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The 2017 Higher Ground Festival's HG Premieres Performance. 45 Local Artists, 7 Collaborations, 1 Performance Free to the Public.
58 backers pledged $6,265 to help bring this project to life.

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 Higher Ground Festival 2017

We are thrilled to be offering our 3rd Annual Higher Ground Festival's Higher Ground Premieres Performance to be held on Saturday June 24th, 2017 at Anne Loftus Playground! The performance will be free to the public and will showcase 7 new collaborations using 45 artists. This year’s program will feature various dance forms including Modern, African, Contemporary and Ballet; in music, a master of the Japanese shakuhachi flute, a harpist, singer/song writer, new musical compositions, and Armenian vocals; as well as, fashion, spoken word, visual art and theatre. We again join the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance as part of their 15th Annual Uptown Arts Stroll.

Click to read about the 2017 HG Premieres!
Click to read about the 2017 HG Premieres!

 

What Is The Higher Ground Festival?

Located in the Northern Manhattan neighborhoods of Washington Heights & Inwood, the Higher Ground Festival brings the artists of these neighborhoods together to network and to create interdisciplinary stage-based collaborations performed free to the community at large. HGF allows for local artists to create and present close to home thereby offering high culture presented to the neighborhood by neighbors. Thus nurturing the connections between the artists and their community, as well as growing a strong, united and thriving uptown arts identity. We are community building through art.

Since our inaugural year in 2015, Higher Ground Festival has brought over 100 artists together through our Meet & Greet Series and Performances, and has produced 13 Premiere Collaborations presented free to the Uptown Community.

Each HG collaboration receives a $500 project stipend, donated workspace and non profit resources. HG Festival presents the projects in a full professional-grade production, retaining responsibility of organization and cost, so the artists' only concern is to create and share!

Higher Ground Festival practices community building through art as it is our common ground.

HG Artists discussing their 2016 collaboration at a Meet & Greet
HG Artists discussing their 2016 collaboration at a Meet & Greet

What will an interconnected network of artists bring to the neighborhoods? Let us introduce you to the neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Inwood. We are the tippy top, "nose bleed" section of the great theatre that is New York. Our sidewalks are a ruckus of bachata music, Dominican & Russian food, community of New York-Presbyterian Hospital & Columbia Medical Center, Jewish traditions, multiple generation families on Saturday strolls, college students & young professionals -- and a grand wave of artists. In the last decade, these neighborhoods have proven an inviting home to professional artists of NYC. Our residents represent the full spectrum of the arts, and it is felt throughout the streets from the instrument bearing A-train swingers to the operatics resounding from the open windows of apartments. Many artists know each other either through meeting in their field or through projects, however many do not know that they are in fact neighbors and often living only a few blocks away from each other. And that is where the Higher Ground Festival comes in— it is time to unite our artists and celebrate their talents through collaboration.

"Seeing so many New York artists move to Washington Heights/Inwood in recent years, we realized the need to connect them all - all the disciplines! So we decided to join together artists for Meet & Greets, and have them network, inspire, connect and then partner for interdisciplinary collaborations. The collaborations are a celebration of the interconnecting artists, and contribute to the art identity of our community." - Co-Founding Director, Temple Kemezis

 

A Platform For Artists

Co-Founding Directors Temple Kemezis and Pablo Francisco Ruvalcaba, both long-time residents of Washington Heights and Inwood, came together with the intention of bringing to light the vast number of artists residing in their communities and encouraging them to work together in building an artistic voice, unique to these communities. With a drive to develop the uptown art scene, both directors saw the festival as a significant platform to do so.

HG is just the beginning. The festival not only sponsors these collaborations, but also nurtures the established relationships of artists while being a bridge between them. In the last three years, two dancers have received long standing work with a choreographer they met through the festival, past collaborators have worked together again on new pieces, and HG collaborations have been performed independently of the festival. This is the network we wish to build. Allowing opportunities for community artists to build professional relationships and create together outside the HG Festival. Higher Ground also seeks to find new performance opportunities for HG Artists and their Collaborations throughout the year.

"An Eastern West" - choreographer Emily Vartanian, director of General Mischief Dance Theater, joined with Lucy Yeghiazaryan and the YY Sisters to celebrate their mutual Armenian heritage.
"An Eastern West" - choreographer Emily Vartanian, director of General Mischief Dance Theater, joined with Lucy Yeghiazaryan and the YY Sisters to celebrate their mutual Armenian heritage.

What We Ask of You

This campaign is raising $6,000 for the Higher Ground Festival which will be added to our overall budget of $16,500. Your contribution of $5, $10, $100, $500 will enable us to give back to our artists, our neighborhoods, local businesses and our art. The Kickstarter Donations will fund our production and administrative costs throughout the year as well as our 2017 HG Premieres Performance. We wish to offer the artists all we can to make these collaborations a brilliant reality.

