Philadelphia, PA, July 30, 2013 – First Person Arts, a non-profit arts organization that transforms the drama of real life into memoir and documentary art experiences, is debuting Philly reACTS, a new artistic program in Philadelphia. Philly reACTS’ debut event, entitled “The Heart Beneath The Hood,” will be a free public program featuring artistic performances, personal storytelling and interactive audience activities, all inspired by the Trayvon Martin case. The event takes place on August 5th at 5:30pm in the courtyard of City Hall.
Created with funding from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, and inspired by the people-powered magnitude and emotion tied to momentous current events, Philly reACTS is an experimental artistic event platform driven by newsworthy topics.
Titled “The Heart Beneath The Hood,” this initial event is asking participants to collaborate and look beyond the hoodie. It’s a call to face each other and talk, not just about Trayvon Martin, but also about what we should do now, in Philadelphia and beyond.
First Person Arts’ Executive Director, Jamie J. Brunson, says, “The Trayvon Martin verdict stung the Black community with a sadly familiar venom. It also strengthened and unified a multi-cultural, multi-generational group of Americans who share the same vision of justice, value all human life regardless of color or creed and who want to look beyond the hoodie. Through our first Philly reACTs, First Person Arts seeks to bring together a group of artists and community members to lend its unique voice to this dialogue.”
Beginning August 1st, First Person Arts will set up drop boxes around town where people are encouraged to donate a hoodie to the event. Pieces of those sweatshirts will be used in an artistic action event in The City Hall Courtyard on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 5:30pm. Donated pieces will be used to create a unified flag, a symbol of a community united for peace and forward momentum. Remaining wearable items will be donated to partner charities.
Through Philly reACTS, First Person Arts seeks to bring together artists and community members to participate in artistic expression. Hosted by Laiya Stclair of HOT 107.9, “The Heart Beneath the Hood” will feature performances by Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate Dr. Sonia Sanchez, actor and tap dancer Khalil Munir, DJ Foxx Boogie, poet Michelle Myers (from spoken word duo Yellow Rage), internationally-acclaimed vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd, and a musical youth ensemble from the Freedom Theatre, with more artists to be announced. The Honorable Mayor Michael A. Nutter will also address the crowd. Attendees will be encouraged to join a crowd-generated memoir on-site, sharing personal stories of how they identify with Trayvon and how they moved forward in a positive way.
For more information on how you can participate, visit phillyreacts.org; follow @PhillyreACTS and event hashtag #PhillyreACTS on Twitter.
Philly reACTS is also made possible in partnership with the office of Mayor Michael A. Nutter and with funding from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.
First Person Arts is embarking on an experiment in creating near-spontaneous artistic happenings. In collaboration with a collective of leading artists, historians, journalists, and activists, we will create three original artistic programs in response to important current events.
Because these are designed to be a reaction to the world around us, the events will evolve to harness the energy of that moment and respond with emotion, art, and truth.
FIRST PERSON ARTS
First Person Arts (FPA) transforms the drama of real life into memoir and documentary art to foster appreciation for our unique and shared experiences. We believe that everyone has a story to tell, and that sharing our stories connects us with each other and the world. FPA provides a stage on which these stories can be heard by hosting a variety of programs throughout the year, including twice monthly StorySlams at World Cafe Live and L’Etage, the weekly First Person Arts podcast, classes and workshops, and the annual First Person Arts Festival. Visit www.firstpersonarts.org to learn more.
Annie Heckenbeger or Ryan Olah, RTO+P