For more than 15 years, the Walker Art Center has been a leader in innovative youth programming, providing cultural institutions around the world with a successful model for engaging teens and young adults. At the center of this model is the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC), a diverse group of 12 young artists and art enthusiasts who ensure that events for teens are part of the Walker’s overall program throughout the year. Meeting weekly after school, WACTAC members identify opportunities in the Walker’s exhibition schedule for teens to connect with contemporary art and artists. They also design their own creative projects to augment the institution’s offerings. In the past, WACTAC has developed exhibitions and events to showcase teen artists, invited resident artists to give talks and lead classes, developed marketing materials and strategies, written and published original work for print and online, planned regional film festivals, and partnered with local groups to present programs throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Teen programs bring a special vitality to the Walker, and these experiences have helped alumni attain scholarships and audiences for their work, secure curatorial and educational positions, and use their organizational and arts advocacy skills in their colleges and home communities. A handful of WACTAC alumni have helped launch and run teen programs and teen arts councils at other museums, including the Bronx Museum of the Arts; the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The Walker Art Center’s Teen Programs create and support young people’s interactions with and connections to contemporary art and artists of our time. Teen programs seek to provide vehicles and resources for young people to safely ask complex questions, voice their own ideas and opinions, and explore their critical and creative potential.