Schenectady

Artists, business owners of color featured Friday in ‘Community Give Back’ virtual celebration

Jasenya McCauley, left, who runs Styld n’ EMRGD, and Vaceia Payne, a local fashion designer who runs Vaceia Designs, are among those interviewed.
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Jasenya McCauley, left, who runs Styld n’ EMRGD, and Vaceia Payne, a local fashion designer who runs Vaceia Designs, are among those interviewed.

Local artists of color, as well as business owners and others, will come together for a virtual celebration on Friday in honor of Black History Month.

Called “Community Give Back [Becoming the change: A night of culture, learning and giving],” the event kicks off at 7 p.m. on YouTube and will include performances, interviews and more.

It’s directed by Rose Biggerstaff, a representative of Schenectady Light Opera Company’s Committee for Diversity and Representation, and it was no easy feat to organize.

“Since it’s been such a difficult year, I want to be able to give back in some capacity,” Biggerstaff said. “Everyone is pretty Zoomed out, and tired of traditional cabarets. So I was like ‘How can we make this interesting?’”

She decided to highlight local poets, musicians and dancers, along with local business owners.“Hopefully, that will be an enjoyable night for people to come and be inspired to give back to the community that we live in,” Biggerstaff said.

In between performances, there will be interviews with people like fashion designer Vaceia Payne, who runs her own fashion business and designs custom pieces.

“I loved her interview,” Biggerstaff said.

Other interviewees include Kayela Statom, a ZIN Zumba instructor, Jasenya McCauley, who runs Styld n’ EMRGD, and Cheryl Whilby, the communications director at Soul Fire Farm.

Beyond the performances and interviews, Biggerstaff invites viewers to cook along with her as she learns how to make a curry shrimp dish, which is a traditional Jamaican meal. The ingredients list will be posted in the event and is posted on SLOC’s Facebook page.

The event will be between 45 minutes to an hour and while the interviews and performances are have been recorded, there will be a chance for viewers to interact with performers and organizers within YouTube’s chat feature.

Community Give Back is an event that Biggerstaff hopes to continue on in the coming years.

“We’re hoping to bring this event to the SLOC campus where we have a live show and we also have vendors come from local Black-owned businesses and it actually becomes a vendor show, where people can come and actually meet each other and buy each other’s products. That’s what we’re hoping for this event to be once we can meet in person,” Biggerstaff said.

While the event is free to view, donations will be accepted for the Hamilton Hill Arts Center as well as the business owners and others involved.

For more information visit SLOC on Facebook.

Categories: -The Daily Gazette

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