A new not-for-profit group billing itself as ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty) and launched by members of the New York theatre community, is presenting the monthly benefit concert series. The unique admission price? A jar of change. Show up at the door of the Triad on the Upper West Side with any size jar of coins and you're in. (There is also a two-drink minimum.)
It's all for a good cause — fighting childhood poverty.
"The ArtCents Concert Series" plays The Triad, 158 W. 72nd St. The inaugural ArtCents concert is at 7 PM and features performances by Tituss Burgess (Jersey Boys), Jacque Carnahan, Joe Cassidy (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Manoel Felciano (Sweeney Todd), Colby Foytik, Christopher Graves, Adam Mastrelli, Michelle Miller, Barbara Walsh (Big, the upcoming Company), Meghan Ritchie, Q. Smith, Elizabeth Stanley (Company) and Cullen Titmuss.
The concert has musical direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell (orchestrator of Broadway's upcoming Company), who created ASTEP after she visited and volunteered in impoverished India in 2005.
* Stephen Barnett is a classically trained pianist and composer-songwriter who received his B.A. in Music Composition from Duke University and his M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. As an undergraduate, he studied under the tutelage of Stephen Jaffe and Scott Lindroth, and while pursuing his Masters at NYU, his teachers included William Finn and Michael John LaChiusa. His thesis musical, Beautiful, received its Off-Broadway premiere in August 2005 as part of the NYC Fringe Festival. Currently, he is providing the music preparation for the 2006 Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company. In 1999, Barnett released "Free Spirit," a collection of neo-classical piano works composed during his study at Duke, and in 2004, he and lyricist-bookwriter Michael Arquilla released the original concept recording of Beautiful.
"I met Stephen in the NYU grad writing program and instantly loved his writing," said Campbell. "He has such an original voice and the way he uses melody in a rock-folk style is very impressive. When we decided to launch this concert series, he immediately came to mind as one of the first new voices to be heard."
For reservations, call (212) 706-1516 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All proceeds from the concert benefit ASTEP. Visit www.createsomethinggood.org to learn more. Future concert dates will be announced shortly.
Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) is a non-profit organization "which mobilizes the global community of artists to create positive change for young people in need worldwide." Built on the foundation of Art-in-Action, ASTEP hosts "experience programs" in which teaching artists immerse themselves into poverty-stricken communities to educate youth on issues ranging from racism to AIDS awareness to personal hygiene through the universal language of art.
In 2006, artists from the dance, drama and music worlds will serve as teachers, mentors, and arts advocates to 65 middle school children in the East Cape Town, Port Elizabeth area of South Africa and in Homestead, Florida. By 2010, ASTEP anticipates an Art-in-Action Experiences will span four continents — Africa, Asia (India), North America (Florida, New York, Los Angeles) and South America (Peru).
Children who experience Art-In-Action "are empowered with a sense of self-esteem nurtured by creative expression allowing them to break the cycle of poverty in their communities. At a time when funding for the arts in public schools is nearly extinct, ASTEP provides essential nourishment for young mind through song, dance, performance and the visual arts."
ArtCents is the primary fundraising effort to support the ASTEP Arts-In-Action Experiences. For the month of August, ASTEP asks working arts professionals on and off Broadway — including the companies of Altar Boyz, Jersey Boys, Sweeney Todd, The Wedding Singer, the Juilliard School, Cargenie Hall and the Urban Bush Women Dance Company — to deposit spare their change in donation to ASTEP.
In celebration of ArtCents and all participating artists, ASTEP will present the ArtCents Concert Series which will spotlight emerging songwriters with performances by Broadway's best. The ArtCents Concert Series is proudly hosted by the Triad Theatre on the third Monday of each month and admission for each concert is spare change.
With ArtCents, ASTEP "endeavors to prove that within the art community Small Change indeed makes Big Change."
The ASTEP Board of Directors is comprised of Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Founder/Chair), Michelle Miller (Vice-Chair), Mark Canavera (Treasurer), Gavin Creel, Susan Vargo and Jessica Walling Stokes (Secretary).