history—are cheap to reproduce in plentiful quantities and can be displayed in easy-to-reach places. These same sheets can include instructions for scavenger hunts to acquaint children with the venue, including tasks such as counting stained glass fixtures, finding the “Tofu Records” poster, or signing the visitor pin board. These activities require a minimum of adult supervision depending on the age of the child, and very little upkeep, making them sustainable in spite of any financial or bureaucratic challenges the venue faces.
Depending on volunteer availability and willingness, more involved, structured, and supervised activities for children could take place in Ashkenaz’s back studio during performances. These activities could include dance lessons and instruction about the kinds of music played at Ashkenaz but would not necessarily have to be limited to pure didacticism; merely having local children interact within Ashkenaz—which is, after all, a community center—would foster strong bonds between local children and the venue, even if they are just playing duck-duck-goose in the back room. Walking into Ashkenaz itself, one feels transported into a different age, and these activities seek to strengthen and elaborate on that embodied sensation. Education on the venue’s historical significance provide a context into which children can situate; playing games, enjoying music, and meeting friends provides them with a present and embodied connection that will allow the continued creation of historical significance.
Take a look at our other proposed interpretive projects: