History and Background of Unity Performing Arts Foundation
When did UNITY start?
Conception of the vision – 1993
First public meeting – August 1997
UNITY’s official incorporation date – May 2000
Official start date of the first program- July 9, 2000
Why was Unity Performing Arts Foundation (UNITY) started?
- To be a structured community arts platform that would help increase the minority participation in the arts community and provide non-traditional arts programming that would attract young people from various backgrounds who were interested in learning and performing mainstream soulful art forms.
- To create a one-stop-shop community arts platform that offers various artistic disciplines under one umbrella (e.g., singing, music, dance, writing, oratory, and drama).
- To provide students with a strong support system that would assist in their overall development from early childhood up through their college years.
- To inspire and exemplify diversity and versatility in the performing arts community, behind the scenes, on stage and in the audience.
What is Unity Performing Arts Foundation (UNITY)?
UNITY is a multi-faceted performing arts organization with a focus on developing young people in the areas of character, artistry and leadership and promoting soulful arts education, training, and performances in the areas of choral music, dance, drama, creative writing, oratory, and instrumental music.
We are an innovative after-school development institution designed to serve as a companion support system for young people… to empower, equip and prepare them to be successful at home, school, church, work, college, and in their community. We use the arts as a vehicle, to shape and develop young people into adult leaders and professionals.
What are soulful art forms?
The term “soulful” simply means: full of, or expressing deep feeling or emotion. The soulful art forms connect with the listener and touch their heart. Art forms such as singing, dance, drama, creative writing, public speaking and instrumental music can all be performed with expressive gestures and deep feeling or emotion; therefore, we call them soulful art forms. The word soulful can be described in three words: experience, emotion and expressive, “The Three “E’s.”
What do we mean by a “multi-faceted performing arts organization?”
UNITY’s artistic vision includes launching a host of different artistic programs, all under a single umbrella. UNITY wants to develop an artistic academy concept for youth in this community, where they can be trained and coached in the areas of performance, and given a platform to perform before all types of audiences. This concept makes UNITY the first performing arts organization of its kind in Indiana.
OUR VISION STATEMENT
Impacting our community by transforming young lives into high-character leaders through the platform of the arts.
THE EXPLANATION OF OUR VISION- Short-Version
Unity Performing Arts Foundation’s active vision has been broken down into five phases so that everyone can easily see where we want to go, and where we are today:
(1) UNITY’s Artistic Programming Vision includes launching six main Artistic Programs.
Program One: Soulful Choral Music
Our choral program provides students a unique opportunity to learn and perform mainstream soulful music styles such as Jazz, Blues, Country, Spirituals, Gospel, R&B, early Rock and Roll, and some Rap and Hip-Hop. Students learn the history of these musical styles and how to properly sing each style. Our youth choral program exposes participants to character building, leadership training, career and college preparation, as well as promotes academic excellence, good citizenship at school and proper domestic behavior. Our choral program includes two performance groups:
- 1.Youth Choral Group (The Voices of Unity Youth Choir) – Launched July 2000
- 2. Adult Choral Group – Projected to be launched 2017
Program Two: Creative Writing
To combat the steady increase of students who have poor reading and writing skills, UNITY provides a fun and unique environment to inspire youth to read more and write better. We pose the challenge this way: If you can’t read, you can’t write. If you can’t write, you can’t communicate effectively. If you can’t communicate effectively, in writing and oral presentations, your career and life opportunities will be limited. Students will learn about our country’s great writers and the essential elements of creative writing, and will then practice and apply these skills.
- 1.Power of Passion (POP) – Launched Fall 2008
- 2.Program’s name changed to Expression in 2012
Program Three: Oratory – Target date: Fall 2017 or Spring 2018
Our oratory program will help students develop great public speaking and debate skills. They will also learn and study speeches presented by some of America’s most proficient public speakers.
Program Four: Dance – Target date: Fall 2017 or Spring 2018
- 1.Modern and contemporary dance group
- 2.African dance group
Program Five: Drama – Target date: Fall 2018 or Spring 2019
The drama team will be comprised of gifted amateur actors and actresses, of all ages, from our community. Acting classes and seminars will be offered to improve acting skills and learn more about the art form. The drama team will present plays written by contemporary and soulful writers, known nationally and locally, as well as present original works from writers within the organization.
