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Union County Teenagers Tackle Violence Intervention in their Community through Art and Immersive Technology

Union County Teenagers Tackle Violence Intervention in their Community through Art and Immersive Technology

July 1, 2022, Elizabeth, NJ- The Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble’s (EYTE) Walking the Beat program receives support in the amount of $379,940 from the Attorney General’s Office as a part of its inaugural Community-Based Violence Intervention (CBVI) initiative. EYTE’s community partners also include the Union County Division of Youth’s Youth Forward, City of Elizabeth Office of Youth, Elizabeth Public Schools, Union County Prosecutor’s Office, Elizabeth Police Department, Elizabeth Public Library, Warner Media and National Endowment for the Arts. 

Now in its seventh year, Walking the Beat is an arts based social justice residency for teenagers of the Global Majority and law enforcement workers. Utilizing performing arts as a vehicle for empowerment and community building, Walking the Beat has transformed lives with a results-based arts education methodology and curriculum which includes Drama Therapies and trauma based Yoga & Mindfulness, Virtual Reality (360 and Unreal Engine), and Oral History. Walking the Beat inspires — in students and officers alike — an appreciation for their common humanity, and a commitment to non-violence, community building, and social justice. The program will conclude in December 2022.

EYTE will also welcome Union County’s Youth Forward program as a partner this year. “The County of Union is proud to be a part of this initiative and I would like to thank EYTE for including our Department of Human Services as well as our young people within the County this year,” said County Manager Ed Oatman. “Youth Forward will help open the lines of communication between youth from all over Union County and law enforcement on a more personal level. It is a great, innovative way to offer an important dialogue and connect these two groups together. We look forward to hearing about their learning experiences and seeing their installations come to life.”

Walking the Beat currently has 40 students enrolled from within Union County, who will be creating original content in three different categories: Devised Theater, 360 Virtual Reality, and Unreal Engine. Beginning in August, students will present work and installations, free and available to the public. Full schedule to be announced at a later time.

“This year we are centering art for wellness and well-being,” says EYTE Program Facilitator and Curriculum Director, Angela Kariotis. “Not only do we believe in art as an intervention but as a disruptor of violence. We believe creativity is preventative not just rehabilitative. We will be exploring how trauma works in our bodies, how our bodies work and interact with each other, and art towards our collective healing.”

13 new recruits from the Elizabeth Police Department will join our program as a part of their community on-abording experience. In a joint statement, Elizabeth Police Director, Earl Graves, and Chief of Police, Giacomo Sacca state, “Walking the Beat is a great opportunity for new recruits to engage the community in a unique way. A chance to build a stronger bond with our officers and the youth we serve, is something that will stay with them throughout their careers. It is a learning experience from both ends and the Elizabeth Police Department fully supports the program.”
Additional officers will come from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office. “We are once again excited to be a contributing partner to EYTE’s annual “Walk the Beat Program’, added Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel and County Chief of Detectives Harvey A. Barnwell. “This program provides an excellent opportunity for law enforcement officers and students to come together, to share their life experiences, and enhance community relations.”
The City of Elizabeth has been a long-time supporter of EYTE’s Walking the Beat program. “The Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble has made it their mission to bridge the gap between youth and law enforcement,” says Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. “Its impact is not only a lifelong learning experience for our youth, but the police officers involved as well. Executive Director Theo Perkins provides a safe space for those looking to build a greater sense of community and communication and that is exactly what our youth needs.”
The program will round off with a community based oral history project, in partnership with the Elizabeth Public Library. Community members will be trained to conduct interviews surrounding safety and gun violence intervention. Applications for the Oral History Cohort will be available in August.
Program Facilitators for Walking the Beat include Founder and Director, Theodore Perkins, Curriculum Director and Program Facilitator, Angela Kariotis, Drama Therapists Adam Stevens, Mindfulness and Yoga coach Tina LeMar, Virtual Reality artists Alton Glass, Idalis Maldonado, and Jacob Rosa.

