The New York Public Library Celebrates Pride Month and the Arts
The concept of a library is undergoing a national transformation from silent reading zones to engaging educational cultural hubs. Reflecting that new mission is the New York Public Library (NYPL) and Souleo Enterprises LLC, (full disclosure: the writer’s company) 2012 summer adult LGBT, financial literacy and artistic/cultural programming. The ambitious series of 28 events begins June 2nd with a special pop-up performance of the hit off-Broadway play Growing Up Gonzalez at Inwood Library; a June 4th Tompkins Square Library panel on LGBT hip-hop with cultural critic Greg Tate, Digiwaxx Media CEO Corey “CL” Llewellyn, and recording artists Go DDm and Baron. On June 5th, the National Comedy Theatre presents an LGBT Pride Month improv special and on June 7th, NYC’s top drag queens give free literary inspired makeovers to library patrons while Paper Magazine editorial director Mr. Mickey offers style tips. The full schedule can be viewed here.
The New York Public Library isn’t the only institution looking to the future. Harlem Stage recently hosted their 30th anniversary with the “Looking Back, Moving Forward,” Spring Gala. Harlem Stage Board President Tamara Tunie expressed great excitement for the upcoming debut of the commissioned work “Makandal,” which is described as a visual collage integrating art, dance, music and song. For jazz legend Jon Hendricks—who is finishing up his vocalese tribute album to Miles Davis’ Miles Ahead classic—the future of Harlem Stage will require established artists donating their time.
“It is a social responsibility. We shouldn’t think of a place like this to make our money. We should think of a place like this to donate our performance after we make our money elsewhere,” he says.
Generating revenue and promoting the spirit of collecting art was the goal at “An Evening of Collectors,” presented by The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s Skylight Gallery and the Weusi Artists Collective. The event included the works of legends such as Otto Neals, Ademola Olugebefola, and Dindga McCannon, along with specially selected artists like Aleathia Brown auctioning their work starting at bids below market rate. As McCannon noted, the mission of the auction was to motivate people of color to collect art.
“As Black artists, to keep culture going we have to sell our work to our own people. One way of doing that is making some part of each artist’s collection is affordable,” she advises. “Most art work does appreciate in value so it can help your pocketbook or your children’s pocketbook.”
You can’t carry a pocketbook without a stunning pair of shoes, and the latter was featured heavily in the Daniel Beaty play Mr. Joy. Inspired by a true story, Beaty’s one-man show explores community issues after Mr. Joy, a Chinese American immigrant and shoe shop owner, is murdered. After watching his skillful performance presented by the Riverside Theatre and New Heritage Theatre, Beaty noted what he believes to be the main causes of breakdowns within communities of color. “I think stereotypical ideas, sometimes not being willing to talk about difficult conversations and the history of slavery and legacy of disenfranchisement. So the characters endeavor to explore those reasons.” Beaty plans to take Mr. Joy on tour and is working on a tribute play to Paul Robeson.
From the New York Public Library summer programming to the upcoming works by Harlem Arts Alliance members, there are many reasons to look forward to a summer of exciting arts and culture events.
Souleo Enterprises, LLC is the umbrella company that creates and produces entertaining, empowering and informative media and philanthropic projects by founder, Souleo.
This article is courtesy of our partner The Harlem Arts Alliance
The Harlem Arts Alliance is a not for profit arts service organization celebrating 10 years of service to a prestigious list of members such as the Apollo Theater, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Columbia University, Harlem Stage (Aaron Davis Hall) and over 850 more cultural/arts institutions and individuals. The weekly column, Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture and entertainment in Harlem and the greater NYC area.
For more information on HAA please visit: www.harlemaa.org
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