Program Six: Instrumental
1. Unity Band – Launched in July 2000
The Unity Band program is made up of professional and amateur musicians from the community (local and national) who have an interest in learning, playing, and performing mainstream soulful music. Classes in music theory, reading and music technology advancement are provided.
2. Unity Soulful Orchestra – Target date: Spring 2019 or Spring 2020
Fort Wayne’s first soulful music orchestra will learn and perform music from the great icons of mainstream soulful tradition and contemporary music.
(2) UNITY’s Artistic Training Vision includes launching six Artistic Training Classes.
Each artistic program will have its own set of professional training classes designed to enhance and develop the artistic skills of youth and adults, which will be known as our Arts Institute. All classes will be offered for a fee, payable by each person who registers.
Choral Programs – VOCAL CLASSES
Creative Writing Program- WRITING CLASSES
The Oratory Program –SPEECH CLASSES
Drama Program – ACTING CLASSES
Dance Program –DANCE CLASSES
Instrumental Program – MUSIC AND INSTRUMENTAL CLASSES
(3) UNITY’s Development Vision includes implementing effective Youth Development and Soulful Arts Educational Programs.
Our youth development programs are designed to shape, develop and empower the student. UNITY’s primary purpose is to prepare young people for their future mission in life. We start by helping them discover their mission, and then, we equip them to walk it. We provide a support system as they pursue that journey. UNITY’s youth development begins the moment the child joins the organization and continues up through high school graduation. Our educational arts programs are designed to enhance the students’ artistic knowledge and shape the students’ creative talents. These programs help build awareness and offer exposure for many youth and adults to art forms not commonly performed in elementary, secondary and higher education settings. They allow UNITY to develop and sustain a legitimate precedent for soulful art forms to be adapted for mainstream education and community arts programs.
Youth Development and Soulful Arts Educational Programs
Projected launching dates: Spring 2015 – 2020
- ïBuilding Your Character, One Brick at a Time (Our BYC Training)– Helping students build and understand the importance of true character.
- ïLeadership, Communication, and Impact (Our LCI Training) – Training that prepares our students for the real world, so they are enabled to achieve in high school, college, the workforce and adult life.
- ïEmpowerment Weekend Break Out Group Sessions – Students are grouped by age and participate in activities and workshops on topics relevant to their age. This program helps our students improve social and communication skills as they participate in-group sessions.
- ïEmpowerment Master Classes – UNITY’s mission focuses on empowering our members by equipping them with essential information that will increase the quality of life for our students and their parents if willingly received and applied properly. The classes will cover various topics such as, health & wellness, financial management, insurance, wealth building, creating legacy, career planning, college readiness, and many more helpful topics for development.
- ïAcademic Empowerment Classes – UNITY is also strongly committed to encouraging and supporting academic excellence, good citizenship at school and proper domestic behavior. Our Academic classes will focus on inspiring and teaching the value of education and nurturing intelligent behavior. Courses will include building a character for knowledge, academic mentoring for students with school challenges, exposure to college ready information, educational trips, master classes by educators, and professionals.
- ïSummer Training Institute – Includes various short-term classes designed to expose, equip and ignite our students’ interest in areas such as computer technology, database design, digital audio and video, photography and graphic design, sound production and many other exciting disciplines.
- ïCEO Business Round Table Forums – Exposing our students to business owners, corporate CEOs, and professional executives. Inspiring the next generation of business executives.
- ïShadowing & Internship Opportunities – Exposure is the key to enhancing a young person’s prospective on the future. We believe, to increase hope in the life of a child, you have to increase opportunities and possibilities for that child to dream and think big for their life. Connecting our high school students to professionals who have achieved their career goals is key to helping them achieve their career goals. This program finds successful professionals from various careers, who are wiling to make themselves accessible to young dreamers, for several shadowing opportunities. UNITY also offers our students, ages 14 and older, the opportunity to work as interns in our office, or with our other collaborative partners.
- ïRAP with the Pros (UNITY’s Young Professional Guests Rap Series) (TBA)
Artistic Educational Programs (Soulful Arts Educational Programs)
- •SAAP (Soulful Arts Awareness Program) – Our educational vehicle to expose the community to the soulful art forms.
- oPhase One – Collaboration performances with school choirs
- oPhase Two – Summer Arts Academy, workshops, seminars, etc. (for students, teachers and instructors)
- oPhase Three – Trips to concerts, events, venues where soulful arts are performed
Our empowering youth development programs will help prepare youth for the road of life. “Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders With Integrity.”
