Art A Catalyst For Change 2017 Culminating Event

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact Randy Fisher at 917-567-9294 or Neekee West at 646-684-1013.

ART A CATALYST FOR CHANGE, THE HIP-HOP SUMMIT YOUTH COUNCIL, VIDEO MUSIC BOX AND POWER 105.1 HELD 2ND ANNUAL “TIME TO SHINE” TO END GUN VIOLENCE SHOWCASE AT THE PRESTIGIOUS IHEART RADIO THEATER IN SUPPORT OF GUN VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

The Culminating Event Showcased Hot New Talent Using Art To Address Gun Violence

Demo Recording Contracts With Film and TV Opportunities Awarded To Talent by IMI Productions, Inc. and the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council

June 29, 2017, New York, NY – The Art A Catalyst For Change Project, spearheaded by NYC Council Member Laurie Cumbo and the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council, in association with Video Music Box and Power 105.1, hosted the 2nd annual “Time 2 Shine” To End Gun Violence Showcase at the LIT and Prestigious iHeart Radio Theater in Manhattan.  The event was a huge success as the day opened with super hot DJ Bam Bam playing all the latest hits to a packed house of over 200 people.  As the performers checked in they took pictures in front of the iHeart Radio Theater banner.  This was truly exciting to the many young students who showed up to show off there stuff and add the iHeart Radio Brand to their portfolio.  The event was Co-hosted by Uncle Ralph of Video Music Box and Randy Fisher of the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council.  There was an inspirational spiritual message of peace and unity before the groups took the stage by special guest “Beast,” who was introduced by Uncle Ralph and was also celebrating his Birthday.  We wanted the evening to be filled with nothing but love and joy for our young participants.

Victory Music Marching Band

Victory Music and Dance Marching Band

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At the event there were Singers, Spoken Word Artists, Rappers, Painters, Actors, Marching Bands, and Dancers.  Participants were provided with a golden opportunity to showcase their skills to talent agents, music and film industry executives.  Art imitates life and can be a powerful tool to educate students about issues they are confronted with daily.  Through this initiative participants work after-school to come up with a presentation that uses art to address gun violence.

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Ralph McDaniels (Video Music Box), Randy Fisher (Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council, DJ Bam Bam, Neekee West, James Kearney and Andres Festo (iHeart Media), Sharieff “The Fitness Sheriff”, Amanda Mickler (iHeart Media), Charles Fisher (Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council)

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​Organizations, Groups or Artists who performed include: PurElements, Sundog Theater, Victory Music and Dance, Impact Reparatory Theater, Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Music School, East Flatbush Village, Nashawn Belcher, STEPS To End Family Violence, True 2 Life, Thrive Collective, C Woods, International EA, Uknojb, Cash Sinatra, and Paul Gee.

Victory Music and Dance Step Team

Victory Music and Dance Step Team

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In between performances there were some excellent videos, some created by the students, with a theme around gun violence. Productions from the following groups were highlighted: Video Music Box, East Flatbush Village, STEPS To End Family Violence, Brooklyn Arts Council, Thrive Collective, and Sundog Theater.

Victory Music and Dance's Dance Team

Victory Music and Dance’s Dance Team

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To show love and support for the artists that performed and have been working with the program, 7 Demo Recording Contracts were issued by the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council and IMI Productions & Studios.  Participants will receive free studio time to record a song that will be submitted to major record company executives and Power 105.1 DJs.  In addition, the bands, actors and dancers who performed will also have an opportunity to be placed in an upcoming IMI Productions, Inc. Film.  All participants will also get a chance to attend free workshops and a conference coordinated by executives in the entertainment industry at the IMI Productions & Studios in Manhattan where the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council has an office to further educate them about the entertainment business, as well as a host of opportunities they can pursue.

The event was about giving young people who worked hard to put a positive presentation together to address gun violence a real chance to also achieve their dreams in the entertainment business.  By working with Power 105.1, Video Music Box, the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council and IMI Productions & Studios participants will have a much better chance to brand their name and achieve their professional goals in the entertainment industry.  This is the reward they will receive for being a part of this innovative program to address gun violence and giving up their time and talent to help prevent another murder in our city.

