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Article Published November 25, 2020

Arts Barn Looking for Young Madison Leaders to Join Advisory Board

By Jesse Williams/Zip06.com

In an effort to provide the town’s youth with a greater degree of representation, that Madison Arts Barn is taking two large steps intended to provide that: first, forming a full youth advisory board made up of Madison kids, and second, adding a full voting youth position to its own regular board.

Currently in the process of recruiting applicants, Arts Barn Director Robyn Klaskin said she was inspired by three local students who made a pitch to the Board of Selectmen last month to incorporate more youth voices in town government.

Those students—Jake Daignault, Olivia Henkel, and Darian McMahon—argued that adding permanent positions to the town’s various commissions, committees, and boards was not only a way for young people to learn about town government but also a vital opportunity for elected leaders to hear from a somewhat unheard portion of the town’s population.

“It made a lot of sense. We’re a youth center; their voice is really important to us,” Klaskin said.

The exact details are still being worked out, but Klaskin said she envisions a diverse representation of young Madisonites from around age 9 to 18 serving on the youth advisory board, and that body nominating an individual to sit at the big table with the adult Arts Barn directors.

All of this will eventually be codified in their by-laws, according to Klaskin, meaning the youth positions will serve in perpetuity.

Klaskin echoed many of the sentiments expressed by McMahon, Daignault, and Henkel, and said that even if the rest of the town eventually does not choose to incorporate youth votes and voices so directly, the Arts Barn feels it is necessary for their organization.

“It’s one thing for us to assume what they’re looking for, it’s another thing to hear directly from them,” Klaskin said. “It’s really important to know what it is that’s important to them.”

Henkel told The Source via email that while she wasn’t personally planning on serving on the new board due to other commitments, that she and others in the school communities are helping Klaskin reach out to student population through social media and other means, hoping to find kids of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in leadership and civic involvement.

Klaskin said that she had a handful of people express interest as soon as the Arts Barn announced its plans, but was hoping to reach more young people, aiming to recruit two representatives from each grade level.

The Arts Barn is holding an initial information meeting on Monday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. with a limited capacity for in-person participation, and others invited to join via Zoom. All are welcome to join, and any young person interested in serving on the board is asked to fill out an application online at www.madisonartsbarn.org.

Questions about the board or the Arts Barn can be directed by email to madisonartsbarn@gmail.com or by phone at 203-245-2689.