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Express yourself: Local venues want to amplify a cultural message

“A march, a protest and assembly is one form of that, but artistic expression is another form we’ve communicated for centuries,” Derrick McDowell said.

YOUNGSTOWN — Though local performance venues like the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, coordinators said they want their return to be meaningful.

Derrick McDowell, community engagement and inclusion coordinator for the City of Youngstown and JAC Management Group, said local artists and performers can start using spots like the Amp, the 20-acre “Great Lawn” at Wean Park and Huntington Bank Community Alley under the Market Street Bridge as a platform to express the cultural zeitgeist.

“A march, a protest and assembly is one form of that, but artistic expression is another form we’ve communicated for centuries,” McDowell told Mahoning Matters today. “We want the community to know these are the spaces that are open and available for them to use for just that.

“Certainly, what we see our country going through now, we want [these expressions] to be diverse, we want them to be cultural and, certainly, we want them to be inclusive and we want them to be honest with what’s happening in our Youngstown community.”

McDowell said local events coordinators were “pleasantly surprised” with how quickly Ohio’s phased reopening is progressing. He anticipates it won’t be long before those local venues may reopen, which is why he’s working now to get shows on the books.

McDowell today urged “local artists, musicians, dancers, performers, churches, organizations, for-profits, nonprofits, peaceful protesters and everyone in between” to have their voices heard there. Those wishing to book one of the venues can reach out to McDowell at 330-565-5483 or DMcDowell@WeanPark.com.

“At JAC Management Group we know the importance of sound,” said Eric Ryan, president of JAC Management Group. “We oversee hundreds of successful shows each year that rely heavily on artists being heard. What we know right now, above all else, is that our own community’s voices must be heard just as clearly. We know how the spaces we currently manage can help do that.

“We’re committed to the work Derrick is doing, and we’re committed to what this moment deserves. We are going to use every square inch possible of the spaces we oversee to facilitate deeper conversations and real community engagement.”




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