Latinas Are A Driving Force In Pilsen’s Hip-Hop Festival

Left-to-right: Elizabeth Del Valle,Lizette Garza,Laura Najera

First, the disclosure: Proyecto Latina’s Irasema Gonzalez and Thelma Uranga are employed at Pros Arts Studio—the community arts organization that sponsors the annual We Are Hip-Hop Festival.

Now, I want to tell you about their colleague Delilah Salgado, the teaching artist that led the first youth organized hip-hop festival in Pilsen. She has returned to this project each summer because it has given her the opportunity to inspire students to create art and mentor youth so that they can get the guidance they need to make better choices.

This summer teens working on the 6th Annual We Are Hip-Hop Festival continue to gain invaluable skills in event planning, marketing, promotions and music management.  The festival showcases local musicians, artists, break-dancers, and poets in the Pilsen and Little Village community to promote the positive aspects of the Hip-Hop culture. The festival is a program of Pros Arts Studio in residence at Dvorak Park.

This year a second instructor, Lizette Garza, a third year Columbia College students majoring in music management, was brought on board to teach the Promo Pros interns. In this After School Matters summer program a dedicated team of teens learn and apply lessons in marketing, branding and promotions for the We Are Hip-Hop Festival.

“The youth are able to come together to put on this festival and see the difference they make by collaborating with each other,” says Lizette Garza. The festival aims to empower youth to put together this event and spotlight their talents by keeping them busy and off the streets.

This year the festival will create a safe space that includes music, break-dancing, and graffiti battles. The festival put on by the youth will bring different types of hip-hop together to promote peace in a neighborhood where violence is an issue.

Laura Najera, 17, a returning high school student is taking advantage of this summer program.  She says, “It’s a fun experience and gets kids off the street.  Being part of this program has shown me how to talk, to ask for donations from sponsors, and be professional. I will be able to add these skills to my resume when I start looking for a job”.

Elizabeth Del Valle, 16, will be performing at the festival with her group Hood Huntaz. She says, “I always liked everything about hip-hop and being a part of this allows me to give back to my community.  It makes me feel like I’m more a part of the hip-hop scene.”

Elizabeth is the only female singer in her hip-hop group and it can be challenging. “The music isn’t what it used to be; now it’s about girls and how they look and a lot of guys talk bad about girls,” says Elizabeth. She likes to respond to these issues and “stick up for women and set them straight” through her music.

The festival aims to spotlight Chicago hip-hop artists and Elizabeth hopes to show off her talents, “I want to put my music out there hopefully someone who hears my music says I like that and give me more opportunities to make it bigger in the music industry.

What struck me about this innovative arts programming is the impact it has on the youth by empowering youth to take the lead and produce a hip-hop festival.  Pros Arts Studio, the arts organization behind the festival, is leading the way in providing innovative arts programming and summer jobs for youth in a time when youth employment is sparse and youth violence is on the rise. According to a recent Newstips post by Curtis Black, ““Funding for youth employment has steadily dried up – and violence has fairly steadily increased – since the 1990s.  Today youth unemployment is at record levels…”

At this year’s festival Delilah, also a graffiti artist envisions working with other organizations and increasing youth participation and connecting them with a more diverse hip-hop scene in Chicago showcasing emerging and established hip-hop artists at the festival.

The Hip Hop Festival is FREE and will be held on Saturday, August 13th, from 1pm-6pm at the Back fields of Dvorak Park 1119 W. Cullerton. Chicago, IL 60608

RESOURCES:

ProsArts Programs

Find the Hip Hop Festival on Facebook

Twitter: @WeRHipHopFest

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