Fledgling group to offer music programs at Williamstown Youth Center

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WILLIAMSTOWN — Two area entities are collaborating to expand creative arts offerings to area youths and families.

Since opening in the fall of 2012, the Williamstown Youth Center has been working to develop a well-rounded menu of arts offerings it provides in its $3.9 million School Street facility behind Williamstown Elementary School.

"One of the things we considered when designing the new facility was being able to accommodate the arts in the building," said Mike Williams, assistant director for the center.

"As a community we value the arts," he said, "but historically, we haven't had the kind of programming to support that interest. We really feel like we need to amp up our arts program to match the level of intensity of our sports program."

Indeed, the center has a robust year-round athletics program, from soccer to skiing, and much more.

The center has become the Williamstown campus for Berkshire Dance Theater, and has introduced visual art instruction into its regular after-school program. The center also has previously hosted things like group guitar lessons and offered rehearsal space for local middle and high school bands.

But, the associate director said, there's still more capacity and new equipment to better utilize for arts programming.

"Now's certainly a good time for anyone interested in offering a course to contact us, and we do have the ability to record original music here," Williams said.

Enter Joshua "Promethius Da'Great" Morgan, music and arts director of The Mind/Write Co., a fledgling creative startup. Morgan told The Eagle he's from the Bronx and Harlem N.Y., but has been coming to the area since his girlfriend lives in Pittsfield.

He said he saw Jerome Edgerton conduct Pittsfield's Youth Alive Drum Corps and saw that there might be a market for more music programs in the area. "I heard their drumline and realized there aren't many programs like that here. In Harlem, where I'm from, I did programs like that all the time growing up."

Morgan is now trying to get his program, The Young Creative Genius Initiative going in the Berkshires, and approached the Williamstown Youth Center.

"Josh reached out to us and his enthusiasm was infectious," Williams said of the 29-year-old. So the Youth Center hosted a Sept. 8 open house for the program as an independent contractor.

Michelle Yazurlo, principal of Palisade Preparatory School in Yonkers, endorsed the drum line program Morgan helped direct. "He had a very good relationship with the band director and the kids got to do a lot of activities. The kids adored him," she told The Eagle.

Under The Young Creative Genius umbrella, Morgan is looking generate a similar experience. He hopes to register students in Grades 4 and up for after-school instruction programs in drum corps/drum line, introduction to piano, a vocal arrangement and composition, and music production and recording. Morgan is looking to enroll 15 to 20 students before the program begins, he said.

The musician said the programs, which ideally, will meet twice a week, will incorporate music theory and also college preparatory support for older students.

Meanwhile. Mike Williams said the Williamstown Youth Center continues to look for additional creative partners. "We've done a great job with sports, but we want to make this a space for kids who have other interests as well."

More information ...

To learn more about partnerships opportunities at the Williamstown Youth Center, contact Assistant Director Mike Williams at mike@williamstownyouthcenter.org or 413-458-5925.

To learn more about the Young Creative Genius Initiative, visit themindwritecompany.com, email IMAYCG@themindwritecompany.com, call 413-344-4451 or 347-475-6223.


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