Your donation will contribute to:

Production: We strive to create an exciting and professional grade presentation, this means many hard costs associated with the performance. We need audio and lighting equipment, a proper dance floor, steel deck stage, equipment transportation, event rentals and stage crew to create the production these artists deserve.

Administrative Work: The HG festival is in its 3rd year so nearly every small task is coming out-of-pocket, including daily administrative expenses, acquiring the right permits and promotional materials. We want to do everything the right way and that requires spending a little more.

We are a passionate group... but we are still only so big and we could use all the help we can get! If you wish to contribute in any way, we would be most appreciative: Volunteer for set up during the show, Spread the word about the festival, or Supply workspace and/or art materials.

It takes the greatest effort by all people to build an area's art identity!

Donor Perks! Please know that every amount contributed is greatly appreciated, and we want to give back as much as we can in thanks! Donation perks include: Social Media and Website recognition, Signed Poster of the Event, Reserved seating at the June 24th, 2017 performance and Opportunity to cameo in a Collaboration! And more!

Creating Higher Ground, Inc. is fiscally sponsored by Unique Projects, Inc, a New York State not-for- profit 501(c)3 organization administrated by Pentacle/DanceWorks, Inc. FOR TAX DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS PLEASE VISIT THE DONATE SITE ON OUR WEBSITE, www.CREATINGHIGHERGROUND.COM.

Network. Create. Collaborate. Present.

Choreographer Julia Bengsston in rehearsal for the 2017 HG Premiere "Full Space", dance theatre piece. Miss Bengsston is collaborating with playwright Samara Weiss and composer Brian Morales
Choreographer Julia Bengsston in rehearsal for the 2017 HG Premiere "Full Space", dance theatre piece. Miss Bengsston is collaborating with playwright Samara Weiss and composer Brian Morales

How Do We Work?

Meet & Greets: Higher Ground Festival is also a networking opportunity. Festival artists participate in Artist Meet & Greets held in neighborhood venues. Meet & Greets are an opportunity for artists of all disciplines to Come together and Ignite conversations about collaborative projects.

Project Proposals: Following the Meet & Greets, artists wishing to work together submit a formal project proposal. To be eligible, each project must have two or more artists from varying disciplines working together to create a stage-based presentation.

“We truly get excited when artists think outside the box of their own medium, and figure out how they can incorporate their work into a collaboration - even when the inclusion seems impossible." - Co-Founding Director Temple Kemezis

Selected Proposals: This year the Higher Ground Festival has selected 7 collaborations with strong creative visions and timeless universal themes to be presented on June 24th 2017 as the 2017 HG Premieres Performance (HGPP). HGPP is an integral part of the NoMAA Uptown Arts Stroll.  As the artists work over a period of two months to prepare their work for HG Festival, HG aids the chosen projects through artistic advisory, $500 project stipend, donated workspace and non profit resource support.

The Final Product: Following months of rehearsals and production, our Collaborating Artists will present their completed pieces at our 3rd annual Higher Ground Premieres Performance held June 24th, 2017 at the Anne Loftus Playground, as part of the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Uptown Art Stroll. Our 7 HG Premiere collaborations are presented free to our uptown community. 

A Harpist, Choreographer and Singer/SongWriter/Fashion Designer -- 2017 HG Artists discussing their HG Premiere Collaboration at Anne Loftus Playground.
A Harpist, Choreographer and Singer/SongWriter/Fashion Designer -- 2017 HG Artists discussing their HG Premiere Collaboration at Anne Loftus Playground.

Meet the Co-Founders

Hi! My name is Pablo Francisco Ruvalcaba. Originally from Tijuana/San Diego, I have been living in Inwood for the last 12-years. I am a 20 year veteran principal dancer with the world famous Limón Dance Company, BAM/DeVos Arts administration Fellow, USDCA Fellow and graduate of the Juilliard School.

Hello! My name is Temple Kemezis. 8-years ago I discovered Washington Heights as a refuge from the rambunctiousness of NYC, and have slated it as my home ever since. I am originally from Tennessee, but no accent. I perform with Dances Patrelle, Sensedance and several other ballet companies throughout New York City and Pittsburgh, most recently performing in Isaac Mizrahi's Peter and the Wolf at the Guggenheim's Works and Processes. My background also includes working as a contributor for Pointe Magazine, and working as PR/Event Manager for Chef Julian Medina.

