This month, Americans for the Arts awarded its 2017 Robert E. Gard award to the Cheyenne River Youth Project® for its annual RedCan graffiti jam. CRYP was one of just 10 finalists for the esteemed award, which celebrates exemplary work at the intersection of the arts and community life.

“We’re deeply honored that Americans for the Arts chose RedCan for this year’s award,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “When we created RedCan two years ago, we knew that graffiti and street art resonated with our youth; through art, we wanted to provide them with new tools to explore their identity, share their stories, and find their unique voices.

“We never imagined how RedCan would grow and evolve in such a short time,” she continued. “Yes, it’s about our youth—healing them, and strengthening the connection to their culture—but it’s also about loving our community, and lifting it up together.”

RedCan, which is held at CRYP’s campus and in various locations around the city of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, is the only event of its kind in Indian country. During the event, more than a dozen accomplished native and non-native graffiti and street artists from around the world converge on the remote Cheyenne River Lakota reservation for three days of painting and teaching Lakota youth, producing vibrant murals in CRYP’s Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Art Park and throughout the community, and participating in a profound cultural exchange.

“RedCan celebrates individuality, positive self-expression, healthy creativity, and the healing and empowerment of the Cheyenne River community,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Through this work, they positively impact the lives of residents and strengthen their community as a whole, and their commitment is deserving of this recognition.”  
 
The third annual RedCan graffiti jam is scheduled for June 29 to July 1. The public is welcome to attend; lodging is available at area motels, but since rooms tend to book out quickly, CRYP is offering camping for up to 50 people at its East Lincoln Street campus. For more information, visit www.lakotayouth.com/redcan.

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.

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The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.