Many often turn to art in times of trouble and despair, and Ferguson and North St. Louis County is no different. Given the recent events in the community, a coalition of North St. Louis County organizations are presenting a free peace and unity concert titled “Ferguson’s Children: Their Voice,” at noon on Saturday, Oct. 4. The Arts and Education Council is one of the partner organizations for the event.
The show will be held at the Bandshell at January Wabash Park in Ferguson. The event will show the talents of students K-12 in the school districts of Ferguson-Florissant, Jennings, Riverview Gardens, and the Normandy School Collaborative. The showcase will feature a wide range of music, dance, poetry, theater performing and other visual art. Professional musicians from A&E grant recipients Shakespeare Festival St. Louis and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis will support the students.
Some of the performers at the event include the Normandy High Dance Academy, the Jennings High School Choir, the Ferguson-Florissant Elementary Choir, band and orchestra performances by McCleur High School students, and theater performances by McCleur South Berkley and McCleur High School students.
Among the community members directing the students are Duane Martin Foster, the 2013 recipient of a St. Louis Arts Award for Arts Educator of the Year; Michael Perkins from Shakespeare Festival St. Louis; five-time Arts for Life winner Doug Erwin; Amy Freet, the St. Louis Symphony’s Educator of the Year; Erica Pegues, a Missouri Outstanding New Theater Teacher winner; and six-time Illinois State Fiddle Champion Tyler Moore, among many others. Bizling’s Tom Smith originated the idea for the concert.
“The goal of this performance is to heal the community through the arts. We want the children of Ferguson to know they are strong, resilient, powerful and that they can achieve anything,” said Doug Erwin, Ferguson Florissant Fine Arts Content Leader and director of the event.
Any donations collected at the event will go to North County Inc., an organization that helps the residents of Ferguson.
There have been several other arts related initiatives in light of the events in Ferguson, and more scheduled to come. The concert #HealFerguson on Sept. 7, was developed by acclaimed soul singer and Ferguson resident Brian Owens in support of the Ferguson Youth Initiative. Another concert, #WithNormandy, was held on Sept. 26 at Normandy High School promoting the Friends of Normandy Scholarship, a scholarship that gives financial assistance to graduating seniors looking to pursue higher education. A future dance concert is in the works under the direction of dance community members Sara Burke, Keith Williams and Michael Uthoff titled “Step Up.”
The Arts and Education Council is one of the partner organizations for the Oct. 4, event, and has worked closely with the Normandy School District and many north St. Louis organizations in the past. Normandy High School and McCleur High School are recipients of the Maritz Arts and Education Fund for Teachers, an Arts and Education Council program that awards grants to arts education projects in the St. Louis bi-state area. Learn more about the Maritz Arts and Education Fund for Teachers.