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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Danny Glover, Lonette McKee et al. Set for Coalition of Theatres of Color Town Hall Meeting, 6/4

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Danny GloverLonette McKeeBarbara MontgomeryDaniel Beaty,Roscoe Orman and other veterans of New York theater will address “Can NYC’s Theatres of Color Survive in the New Economy?” at the Coalition of Theatres of Color (CTC) Town Hall Meeting on June 4 at 6PM at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard (135th St. & Lenox Avenue) in Harlem.

The public is invited to attend this free Town Hall Meeting, which will also feature journalists Esther Armah, Bob Law and Felipe Luciano. There will be special performances by Obie winner Daniel Beaty and the Grammy and Oscar-nominated youth group Impact.

“Each of the CTC theatre institutions have been operating in New York for 35 to 45 years. These CTC members have launched careers of superstars and culturally inspired multicultural communities and the nation,” pointed out Woodie King, chairman, CTC and the founder and producing director, New Federal Theatre. “Yet, according to various reports, CTC members receive less than one-tenth of one percent of the total funds earmarked for arts and culture from city, state and private funding. It’s imperative that elected officials, public and private grantors and theatre audiences understand that it’s important to ensure that New York’s Theatres of Color receive equitable funding.”

Founded in 2004 at the urging of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee to address inequitable funding for theatrical institutions of color, CTC continues to advocate parity in funding and resource allocation between its members. The CTC institutions have a tradition of addressing the needs of the community and preserving and promoting its cultural heritage.

Some of America’s most high profile actors from Denzel WashingtonSamuel L. JacksonMorgan FreemanLaurence FishburnePhylicia RashadHattie Winston, Charles Dutton, Phyllis Stickney andLucy Liu to Alimi Ballard (“Numb3rs,” “Fast Five”), Daniel Dae Kim (“Lost,”“Hawaii Five-O”) and Donald Faison (“Scrubs,” “Clueless”) to South African producer/playwright Duma Ndlovu (“Shelia’s Day”) and playwright/director Mbongeni Ngema (“Sarafina”) were nurtured and showcased on the stages of CTC’s historically multicultural New York City theatres. While there has been a growth in Broadway shows featuring Black stories, the talented actors, writers, producers, technicians, designers, directors, dancers and choreographers are still sharpening their craft at historically Black and multicultural theatres.

Collectively CTC members brings over 350 years of artistic achievement with critically acclaimed and award-winning presentations. New York City members are AUDELCO, (Manhattan) Black Spectrum Theatre (Queens), Billie Holiday Theatre (Brooklyn), H.A.D.L.E.Y Players (Manhattan), Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center (Bronx), National Black Theatre (Manhattan), Negro Ensemble Company(Manhattan), New Federal Theatre (Manhattan), New Heritage Theatre Group (Manhattan), Pan Asian Repertory Theatre (Manhattan), Paul Robeson Theater (Brooklyn), and The Afrikan Poetry Theatre (Queens).

Read more:http://broadwayworld.com/article/Danny-Glover-Lonette-McKee-et-al-Set-for-Coalition-of-Theatres-of-Color-Town-Hall-Meeting-64-20120528#ixzz1wTbvYCvF

 

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The Fight to Save the New York Public Library


The main entrance to the New York Public Library in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Are public research libraries repositories of knowledge or real estate parcels to be auctioned off to the highest bidder? Sometime during Paul LeClerc’s eighteen-year tenure as its president, the New York Public Library formulated the Central Library Plan (CLP), under which two of the system’s major assets, the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Science, Industry and Business Library, would be sold and their holdings incorporated into the landmark Beaux-Arts research library at Forty-second Street. LeClerc retired last summer, but the CLP endures, and the library’s new president, Anthony Marx, is determined to implement it. Conceived in absolute secrecy, the CLP has a price tag of $350 million and will transform, in a destructive way, one of the world’s great public libraries.

