Art has the power to change lives, and that's what Haligonians are going to see at Youth Art Connection's Artceleration concert tonight at BridgeCAT in Dartmouth.
The event will showcase the numerous young adults in Halifax that have worked with YAC founders Ryan Veltmeyer and Ann Denny on building and marketing their passions.
“What we do is look for youth who have that talent, that drive, that passion but not necessary the networks, or the specific knowledge of how to engage with their passions,” says Veltmeyer. “Sometimes they're lacking the resources, money, that kind of thing to turn their serious passion, talents and activity into action.”
With the upcoming Growing a Creative Economy conference in Sydney April 14-16, Veltmeyer and Denny wanted to have a preliminary event to discuss community economy and young people in Halifax. Gavin Sheppard, TED fellow and co-founder of ReMix in Toronto, is coming to talk about the power of art on urban communities and wanted to join Veltmeyer and Denny's event.
“Hopefully, this conference and Gavin's visit here is a prelude to bigger things to come down the road,” says Veltmeyer. “Collecting some momentum, empowering and meeting youth artists and creatives across the province, seeing what we can do by working together.”
With Sheppard in town, Veltmeyer says it's the perfect opportunity to have an event focused on hip-hop music since “so many of the young people we work with love hip-hop. Hip-hop is really around self expression and it can be revolutionary. It talks about social problems, it's a good way to express [emotion].”
One of the speakers from YAC's own ArtPreneurs program will be Konyon Cash, a 19-year-old rapper, dancer and motivational speaker who is now looking to tour schools in the province.
On a test tour to Amherst last spring, Cash “talked about life back in Africa, I talked about how you can do anything you want, and I talk about how I started my music. Then I also rap and dance and just chill with them.” All of the money he makes on his tour will go towards funding his other dream of becoming an RCMP officer.
Other young people speaking at the event became ArtPreneurs through the YAC program, just like Cash. Through learning to create their own opportunities, they've gone on to pursue interests like dancing, motivational speaking and business. All have one main goal: to make money at their passion.
“What we hear now and again from all of the youth, by the time they get to Grade 10, 11, 12, 'this is fun, Ryan, I'm getting skills and meeting people, this is exciting. Now I need to make money. I'm about to graduate, I got bills, college, I want to travel', all those things when people who graduate high school have to deal with.”
This is when Veltmeyer and Denny help guide the participants to follow their dreams, either by helping with school applications, grants or helping them start their own small business.
“What we have to do then is give youth a reality check and say, OK, these passions are really good but they have to have a specific plan on how they can make money now and down the road for it that is reasonable...it's all about the achievable goals.” Veltmeyer said.
The world of employment is changing, with job security disappearing and the youth employment rate on the rise. Veltmeyer and Denny see the youth changing with it. Denny sees the value of the program every time they teach one of the youth to create their own path.
“We're being creative about creating new income sources that wouldn't have existed before, so that's why it's so valuable in this economy.”
To RSVP to ARTCELERATION: Hip-Hop for Social Change & Economic Development in NS, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org (subject: ArtCeleration).