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.

Radio Uprising

Radio Uprising is The Art Effect’s exciting weekly youth radio show that gives young producers the opportunity to express themselves creatively via the airwaves, developing next generation newsmakers and covering youth issues in Poughkeepsie, NY. In a weekly hour-long live broadcast on 91.3fm WVKR at Vassar College, middle and high school age students engage in on-air discussion of politics, social action, current events, and personal experience. Each week, Radio Uprising features a rotating lineup of youth DJs and radio hosts.

Tune in to 91.3fm on Thursdays from 4-5pm EST or visit the live stream on

radio uprising


The Art Effect’s Radio Uprising program supports and grows the next generation of journalists and newsmakers through hands-on learning in media literacy and production skills. Young people who participate in Radio Uprising gain a diverse skill set in:

  • audio recording
  • audio editing
  • public speaking
  • critical thinking
  • interviewing
  • journalism
  • field recording

To learn more about audio recording, editing and video journalism visit Spark Studios.
Apply to be a youth DJ or radio host! E-mail or call 845.471.7477 to set up an interview.


Radio Uprising, a weekly radio show on Vassar College’s WVKR station, has been broadcasting for over thirteen years. Since May 2008, Radio Uprising has provided a public platform for young people to express themselves and their opinions on a variety of hard-hitting topics. Radio Uprising youth have interviewed and partnered with local organizations in Poughkeepsie such as the Poughkeepsie Journal, Planned Parenthood, and Grace Smith House.

They have also featured work from other youth radio producers from around the country including Blunt Youth Radio Project, Global Action Project, the Bay Area Video Coalition, Radio Rootz, and Reel Grrls. Radio show topics include:

Listen to the full list of past podcasts HERE.

Radio Uprising is a partnership with WVKR and Vassar College which has received past support from the Jane Nuhn Charitable Trust.


Youth Curatorial Team

The Art Effect’s curatorial training program is composed of youth taking part in the Trolley Barn Gallery Curatorial Team who make high level exhibition curation decisions and are mentored by experts in the field. The Youth Curatorial Team takes place over two semester-long sessions in the Fall and the Spring. Youth earn a stipend as the leaders of international juried exhibitions at the Trolley Barn Gallery, and are responsible for every aspect of exhibition curation, including theme generation, artwork selection, art handling, exhibition installation, and interpretation. The Youth Curatorial Team works closely with curators from across the country in a series of after school sessions, weekend workshops, and a variety of gallery and community events. Youth learn about project management, develop public speaking skills through gallery presentations and artist talks, and establish professional connections with international artists, curators, and arts professionals to bring impressive exhibitions of high-caliber artwork to Poughkeepsie.

Sessions run in the Spring (January-May) and Fall (September – December). Applications for the Trolley Barn Gallery Squad are accepted in November (for the Spring) and August (for the Fall).


Trolley Barn Gallery Squad program trains youth as leaders who catalyze the community through the arts and re-energize downtown Poughkeepsie. Together alongside established art professionals, youth present impactful exhibitions that engage the wider community and acquaint youth with all aspects of the curatorial process including; Museum & Gallery Administration; Project Management; Art Exhibition Curation & Interpretation; Art Handling; Exhibition Design & Installation; Public Speaking; Virtual Exhibition Design; Workshops with curators, artists, and museum professionals.

Guest Curators and Partners

Trolley Barn Gallery Team youth work with professional curators from galleries across the county including;


After laying vacant for many years, The Poughkeepsie Trolley Barn in 2015 found itself in the middle of a transformative wave rushing across the City, breathing a new life of art into the area. Re-activating the iconic Poughkeepsie Trolley Barn through an innovative approach to youth empowerment through the arts gave The Art Effect a unique opportunity to put youth in the driver seat of this incredible space. 

In January of 2019, The Art Effect welcomed the community for it’s first ever Art After Dark exhibition at The Trolley Barn Gallery. The first true youth-led exhibition took place September 2020 with Teen Visions and finally in 2021, as a pilot youth museum studies program, The Trolley Barn Gallery launched its new international juried exhibition series inviting youth to take a leading role in the planning of Home Sick and future exhibition, empowering them to engage community members and visitors in transformative arts experiences that they curate. 

In March of 2021, bringing together the largest arts organization with the oldest arts

organization in Dutchess County, Barrett Art Center affiliated with The Art Effect. The affiliation opened doors of new opportunities, a higher level of expertise, and maintained the knowledge, direction, and engagement that Barrett brings to the community through The Art Effect’s new curatorial initiative. Learn more about the affiliation HERE.
The first cohorts of youth in the curatorial program established connections with curators from the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College; the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

Teachers and Program Staff

Jaime Ransome 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.

This program is partially funded by monies received from the New York State Council on the Arts.