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Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council and youth from the event

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All the groups were outstanding, but the highlight of the day was the Marching Band as they strolled in 20 deep and took the stage like they owned it.  They played a host of songs that had the audience jumping out of their seats.  You can tell they put a lot of work into their craft and they are definitely headed down the right road for success.  We see Hollywood all in their future.

Through this initiative the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council coordinates 10 events in schools and communities experiencing gun and gang violence.  They also coordinate the citywide culminating event.  Conflict Mediation and Cure Violence Groups also get a chance to talk to the audience about their work to curve gun violence.  Participants are then interviewed by Hip-Hop Icon Uncle Ralph of Video Music Box so the public can see what they have to offer on his weekly WNYC-TV show.  It is important for students to have a platform to introduce their talent and chase their dreams and that is what Video Music Box has offered for 34 years.

In addition, having a socially responsible Fortune 500 company like iHeart Media and Power 105.1 behind the movement is a blessing that provides much credibility to the program for the artists.  The brand association definitely is an inspiration to participants looking for an opportunity to succeed in the entertainment industry.  It’s the dream of every artist to hear their record on the radio and perform at venues like the iHeart Radio Theater.  Some of the biggest stars in music have stood on the stage and today it was made available to those that dream of being a star.  The event is also part of the 105 events over 105 days the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council coordinates with Power 105.1 in support of their Hip-Hop Against Gun & Gang Violence Campaign, now in its 6th year.

“Too many of our men, women, and children are being killed for reasons that do not equal the value of a human life,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo. “Through the arts, we can infuse resources to cultivate the hidden talents or untapped potential of our youth, establish a platform for self-expression, and diffuse the underlying issues that often lead to violent – in some cases, fatal conflicts.  Art a Catalyst for Change is an opportunity to teach our youth how to funnel their energy into positive outlets for self-expression by placing down their guns and picking up paintbrushes, musical instruments, or styles of dance.”

Beast CF Heather Ralph

Beast, Charles Fisher (HHSYC), Heather Case (Department of Education), Ralph McDaniels (Video Music Box)

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“At a time when our communities are bleeding from gun violence, our youth need positive outlets to focus their attention on, and The Art A Catalyst For Change Project provides this opportunity.  As New Yorkers, we must support this initiative and work together to rid gun violence from every corner of our City.  I commend Council Member Laurie Cumbo and the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council for spearheading this project, and their work to use art to prevent gun violence,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.

“The arts is a tool to assist young people to practice humanitarian habits.  The arts allows young people to dive into conversations that they necessarily wouldn’t be able to in other circumstances.  We as humans need opportunities to celebrate cultural diversity and appreciation, ways to communicate our feelings deeply with each other and the world, and we as adults need to understand that our children learn differently and teaching through a diverse curriculum is the arts,” said Kevin A. Joseph, Co-Executive Artistic Director, PurElements.

PurElements Drummers

PurElements Drummers

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“The Art A Catalyst For Change Initiative helped foster a community of trust, growth, and support among students and teaching artists at Esperanza Preparatory Academy.  The extraordinary middle school students we worked with explored poetry and spoken word where they were asked to think about the neighborhoods and world they live in and visualize how they can be the change they hope to see.  It was beautiful to witness students listen and support each other so openly,” ended Samantha Merkle, Director of Engagement & Outreach, Groove With Me, Inc. 

“As a 30 year resident of East Harlem, STEPS to End Family Violence has a strong commitment to educating the youth in our community about violence prevention and to teaching them skills regarding respectful communication and relating, conflict resolution and leadership.  STEPS is honored to be a part of NYC’s Crisis Management Systems Initiative and collaborating with our partners and school communities.  We applaud the recent advice made by one of our students stating that: “if you can’t talk it out, walk it out and leave the situation…until it can be peacefully resolved”,” stated Connie Márquez, Director of Teen Services and Strategic Partnerships, STEPS to End Family Violence, Edwin Gould Services for Children & Families.

