CITY OF STOCKTON, CA
Mayor Gary Podesto

Apollo Night Talent and Performing Series

Quality of Instruction

Artistic excellence, discipline, and hard work: these qualities characterize Stockton’s Apollo Night Talent and Performing Series. Since its 1997 inception, Apollo Night (AN) has touched youth from every corner of the city. In June, 1999, AN helped Stockton secure one of ten National Civic League All-America City Awards in the U.S., with their vocal, dance and rap segment.

AN’s intent is to: showcase youths’ talents; inspire youth to achieve their greatest potential in the performing arts; foster respect, understanding and communication among groups of all races, religions and nationalities.

The quality of the performances speaks for itself. The 1999 finale drew an audience of 1,500. Apollo acts were hired at Stockton’s New Year’s Celebration and at a Temptations’ performance. Since The Temptations began their career at New York’s Apollo Theater, the symbolism was not lost on the young stars.

Program Design

Tony Washington, activist and talented entertainer, was the brainchild behind AN. While working at All Nations Public Housing Project, he became concerned about young people hanging out around the complex. Tony applied for a $1,300 dollar grant, with which he produced the first Youth Show. Auditions held throughout Stockton lead to selection of youth. AN performers have the freedom to choose their own medium. Working with the producer, they are given a vision of elements required in a professional production coupled with rehearsals, training in stage movement, and polishing of performance elements. While the time involved in training differs depending on the drive and discipline of each performer, youth with serious artistic intent on average rehearse 4-8 hours per week. Rehearsals culminate in approaches used to reach high-risk youth; the discipline and training imparted to young performers, four performances annually. At each, a panel of judges selects participants for a finale, held at downtown’s historic Fox Theater.

Creativity of the Program’s Approach

Go to where youth are! Instead of waiting, Apollo Night holds auditions throughout the city. The word about AN is carried by Stockton’s Youth Advisory Commission, represented by students from every area high school. Eight volunteers distribute flyers through churches, neighborhood hangouts, and social service agencies. Parks and Recreation Department also promotes AN at all 44 of its after-school programs. Youth are engaged in the program in a variety of ways. Youth who show particular artistic excellence receive coaching to hone their artistic skills. Others not ready for performance participate in various aspects of production, working as stage hands, ushers, costumers, sound and light technicians.

Integration of Support Services

AN recently established a system to link support services to the program, with a specific emphasis on high-risk and gang involved youth. Peace Keepers and Peace Partners, two programs modeled after the Boston Gun Project, are assisting in that effort. Peacekeeper hires Youth Workers to go where gang-involved youth hang out with a message that violence will not be tolerated. At the same time, Peace Partners uses Youth Workers to link youth to services, including counseling, support groups, adult mentors, substance abuse intervention, etc. They also disseminate materials and phone numbers.

Youth who responded to a recent AN Survey indicate that they have access to an oldermentor to whom they can turn for help. They also indicate that they have more avenuesthrough which to address issues as a result oi AN involvement. This informationsuggests that both informal as well as formal avenues of support are important infour performances annually. At each, a panel of judges selects participants for a finale, held at downtown’s historic Fox Theater.

Creativity of the Program’s Approach

Go to where youth are! Instead of waiting, Apollo Night holds auditions throughout the city. The word about AN is carried by Stockton’s Youth Advisory Commission, represented by students from every area high school. Eight volunteers distribute flyers through churches, neighborhood hangouts, and social service agencies. Parks and Recreation Department also promotes AN at all 44 of its after-school programs. Youth are engaged in the program in a variety of ways. Youth who show particular artistic excellence receive coaching to hone their artistic skills. Others not ready for performance participate in various aspects of production, working as stage hands, ushers, costumers, sound and light technicians.

Integration of Support Services

AN recently established a system to link support services to the program, with a specific emphasis on high-risk and gang involved youth. Peace Keepers and Peace Partners, two programs modeled after the Boston Gun Project, are assisting in that effort. Peacekeeper hires Youth Workers to go where gang-involved youth hang out with a message that violence will not be tolerated. At the same time. Peace Partners uses Youth Workers to link youth to services, including counseling, support groups, adult mentors, substance abuse intervention, etc. They also disseminate materials and proof who responded to a recent AN Survey indicate that they have access to an older mentor to whom they can turn for help. They also indicate that they have more avenues through which to address issues as a result oi AN involvement. This information suggests that both informal as well as format avenues of support are important in while no direct correlation can be drawn, survey responses do indicate that youth perceive the program to have a positive impact. Areas that have had a positive impact are associated with reducing risk factors and enhancing protective factors in high-risk youths’ lives.

Artistic excellence is key to the success of AN. Nevertheless, the program’s impact extends far beyond the production. AN has greatly contributed to reduced gang tensions as well as a marked decrease in youth violence. In 1997, 20 gang-related murders took place in Stockton: In 1998, that number had dropped to 3. Over 500 children and youth participate in productions annually. Attendance has skyrocketed; initial audiences of 150 have grown to close to 2,000. AN youth have also described the transforming power of the program. Crystal, age 14, said: "AN made me believe in myself. Jerry, a rapper and former gang member, described the impact as: "AN showed me the other side of life where I don’t have to be afraid."

Role of Mayor & City Government

Stockton Mayor Podesto and city staff are enthusiastic Apollo Night supporters. The Mayor and City Council have opened the doors of city facilities for rehearsals and performances. The City contributes security and staff. In addition, the City covers salaries, equipment and materials associated with AN production. Parks & Recreation Department has hired many AN performers as mentors in their after-school programs. The Department also pays for promotion, advertising, sound, lighting and awards.

Support and Involvement Extends from All Sectors of the Community:

In-kind donations of $4,000-,Youth & adult volunteers promote the program and assist with production; Local media provide extensive free coverage of the program and Media-One cable company tapes and produces segments on local television. Chamber of Commerce Stockton Leadership (1998) supported the programwith in-kind donations and volunteers.

Schools have provided facilities for auditions and shows; Police Department Volunteers provide security and work as ushers.

Financing Mechanisms

Financing mechanisms include: annual allocation from City; ticket sales; concessions; program sales: in-kind donations from organizations and businesses.


 
 


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