Performers from New York stage productions The Great Comet, A Bronx Tale, and Spamilton are among those banding together for a fundraising concert to do its part to help cover planned cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts.
Titled Don't Funk With My Art(s Education) Vol. 1, the concert will take place at Don’t Tell Mama night club in Manhattan March 20 at 7:30 PM. Performers will sing and tell stories of how the NEA influenced their creative process. All proceeds will be donated to the Endowment.
The concert is being produced by Claudia Yanez (Spamilton) and Victor Legrá (The People’s Court), and was in the planning stages for several weeks before the NEA cut was officially announced. Speaking to Playbill March 16, Yanez called President Trump’s announcement a “heartbreaker” and “an incredible disappointment” and added, “The arts are something that keep us human. Humanity is not something we can afford to lose right now. This [the cut] also directly affects urban youth. It makes the arts something only for the one percent, only for the rich. And that’s not OK.”
The federal Endowment, which grants money to American artists and arts organizations, has been targeted for elimination under President Donald J. Trump’s proposed budget, announced March 15. The performers have a long way to go: NEA appropriations totaled nearly $148 million in 2016 according to the NEA website, Arts.gov.
Featured performers in Don't Funk With My Art(s Education) Vol. 1 include Shoba Narayan (The Great Comet), Ephie Aardema (Bridges of Madison County), Bradley Gibson (A Bronx Tale), Dan Rosales (Spamilton), Dyllon Burnside (Holler if Ya Hear Me), Nora Schell (Spamilton), Anthony Alfaro (The View Upstairs), Jared Dixon (Cruel Intentions), Matt Rodin, Betty Who, Solo Woods, Rachael Duddy, Jorge Barranco, Ana Yanez, and recording artist Betty Who. Larry Owens will host; Jake Turski will accompany the singers on piano.
Yanez said the concert participants were chosen specifically because their education in theatre was “the direct result of public arts funding.” She said she is now hoping to make the March 20 concert the first in ongoing series, but had no specific dates or names for future concerts yet.
Don't Funk With My Art(s Education) Vol. 1 will cost $15 with a two-drink minimum. To make a reservation, visit Donttellmamanyc.com. Don't Tell Mama is at 343 West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, just west of the Times Square theatre district.