“Our young people are well aware of the toll of gun violence on their generation and in their community.  Art A Catalyst for Change enables youth to creatively voice their concerns, promote solutions and share their stories through art and media.  We are grateful to the New York City Council, and especially Council Members Cornegy and Cumbo, for the opportunity to work with students on this important and innovative program,” ended Leslie G. Schultz, President of BRICartsmedia.

“Art A Catalyst For Change is so much more than an “anti-gun” initiative.  It’s really about empowering students to reclaim the stories of their lives by awakening their creative capacity to create lives worth living.  The art skills Thrive Collective teaches through Murals, Music, and Media programs at IS 42Q and IS 183Q intentionally fuse art and life skills that flourish far beyond any classroom,” said Jeremy R. Del Rio, Esq., Executive Director, Thrive Collective.

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Sharieff “The Fitness Sheriff,” Ahmad Quazi, Jr. of IMI Productions, Charles and Randy Fisher of HHSYC

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“Thanks to a partnership with the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council, IMI Productions & Studios is proud to be the sponsor of the Demo Recording Contract offered to participants who performed at the event.  We will also offer internship opportunities, workshops and jobs to those looking to learn and get involved with the film and/or television industry.  If you took the stage as a dancer, band, or any other type of performer I will place you in one of my upcoming films.  We must support students who have talent and are willing to use their skills to eliminate gun violence and make our society safer,” ended Ahmad Quazi, Jr., CEO, IMI Productions, Inc.

“NY Writers Coalition is proud to have our middle-school writers perform with so many brilliant young people at Time to Shine.  The Art A Catalyst For Change Initiative has proven that our youth not only have endless talent but they have truly important things to say about the future of their communities and city,” ended Aaron Zimmerman, Founder/Executive Director of NY Writers Coalition.

“One of Impacts mottos “Keep A Positive Thought Because A Positive Thought Can Not Be Denied, Peace,” stated Dietrice Bolden, Impact.

Impact Repertory Theater's Rap Group

Impact Repertory Theater’s Rap Group

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“Gun Violence is not the answer for our youth.  We strive every day to provide them with a positive outlet with effective programming and qualified leadership through mentorship, academic enrichment and performing arts,” said Nicole Williams, President and Founder, Victory Music & Dance Company, Inc.

“Art A Catalyst For Change culminating event at iHeart Radio Theater brought the best creative and socially aware young people to stage in NYC,” stated Uncle Ralph of Video Music Box.

Beast CF Ralph

Beast, Charles Fisher (HHSYC), Ralph McDaniels (VMB)​

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“Sundog’s ‘Soundtrack of Life’ program gives teens a way to help make a difference in their own lives by allowing them a creative way to express their thoughts about the issues through music and rap, then putting them onto CD while learning about the recording process from professional musicians,” said Susan Fenley, Sundog Theatre Executive Director.

“Art A Catalyst For Change awarded us the opportunity to work with the amazing Bronx JHS 162 students and create a powerful ‘Zine that was the embodiment of our 12 week journey where students were given an opportunity to rewrite their narratives. Nontraditional approaches mixed with any form of art is one of the most effective prescriptions that yield proactive behavior and empowering thoughts,” ended Beatriz Coronel, MA, Program Director, Grove With Me, Inc.

“The Anti-Gun Violence initiative is one that deserves praise, for it allows students to articulate in creative forms their experiences dealing with violent crime in their neighborhoods on an ongoing basis,” said Angel Hernandez, Program Director, Bronx Historical Society.

True 2 Life in front of the iHeart Banner

True 2 Life in front of the iHeart Banner

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“The Hip-Hop Summit stayed in touch with me after the very first event at Liberation High School and I’m glad they kept it real with me as a young artist.  Now that I have been awarded a Demo Recording Contract you can bet I’m gonna make the best of this opportunity to advance my music career,” stated recording artist Nashawn Belcher.