As Scott Sherman first reported in these pages (“Upheaval at the New York Public Library,” November 30, 2011), the CLP would compromise the scholarly mission of the NYPL in numerous ways, including banishing nearly 3 million books to a storage facility in Princeton, New Jersey, from which it could take up to five days for requested items to be delivered to Forty-second Street. It would also disfigure an architectural treasure by demolishing the seven levels of century-old stacks beneath the Rose Reading Room to make way for a high-tech circulating library—a proposal that prompted historian David Nasaw to say, at a recent New School forum, “We’re being told that the only way to save the library is to rip out its innards.” The many parts of the NYPL with innards in need of repair—the overburdened and underfunded eighty-seven branch libraries—may not receive a cent under the plan. It appears that the CLP would also starve two other research libraries: the Performing Arts Library—once an oasis and now a “dump,” according to a recent New York Times essay by Edmund Morris—and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which needs an infusion of funds to sustain its historic mission in Harlem.

Sherman’s investigative reporting struck a nerve, generating extensive coverage in the Times (whose editorial board offered halfhearted support for the CLP on May 8), plus articles in the Wall Street Journal, the Daily News, the New York Post and other publications. On A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor brought his caustic satire to bear by musing that the Forty-second Street stacks will be demolished to make way for high-priced condos. Tom Stoppard, Salman Rushdie, Annie Proulx, Art Spiegelman, Amitav Ghosh, David Byrne and Colum McCann are among the 1,500 people who have signed a protest letter.

Finding itself on the defensive, the New York Public Library has unleashed its lions. Writing in The New York Review of Books, Robert Darnton, an NYPL Trustee, argued that the CLP is a necessary response to fiscal pressures in general and declining financial support from the city in particular. (The Review’s editor, Robert Silvers, is an NYPL Trustee too.) Marx has stated that “by combining three facilities into one, we expect to have up to $15 million more to spend annually”—an assertion that has lately become the chief rationale for the CLP. (The original rationale, as LeClerc declared in an internal publication in 2008, was to build “the largest comprehensive library open to the public in human history”; last summer, NYPL officials told Sherman the objective was to “democratize” the Forty-second Street Library.) But NYPL’s chief operating officer told Charles Petersen of n+1 magazine that the extra revenue could amount to as little as $7 million per year. And there are no guarantees it will be that much. A great deal of public discussion—not to mention robust intervention by city and state elected officials—should occur before the New York Public Library undertakes a $350 million renovation plan that produces $7 million or less a year in additional revenue. But Marx is keen to dash to the finish line: he admitted in a May 16 letter to scholars critical of the CLP that the next mayor and City Council may not support it.

The CLP is a castle in the sky, to which the city will be contributing $150 million. The New York Public Library should abandon it in favor of a more modest proposal, and one hatched in consultation with the public. The sale of one library, instead of two, could raise up to $100 million, and Marx—a scholar who has built his career on the ideals of racial and economic justice—should hasten to allocate that money where it’s needed most: the branch libraries, many of which desperately require more computers, books and DVDs as well as capital improvements. The money promised by the city for the CLP could be usefully redirected to the tumbledown Mid-Manhattan Library. The Forty-second Street landmark, designed by Carrère & Hastings, should be left unspoiled, in all its grandeur.

 

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Colorectal Cancer is Preventable: Information for African Americans

BETHESDA, Md., May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — By the National Cancer Institute

Many people who fear cancer don’t realize that some types of cancer are preventable. Cancer of the colon or rectum (together referred to as colorectal cancer) is one of these. What’s more, colorectal cancer can often be treated effectively if it is found early enough.

 

 

Regrettably, African Americans (both men and women) are more likely than people of any other racial/ethnic group in the United States to develop colorectal cancer, and also to die from it. Nearly 17,000 African Americans will develop colorectal cancer this year. Only prostate, breast, and lung cancer kill more African Americans.

Doctors don’t know exactly why African Americans are harder hit with this disease, but they do know that many cases and deaths could be avoided if African Americans knew about–and followed–recommended strategies for prevention and early detection. Here are some things to keep in mind about colorectal cancer:

Colorectal Cancer and Precancers Can Be Detected Early

Most colorectal cancers develop from a certain type of polyp, called an adenoma. Polyps begin as small growths on the inner lining of the rectum or the colon. A number of different tests can be used to check if people have polyps or colorectal cancer. Polyps can often be detected by a colonoscopy, a sigmoidoscopy, or a fecal occult blood test, and then removed before they have a chance to develop into cancer. Some of the tests are done at your doctor’s office, and others are done at home using a kit that your doctor gives you.

Some polyps can grow and develop into cancer without any real symptoms. So, unless you are checked regularly for polyps, you could develop colorectal cancer that will be harder to treat by the time symptoms appear.

