IMPACT REPERTORY THEATRE
DIETRICE BOLDEN, Managng Director
IMPACT REPERTORY THEATRE
"What we do is 'artivism,'
our word for combining art and activism for healing."
--Dietrice Bolden, managing director
of IMPACT Repertory Theater
When coronavirus hit, Dietrice Bolden, managing director of IMPACT Repertory Theater had to move youth leadership workshops online, had to postpone most of the multiple performances the group organizes each year, and listened. Amid personal loss, the nationwide reactions to the George Floyd killing at the hands of police, racial tensions and joblessness, she heard a desire to help.
The youth group did act, and Harlem is . . . Healing, this Community Works / New Heritage campaign to recognize local efforts to help Harlem's response, celebrates the effort. IMPACT community service programs organized young people, aged 7 to 18, to distributed food to those who need it, mentored youth through communal depression, joined Black Lives Matter efforts and offered a helpful public performance to headline a voter registration drive called "Casting the Vote," retelling the story of Black voting rights, along with a list of partner organizations.
"The point is to use arts to heal our community," explains Bolden, who herself was among the first to join IMPACT when it began in 1997 by co-founders Joseph Jamal and Voza Rivers at Minisink Town Hall. That voter registration performance "was meant to let our kids get together, safely, and use their voices with original songs about our history, about Our Long Road to Freedom, and give ourselves a mental break and a moment of peace from all this that has kept us cooped up."
IMPACT offers a safe space for young people to explore current events and their own experience in theater and song. This year, it has meant an online town hall discussion with alumni around the country, where they could share about loss, anger and resiliency. "They found an outlet to express their feelings about being overwhelmed by disease, personal losses and their place in the social media wars.
So, too, has been participating with the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and now the Salvation Army in handing out food or delivering to infirmed neighbors. The program believes in "positive brain-washing" to community values through its boot camp programs.
"Young people want their voices heard in a healing effort."
And please click below for more information and to support
IMPACT Repertory Theatre's Town Hall Project