Urban Art Beat Open Mic Soul Shares! Help Youth create Change thru Music
To start with.. a short anecdotal to show the power of our Open Mic Soul Shares!
(The name has been changed to protect the fabulous but the story is real.)
Kimberly, aka Kim, is a sophomore in a struggling school in a tough NYC neighborhood. She is quiet, but her eyes show that she has a lot to say. In school, she is picked on for having bad skin, or cheap clothes, or most days, both. She reports that the first time her Urban Art Beat mentor told her to go to the Open Mic at Dixon Place Theater, she thought, “Nooooo way.”
She was terrified to perform in front of others. Then she worked on a piece about identity and she really liked it. She wanted to try sharing it. At Dixon Place, for the first time she hid in the back for 20 minutes. She regretted signing up on the list, but watching everyone else share warmed her up a bit. She finally got up on the little stage and read her piece. Something miraculous happened. She didn’t fall through the floor. The audience was snapping and clapping. They gave her incredible feedback and connected with her struggle. They encouraged her to write more. In the glow of giving her piece, and receiving acknowledgment, Kim forgot to worry about her looks and the bullies at her school. She felt seen. When we asked her to come back next month she promised she would and that she would write a new piece!
Kim’s story is familiar to the youth that make it to our Open Mic Workshops because the space is designed to be transformative. Whether you are a youth performing for your first time, a UAB veteran returning from college to share a piece on Revolutionary Matriarchy, or a mentor learning how to facilitate collaborative multi-age icebreakers, there is always growth (which is why they are really more like soul shares, than open mics).
Thanks to Dixon Place’s Cultural Education and Community Outreach (CECO) program, Urban Art Beat has hosted our Open Mics in there cozy upstairs cafe space for the past three years. CECO has donated the use of the space. ALL WE NEED FROM YOU are the funds to keep it going and open it up to more youth!
Please support our necessary and transformative Open Mic Soul Shares! Our programs are all youth based and social justice focused!
During the school year UAB has mentors in a number of school and sites, running creative workshops on everything from songwriting to popping and locking. Our programs create change through arts based, student centered pedagogy that is focused on social justice. Dixon Place Theater offers us the space to reunite with our past participants, invite new youth and partner with other arts or justice based organizations all over the world. UAB is steeped in Hip Hop culture, attracting a base of black and brown youth and allowing us to serve some of NYC’s most vulnerable populations.
Some of our participants are not able to make it regularly because they simply don’t have Metrocard fare. Since it is after school, youth are coming to us hungry. We’d like to be able to provide healthy snacks to nourish their creative minds. Rocket Hub is offering us a platform in order to be able to keep this good thing going!!
WHY are these Open Mics so important?
- It is not easy to find youth friendly, free performance spaces in New York City. (Unfortunately, many open mics charge, preventing participation from the very group of youth that need it the most.)
- Sharing the stage and the microphone with participants from around the world is an affordable way for our NYC students to learn about other cultures. They can travel through their art
- Risk taking encourages growth. (It is a creative spaces that challenges our role as community members, mentors, conductors of change, students, artists, organizers, critics, mentors etc.)
- Students are encouraged to collaborate on every track. This forms new bonds and takes youth away from individualism, which is rampant in our schools and selfie taking society.
- Skill building. We highlight artist mentors from around the world and share workshop skills so that the mentors are improving as facilitators. This is imperative to to prepare them for when they are on the “front lines” in our school sites.
- The manner in which we soul share helps us sharpen the focus of the unspoken narrative of our youth.
Please take a few minutes today to ensure that we have this space for the next year!
After covering a mentor facilitator and dj, the majority of the funds we raise will go towards metrocards and healthy snacks for the youth and will provide a welcoming, reliable, creative space for the next twelve Open Mic Soul Shares!!