Forge Media

Forge Media employs emerging filmmakers ages 16-25 to work alongside experienced producers creating video content that stands out from the crowd and brings clients’ concepts to life. This next generation of videographers gain valuable experience in professional film production, build their portfolios, further develop their skills, and expand their relationships in the film industry.

Forge Media’s Impact

Forge Media’s youth apprenticeship program is the first of its kind in the Hudson Valley. Young, aspiring filmmakers who excel in the Spark Studios program gain client-based work experience, further develop their filmmaking skills using professional-level equipment and technology, and build both their portfolios and professional relationships.

All proceeds from Forge Media support our apprentices through this creative media mentorship program. Competition in the world of media is tough, and opportunities for emerging filmmakers can be hard to come by. Forge provides young filmmakers and producers with those opportunities, giving them an edge as they continue on the path towards becoming media industry leaders. Learn more about the services Forge Media offers at

To book a Forge Media production, e-mail


Youth working with Forge Media are often referred through Spark Studios or have worked with The Art Effect as a film and media intern and excelled within their program. At Forge Media, young filmmakers work on professional film sets throughout the Hudson Valley gaining experience as an assistant director or production assistant in:

  • Boom Operation
  • Sound Mixing
  • Camera Operating
  • Grip and Gaffer
  • Editing
  • Writing


Forge Film Shoot

Recent clients of Forge Media include:
(Click links for videos)

Media/Arts/Design Lab (MADLab)

madlab artists

The Art Effect’s Media, Art, and Design Lab (MADLab) engages teens ages 14-19 from the City of Poughkeepsie and helps them develop life and workforce skills in the growing arts and media sectors. Through four after-school sessions and one full-time summer session, MADLab youth earn a wage or stipend as they gain competency while learning about visual art, media art, and design careers. Through youth mentorship, on-the-job learning, and access to materials and equipment, MADLab fosters youth development, facilitates academic and workplace performance, and is a catalyst for community engagement and urban renewal in the City of Poughkeepsie.


Each MADLab session exposes students interested in visual art, creative placemaking, public art, media and design, and more to the creative workforce process by producing collaborative visual arts projects, and learning workplace skills such as time management, team work, leadership, and communication. The summer program has a special focus on public art and creative placemaking in which youth design and produce a public art installation in downtown Poughkeepsie.

  • graphic design
  • painting
  • sculpture
  • digital painting
  • photography (see also; Spark Studios)
  • public speaking
  • leadership
  • workplace etiquette
  • presenting and critiquing

Students work both independently and in teams on various creative prompts to get the most out of this “earn while you learn” mentorship program. Every semester students work on one client project to develop a professional creative portfolio including logo development, resume writing, and graphic design. MADLab youth who have developed advanced skills, are supported in connecting to outside jobs and internships with businesses and organizations to help provide additional early job experiences in our community.

Support MADLab youth and contact us to hire a student for your design project today!

Field Trips and Partners

The MADLab Program often takes hands-on learning on the road! Through the MADLab program, students work on various projects with and for many local community partners including visiting local galleries, museums and community organizations throughout the year. Trips include; Storm King Art Center, Art Omi, and Bard College. MADLab students have partnered with a number of community organizations including:

Teachers and Program Staff

David Wong is a graduate of the arts management program at SUNY Purchase with a degree in commercial art from SUNY Dutchess. David’s background in contemporary sculpture includes working in fine art institutions such as Dia: Beacon and Storm King Art Center. David has been an art department intern for both feature films and music videos, and his work as an educator specializes in creative placemaking. David began with The Art Effect’s as an intern in 2016 working for the 21st Century Project (later called The Empire Program). He has also worked with Spark Studios and ArtsBridge and has coordinated the MADLab program since 2018.

Programs provided by this agency are partially funded by monies received from Dutchess County, New York State Council on the Arts, in part by the Bailey Foundation, Community Foundations Hudson Valley, Dutchess County Workforce Investment Board (DCWIB), the City of Poughkeepsie, and from Adams Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee supporting The Art Effect’s exemplary programs.

Spark Studios

Spark Studios Youth Filmmakers

Spark Studios teaches film and media arts to empower youth’s voices, build workforce development skills, provide paid work experience, and help students get on a path to college and career success. Youth in Spark Studios learn filmmaking, photography, digital media production, and create media projects in teams and for community clients.

Spark Studios prepares young people for entry into the Art Institute where they can develop a college film or photography portfolio as well as become employable in a competitive media workforce, including The Art Effect’s advanced program Forge Media.

Spark Studios runs in the fall, spring and summer and offers intensives in the winter.
Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory, 8 North Cherry Street, Third Floor, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Creative Filmmaking and Workforce Training

  • Explore cutting-edge media production techniques
  • Artistic and technical skill building to create creative short films
  • Student produced original media productions
  • Industry exposure
  • Develop skills, attitude, and competency for college
  • Intermediate-level youth program skills for entry into the Art Institute (to prepare college film portfolios)

Clients and Partners

Clients and partners that have worked with Spark Studios recently include Scenic Hudson, Walkway Over the Hudson, Arts Mid Hudson, Poet Gold + POUGHetry Festival, Poughkeepsie City School District, Black Excellence Community, Cary Institute, Engaged Pluralism Initiative, and Hudson River Housing, Dutchess County, Family Services, among others. 