“Out of all the events that I have played at over the last 2 years with this project by far is the best, I give a lot of props to all those that performed and hope they make the best of the Demo Contract and film opportunities they were awarded,” ended DJ Bam Bam.

“All I have to say is the final event was Lit.  All the performers put a lot into the anti-gun message, whether it was on stage or the video and that is what we need from our youth to end the violence,” stated the “Fitness Sheriff”.

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Ralph McDaniels (VMB), Randy Fisher (HHSYC), Sharieff the “Fitness Sheriff” and Charles Fisher (HHSYC) with youth from the event

​“As we celebrate Gun Violence Awareness Month it is important that we use projects like Art A Catalyst For Change to teach young participants how to be more proactive when it comes to reducing gun violence in their community.  I enjoyed working with each art group and all their participants.  It’s not an easy task to get students to do anything after school so I give a lot of credit to all those who coordinated and participated in the program.  I want to thank Thea Mitchem, Joe DeAngelis, Chiara Morrison, Andrew Festus, James Kearney and the Power 105.1 staff for making this happen.  Also Council Member Cumbo and the NYC Council for providing a platform that will allow the next generation to use their talent and skills to chase their dreams.  We must provide our youth with tools and contacts that will help them achieve their personal, business and academic goals,” said Randy Fisher, Executive Director, Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council.

“Having the culminating event at the iHeart Radio Theater not only is inspiring to our student participants, but also allows us to take the project to the next level.  We invited music and entertainment industry executives to peek at some of the new and up and coming talent with the hope that maybe the next Beyoncé or Jay Z will be discovered through this project.  At the end of the day that is what it’s all about for some of our young people who are just looking for an opportunity to get out of the ‘hood.  Thanks to IMI Productions and Studios a lot of opportunities will be provided to students who are willing to work afterschool to help end gun violence and that is what is all about,” ended Charles Fisher, Founder, Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council.

Armando CF IMI

Ahmad Quazi, Jr. and Charles Fisher

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Photo Credits by David “Boom Box” Pariona.

More Event Coverage to Come via Pictures and Video so Stay Tuned.

ABOUT ART A CATALYST FOR CHANGE

The initiative seeks to increase arts opportunities, community bonds, and gun violence awareness for individuals that are deeply impacted by gun violence and their communities.  By equipping individuals with these opportunities, the initiative hopes to advance the conversation about crime in these neighborhoods and educate people about the impact of gun violence on the community.  The “Teen Summits to End Gun Violence,” along with a culminating event which will showcase the hard work of participants who develop a presentation using art as a platform to address gun violence, will be an important part of the project.

ABOUT THE HIP-HOP SUMMIT YOUTH COUNCIL

The HHSYC was founded in July 2001 by Charles Fisher (also known as the former manager of LL Cool J, the Lost Boyz and co-discoverer of R. Kelly).  The organization was created to help implement commitments made by record companies, artists, community leaders and elected officials at the historic 2001 Hip-Hop Summit in New York City.  Participants are taught how to constructively use their time, talent and the Hip-Hop culture to improve social, political and economic conditions in their school, home and community.  Randy Fisher is the organization’s Executive Director.  For additional information, visit www.HHSYC.org.

ABOUT VIDEO MUSIC BOX

Video Music Box is an American music television program created in 1983 by Hip-Hop icon and Pioneer Ralph McDaniels, aka Uncle Ralph.  The show is the first, even before MTV, to feature Hip-Hop Music Videos.  Just about every artist from the Golden Age of Hip-Hop made their debut on Video Music Box.  Over the last 3 decades Uncle Ralph has had an influence on some of the biggest artists in Rap and R&B.  Although Video Music Box is a local show, its influence has been global and is a major factor behind the growth of Hip-Hop music and culture.  One unique quality about the show is that it has always addressed social issues that impact the lives of students, youth and young adults including gun violence, safe sex, education, literacy, drugs, HIV/AIDS and Voter Registration.

Written by Charles Fisher and Randy Fisher (Facebook, Twitter, IG @HHSYC).

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