Community Supporters

About Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), HG Festival Partner The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) is a non profit arts service organization launched in 2007 with the support of the Hispanic Federation and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. NoMAA's mission is to cultivate, support, and promote the works of artists and arts organizations in Northern Manhattan. NoMAA advocates for support to artists and art groups who live and work in Northern Manhattan and contribute to the vitality and progress of the whole community. NoMAA's Uptown Arts Stroll is an annual showcase for the arts, artists and rich cultural venues throughout Upper Manhattan. Since 2003, the month-long festival promotes the works of artists in all disciplines, and the many community attractions of Washington Heights and Inwood. The Higher Ground Festival Performance is a vital participant in the 2017 Uptown Arts Stroll.

Additional Community Partners: American Academy of Arts & Letters, Hudson Pilates, Inwood Movement & Arts, Dance Theater of Harlem, United Palace Theater, Halstead Property, Evy Dent, 181 Cabrini Cafe, Le Cheile, Saggio, Cornerstone Church, HeightSites.com.

Higher Ground Festival is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administer by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Thank you to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for generously sponsoring the 2017 HG Artist stipends.

Higher Ground Festival greatly appreciates the sponsorship and support from Fort Tryon Trust and New York City's Department of Parks & Recreations.

THANK YOU!

Please join our effort! This project will enliven the community, unite neighbors and connect artists with resources and opportunities to expand their craft and vision. The community craves this festival, and the support for it has been nothing less than 100%. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Jane Lecroy in "Time Transcendent" by Rachel Blackmon and Uniqua Simmons
Jane Lecroy in "Time Transcendent" by Rachel Blackmon and Uniqua Simmons

 

 

Risks and challenges

Risks and challenges

As with any young initiative, we are subject to the generosity and support of our extended community. With the recent turbulence in arts funding and the financial uncertainty suffered by the entrepreneurial class, we too have faced decreased support from some of our long standing sponsors. However we have persisted in reaching out to other individuals and community organizations that by and large have found our work of interest and have been helping us offset any dip in support we may have experienced.

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    CLIMBER

    We greatly appreciate your support! Thank you!

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    MOVING ON UP

    Have your name listed on the HG Premieres Program as a Higher Ground supporter.

    *Performance date is June 24th, 2017, 7pm -9pm

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    GAINING GROUND

    Have your name listed on the HG Premieres Program as a Higher Ground supporter, and receive a signed poster.

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    MOUNTAINEER

    Have your name listed on the HG Premieres Program as a Higher Ground supporter, and receive a signed poster and a Higher Ground T-Shirt. (Please let us know your size: S, M, L)

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    ONWARDS AND UPWARDS

    Join Us for the HG Summer Social on June 17th, 6pm - 8pm in Washington Heights! Meet the HG Artists and Co-Founding Directors, neighbors
    and fellow arts enthusiasts.

    *Please disregard the estimated date of delivery. June 17th is the date of the Sumer Social.

    Along with the prior mentioned perks. (T-shirt upon request).

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    ACHIEVING THE RISE

    2 Reserved Seats at the Higher Ground Performance.

    *Performance Date is June 24th, 2017, 7pm - 9pm

    Along with invite to the June 17th HG Summer Social in Washington Heights and all prior mentioned perks. (T-shirt upon request).

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    SUMMIT IN SIGHT

    (2) Tickets to the New York Philharmonic or Martha Graham Company (based on availability). Mention on HG's website <www.CREATINGHIGHERGROUND.com> as a sponsor.

    Along with 2 Reserved Seats at the Higher Ground Performance, invite to the June 17th HG Summer Social in Washington Heights and sponsor mention on program. (T-shirt upon & reserved seat upon request).

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    CLIMBING TOWARD THE STARS

    Cameo in a 2017 HG Premiere!

    *Performance date is June 24th, 2017, 7pm - 9pm.

    Along with 2 Reserved Seats at the Higher Ground Performance, invite to the June 17th HG Summer Social in Washington Heights and sponsor mention on program and website. (T-shirt upon & reserved seat upon request).

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    REACHING FOR THE PEAK

    BIG THANK YOU! Invitation to the 2017 HG Premieres Dress Rehearsal at the American Academy of Arts and Letters on June 22nd.

    Along with 2 Reserved Seats at the Higher Ground Performance, invite to the June 17th HG Summer Social in Washington Heights, and sponsor mention on website and program. (T-shirt upon & reserved seat upon request).

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    BEYOND THE CLOUDS - YOU ARE AN ANGEL!

    WOWZERS! WE ARE SO GRATEFUL FOR YOU SUPPORT AND BELIEF IN HIGHER GROUND! As the HG Directors, we would love to meet you in person to thank you and treat you to dinner in the neighborhood! Whatever was prior mentioned is yours, just let us know what you request.

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Funding period

- (20 days)