Can You Hear Me Now?” A Stage for the Voices of Inner City Buffalo Youth

Were can a teen in Buffalo go to hear original spoken word material performed by his/her peers?  

The answer is Can You Hear Me Now? at the Gloria J. Parks Community Center at 3242 Main Street on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.. Sessions began  February 5. The Can You  Hear Me Now? coffee house is a FREE, safe, supportive, artistic atmosphere for young people on Tuesday evenings, creating a unique opportunity to perform and socialize outside of school hours in a positive and entertaining environment. 

Can You Hear Me Now? is conceived and directed by Solomon Dixon, a celebrated local spoken word artist, hip hop dancer, and teacher, and Da’Von McCune, the Director of Youth Programs at the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology. Together with the staff at Gloria J. Parks Community Center, this team is addressing the need for youth to develop their creative skills and to connect meaningfully with their peers.  Built into the program each evening is a light dinner, a brief skills workshop, a guest speaker from various community organizations, and an open mic session.  Solomon Dixon and Da’Von McCune aim to expand the language toolkit for youth to express themselves poetically and dramatically.  The program will also broaden the teens’ awareness of organizations that are working to improve the lives of underprivileged people, in hopes of engaging youth in social justice and community development work in the future.

Dixon and McCune will also offer FREE artist development workshops on Saturdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. beginning February 9 at Gloria Parks. The workshops are open to all young artists, ages 12 to 21, and include a wide array of topics including: interpersonal communication skills, performing skills, stage presence, creative writing skills, resume and portfolio development, basic business planning, and entrepreneurship concepts. In addition, they have recruited a diverse array of local adult artists to teach the young artists about using their art forms as a means to positively impact their community.   

The whole program is culminating in a showcase performance at the Burchfield Penney Art Center on April 16.  Performing in a professional theater space represents a proving ground of sorts for these young artists.  It will feature the best original material developed by Buffalo teens over 10 weeks of coffeehouse open mic sessions and Saturday workshops. This event is produced by the University District Community Development Association (UDCDA), a non-profit agency offering youth and senior citizen programs at the Gloria J. Parks Community Center, 3242 Main Street and community and housing development services at 995 Kensington Avenue. This program is funded by a generous grant from the Erie County Youth Bureau. For more information on the program, contact Michael Tritto at 716-832-5085 or m.tritto@udcda.org