The objectives of our youth development programs include but are not limited to:
1. Building character, and shaping and molding natural artistic talents.
2. Teaching discipline, structure and a respect for authority.
3. Building impeccable confidence, self-esteem and a value system.
4. Instilling an attitude of excellence and nothing less.
5. Encouraging good behavior and a genuine respect for others.
6. Providing life lessons and coaching that provide direction, advice and establishes strong relationships.
7. Exposing young people to successful professionals.
8. Empowering students to be leaders and responsible individuals that are equipped to handle challenges.
9. Broadening their artistic and social mindsets beyond their own culture and developing an appreciation for diversity.
10. Equipping students with the tools, knowledge and a strong support system as they pursue a successful life.
(4) UNITY’s Facility Vision includes building a Center for the Performing Arts and Development.
Part of UNITY’s vision is to build an artistic facility for young people in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne– a place where they can experience life-building programming, artistic training, education and performances. We need to send a strong message to youth that this is a community that cares about positive choices and decisions. UNITY Center for the Performing Arts & Youth Development (UNITY Center) will consist of a school of the arts, where mainstream soulful arts programming and traditional arts programming will be offered. It will be a place where young people “hang out” and will become a place students call their second home, after school. It will also be a place for concerts, workshops, master classes, conferences and seminars relevant to all groups of people, and will possibly become a retail hub of clothing shops, restaurants and other forms of recreation. UNITY Center will be a beacon of hope and life for the community for many generations of young minds.
Unity Center for the Performing Arts & Youth Development
This facility will include:
1. Auditorium seating for 1,300 or more people (for concerts, recitals, plays)
2. Dance studios
3. Exercise and weight training room
4. Choir rooms
5. Instrumental rooms (orchestra and band)
6. Electronic keyboard music training lab
7. Recording and video production studio
8. Practice rooms and teacher studios
9. Administrative offices
10.Lounge for students
11.Lounge for administrative staff and teachers
12.Seminar rooms (equipped for training and teaching)
14.Multi-purpose rooms (for small recitals, seminars, receptions, and parties)
16.Fine Arts Labs
(5) UNITY’s Replication Vision includes launching The UNITY Model throughout the United States.
Our long-term vision sees UNITY as a national model for youth development and non-traditional artistic programming. Our unique model includes establishing a support system that follows a student from childhood up to adulthood, thus empowering the child to be successful at home, school, church and in their community, and creating relationships that give young people the guidance and encouragement they need to succeed in life. The model also focuses on non-traditional artistic programming and training that reaches beyond the traditional way of learning artistic disciplines. This model is very focused on making artistic expression fun, relevant and appealing to the youth of this generation and producing quality entertainment that is soulful, fresh and exciting for the entire family.
UNITY hopes to create social and professional networking connections with corporations, big businesses, educational institutions, music and movie businesses, professional entertainers, athletes and community and political leaders throughout the country, in order to open doors of opportunity for the students we groom for success.
Replicating UNITY throughout the country will make it the first non-traditional artistic platform coupled with life coaching and youth development. It will not just be a social service institution to simply help youth and keep them off the streets, but it will be an empowering institution that equips, exposes and prepares youth to be ambassadors of excellence before they enter high school, college, the workforce and adult life.
Thinking outside the box:
Now you know about Unity Performing Arts Foundation and why we exist in Fort Wayne. We want to create a community artistic and youth development venue where parents can send their children to one location for artistic, character and life-building training.
Imagine having a community arts center where children, young adults and adults from all backgrounds gather for classes, training, entertainment, workshops, master classes, conferences, and most of all, fun. There is no concept in our community that offers families a full comprehensive program in the arts and youth development services!
Imagine having the country’s first national replicated performing arts and youth development organization, headquartered in Fort Wayne, IN!
We know, for many people in our community, this vision might seem far-fetched, but that is what it is going to take to make Fort Wayne more attractive to a growing generation of young professionals and families.
We want to be an effective and empowering source for young people and not just another entertainment organization. We also want to be a great performing arts platform for our community that provides quality and versatile non-traditional artistic programming and entertainment for the entire family, full of excitement and heart-felt presentations.
It is our hope that more foundations, corporations, businesses and professional individuals will embrace this new artistic concept and consider investing resources, services, knowledge and time in helping us achieve this great and unique vision. We ask that you expand your mind and think outside of the box.
Come on, and catch the VISION!
Marshall White, Founder/CEO