American Arts Festival
The American Arts Festival- Formerly YES Academy brings the performance of and professional training in unique American genres of music, dance and theater to the doorsteps of nations in the Middle East and Asia. American Arts Festival provides training in youth leadership and teacher training while helping to build capacity for project partners and participants.
Why American Arts Festival:
The American Arts Festivals are based on multicultural international artistic collaborations. Our programs are life-changing for participants; affecting not only their perceptions but providing skills, training and opportunities to youth. Close to half of the population in the Middle East is under 30 years old and their ability to affect future generations is immense. The next generation’s interest in new media, music and art is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to youth and audiences with a positive message of diversity and cooperation that can influence participants and audiences opinions and beliefs.
Building Bridges: The American Arts Festival program strives to build bridges between the United States and the nations we serve as well as among the youth of these nations, both domestically and regionally.
Equally important, we are the only international organization providing this kind of comprehensive arts training in the American Arts Festival nations. Our students also have the opportunity to meet students from other American Arts Festivals in the region. Youth are given the opportunity to meet others from abroad and from other regions of their home country; these multicultural interactions instill respect, cooperation and help them each as individuals grow into responsible leaders and teachers of the future.
As our program grows we find that our alumni are opting to attend American Arts Festivals in other nations. For example, our YES Lebanon 2010 program featured guest participants from Iraq, Syria and Egypt; and our YES Thailand 2010 program greeted 10 participants from our Nepal and Pakistan programs. These cultural exchanges will help dispel myths about the other and build new opportunities for cultural collaborations across borders and regions.
American Arts Festivals provide professional training to enhance each student’s artistic education and curricula. We seek to place a comprehensive American educational experience on the doorstep of aspiring young musicians, actors and dancers. As they learn to work in new, more structured way, interact respectfully with their teachers and compatriots, the American Arts Festival participants learn valuable lessons and skills enabling them to grow into the next generation of cultural and educational leaders in their home country.
Faculty: The Arts Academy Faculty consists of a core group of 10 to 12 cultural specialists drawn from the United States’ best universities, orchestras, theaters, hip hop crews and arts institutions. Additional faculty are added to the program as needed. Current faculty represents the City College of New York, University of Texas, University of Northern Colorado, Baylor University, University of Oklahoma, St Louis Symphony Orchestra, Theater Under The Stars and HaviKoro Break Dancers of Houston. Please visit a country page for a full listing of our faculty.
Students: Our students are chosen for American Arts Festival Programs based on talent, motivation and a commitment to leadership through teaching and community outreach. Care is taken to draw upon a national cross section of student representing the nations various ethnic, confessional and socio – economic groups. The majority of our programs are offered absolutely free to all participants, the one exception being our American Arts Festival Lebanon program where approximately 40% of the participants pay a half or full level of tuition. In addition to tuition, free housing and, in the case of Iraq, meals, are offered to out of town participants.
Staff: The American Arts Festival program is directed by pianist, John Ferguson. In addition, each program features a local staff including a project manager, project assistants and a team of interns and volunteers to assist with registration, administration, chaperones, press and media.
Venues: The American Arts Festival programs are offered with the support of our program partners providing teaching space, local transport, dormitory housing and meals.