The Rapidian

Wealthy Theatre neighbors take part In 'positively free' community event

Underwriting support from:

The community made it possible

Thanks to the support of local businesses and foundations - including prizes for a kids costume contest donated by Electric Cheetah and Uncle Cheetah's restaurants - Tricks & Treats, Rhymes & Beats was a critically important, community-affirming event on an otherwise "devilish" night in Baxter neighborhood!

Thanks to the support of local foundations, businesses and organizations, a free and positive community event took place at Wealthy Theatre on an evening otherwise known as "Devil's Night" (Oct. 30). Tricks & Treats, Rhymes & Beats showcased local talent, especially those youth age 6-16 years old who are most at risk.

Community Media Center (CMC) partnered with the S.T.R.O.N.G. organization, which stands for "Systematically Training & Revitalizing Our New Generation." S.T.R.O.N.G. founder Eddie Grover, a community leader for decades, emceed the Rhymes & Beats event, which featured many Baxter youth who participate in his summer program. Grover has used the Wealthy Theatre Annex for a number of years as part of his summer program - and his students have helped keep it looking great with community service projects that include landscaping and snow removal.

The Oct. 30 Rhymes & Beats event couldn't have come at a better time - Devil's Night is often known as an evening when young people - with nothing better to do - get into mischief. The Rhymes & Beats talent showcase provided a positive and free alternative for families to accompany their children to a theatre within walking distance, to enjoy the talents of neighborhood youth and some featured performers - including local professional hip-hop artists NaeInk and Markus Alden Shields (whose performance video is featured at the top of this Rapidian article.) All performers and organizers donated their time and talent to the performance.

"This event gave local families a chance to celebrate some of what's positive about the neighborhood in which the theatre resides," said Wealthy Theatre Director Erin Wilson. "We had an excellent turnout and the vibe was positive, and people left with an extra measure of pride about the neigborhood."

Attendees also left full - Grover worked with local restaurants to provide hot, delicious food for all attendees, volunteers and performers after the event. Businesses gave food to the event either as a donation or by preparing donated food in their kitchens. "The community really came together and made this night a success," Grover said.

Wilson said CMC first sought support for this event in mid-summer, "because we frequently hear from community leaders how valuable it would be, to have some positive programming for and by local kids, here at Wealthy Theatre."

Wilson said CMC asked local foundations and businesses to help make such an event possible - and the response "was truly overwhelming - we put this together very quickly because everyone pulled together and, each by their own abilities, made it happen."

Grover said this type of thing "gives the kids something to look forward to." He said students "not only enjoy this night out, with their families, but they had the opportunity to participate in its creativity."

Grover's youth program students participated in all areas of the production: promotion, setup, greeting, backstage, onstage, serving the food and cleaning up afterward. Grover said, "the S.T.R.O.N.G. mission is to create leaders while providing positive, constructive recreation and community service opportunities - this night reflected our mission in the best way possible."

After the event, Grover opened the door and walked out on the street and offered sandwiches to families walking by the theatre. Several families came in and got some food, and theatre staff kept Wealthy open until all the food was gone.

"At the start of it, we almost thought we had too much food," Wilson said, "but with all the people who turned up to the event, and those walking by afterward - we made good use of all of it!"

Rhymes & Beats featured a costume contest for kids too young to perform onstage - with prizes donated by Cory DeMint, owner and founder of Electric Cheetah and Uncle Cheetah. CMC and S.T.R.O.N.G. thanked from the stage all the sponsors and underwriters who made this uplifitng community event a reality.

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This was a fun way to kick off the Halloween weekend. The performers entertained and inspired the kids in the audience. And everyone left with full bellies.

I totally missed out :(

I am excited to see Wealthy Theatre be a homebase for events like this. I cannot wait to see more collaborations to reach out to that population of youth. It is truly amazing when kids have the opportunity to participate in an event like this, just makes their day!

I'm so glad to be a resident of this neighborhood because of events like this.  It's very rare to find an historic theatre located in the midst of an urban neighborhood... and one that will open its doors for events like this!

Great to have local restaurants involved as well!

Good stuff all around.  We all had fun and the attendance was great!!  Looking forward to more of the same in the future.  Thanks CMC and Wealthy Theatre.