Signature Levitt Summer Camp spotlights urban creative arts

Urban Creative Arts 2021 resident artist Kyle Flemings, specializing in creative writing and spoken word, will lead a class within the Signature Levitt Summer Camp. The camp will be held July 12-16 on the lawn of Levitt Pavilion in downtown Dayton.
Urban Creative Arts 2021 resident artist Kyle Flemings, specializing in creative writing and spoken word, will lead a class within the Signature Levitt Summer Camp. The camp will be held July 12-16 on the lawn of Levitt Pavilion in downtown Dayton.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

“We are providing enrichment that is sometimes out of reach,” camp organizer Nate Leone said.

Instilling an appreciation for urban creative arts through cross-genre expression is the artistic foundation of the free Signature Levitt Summer Camp, to be held July 12-16 on the lawn of Levitt Pavilion, 134 S. Main St. in downtown Dayton.

A first-ever collaboration between Signature Educational Solutions, Oral Funk Poetry Theatre & Productions and Levitt Pavilion Dayton, the camp encourages youth and young adults ages 14-21 to explore spoken word, creative writing, hip-hop writing, songwriting, music production, entrepreneurship, civic education, youth wellness, and more. Field trips will also be incorporated. The camp’s theme is entitled “REconnect,” and events will culminate with the students presenting a showcase Friday evening before Sarob and Honey and Blue take the Levitt stage.

Urban Creative Arts 2021 resident artist Kyleen Downs, a guitarist/songwriter, will lead a class within the Signature Levitt Summer Camp. The camp will be held July 12-16 on the lawn of Levitt Pavilion in downtown Dayton. CONTRIBUTED
Urban Creative Arts 2021 resident artist Kyleen Downs, a guitarist/songwriter, will lead a class within the Signature Levitt Summer Camp. The camp will be held July 12-16 on the lawn of Levitt Pavilion in downtown Dayton. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Camp leaders include the following Urban Creative Arts 2021 resident artists: Kyleen Downs, guitarist/songwriter; Jomo Faulks, musician, composer and songwriter; Kyle Flemings, creative writing and spoken word artist; Jennifer Turpin Stanfield, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance at Central State University and registered yoga teacher; and Nicole Pritchett, music producer and executive director of Hope Road.

Organizers are confident the camp will push the level of creativity of its students toward a renewed understanding of how they do, see and make art.

“We want to spark the campers’ creativity, especially their mindset of what it takes to be an artist,” said Nate Leone, lead consultant and director of Signature Educational Solutions. “For the 18- to 21-year-olds, the age bracket in which we will focus on the idea of entrepreneurialism, we will guide them on ways to stay mentally strong while pursuing their dreams. Sometimes that aspect goes missing. We will share the importance of perseverance by providing tools and strategies.”

Nate Leone is lead consultant and director of Signature Educational Solutions. CONTRIBUTED
Nate Leone is lead consultant and director of Signature Educational Solutions. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Leone is also pleased about the possibility of attracting students from minority communities who may not always have a path to arts-centric fundamentals artistically or financially. The camp was notably funded in part by a grant from the Allegro Fund of the Dayton Foundation.

“We’re excited for Black children to have access to high quality arts (instruction), especially in theater,” he said. “We are providing enrichment that is sometimes out of reach. We’re really appreciative, honored, blessed and grateful to offer this camp at this time, especially coming out of a pandemic. To be able to offer this camp for free, at a time when some families are strapped for cash, is an (opportunity) unlike anything else that’s going on this summer.”

In many respects, this project is a natural extension of Signature and OFP’s Urban Creative Arts Healing and Performance Symposium, held virtually nearly two months ago. Continuing the symposium’s momentum in terms of programming and collaboration is key to the camp’s formation and potential productivity.

Poet/playwright/educator Sierra Leone is the executive director of OFP Theatre & Productions. CONTRIBUTED
Poet/playwright/educator Sierra Leone is the executive director of OFP Theatre & Productions. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

“The death of George Floyd and (hearing comments) from the community made us take a deeper look at what type of art we were making,” said Sierra Leone, Nate’s wife, executive director of OFP Theatre & Productions. “People love Black art in any form but what were we doing with that? Were we taking opportunities to impact on a deeper level? So, that’s why the symposium happened and why we wanted to continue to work with artists, especially from Ohio. COVID made everyone work with the genius that was around them instead of finding genius somewhere else. So, in order to stay connected, we hope the summer camp opens a world in which Ohio artists, and specifically, Dayton artists and creatives, will have the opportunity to reconnect and impact the urban ecosystem of arts in this city. It is also absolutely wonderful for the Levitt to play an amazing role and be open to a partnership.”

The camp is among a series of fresh initiatives for Levitt Pavilion Dayton, whose 2021 season opens Saturday, June 12. However, the organization’s mission to engage the community with youth-driven endeavors is not new. In fact, in 2019, 11 artists were connected with 471 youth in Dayton through the Levitt Connect: Inspire program. Still, the chance to do more felt necessary and timely.

Lisa Wagner is the executive director of Levitt Pavilion Dayton. CONTRIBUTED
Lisa Wagner is the executive director of Levitt Pavilion Dayton. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: ANDY SNOW

Credit: ANDY SNOW

“As we worked through shifting our educational outreach during the pandemic to our virtual songwriting workshops, we realized more than ever the need to lift the young voices in our community,” said Lisa Wagner, executive director of Levitt Pavilion Dayton. “When Sierra Leone and I discussed ways that our organizations could work together in 2021, it seemed that the alignment to create a summer camp at Levitt Dayton was the right thing to do at the right time. We are thrilled to be working with a professional and knowledgeable educational partner in Signature Educational Solutions for our first free camp at Levitt Dayton, and we certainly hope this is just the beginning of the story that we are writing together.”

To register or for more information, visit levittdayton.org.

Contact this contributing writer at rflorence2@gmail.com.

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