Rhythm Arts Alliance creates a positive and healing path that can change the world one life at a time. Through our work of awakening the inner artist and building lasting, inclusive communities, we provide the foundation for insightful and soulful living. As we bring the arts off the stage and into the lives of youth challenged by poverty, alienation and marginalization, we provide the threads that will reweave our tattered communities.
Rhythm Arts Alliance crafts unique experiences that awaken the inner artist in our youth. We provide the tools they need to turn their lives around. As artist-teachers, it is the mission of Rhythm Arts Alliance to empower individuals, and youth in particular, through the rich experience of indigenous and other cultural arts, healing arts, movement, music, and rhythmic traditions. We provide a safe and inspiring place for young people from high risk communities to develop a deeper level of insight as they grow within a community involved in meaningful music making.
In indigenous cultures throughout the world, the artist was an integral part of the community. In West Africa the travelling musician, storyteller, poet and wisdom keeper was known as the Griot. These individuals carried with them not only great musical ability, but knowledge that was essential for the society to function. At Rhythm Arts Alliance, we base our model as artist-teachers on the concept of the Griot, believing that we support the artist within each of our students. For that reason, every student in our programs learns not only how to play authentic music and song from Africa and the African Diaspora, but also learns about the social and historic context in which this music was used. This practice of framing the artistic knowledge we teach within its cultures of origin gives rise to questions about what we may or may not be missing in the communities we come from now. It has been our experience in teaching high risk communities that many of these young people are in great need of interactions that demand the exercise of independent thought, telling of their own stories, and compassionate listening to others. Through our process which integrates the joy of music, the physicality of drumming, movement, and song, and through our partnership with other organizations such as Street Poets and Youth Mentoring Connection, Rhythm Arts Alliance crafts unique experiences that awaken the inner artist in our youth.
Rhythm Arts Alliance is a program of the United Palace of Cultural Arts in New York, NY. It’s programs are in keeping with UPCA’s vision of “a world where people connect with their innate creativity and are inspired to realize their full potential as individuals and as communities.”