There are two ways to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. One is to be sure that you undergo regular screening–and follow-up with effective diagnosis and treatment when screening finds a possible problem, such as large polyps or a cancer. The other is to know–and try to reduce–the risk factors for colorectal cancer that you have the power to change.

Talk To Your Doctor about Regular Screening

Colorectal cancer is more likely to occur as people get older. Many experts recommend that both men and women start getting screened beginning at age 50.

People should talk with their doctor about when to begin screening for colorectal cancer, what tests to have, the benefits and harms of each test, and how often to get screened. Common considerations include your age, your family’s history of colorectal cancer, the convenience of the test and the preparation required for it, your insurance coverage, and other factors.

Although some people may feel embarrassed about the idea of colorectal cancer screening and are worried about some of the procedures that are used, colorectal cancer screening decreases the risk of dying from colon cancer. So, it’s important to push past any reluctance and talk with your doctor to learn more.

Think about Changing Your Lifestyle–Even Just a Little

A number of studies show a link between certain “lifestyle factors” and people’s chances of getting colorectal cancer-and other cancers as well. People who drink three or more alcoholic beverages per day are at increased risk of colorectal cancer, as are people who are obese. Those who engage in regular physical activity have a lower risk. Daily aspirin also decreases risk, but it may cause intestinal bleeding and other side effects, and it’s important to find out from your doctor whether it is right for you.

Take time to learn as much as you can and share the information with people you love. The National Cancer Institute is a great resource for this information. See video.

NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI web site at http://www.cancer.gov (or m.cancer.gov from your mobile device) or call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). More articles and videos in the culturally relevant Lifelines series are available at http://www.cancer.gov/lifelines .

Editor’s Note: The following article is part of the monthly Lifelines education and awareness print series that the National Cancer Institute provides to African American media outlets.

SOURCE National Cancer Institute

 

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Leading developer sets sights on a Phila. casino

By Suzette Parmley

Inquirer Staff Writer

R. Donahue Peebles, at the old New Market, has several sites in mind, from Center City to the Delaware River.

AKIRA SUWA / Staff
R. Donahue Peebles, at the old New Market, has several sites in mind, from Center City to the Delaware River.

As owner and chief executive of one of the nation’s largest African American real estate development companies, R. Donahue “Don” Peebles has an impressive resumé.

The multibillion-dollar portfolio of the Peebles Corp. includes luxury hotels, high-rise apartment buildings, and Class A office space in Washington, New York, Las Vegas, and Miami. Missing from that list: a casino, though he has made close-but-no-cigar efforts in Atlantic City and in Yonkers, N.Y.

Which is why Peebles now has his sights firmly set on landing Philadelphia’s second casino license, should it be allowed to stay in the city.

“If you look at Philadelphia, and if you say, ‘There’s no room for another casino,’ that’s like saying, ‘There’s no room for another hotel,’ ” said Peebles, dressed in a dark designer pinstripe suit and blue silk tie during a recent visit to The Inquirer building.

“Sure, there is.”

Peebles, 52, the grandson of a hotel doorman, said he’s been interested in building a hotel here since 1997, and now he sees a casino as a means to that end. A beachhead in this city also will strengthen his company’s growing presence on the East Coast, “the Amtrak corridor,” as he put it.

“Philly gets lost between New York and D.C.,” he said. “We need to give Philly a higher profile – a destination and a promoter of Philadelphia that says: ‘This is Philadelphia. . . . It’s culturally rich and every American should visit’ . . . by giving them one more reason to come and have something to do.”

In April, Forbes magazine ranked Peebles No. 10 among the wealthiest black Americans. (His estimated net worth was $350 million in 2009, the latest Forbes data available). He said he envisions a facility here with a performing-arts component that would attract year-round tourists and bring in world-class performers, such as Lionel Richie or Alicia Keys, that would fill local hotels and attract people from this region as well as farther out.

As his team conducts due diligence on sites for a casino, Peebles said he has a few locations in mind in Center City, Northern Liberties and Old City, and along the Delaware River waterfront. Earlier this month, he met with Mayor Nutter, who wants the second casino license to remain in the city, despite efforts in Harrisburg to auction it off.

On May 2, House Bill 65, which would award the license to the highest bidder statewide, sailed through. But the measure, which starts bidding at $65 million, has yet to be heard in the State Senate.

