The Community Education Center (CEC), 3500 Lancaster Avenue, will present its inaugural Community Arts Festival on April 28. All proceeds from the festival, which is "dedicated to "African Dance, Drumming and Community Building," will benefit the CEC.
Terri Shockley, executive director of the Community Education Center, said that the event was conceived as a means of building support for the cultural facilities and organizations in the community, and cited the CEC's African Dance program as an example.
"We have this community of people who are studying a cultural form who seem like it's spiritual for some of us. It's cultural, in the African traditions that these dances come out of," Shockley said. "It's a great opportunity in our time when there are so many negative things are going on in our communities, that we want, somehow, to start where we are, think of ourselves as a community of people - and what does that mean, if you're a community? How can we support each other?
"I was at Freedom Theatre the other day and we had the same conversation. I went to see 'Home,' the other day and it was absolutely wonderful, but there were only [a few] people in the audience.
"And so the idea is that these cultural traditions could do a lot to strengthen individuals and communities if we as communities came together and supported them," Shockley added. "So we want to begin a conversation with the people - the 30, 40 - sometimes 100 people that have taken these two classes that we have each week, who come from all walks of life. Some of them are school teachers, they're doctors, professional people, there are people who are just neighborhood people - but we want to begin to try to know what they're doing in their community. How can we support them? How can they support the Center so the classes don't go away? Because our monies are becoming non-existent in terms of funding from foundations and the government. So it's really to start a conversation with the people here and to see where it leads."
The CEC offers workshops and classes in Capoeira (Brazilian Martial Art), Tai'chi, Hip-hop dance, Flamenco, and group motion as well as improvisational theater. Renowned percussionist "Kwasi" Daryl Burgee is an integral part of the Center's African Drumming and Dance program.
The schedule for the festival is as follows:
9-10 a.m. Drum Call - Registration & Check in - Meet & Greet - free coffee & Danish.
10-11 a.m. Film Screenings: "Renaissance on Sacred Ground" and "Making Homeplace" followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and Scribe Video.
11:15 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. Djembe Drum class with M'Bemba Bangoura
11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Women's Enrichment Workshop with Alia Sutton-Bey
1-2:30 p.m. Dance class, Afro-Cuban with Ama Schley
3-4:30 p.m. Dance class, Ivory Coast with Atito Gohi
5-6:30 p.m. Panel discussion: "Developing a Cultural Agenda Through the Practice of African Dance and Drum.”
9 p.m. - 1 a.m. - Dance Party Fundraiser (included in full day ticket or $15 party only. Music by DJ Orville Peters of Xanadu Productions)
For more information on the CEC Community Arts Festival call (215) 387-1911, (215) 715-5521 or visit www.cecarts.org.