Support Spark Studios youth — Contact us to partner on a client project!

Spark Studios on FIlm Set

Creative Filmmaking and Workforce Training Skills

Youth enrolled in Spark Studios gain experience and acquire skills in: 

  • photography and digital editing
  • videography and video editing
  • lighting
  • audio mixing
  • creating public service announcements
  • scriptwriting and creative short films
  • documentaries
  • animation and stop-motion
  • financial literacy and time management skill development
  • develop community connections and interpersonal skills
  • media portfolio development


Spark Studios, formerly known as Media Magic & DROP TV, has been a place for youth to express themselves in video and photos for decades. DROP TV (which stood for Direct Revolution of Programming) began as a summer youth employment program in 1996 focused on producing video segments for episodes of the DROP TV youth television series which aired on CableVision. In 2012, the program was extended to an after school filmmaking program, Media Magic. Students participating in Media Magic created incredible short-form video content in collaboration with community partners.

Students of Spark Studios have gone on to work as crew members in the film industry including Hudsy, HBO, and have also become entrepreneurs.

Awards and Recognition

Many of the short films created by youth during Spark Studios win entries and awards at film festivals around the world. Click on any of the film names below and take a peek!

“The Edge” won an award at the Wildcat Spirit Film Festival and at the Lower Hudson Media Arts Show. The film was also a finalist at the Reel Exposure Teen Film and Photography Festival. The film was also selected for Newark IFF Youth Festival, The Lift-Off Sessions and First-Time Filmmaker Sessions.

“The Lock Down” won an award at the Wildcat Spirit Film Festival and at the Lower Hudson Media Arts Show and was a finalist at the Reel Exposure Teen Film and Photography Festival. It was also selected at The Lift-Off Sessions and First-Time Filmmaker Sessions.

“Santa Woman” has won awards at the Tribeca Film Institute’s “The America I Am” Competition – Best Collaborative Film, The Rockland County Film Festival, Award Winner Reel Expressions Teen Film Festival 2017, 2nd Place The Chocolate City International Short Film Festival in Wisconsin, and was a semi-familist at the Newark IFF Youth Festival.

“The Art of Loss” won at the Lower Hudson Media Arts Show.

“The Problems We Share” was selected for the Reel Exposure Teen Film and Photography Festival.

“Here’s A Toast” won at the Lower Hudson Media Arts Show.

“If You Choose To Accept It” was selected for The Lift-Off Sessions and Reel Exposure Teen Film and Photography Festival.

“Nirvana” was a finalist at the Newark IFF Youth Festival and a selection at The Lift-Off Sessions and First-Time Filmmaker Sessions.

The Written and “E+MC Scared” were selected for The 9th International Children’s Film Festival.

“A Problem” was selected for the Reel Exposure Teen Film and Photography Festival, Dances with Films, and Central Illinois Feminist Film Festival.

“DaVinci Jackson – Someday” was selected for The Lift-Off Sessions, First-Time Filmmaker Sessions and Newark IFF Youth Festival.

“Freemium” was selected for The Lift-Off Sessions, Super International Teenager Film Festival and First-Time Filmmaker Sessions.

The Art Effect partners with local organizations to host panel discussions, screenings, and events that highlight the incredible work produced by Spark Studios youth including The International Reel Exposure Teen Film and Photo Festival and in 2019, Spark Studios worked with the City of Poughkeepsie to organize a public screening of Spark Studios films with a local HBO production team who provided feedback on youth films.

Teachers and Program Staff

Adam Reid (Reidz) is the Media Programs Manager and Lead Instructor for Spark Studios, teaching video production, photography, and script writing. Reidz returned to Poughkeepsie after graduating college with a MS in Arts & Sciences and has taught both NYS General Education and special needs students from ages 7-21 years old. Reidz has over 20 years of experience in the production industry, producing content such as short form documentaries, interviews, product commercials, promotional campaign videos, graphic design, digital marketing, fashion shows, and music videos for organizations including, NFL Flag League, P.K., Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation, Love Hair Salon, Noel New York, Denizard Jewels and Poughkeepsie Mayor Yvonne Flowers. Reidz grew up in Poughkeepsie and is able to relate and stand as a role model for the youth, helping them develop life and workforce skills, encouraging them to utilize creative expression and become the best version of themselves. 

This program is partially funded by monies received from Dutchess County, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the United Way of Dutchess County.
Additional grants for Spark Studios have been provided by City of Poughkeepsie youth grant Roe Fund/CFHV and The Dutchess County Department of Youth Services