An Evening of Arts and Action

Francie Brewster

June 5th, 2019

On Friday, June 21, An Evening of Arts and Action showed that even during summer vacation, youth activists are working hard to make positive change. The event–organized by high school seniors Tali Natter, Grace Lin, Ginger Gordon, Anire Amoda, and Isabel Janovsky – was a night filled with performances by LaGuardia High School students, respectively linked to specific youth-led organizations in attendance.

 

The emphasis of the night was youth leadership. Organizations there included ones like Teens Take Charge, focused on education equality for students, and Youth Over Guns, an advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness about gun violence that affects communities of color. There were organizations focused on other social issues, too – The Climate Museum, Planned Parenthood, Fridays for Future, and YVote were all at the event. The sheer number of causes represented was inspiring in and of itself, and could have been overwhelming if not for the underlying link between all of these varying organizations: the youth leadership and excitement. At no group’s table would one find a sense of hopelessness or defeatism about the state of the world or issues at hand; the focus of every group was hope and excitement about the future. “It shows that activism can be accessible when you’re younger.” said Tali Natter, when asked about her specific interest in involving youth groups, “You can make art about it, but there are also so many organizations where, if you feel so inclined by a performance, then you can see all these kids who are taking action and you can too.” This idea definitely carried through in the event, as could be seen by the flurry of students signing up to be involved with different organizations and movements.

 

Along with all of the organizations at the event were the actual performances. A song, dance, spoken – word poem, or other form of performance art, each piece corresponded to an organization at the event and was performed by a student from LaGuardia High School. In addition there was a gallery of visual art, also created by LaGuardia students. The student would introduce themselves, comment on the organization they were representing, and then begin a touching, powerful performance. One student wrote an original song “Speak for the Trees” inspired by 16 year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. The performer, who preferred to stay anonymous in this article, described her song as “about the importance of specifically trees impacting our environment, but also the way that they affect our entire world – and how we have to protect it, since we are the ones who can make a change.” The common theme of a new age of progress, of this young generation being able to save the world, was present yet again. Other performances featured this theme too: a piece in which the phrase “We Will Rise” was repeated after each verse, a rendition of Shaina Taub’s “She Persisted” with the lyrics “The first female president is alive at this moment / In a classroom raising her hand / Standing on the shoulders of a miss on this list / And Nevertheless she gonna persist,” and more. The songs were inspiring and motivational, telling attendees at the event to go sign up and get involved in a cause right then and there.

 

This inspiration and organization, according to Tali Natter, was the goal of the night: “I think art can really tap into your emotions in the way reading a headline can’t… it connects to you in a different way that can be really powerful in giving you inspiration, but then you need to go take action and volunteer.” The event definitely accomplished this – after the performances were over, the room seemed ready to get involved with the organizations that appealed to them. People filled up sign-up sheets and tables for different organizations were crowded with teenagers excited to really get involved.

 

Overall, the message of the night was hope – hope that we, the new generation of leaders and activists, will be united in taking a stand against injustice, and the hope that we will be able to find real long-term solutions. We at Highly Indy recommend getting involved with any of the organizations below, and hope to see you at events like these in the future.

 

Planned Parenthood - https://www.plannedparenthood.org/

Teens Resist - https://www.teensresist.com/

Teens Take Charge - https://www.teenstakecharge.com/

Youth Over Guns - https://nyagv.org/youth-over-guns/

YVote - https://yvoteny.org/

The Climate Museum - https://climatemuseum.org/

Fridays for Future - https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/

©2017 by The Highly Indy Project

highlyindy@gmail.com, New York City

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