“Nothing has changed,” Doug Harbach, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, said this week. “We continue to monitor this action but have not set a timetable to accept any applications.”

The investor group behind a Foxwoods casino proposed for South Philadelphia was stripped of the license by the gaming board in December 2010 after repeated delays in getting the project built.

“Our point of view is the state granted a second license in Philadelphia, and there have been people here who have expressed possible interest in pursuing that,” said Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for economic development. “Our expectation is the state will initiate a process to take proposals and make this happen.”

In expressing his interest in the second casino license, Peebles joins high-profile local developers Bart Blatstein and Robert Zuritsky. (SugarHouse on Penn’s Landing, which opened in September 2010, is the only casino within the city limits.)

Zuritsky is president of Parkway Corp., which owns mostly parking garages and is behind a new hotel rising at 12th and Arch Streets, across from the Convention Center.

“We are not ready to talk about it,” Zuritsky said of his casino project and its location. “There is some interest from some parties, and we are just starting to talk. I think I have the best site, which is in a Center City location. We could do a hotel.”

Blatstein, who has been on a redevelopment spree of North Broad Street, said he was forging ahead with plans for a $500 million casino hotel and entertainment complex with retail space at 400 N. Broad, the current home of The Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com.

Blatstein said that he has been finalizing his plans with an architect and engineering firms, and that he hopes to have economic and traffic-impact studies completed by next week. He also has met with neighborhood groups and city lawmakers to sell them on his plan.

“It’s coming together very quickly,” he said last week.

Not to be outdone, Peebles said he brings vision, a track record of development success, and the ability to raise capital. He said that he was talking to potential equity partners and that he plans to launch a private-equity fund out of New York and Washington.

“A good project is going to get financed,” he said. “Where does it come from? Most likely New York.

“An all-gaming facility is probably not the way to go, but more mixed-use,” he said. “I am confident capital is not going to be an issue.”

In 2007, Peebles made his first Las Vegas investment, purchasing Las Palmas, a 13-acre apartment complex that he sold earlier this year. His Manhattan-based real estate empire plans to expand into gaming there by redeveloping the Mardi Gras Hotel & Casino.

Peebles went under contract in 2002 to acquire the site where the new Revel Casino now sits on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, but he ultimately did not buy it. In 2008, he was part of a team that won the right to develop what is now Aqueduct Racetrack & Casino in Yonkers; the license was rebid and won by another firm.

“We’re in the gaming business,” he said. “But I’m in the development and hospitality business. I develop to own,” including the Royal Palm Hotel in South Beach and a Marriott hotel in Washington.

Developer Peebles has also been an author, writing two books: The Peebles Principles, detailing his most memorable deals, and The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth, which outlines fundamentals to real estate investing.

Raised in Washington by a real estate agent single mother, Peebles said an internship on Capitol Hill as a page while in high school inspired a lifelong interest in politics. He serves on the National Finance Committee for President Obama and is on the board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

He left Rutgers University in 1979 as a premed student to become a real estate agent in D.C. He is the father of an 18-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter and travels frequently to colleges to urge students, with an emphasis on minorities and women, to pursue careers in business and entrepreneurship.

“I try to teach my daughter that, in business, you get another chance,” Peebles said.

He views competition as a good thing. And should he win the casino license he seeks, his operation would face off not only against SugarHouse, but also Parx in Bensalem, the recently rebranded Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester, and the Valley Forge Casino Resort (the state’s 11th) – which has prompted some to question the need for another casino here at all.

New York-based gaming analyst Greg Roselli, of UBS Securities L.L.C., said at this month’s East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City: “Although the demographics are strong, judging from the recent share loss at Harrah’s Philadelphia over the past year, it doesn’t imply the need for a fifth property in the market.”

But Peebles, former board chair of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, believes that a world-class, big-ticket casino hotel like the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, the Sporting Club & Casino in Monte Carlo, and the Borgata in Atlantic City – which the state lacks – will attract tourists and conventioneers.

“We’re in the beginning stages of a real estate market that is now on the rise,” he said. “Philadelphia is an amazing place for tourism.

“Build the absolute best casino in Philadelphia, and have everyone step up.”

 

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Wisdom from two legendary political professionals

By A. Peter Bailey
TriceEdneyWire.com Columnist

Just before the politics of a presidential election year turns scorching hot, it may help to study observations from two influential African-American politicians of a past era—former representatives William L. Dawson of Illinois and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. of New York.