For Press and Media inquiries, please contact Ivy Hurwit, ivy@elizabethyouththeater.org.

About the Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble

Established in 2015, The Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble’s mission is centered upon strengthening the voices of young artists. Utilizing theater-arts based curricula, EYTE provides creative learning opportunities for the youth of city and global majorities, where they gain experiences that empower self and community.

Designations: Since 2020, Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble has been a qualified organization of the

New Jersey Cultural Trust and an affiliate member organization of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

Visit: www.elizabethyouththeater.org

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WarnerMedia Supports Fountain Theatre’s Community-Building ‘Walking the Beat’ Program

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WarnerMedia Supports Fountain Theatre’s Community-BuildingWalking the Beat Program

LOS ANGELES (Aug. 12, 2021) — The Fountain Theatre has been awarded a WarnerMedia Arts and Culture grant funded by the AT&T Foundation to support Walking the Beat Los Angeles, a pioneering arts education program for inner city high school youth and police officers.

“Although we all miss being on stage, there was an urgency to keep this work going,” says Perkins. “By taking advantage of the digital space, we were able to invite guest artists from all over the country to join us virtually to help generate writing and ideas. This virtual model of devising theater teaches us a lot about radical imagination, radical creativity, and challenges us to explore new methods of solidarity building.”

 

Now inits second year at the Fountain, Walking the Beat utilizes performing arts as a vehicle for youth empowerment and community building, providing transformative experiences for underserved youth and police officers.

Eighteen 9th through 12th graders from five Los Angeles area schools
— Hawthorne High School, Hollywood High, Los Angeles High School of the Arts @ RFK, Pasadena High and San Pedro High — have been working since mid-June with two detectives from the Los Angeles School Police Department and one officer
from the UCLA Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit to create Blackout 2021, an original multi-media performance work that focuses on the shift from a culture of incarceration to a culture of care. Each of the students receives a stipend as well as community service hours.

Written by Walking the Beat curriculum director and
program facilitator Angela Kariotis with original writings by the ensemble, Blackout 2021 is directed by Theo Perkins. Perkins is executive and artistic director of New Jersey’s Elizabeth Youth Ensemble, which created the program five years ago.
The Los Angeles creative team also includes choreographer Nicholas Rodriguez, sheltered yoga instructor Tine LeMar and drama therapist Adam Stevens.
Due to the pandemic, Blackout 2021 was conceived as a virtual/hybrid program and will be screened on the Fountain Theatre’s Covid-safe outdoor stage over the course
of two evenings at the end of August.

 Kariotis states, “This summer, we integrated a design thinking framework. This means we work together to identify and solve our own problems. We started with the question, how might we shift from a carceral state to a culture of care? We cast our focus wider, beyond any individual people, and onto the day-to-day systems, policies, processes, and habits that entangle us.”

In addition to Warner Media, Walking the Beat Los Angeles is supported in part by the Fountain Theatre, The Vladimir & Araxia Buckhantz Foundation, David and Mary Jo Volk, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and the 13th District, L.A. County Department of Probation, L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, The Allison Thomas Racial Justice Fund, The Phillips-Gerla Family, Sharyk Overhoser, Carrie Chassin and Jochen Haber, Friars Charitable Foundation, Toby and Daniel Bernstein, and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

The Fountain Theatre is committed to theater as a change agent and to serving the community.

“In these highly charged times, nothing is more urgent than promoting better understanding between young people of color and the police who serve their communities,” notes artistic director Stephen Sachs. “Walking The Beat does just that and more. It changes lives. The powerful curriculum and methodology have been proven — through pre- and post-workshop interviews, surveys and testimonials — to produce real, on the ground change.”

