The Harlem Arts Festival gala fundraising event on May 16 at the Alhambra Ballroom was a smashing success raising $6,000 bringing the total amount of money raised to over $18,000 with all proceeds going directly to artists.
The Harlem Arts Festival’s mission is:
“To produce a multidisciplinary arts festival, showcasing local performers and visual artists that will inspire and nourish the artistic community in Harlem. It aims to promote arts education and literacy by implementing arts-related discussion forums, educational workshops, performance opportunities and activities for youth and family. This project will be part of Harlem’s addition to the larger, citywide commitment to provide free art in the public parks during the spring and summer months.”
The event was well attended with stylishly dressed benefactors and performers and founding members of the organization. The tables had beautiful centerpieces, with well dressed waitstaff circulating drinks and tending an open bar.
A diverse group of artists provided the evening’s entertainment. Artists included Saxophonist Ben Barson, a recent Harlem resident and one of the artists selected for the upcoming Harlem Arts Festival.
Queen Esther, with Dan Rosengard on piano, and Briana Thomas, with Conun Pappas Jr. on piano. A special dance performance by eight children of the Ballroom Basix program, a Harlem-based nonprofit non-competitive dance program that teaches children ballroom and Latin dancing skills.
For me the highlight of the evening was singer Brianna Thomas, a vocalist, teacher, composer and arranger who reminds me of my sister and who is very talented and who brought the house down. Below is my favorite performance. Please visit HarlemCondoLife.com on YouTube for more videos.
I also enjoyed catching up with founding members J.J. El-Far, Neal Ludevig and Chelsea Goding and Sakita Holley, Founder & CEO of the House of Success, all of whom impressed me with their stories of how things came to be and their passion and commitment.
My only regret is not having won anything at the silent auction, which included paintings, and offerings from Land Yoga and 67 Orange. But clearly the event did well, which is of great pleasure to me.
The inaugural Harlem Arts Festival is scheduled to take place in the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park June 29-30. Out of a pool of 75 applicants, 35 artists have been selected to be part of the festival.
“There’s a very rich, creative legacy here in Harlem, but there is also a lot of talent here right now,” said J.J. El-Far, Harlem Arts Festival’s creative director. “We wanted to create a festival that celebrates all of the arts. Our artists have a diverse array of talents and they all have roots or connections here.”