Dawson, in a June 14, 1945 commencement address at Wilberforce University, told the graduates that “….. The world is fast beginning to look to deeds and achievements as the badge of excellence, and we must prepare ourselves to meet the requirements. But preparing our individual selves alone will not suffice; we must help and train our less fortunate brothers and sisters to measure up. The people of other groups are too busy trying to train their own young and to shape the thinking of their own people to meet the world’s requirements to worry about us. They are not going to come into our homes or into our communities to do missionary work among us. The job of shaping and controlling the thinking and action of our people is our responsibility. We are our brothers’ keepers. We are bound together by ties of race and color and blood. What one Negro does, either good or ill, affects the well-being of every other Negro. We of today must accept the challenge and face the responsibilities. You go forth into a world where there are millions who never had the opportunity you have here enjoyed….

“Many of us have acquired education, money, and influence. Do we regard these as a trust and resolve to use some part thereof to help our less fortunate brothers to measure up to required standards, or do we seek to get away from them and get for ourselves personally the benefits which should be extended to all? Life for the Negro in America is not self-seeking. When the showdown comes, we rise or fall together.”

Powell, in 1965 speech at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, declared, among other things, that “Black communities of this country—whether it is New York’s Harlem, Chicago’s South and West sides, or Philadelphia’s North side—must neither tolerate nor accept outside leadership—Black or white. Each community must provide its own local leadership, strengthening the resources within its own local community.

“The Black masses should only follow those leaders who can sit at the bargaining table with the white power structure as equals and negotiate for a share of its crumbs. We must stop sending little boys whose organizations are controlled and financed by white businessmen to do a man’s job. Because only those who are financially independent can be men. This is why I earlier called for Black people to finance their own organizations and institutions. In so doing, the Black masses guarantee the independence of their leadership.

“The Black leadership—the ministers, politicians, businessmen, doctors, and lawyers-must come back to the Negroes who made them in the first place or be purged by the black masses….”

This is sound advice from two legendary political professionals.

This article was originally published in the May 28, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

 

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Interview with Eva Greene-Wilson, Co-organizer, Anancy Festival 2012 Washington DC

Eva Greene-Wilson

This week we have a conversation with Eva Greene-Wilson Co-organizer, Anancy Festival 2012 Washington DC. The Anancy festival is June 9th, 2012. Here is our conversation with Eva.

What Caribbean Country are you from?
My parents are from Trinidad and Tobago. Most of my family is still there.  A very small number of us live here in the US, and we try to stay close.

Tell us about Anancy Fest 2012 Washington, DC?
I am a Caribbean American parenting blogger, and I approached Dr. Claire Nelson several months ago about doing a children’s event with the Institute for Caribbean Studies.  When the opportunity arose, she contacted me, and I was happy to get involved.

What is the main goal of the festival?
The goal of the festival is to introduce children to the wonderful Anansi stories.  Many children have heard of Anansi with various spellings and stories.  Even comic book characters have been based on Anansi!  We would like to make the connection to the Caribbean for the children and parents who attend.

What can we expect this year?
This is our first year, and our event is taking place in the morning, so we have a parent’s corner with coffee and light morning foods, face painting for the kids, storytelling, crafts, and giveaways.  Our event is more of an extended story time at the library.

Tell us about this years line-up?
This year, we are fortunate enough have Dr. Claire Nelson herself telling stories at the event as well as well know Jamaican  author Joelle Cohen Wright performing a sketch she is tailoring just for our audience of Caribbean, Caribbean American, and American families.

What does Anancy mean to you?
I grew up in a home that I knew was different.  We ate different foods, had different sayings, and our own stories.  I work very hard to keep my children and my readers connected to Caribbean culture, and I believe that the Anancy stories and this festival are an important and enjoyable way to connect our children to their heritage.

What does Caribbean American Heritage month mean to you?
Many of the achievements of black America can be attributed to a person of Caribbean heritage, and this is a fact that is often overlooked.  Influential writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance, proponents the Civil Rights movement, and many of todays artists and entertainers have a Caribbean background.  Caribbean American parents and children need to know how powerful their heritage is, not just as a person of African, Indian, Chinese, or other ethnicity, but as a descendant of Caribbean people. For America, I feel that it is important for non-Caribbean people to know that the Caribbean is more than just a vacation destination that produces beautiful music and beautiful people.  It is a small place that produces beautiful minds as well.

