Teen Programs

Four current programs for teens tap into the power of students’ own creativity and explore issues of identity and self-worth.

Our Teen Programs provide opportunities for youth to inspire positive change in their communities by:

  • Employing youth as artist-activists to create powerful art for the community
  • Exploring issues such as sexual and dating violence, bullying, domestic strife, the environment and making healthy choices
  • Teaching coping strategies to teens across Central Texas and beyond.
A finalist for the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, selected by the President’s Committee on the Arts.

30 Participants Max  |  2 Meetings each Week (4-6 Hours per week)

In partnership with Safeplace since 2003, Creative Action employs up to 30 young people ages 13-18 as artist-activists to address teen dating, domestic violence, cyberbullying, sexism, homophobia, and more through original theatre to tour the area middle schools. More than 3,000 youth see their show each year.

In 2012, the ensemble was the subject of a documentary produced by local PBS station KLRU and toured out of state for the first time, performing for 600 people in San Francisco at the National Conference on Health Care and Domestic Violence in March of 2012, sponsored by Futures Without Violence.


Watch the 2015 performance, Breaking up with Ever After, below!  Breaking Up with Ever After was created by teens and for teens to address the unrealistic expectations that fairy tales teach us about relationships, especially the idea that we’ll magically meet our one true love and simply live “Happily Ever After.” The play investigates how people now use social media to tell the world a perfect love story, a modern romantic fairy tale, leaving out the difficult parts.

Read more here: Changing Lives Blog.

Submit Request for Changing Lives Ensemble

Changing Lives gives you good self confidence. It gives you the courage to stand up to people. It is a really good experience to be able to work with people and not be running the show yourself. I learned how to collaborate and take other people ideas into consideration. I know who to talk to and how to approach [a bullying] situation. It’s just a good experience.

– Greg, 18, Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble alumnus




To put the powerful tools of peer education and theatre in the hands of youth and adults who want to encourage healthy relationships among young adults.

After participating in Changing Lives, youth will:

  • Significantly increase knowledge/recognition of indicators of violent/healthy relationships.
  • Gain improved self-confidence.
  • Demonstrate improved presentation/communication skills.
  • Develop skills to support healthy relationships among peers through discussion, support and thoughtful intervention.
  • Establish strong professional skills and habits.


Themes and Skills

  • Post-Secondary Education
  • Anti-Bullying, Cyberbullying
  • Literacy
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Leadership
  • Social and Emotional Literacy
  • Social Justice
  • Anti-Homophobia
  • Friendship / Family
  • Theatre Arts
  • Digital Media
  • Writing Skills
  • Critical Thinking


New Stages Ensemble

50 Participants Max  |  14-18 years old | 2 Meetings per Week (4-6 Hours per week)

Offered in partnership with Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Center and Travis County Juvenile Probation Department, this program fosters access to arts learning for youth at-risk for gang involvement.

While youth are in residence at Gardner Betts, Creative Action reaches out to them through theatre-based activism in which youth create original works, performed on-site for peers.

While youth are in probation, Creative Action reaches out to them through art-based activism in which original works are created and performed on-site for peers. As youth transition back into their community,  this program offers them a paid opportunity to create original works in film, poetry, and music for the greater community, addressing issues related to the juvenile justice system, recidivism (the return to detention), and making healthy choices.



Submit Request for New Stages Ensemble

I am a person writing about my pain
I am a person living a life of shame
I’m your child hiding my depression
I’m your friend acting like I’m fine
I’m a teenager pushing my tears aside
I’m a student who doesn’t have a clue
I’m the kid sitting next to you
I am the one asking you why you care

– New Stages Youth Ensemble, 2011-12 school year




To empower youth involved with the juvenile justice system to become artist-activists who spark community-wide reconsideration of incarceration, recidivism, and the world our youth are facing today.

After participating in New Stages, youth will see:

  • Short term outcomes: improved perceived social support, interpersonal communications, and self-efficacy; decreased antisocial behavior; an improvement in family relationships and social competencies; no new offenses; no new gang-related offenses.
  • Intermediate outcomes: youth form positive peer group relationships that serve as an alternative to gang membership; youth continue to develop skills and positive adult mentor relationships that began in the detention center; youth earn income which will help offset some reasons for joining gangs.
  • Long-term outcomes: a reduction in gang involvement and recidivism; stronger relationships between youth and the community.


Themes Explored

  • Post-Secondary Education
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Literacy
  • Leadership
  • Social and Emotional Literacy
  • Gang Prevention
  • Friendship / Family
  • Juvenile Justice/Detention
  • Theatre Arts
  • Digital Media
  • Writing Skills
  • Critical Thinking



30 Participants Max  |  14-18 years old | 2 Projects Produced Each Year

A collective of young artists ages 13-18 work under the guidance of professional artists to research, design, and install murals, sculptures, and installations aimed at transforming public spaces.  Students also produce an artistic portfolio of original work.

Through this process, these young artists deeply engage in the city and the history of its neighborhoods; build important social and emotional skills as they work as a team to finalize and implement each design; and develop their abilities as young artists to use art to remake neglected spaces into places of beauty, reflection, and inspiration. Each member of the squad is paid for the work of designing and creating beauty across the Austin area.

To apply, fill out this form. **We ask that you please submit 2 – 4 images of your work to colorsquad@creativeaction.org***

Color Squad recently helped restore the Greetings from Austin mural on S. 1st Street. Contact colorsquad@creativeaction.org for more information about the program.




To empower youth as artist-activists.

After participating in Color Squad, youth will:

  • significantly increase knowledge of mural techniques and social purpose of murals/public art
  • gain improved self-confidence
  • demonstrate improved collaboration/communication skills
  • develop skills to support artistic development
  • establish strong professional skills and habits based on paid employment model

Outside the Lines

20 Participants Max  |  2 Meetings per Week (4-6 Hours per Week)

Creative Action’s Outside the Lines youth ensemble receives training as young leaders in the community and creates original works of art to directly address social issues facing LGBTQ youth and their allies growing up in Austin. Creative projects include writing, film, theatre and visual art.

Outside the Lines is part of a Creative Action partnership with  Out Youth and the University of Texas Department of Theatre and Dance. Out Youth’s mission is to promote the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well being of sexual and gender minority youth so that they can openly and safely explore and affirm their identities. The value of our partnership with the University of Texas is that it allows students to discover a pathway to college and introduces them to advocacy groups on campus.

To apply, fill out this form, scan and email back to teens@creativeaction.org



To provide LGBTQ youth in Austin a public forum to share their stories.

After participating in Outside the Lines, youth will:

  • significantly increase their skills in engaging an audience through theatre
  • gain improved self-confidence
  • demonstrate improved collaboration/communication skills
  • educate audience members on issues facing the LGBTQ community
  • establish strong professional skills and habits