The Harlem Renaissance Museum is bringing together a variety of diverse art forms for their “Spoken For” Live Exhibit Nov. 11 at the Madison Masonic Center.
The event will include a variety of expressive performances from nationally renowned performers, showcasing dance, spoken word poetry and comedy. This is the second year the “Spoken For” event will be taking place, and will include a host of performers from all over the country.
The event will merge all spoken word art forms and incorporate them into one experience, creating a “one stop shop” for education and entertainment, event organizer Caitlin McGahan said.
Event organizers McGahan and Cynthia Hart emphasized the importance of recognizing the lasting impact of the Harlem Renaissance, and the effect that it has on art and culture in America today. Whether it be through jazz or poetry, the time period isn’t that far removed.
“We want to provide a link between the rich history of the art forms, and bring that to young people who might not know the history, to make a more clear image of that time and that era,” Hart said.
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Hart emphasized it’s especially important for young people of color to have a connection point to the Harlem Renaissance period. The Harlem Renaissance was an era of cultural and artistic development during the 1910s-1930s. The period brought forward several famous African American artists, authors and performers such as Langston Hughes and Jacob Lawrence.
The “golden era” of artistic development constructed an essential place in American history, and reflected on important racial, social and economic issues in America.
“Things created during that time still exist today,” McGahan said.
The issues they address haven’t gone away, either.
The Harlem Renaissance Museum provides a unique platform for people to connect to the history and the stories behind that era, even from Madison. By providing a space of recognition and education, the lasting impact is properly preserved and appreciated, McGahan said.
“If for one night we get to showcase everything, it’s a one stop shop to educate and get people learning about the era.” McGahan said.
“Spoken For” will include a rich entertainment experience for those that attend. Among the performers include nationally recognized speaker JW Basilo, comedian Antonie McNeail and storyteller Jolieth McIntosh. Event organizers Hart and McGahan will be performing as well. With such variety, there will be value for all that attend.
The title of the event “Spoken For” is an illusion to the Langston Hughes piece, “Negro Speaks of Rivers” published in 1921, McGahan said. Part of the inspiration stemmed from wanting to pay tribute to the voices before them, which can only be captured through spoken word, McGahan said.
“It is in honor of all the voices who have Spoken For us to make what we do possible.” McGahan said.
As a certified non profit, the Harlem Renaissance Museum puts on four exhibits each year. Organized throughout the year in February, June, October and December, each event showcases live or spoken performances and visual exhibits. The museum seeks to provide a platform for education about the “living history” of the Harlem Renaissance to the community through a variety of avenues and styles.
“The Harlem Renaissance was such a crucial time, it’s important to educate and have people understand the work that artists put in,” McGahan said.
The event organizers welcome families and guests of all ages, especially encouraging students to come out and see what the event has to offer.
Ticket price for “Spoken For” is $15 and the doors will open at 7 p.m. at the Madison Masonic Center or 301 Madison Avenue.