Founded in 1990 by Sachs and Deborah Culver, the Fountain Theatre has won hundreds of awards for all areas of production, performance and design, and provides an essential voice for the citizens of Los Angeles. Dedicated to community, the Fountain produces outstanding theater that challenges thinking and shines an artistic light on the many under-represented voices and cultures within Los Angeles. Eric Garcetti joined with the Los Angeles City Council to commend the Fountain for “achieving a position of leadership in the Los Angeles theatre community… producing meaningful new plays of social and political importance that enrich the lives of the citizens of Los Angeles.” During the pandemic, the Fountain was approved by the City of L.A. to build an outdoor stage in its parking lot. As a result, it was one of the first venues to re-open in June. Currently playing on the outdoor stage is the Fountain’s critically acclaimed L.A. premiere of An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, which runs through Sept. 19. The theater is also presenting Forever Flamenco al fresco during the last weekends of August and September.

Established in 2016, the Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble’s mission is centered upon strengthening the voices of young artists. Utilizing theater-arts based curricula, EYTE provides creative learning opportunities for inner city youth that allow them to gain confidence, communication skills and self-awareness. EYTE seeks to create experiences that empower youth, developing theater as a powerful place for community

Screenings of Blackout 2021 take place on Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. on the Fountain Theatre’s outdoor stage. The Wednesday evening event will include special remarks and commendations by L.A. City officials. A reception will follow each of the screenings. Admission to the performances is free and open to the public (reservations necessary). The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles CA 90029 (corner Fountain and Normandie). For more information and to make a reservation, call (323) 663-1525 or visit FountainTheatre.com/walking the beat.

Click here to view the promo trailer.

 

 

Walking The Beat 2021 LA
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Founder and Artistic Director of EYTE Joins the Fountain Theatre Board of Directors

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Founder and Artistic Director of EYTE Joins the Fountain Theatre Board of Directors

The Fountain Theatre, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization, focusing on nurturing creativity for multi-ethnic theatre and dance artists, has welcomed EYTE’s Theodore Perkins to join their Board of Directors.

The following is a quick excerpt from the Intimate Excellent – the Fountain Theatre Blog:

” ‘Theo is a beloved member of our Fountain Family,’ said Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. ‘He brings to our board a shared belief that theatre can serve as a vehicle for social change and an educational tool for young people.’ “

Theodore brings a wealth of experience, talent, and a vision for the arts as a tool for social change and justice – congratulations and best of luck on the work ahead!

Theo Perkins
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New Jersey Theatre Alliance Welcomes EYTEnsemble As Their First Round of Affiliate Members

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New Jersey Theatre Alliance Welcomes EYTEnsemble As Their First Round of Affiliate Members

The New Jersey Theatre Alliance has recently welcomed the Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble (EYTE) as their first round of Affiliate members. This news was received humbly by Theodore Perkins, the EYTE board, and staff.

EYTE is excited to work alongside John McEwen, Executive Director, Deonté Griffin-Quick, Manager of Programs and Services, and the rest of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance staff. There is a mutual excitement among both parties to partake in new artistic endeavors, reach underserved or new audiences, and to broaden and deepen community relationships.

Please join EYTE in celebrating this new partnership in support of the missions of all parties: Growing Theatre in The Garden State and Strengthening the Voices of Young Artists.

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Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble, a qualified organization of the New Jersey Cultural Trust

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Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble,

A qualified organization of the New Jersey Cultural Trust​

The Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble (EYTE) is proud to announce its designation as a qualified organization as defined by the rules of the New Jersey Cultural Trust. The official date of qualification was on September 29, 2020 – but what does this mean?

Besides having the ability to affix this designation on printed materials, advertising, and
solicitations, it ensures that EYTE is a contributor to a healthy, thriving nonprofit cultural
industry in the state of New Jersey. Most importantly, simply put, it puts EYTE in a
better position to continue providing the programs and events that have brought us to
where we are today and ultimately down a sustainable future.

We look forward to continuing the work that has brought us to this point with a very
special thank you to the students, teachers, volunteers, artists, and partnering
organizations that have believed in our mission.

Please join us in celebrating this unique achievement, and a special thanks to the New
Jersey Cultural Trust for their recognition.