The Create 508 Program began in Summer 2021 as a collaboration of the City of Worcester Cultural Development Division, Division of Youth Opportunities and Worcester Cultural Coalition. Originally a summer program, the initiative has expanded to offer year-round programming and youth development and employment opportunities through the generous sponsorship of the City of Worcester, Greater Worcester Community Foundation, Mass Hire, Worcester Community Action Council, and Worcester Cultural Coalition.
Create 508 employs Youth Leaders and Artist Mentors ages 14-24 in dynamic creative programming, enrichment workshops, training modules and public event planning work. The mission of the Create 508 program is to support youth to drive Worcester’s culture and community while learning the business of art through workforce skill building, community engagement, event planning and cultural organizing.
Over the course of the pilot program from June 2021 through August 2022, over 25 Youth Leader participants collaborated with multiple youth Artists Mentors and two talented Program Coordinators to establish the foundation for Color the City, a youth-driven arts and culture summer festival for the Worcester youth community and public. From September 2022 through Fall 2023, dozens more youth participated in Create 508 and a dynamic cohort of young people continue to meet with expert Program Coordinator, Riley Pettit.
The Create 508 participants hosted annual Color the City festivals on August 20, 2021; August 12, 2022; and August 11, 2023 on the Worcester Common and adjacent streets – convening thousands of children, teenagers, and family members for celebrations showcasing youth artists, performers, entrepreneurs and creatives - produced and directed by Worcester youth. Held on the historic Worcester Common, Color the City is the culmination of the Create 508 program where the youth bring the community together through live performances, arts and crafts displays, delectable food vendors, and engaging creative installations.
During the program, Create 508 youth participate in local artist-driven workshop sessions; learn from expert creative guest speakers; develop civic leadership and creative workforce skills; and receive payment for their work to demonstrate the business of creative industries.
For those interested in getting involved, learning more, and/or contacting the Create 508 team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-799-1400.