Do you think there is enough being done to pass in Caribbean and African history to the next generation?
I think that as with any culture in America, the pressure to assimilate is there.  Kids and teens, just by their nature, often do not want to stand out from the crowd as different, especially if they are new to the country.  I have tried to instill in my own children that their Caribbean heritage is more than grandma and grandpa’s accents, more than great music, parties, and good food, but it is a work ethic, focus on education, and will to succeed that I feel is stronger in people of Caribbean descent in America than in many other immigrant groups.

The festival this year is in four cities and growing. Where do you see the festival 5 years from now?
I would hope to see it spread to New York, and other areas in the US and Canada that have large Caribbean populations.

What other projects and events are you working on?
I am a homeschooling mom of 3, working outside of the home, so I don’t have too many projects outside of educating my kids, my job, and my blog. I do online events for my blog, Socamom.com, including radio shows and twitter parties.  I just completed one for the Universal Music, the Marley line of coffee and House of Marley.

When you are not busy with work and projects what do you do to relax?
I am pretty much always busy, but when I do get a chance to relax, I enjoy spending time with my family, experimenting with recipes with my husband, and dancing with the kids.  We are a dancing family!

My favorite Caribbean author is…
Claude McKay. I find his story fascinating, and although I don’t agree with all of his beliefs, his poems are beautifully written.

My comfort food is….
my cousin’s roti!

If I wanted to impress someone visiting my city….
I would take them to the new Martin Luther King Memorial.  It is really impressive.

Thanks for the time. Where can we learn more about the Anancy festival?
You can check out my blog at Socamom.com or icsdc.org for more information on the event in our city.  Go to AnancyFestival.com, http://facebook.com/anancyfestival and Jamaicans.com for information on our city and others.

 

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New Black Theatre Troupe Unveiled

Helen Katherine Mason was a remarkable woman. A woman of vision and determination she founded the Black Theatre Troupe in the early 1970’s when she noticed the distinct absence of one rich and resonant voice within the arts communities of the Valley and the State of Arizona at large.

A City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Supervisor, who was a trailblazer in her job and community Mason dedicated herself to giving that voice a platform from which it could be lifted and heard by all.

Mason died in 2003, but left a legacy that has been led and expanded by David Hemphill, a former protégé of Mason’s. An actor, director and executive director of the organization the troupe will be moving its productions to a new home in the Eastlake Park Village this fall for the 2012-13 season.

The former Iron Mountain Document Storage building at 1333 E. Washington Street is being transformed into the state of the art the Helen K. Mason Center for the Performing Arts.

The 13,333 square foot facility is scheduled to be finished Aug. 28, in time for the start of the new season.

“We are very, very excited,” Hemphill said. “It has been a long and arduous process. We’ve been working since 2006 trying to find a place. Originally BTT was going to renovate its old facility near 3rd Street on Portland, but with asphestos and damage to the building it was way too expensive stated Hemphill.

The troupe has been roaming the downtown area performing since damage to their Portland home prevented them from staging shows there, first at the Herberger Theatre for a few years and the last few at the Viad Tower on Central Avenue.

“The Helen K. Mason Center for the Performing Arts, is an affirmation of our company’s increasing importance in the Valley arts community.”

Attending the Eastlake Park Neighborhood Association meeting last Tuesday were Mason’s daughter Patricia Lee Manson and Patricia’s daughter, Alimas Thomas and others to hear the plans for the new facility. Designed by architect David Bosak of bo Arch Architecture company along with his daughter and business partner, Parice Bosak an interior designer, the new facility will be amazing.

The BTT was a beneficiary of bond money from the 2006 city of Phoenix bond election and received from the cultural bond.

“The city will own the building, but we will be the sole operator of the facility,” Hemphill said.

He noted BTT has a 25-year operating agreement.

“Jackie Berry of Berry Realty knew we were looking for a place and contacted me and wanted to see if I thought about moving to the Eastlake area. He told me about the building next to his property was vacant.

Taking a look at it, it is a match made in heaven. The only regret Hemphill has is the challenges of the current economy.

“It will be challenging to raise the funds needed to outfit the building. We need lights, seating and other things,” he notes.

A can-do man, Hemphill will make it a reality like no other.

 

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