This past weekend, I attended a wonderful program entitled the Cultural Crossroads of Ireland and Africa. Drawing on the backgrounds of two oppressed peoples in America (enslaved Africans and Irish indentured servants), the show discussed the cultural dialogue beginning from the arrival of both groups in the 18th century, the escape to the Appalachia in the 1840s, and the challenges and confrontations in early American urban cities.
Led by National Endowment for the Arts Heritage winner, Mick Moloney and Lenwood (Leni) Sloan, came together to join forces for a dynamic Irish and African-American music and dance performance. They discussed the history and exchange of the banjo, fiddle, jig, jump dance, riddle rhyme, and song between these two cultures. They also explored the influence of Irish Step Dancing, African-American social dances, Tap dancing, and Clogging.
This was by far, one of the most interesting performances I have seen. I learned so much about each culture and gained an appreciation for both. And I could listen to both Moloney and Sloan talk all day! I was sad when the program was over because I wanted to hear more! It was truly inspiring.
Here is video of Flushing Town Hall’s Kids’ Correspondent, Michaiah, interviewing both Moloney and Sloan for just a taste of what was seen as it highlights the show’s rich content:
It is shows and performances like this that makes the arts and culture thrive, especially in cities like New York. However, we are in a time where our museums, performance venues, arts groups, botanical gardens and zoos are struggling to keep their doors open. Changes in funding for the arts is in a lot of ways hurting the creative sector. Government funding continues to be slashed, making it more and more competitive for organizations to receive funding. Grant guidelines have shifted to fund programs, but not necessarily to support general operating expenses. General operating expenses include staff salaries and building maintenance. Support for general operating expenses will help sustain these organizations and allow them to continue to serve their communities, create new/more jobs, attract more tourist/visitors, provide education and learning opportunities, and enrich our lives.
With that said, I encourage you to show your support for NYC arts and cultural organizations by participating in the Inspired by Culture movement. This is a campaign to urge City Hall to support an increase in operational funding for New York City’s arts and cultural organizations of $40 million dollars!
There are a few ways to you can get involved:
Social media is a great way to spread the word! Between now and Friday, March 18th, using the #NYCInspires on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, encourage Mayor De Blasio to support the operational funding increase. Click here to share the message!
Share your story of how NYC Culture inspires you! How have the arts and culture had an impact on your career, your family, your perspective, or your life?! And be sure to use the #NYCInspires! Click here for more ideas!
Sign the petition! Click here to sign the petition to City Hall showing your support for the arts and culture in NYC and urging them to increase operational support.
To learn more about this campaign, click here!