March 1, 2005

What would we do without creative managers?

Filed under: Art and About Creativity — admin @ 2:26 pm

The big awards season for movies and music was accompanied by the usual press criticisms of award winners for thanking their agents, lawyers, accountants and managers on national television. I am continually baffled by this criticism.  The winning actor, musician or filmmaker is merely thanking all the people who helped him or her live a successful, artistic life. Those gifted in the arts often are not talented in knowing how to share their gifts with the public without an organized support team behind them. The creative support teams for artists are also visited by muses.

Pediatrician Samuel Lewis of Lafayette is never at a loss for creative ideas to help promote young people in the performing arts. The long time fan and supporter of Belasco Theatre Company in Walnut Creek tirelessly promotes Belasco’s shows, its performers and its outreach program. But he is quick to say that he doesn’t sing or dance himself. Lewis’ gift is knowing the vital importance of getting kids on stage to perform, whether they are from a fortunate home or come from a family who, for myriad reasons, may not be able to give their child a shot at singing and dancing on the stage. Lewis also knows how important it is to give theater tickets to kids who don’t usually get an opportunity to see live theater because he knows seeing live theater can be a transforming experience. And Lewis knows that children who are given a chance to succeed on the stage will often gain the self-esteem, pride and self-confidence required to succeed in school and take that first step to becoming successful in life.

As Lewis says, “There’s some serious big-time talent out there who don’t have a way to share their talents.” It is within the scope of this observation that Lewis’ creative mind shines. Lewis bought some professional DJ equipment and formed the Smooth Motion Disc Jockey Group featuring three outstanding Belasco Theatre Company performing artists, Jonathan Smothers, Dave Abrams and Amber Clay. Smothers and Abrams come from tough backgrounds but have learned to soar via their musical talents. Clay was the top performing arts student at Skyline High School in Oakland last year.

Smooth Motion has been getting into motion performing at private and corporate parties. Using music from Shania Twain to show tunes, they play songs, sing and dance, do some karaoke and basically keep a party in high-gear fun. The money they earn from these gigs is going to their college funds.

This part of Lewis’ idea is great, but a Lewis idea is always multifaceted. Now that Smooth Motion is earning some money, they are starting to host dance parties for local seventh through tenth grade, to give young people who aren’t old enough to drive a safe and fabulous night of entertainment. But it doesn’t stop there. These dance parties are also fund-raisers for non-profit organizations. The first dance benefited the Step Up for Kids Foundation. A couple of bucks from each ticket went to the foundation. This spring there will be three dances to raise money for the new Lafayette Library.

Lewis’ idea is inspired and inspirational at so many levels. He has given Smothers, Abrams and Clay the chance to share their talents and earn money for college doing what they love. Smooth Motion is using their talents to give back to the community through fundraisers. Local kids have a safe place to dance and party away from school and home so they can be free to express themselves. Kids who attend the dance can be empowered by watching the success of their peers in Smooth Motion. And the kids attending the dance get the message that they are important enough to deserve live performers who go beyond simply playing CDs to singing and dancing at a party in celebration of youth and the arts. A volunteer manager who provides this opportunity for our kids deserves a lot of thanks from us all.

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