The Ordway partners with Sabathani and We Win for summer workshop

Ryan Jones, Ordway 8/19/13

In July, The Ordway created a partnership with Sabathani Community Center and the We Win Institute to create Young Voices Centerstage. Minneapolis based poet Lisa Brimmer managed workshops for the young people participating. Teaching artists Toki Wright and Chastity Brown, along with other guest artists in the Twin Cities, worked together in the Summer Artists Expression Workshops. These workshops culminated in a Young Voices Showcase on August 23rd. Sabathani Community Center hosted a free evening with singer/songwriter Raul Midón on September 27, 2013. There will also be three lecture demonstrations in the Fall called the Artistic Voices Series.

The program built appreciation for and engagement in the arts by providing an in-depth arts experience beyond the performance. The residency and additional activities, such as lecture/demonstrations, helped build understanding of the roles of language and the voice in artistic expression and on career paths within the performing arts.

“This is a continuation of the Taking Our Place Centerstage program that began in October 2010,” said Patricia A. Mitchell, President & CEO of the Ordway. “One goal of the project is to encourage life-long engagement in the performing arts. We are delighted to partner with Sabathani and the We Win Institute for the program that is committed to continuing a partnership of creative programming, education and entertainment that inspires us all.”

The Ordway has worked with Sabathani since 2010 to increase arts access for their constituents with subsidized and complimentary tickets to Ordway performances, through staff relationships and in-kind consulting in production management of their auditorium.

“This program fits completely within our mission,” said Lissa Jones, executive director of Sabathani Community Center. “We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Ordway and We Win Institute to give our young people access to the arts.”

“The Young Voices Centerstage project is an opportunity to further the education of our young people of African descent,” said Titilayo Bediako, founder of We Win Institute. “Any tools we can give our children for growth and education only benefits the community as a whole.”

Artistic Voices Series:

Community voices from the geographic, artistic and ethnic communities that makeup the Sabathani community will present and dialogue with attendees on topics related to media, marketing and the arts, behind the curtain careers, and various career paths for aspiring performing artists. Artistic Voices presentations will take place September 6th 13th and October 4th from 4:00pm-5:30pm at Sabathani and the Ordway.

Summer Artist Expressions Workshops:

Teaching Artists Chastity Brown and Toki Wright led eight-week artist residencies with young people (Young Voices Artists) from WE WIN Institute, Horizons Youth Program, Step Up and Connections to Independence in July and August of 2013.

In this all abilities and talents program, Young Voices Artists integrated arts skills and strengths and heighten self-esteem and self-expression. The Summer Workshops will prepared students for the Young Voices Community Showcase in the Sabathani Auditorium on August 23.

Teaching Artists & Program Manager

Chastity Brown, teaching artist

Chastity Brown is an American singer-songwriter and musician based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Critics have dubbed her “a banjo-playing soul-singer.” Raised in Union City, Tennessee, Brown grew up playing the saxophone and drums in church before writing and singing her own songs. She was chosen as Minneapolis’ Best Folk Artist in early 2012 and garnered nods from NPR as a “promising new voice,” and best album nods from 89.3 The Current, Star Tribune, City Pages, and Lavender Magazine. Brown is involved in nonprofit and charitable events around the Twin Cities. She is a contributing artist to Think Out Loud, a Twin Cities effort to end homelessness through music, and has performed at events for nonprofits promoting youth access to the arts, including Vega Productions, Inc., and Free Arts Minnesota.

Toki Wright, teaching artist

Toki Wright is Twin Cities based international recording artist, music producer, community organizer, and educator. He has released music on Rhymesayers Entertainment and Soul Tools, charted on iTunes Top 100, been featured on MTV (music videos and MADE coach), and toured the globe. Toki is also the Department Head of the nation’s first fully accredited Hip-Hop Studies program by the National Association of Schools of Music at McNally Smith College. He has also conducted workshops in Uganda, China, Canada, and Sierra Leone.

Lisa Brimmer, program manager

Lisa Brimmer is a Minneapolis based poet. A Givens Foundation for African American Literature Fellow in 2010 and 2013 her literary and theater work has been featured all over the Twin Cities, Her improvisational jazz collaborative High Society has been featured on Minnesota Mix (MPR) and Minneculture (KFAI). Brimmer has worked previously with the Ordway and artist/activist T. Mychael Rambo to produce community-based residencies and performances.

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

The Ordway is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading nonprofit performing arts centers and Saint Paul’s most elegant and inviting performance space. In 2012, it was ranked 95th in the world for ticket sales (Pollstar-Dec., 2012). The Ordway attracts diverse audiences with an array of productions showcasing the finest in American musical theater, world music, dance, and vocal performance. Education and community engagement are integral to the Ordway’s mission, with major initiatives including the annual Flint Hills International Children’s Festival and Ordway Education programs that serve more than 50,000 students annually. The Ordway also serves as authorizer for the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, a professionally guided academic and artistic environment that trains aspiring pre-professional performing artists. Together with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera and The Schubert Club, the Ordway is a member of the Arts Partnership and serves as the principal venue for their performances.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to the legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

345 Washington Street
Saint Paul, MN 55102

Ticket Office: 651.224.4222

For more information:

Shelley Quiala
Director of Education
The Ordway


Lex Poppens
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
The Ordway


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