In 1991 Madeleine Steczynski co-founded the youth performing arts organization, Zumix, as a response to a wave of teen violence in East Boston. Little did she know what started as a 24-person cultural organization in a studio apartment would eventually become a nationally recognized non-profit.
Today, Zumix is one of 50 national finalists for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, given by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and its cultural partners.
In its new quarters, the renovated Engine Company 40 Firehouse on Sumner Street in East Boston, Zumix serves more than 400 youths each year enrolled in after-school and summer programs. It also partners with East Boston High School. And each year it provides workshops, events, and concerts for another 6,000 teens and adults.
Zumix’s courses range from instrumental music such as, “African Drumming” and “Rock Ed,” to technology classes such as “Recording Lab,” which gives students hands-on experience in Zumix’s recording studio.
Zumix moved into its new quarters in January 2010, after a five-and a-half-year, $4.6-million capital campaign. More than 200 volunteers showed up to help with the move. Steczynksi, now Zumix's executive director, writes that she knew that day “our organization transition had begun, and our community was united and ready to make history.”
That history could come soon. The winners of the national awards will be announced in early November.
(Michelle Nigro photo for boston.com)