Arts + Public Life Now Accepting Applications for Spring 2021 Paid Youth Arts Education Programs

Arts + Public Life (APL), in partnership with After School Matters, offers free design/build, performance, backstage production and arts administration programs for area teens interested in learning more about the arts, developing leadership skills, positively impacting the community, connecting with peers with similar interests, and earning a paid stipend. The Spring 2021 session will run from March 8 - May 28. Are you, or someone you know, between the ages of 14-19 and interested in pursuing creativity, joining a community, and being paid? Classes consist of three group meeting hours per week, plus 4-6 hours of small group and independent work.  

  • Apply here for the Design Apprenticeship Program Level 1 (DAP), Community Actors Program (CAP), and Teen Arts Council (TAC) (After School Matters website)
  • Apply here for the Backstage Production Program or Design Apprenticeship Program (DAP) Level II 

Are you a teen who wants to...

...learn more about the arts?
...develop as a leader?
...positively impact your community? peers who share your interests?
...earn a paid stipend?

These in depth programs cultivate teens’ creativity, social development, and leadership, while inspiring them to make a positive difference in their community through the arts. Teens work alongside professionals to develop original work using real-world processes. All programs have a community stewardship and civic engagement focus. 

Please note: In lieu of COVID-19, program sessions are currently taking place via virtual classroom sessions led by APL teaching artists. 

Explore the Summer 2020 and Fall/Winter 2020 Virtual Teen Art Shows Now!

In the midst of an unprecedented and volatile year, over 100 South Side Chicago youth participated in Arts + Public Life's youth education programs to learn, collaborate, and share their voice through art and design. We are beyond proud of their resiliency, talents, and hard work. Join us as we celebrate their accomplishments in our first ever Virtual Arts + Public Life (APL) Teen Arts Showcase.

Arts + Public Life Youth Education Programs take an integrated, process-based approach to community engagement: local teens share authorship over projects informed by their expertise as South Side residents and that have direct impact on their communities. 96% of participants live on the South Side, with 63% in neighborhoods adjacent to the Arts Incubator. Core programs are:

  • Design Apprenticeship Program (DAP): Led by the University of Chicago Arts + Public Life, this apprenticeship cultivates teens’ creativity, social development, and leadership, and inspires them to make a positive difference through careers in the arts. Teens work in teams to create a community-based design project that responds to a local need, build their project in the woodshop using hand tools and power tools, and support other local build projects.
  • ​Teen Arts Council (TAC): The Teen Arts Council collaborates with the University of Chicago Arts + Public Life initiative to develop creative skills, leadership experience, and opportunities for other teens to engage with the arts. The Council members work with university staff and local partners to develop projects, workshops, and public events for various audiences. Teens learn skills in arts administration, community engagement, event planning, and related areas.
  • Community Actors Program (CAP): Explore interactive theater techniques and hone your voice as actors and citizens. The Community Actors Apprenticeship is oriented toward social justice and positions teen performers as powerful actors in both art and society. This apprenticeship cultivates teen creativity, social development, and leadership and inspires them to make a positive difference. Teens work together to create a short play or collection of scenes that respond to community issues and organize an accompanying public event.
  • Youth Backstage Production: Arts + Public Life’s new Backstage Production Program is designed to give South Side Chicago youth, ages 15-19, an introduction to the fundamentals of theater production and stage management. By the end of the program, students will have the skills and knowledge to plan and execute theater productions which include: stage management, lighting and sound design, and sound engineering. Additionally, youth participants gain college and career readiness skills while earning a stipend for their participation. This program is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE).

Teens often participate in multiple sessions of the same program, or multiple program areas across APL. Especially engaged teens have also been hired as interns, teaching assistants, and more.


Questions? Please contact Julia Hinojosa, Assistant Director of Education Programs,


Check out our teen programs video to hear from past participants!