youth arts empowerment zone meeting

Youth Arts Empowerment Zone Liaison

Youth Arts Empowerment Zone

The Youth Arts Empowerment Zone (YAEZ) along Main Street in Poughkeepsie, NY  is a long-term initiative to establish a youth-led arts district with The Art Effect as the anchor arts institution. This initiative is a roadmap for place-keeping through the arts. Currently, the YAEZ is bringing arts-based engagement to the local community through the PKX festival, publics events, workforce development programs, and community workshops.

YAEZ Liaison

YAEZ Liaisons are part of The Art Effect’s curatorial training programs at the Trolley Barn Gallery. YAEZ Liaisons focus on the impact of the community in and around the Trolley Barn Gallery. Each year, youth plan and implement community events, including workshops, art activities, and an annual arts festival. Youth employees earn a stipend as they learn the tactics of creative placemaking, marketing, outreach, event planning, and more. YAEZ Liaisons are equipped with skills in community organizing, festival planning, civic engagement, and arts-advocacy through leading outreach workshops with local artists and community organizations and conducting presentations to stakeholders and government officials.

Become a YAEZ Liaison

Youth ages 15+ interested in becoming a YAEZ Liaison can apply online. Sessions run in the Spring (February -June) and Fall (September – December). Application periods for each session open in November (for the Spring) and June (for the Fall). Applications are accepted in May for a limited number of full-time summer positions (in which youth can earn minimum wage).The group meets weekly in two hour research and mentoring sessions in the spring and fall. Members also lead monthly community outreach activities and attend a variety of public meetings as both presenters and participants. Click HERE to see upcoming events.

Summer Employment

During the summer,  youth work full-time between both of The Art Effect’s curatorial training programs (Trolley Barn Curatorial Team & YAEZ Liaisons) at the Trolley Barn Gallery. Youth make high-level exhibition curation decisions about upcoming juried exhibitions while being mentored by experts in the field, and work within the community to foster the youth-led arts district along Main Street, YAEZ.


PKX Youth Committee works with community partners, and the curatorial advisory committee across the county including; 

Program Staff

Jaime Ransome, Trolley Barn Gallery Manager was born and raised in Rhinebeck NY and graduated from Syracuse University in May of 2022 after receiving her MFA in Museum Studies and her BFA in Film. She specializes in feminist and BIPOC art history and film theory. She attended Children’s Media Project (The Art Effect’s former Spark Studios program) and is now happy to be returning to Poughkeepsie to pass on her knowledge to The Art Effect Youth.

Destiny Kearney, Trolley Barn Fellow is a New York based artist who graduated from Bowdoin College, with a Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies, Art History, and Visual Arts. After entering her first technical art classes during her sophomore year of college, she encountered a teaching style that excluded Black people. The gap in her artistic training led her to pursue the study of race in arts education. During Kearney’s time within Bowdoin’s Visual Arts program, she continued to learn from and rebel against that pedagogy. Taking the skills she acquired through self-teaching she continues to focus on depictions of Blackness in art. Over the past year, Kearney has used painting, photography, and collage to explore her Black and Indigenous identity, with a focus on land, lineage, and language. Her works address the hypervisibility, visibility, and invisibility of her racial and cultural identities. Bowdoin College Awarded her with The Richard P. Martel Jr. Memorial Prize in Visual Arts which is awarded to the students who, in the judgment of the Visual Arts Faculty at Bowdoin are deemed to have produced the most creative, perceptive, proficient, and visually appealing art works exhibited at the college during this academic year. Embarking on her post-grad journey, Kearney joins the Art Effect team as the Trolley Barn Fellow. She will be with us for the next two years as a member of the first cohort of Lead for Poughkeepsie Fellows, a branch of the Lead for America program.