Charlie passed away peacefully in August 2016. His long-time friend and PYE Global co-founder Peggy Taylor wrote: “Charlie died as he lived, with humor and grace, surrounded by the love of friends and family. He was truly a magnificent, deeply gifted, loving man.”
Charlie’s legacy is one of using creativity to transform groups into communities. “I believe we are all creative and that you don’t have to be an artist to use the arts,” he wrote. “I believe it is everyone’s birthright to claim their creative spark and to use that spark to ignite others.”
After a successful 20-year career as a working musician/songwriter, Charlie returned to working with young people. “When I was a teenager, I attended a summer camp led by facilitators who were alive to their creativity and were highly skilled with group facilitation.” He quickly discovered that all young people, regardless of their circumstances, are highly creative and compassionate. “My belief in the power of art to transform lives was confirmed as I watched youth after youth step into more power and become more confident as they expressed themselves through poetry and music.”
In 1996, Charlie met Peggy Taylor, a journalist who became his creative partner. Together they ran their first camp, Power of Hope. Their method of integrating the arts into youth development, which they would eventually call the Creative Community Model, began to spark a transformation in youth work. “I saw that there was a role for an artist, and felt called to use the same methodologies that artists employ to teach how to create a deeper experience of the world around them. We call this skill set ‘social artistry’ and we teach others how to become Social Artists in their communities.”
In 2005, Charlie was awarded an Ashoka Fellowship in recognition of his lifelong achievements as a change maker and for his groundbreaking work in the youth development field.
In 2006, Charlie and his husband Eric Mulholland, a theater artist, began co-leading youth programs and conducting practitioner trainings in Uganda, South Africa, Italy, and the U.K. And in 2009, Charlie teamed with Peggy and entrepreneur Ian Watson to found PYE Global: Partners for Youth Empowerment. By providing Creative Community Model training to youth-serving organizations, they developed an international network of PYE partners and facilitators. With 30 partners in 15 countries, PYE has empowered more than one million youth to date.
The Jubilation Foundation is proud to support Charlie’s vision of a world that values and supports the creativity, voices, and contributions of young people.
Charlie talks about youth empowerment and the PYE model:
Charlie teaches teachers (making a group rhythm):
Charlie leads “Yes! And…” improv game: