viBe Theater Experience (viBe) provides girls (ages 13-19) and young women (ages 18-24) in New York City with free, high quality artistic, leadership and academic opportunities. viBe works to empower underserved teenage girls to write and perform original theater, video and music about the real-life issues they face daily. Our programs offer participants the opportunity to write, produce and perform their own plays, poetry, and music. viBe's performing arts and training programs provide the platform for participants to amplify their voices and "speak truth to power" by creating an artistic response to the world around them.
Since 2003, more than 70 viBe productions have brought free theater, music videos and albums and live musical performances, to diverse audience members, changing their perceptions about the world young women of color inhabit, the kind of impact their art can provoke, and what can be achieved through collaborative, process-based methods. Last year was a tremendously successful year for viBe. In FY17, viBe served 203 girls (twice the number of girls during FY16) through 6 free after-school programs, and produced 5 full length plays through our viBeStages program. “Teeth: A Coming of Age Story”, “Little People, Big Voices” “Beauty Beneath the Surface” “The Truth About our World” and “World War III:Mad and Moody” were produced through our viBeStages program. Through these programs, productions, and other invited performances, (The Women’s Building Block Party, Poetic Theater Productions’ Generation Now! Irondale Ensemble, JACK), viBe girls performed for audiences of over 1,000! In addition, we partnered with other community based organizations, (Groundswell Community Arts Mural Project, Irondale Young Company, PowerPlay NYC), city initiatives (Council Member Laurie Cumbo’s Women and Girls Initiative) and national networks (the Accelerating Change Network) to raise viBe’s visibility and serve more communities through our programs. In June 2016, viBe was one of 5 recipients of the Accelerating Change Award, a national award given by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, recognizing a select number of high performing nonprofits that work with girls of color involved in intervening systems.
viBe recognizes our unique role as an arts organization that engages girls and young women around the political, economic, and social issues that affect them most. We contribute to, and advocate for a shift in the way that girls and women of color are perceived, and a stop to the way that they are shut out of arts leadership opportunities. Girls and young women of color are too often seen as "at-risk", "needy", or lacking leadership skills, and the organizational model tends to be one that affords leadership opportunities only to those with privilege, and women who work on behalf of girls/women of color. viBe sees its constituents as THE artists and change makers that we need in order to truly shift cultural perceptions and norms. Our program objectives include the following qualitative outcomes for individual girls. At viBe, we encourage girls to:
- Express their voices, uncensored, first in a small, nurturing setting and then before a public audience
- Develop literacy and communication skills through writing and revising plays, lyrics, and poetry
- Problem-solve through role-playing
- Build trust, responsibility and leadership skills by working in a collaborative environment
- Cultivate respect in a multicultural setting
- Learn life skills including promptness, completing assignments and honoring commitments
- Experience the power of the written and spoken word and the importance of crafting a message to communicate their ideas. Gaining these fundamental interpersonal and academic skills leads to quantifiable outcomes.