With our new home in Bedford-Stuyvesant we are exploring many new programs and projects while some of our older community partnerships continue to grow. We returned to CS21 The Crispus Attucks School, for our fifth year, where we provide an after school version of our rites/rights of passage program two days a week for fourth and fifth grade girls.
Learning How to Create Together
In our new space we offer monthly open mics, community sings and community dinners. We are collaborating partners with Nioka Workman’s Firey Strings Ensemble, Clifton Anderson’s Quartet, the Arts & Education Continuum and Feel the Music to present Music for the People at Bailey’s Cafe. “Let’s bring the community together through music.” Check out https://musicforthepeoplenyc.com for a full description of classes, workshops and scheduling. For little ones, ages 2.5 to 5, preschoolrock offers their special Saturday morning sessions in movement, music and visual arts. Learn more at preschoolrock.org
Inter-generational Projects and Programs
Except for our school-based programs, all of our community-based programs are open to all ages. We continue to explore ways to bring the generations together, to break down stereotypes held by both groups about the other and to initiate opportunities for positive, reciprocal relationship building. For example, this past summer we formed a partnership with Weaving Hand, weavinghand.org bringing the ancient craft of loom weaving to the girls participating in our summer Rites/Rights of Passage Program; next year we plan to make Weaving Our Stories; Weaving Our Lives an inter-generational activity, including mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters and other older women eager to learn the craft and share their story and wisdom.
Rites/Rights of Passage Programs
Since summer 2013, we have been developing our own version of rites of passage. The concept behind our program is simply that we are changing all the time and there isn’t one set age when we become a man or a woman but our individual transformations and growth are happening all the time. The more intentional about these changes the better we will know ourselves, the more likely we are to find our purpose and to lead productive, creative lives and to build stronger, more empowered, resilient communities. We use both spellings of the word: rites and rights to indicate that knowing our rights as individuals whether it is finding a boundary with a friend or addressing an authority they are as important to who we are as the rituals we create to celebrate our daily life and all the special occasions.
Community Performance Project
In collaboration with the Black Veterans for Social Justice (BVSJ) and under the artistic leadership of Mo Beasley, Bailey’s Café is creating a multi-discipline, community-based performance piece, As Quiet As It’s Kept (AQAIK) about the rites and rights of passage experienced by young Black men, examining the role the military plays as they assert their manhood. This work in progress, represents a long-term collaboration between Bailey’s Cafe and the BVSJ. Mo Beasley, artist, activist, educator, joins this collaboration as the director and scriptwriter with the specific purpose of turning what had been a series of conversations into a performance that will bring attention to the particular experiences of Black men who serve in the military during American wars. There will be dramatic readings of the work throughout the year and a full performance on Veterans Day 2016. AQAIK has received support from PBS, Brooklyn Arts Council, and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.
The attached audio, from a rehearsal, for No Way Home is the first collaboration between composer, Michael Hill, and playwright, Mo Beasley, for the production of As Quiet As It’s Kept (AQAIK). The song and poem are original compositions specifically crafted for AQAIK. They are based on true stories shared with Mo Beasley and the young men of Bailey’s Cafe’s Rites of Passage Program during 2014-2015. The stories come from members of the Black Veterans for Social Justice (BVSJ) of Brooklyn, NY, and the playwright’s own family history with war. This rough cut/draft of No Way Home focuses on tales of Vietnam told to playwright Mo Beasley by his father, Senior Master Sergeant Morris Beasley, Sr. of USAF. He passed in 2009 from complications brought on by Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome. Future drafts will incorporate more stories from BVSJ that span wars in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan.