Thank you. I guess as a person who serves on a lot of these panels, I always wonder exactly what I can add to the conversation that we are having. Obviously my organization is a little bit different than the one in Point Breeze and I thought I maybe would describe that a little bit. But before I do that, there was just something that really struck me about the first session, both the people that spoke and the content of those remarks that I think is useful for us all to reflect on and that is the power of the individuals within our midst.

The work that Barbara Nichols, for example, has done, she just stepped out of the room for a second, is work that I have known and been influenced by for twenty years, but we have never met. I hear about her work, I receive her materials, I receive her brochures, I've emulated some of her programs, but we have never met each other. Justin, who lives in our community, who I see all the time, I was very moved by the comments that he was able to make this morning about this community, but his vision for this organization. I guess I would say that one of the ways that we can affect change is to not under estimate how much our actions as individuals affect one another, both people we know but also a lot of people that we do not know. I think that I would not be her today, in fact, if it were not for some people who I just felt I had to step up to the plate and emulate in ways that I could.

So in terms of the topic, though, I guess that's one of the central themes that I would just put forth is the sort of power in individual passion and vision as it relates to the arts, also as it relates to how we work within our communities. Passion is of course one of the fundamental ingredients of an artist. Any kind of artist and creative person that they feel deeply about the subject matter that they are engaged in, whether it's visual arts, whether it's a dancer in the performing arts, an actor, the people who are really great at it and even those who aspire to be great, it comes form a certain kind of passion, deep within their hearts.

Each of us actually, whether we're artists or not, do have that passion; it is the reason that we are on the planet, it is the reason that we interact with the people that we do, and finding that passion I think is one of the fundamental things that we as sculpture workers, as artists, as art professionals, need to really concentrate and think about how we find that thing that really lights us up because it is that light that other people see in us and it is what draws people to us, it's what helps us to develop the work that we do and form that passion, how it's developed, is that there's a certain vision or point of view about life that comes form that. The things that we care about, whether its our kids and the way that they're raised, whether it's our community and the things that we think must be improved, we develop a kind of way of looking at those issues that becomes important and when the passion then meets that vision, you find the ability for people to do extraordinary things like we heard of today, the work that Justin is doing, the work that Barbara is doing, et cetera.

I thought I'd add a bit of my personal narrative as to how that sort of played out for me. I did start out, as Rick alluded to, as an actor and as a performer, but it became very apparent to me that I was never going to be great at that. Very early on. It wasn't but is trying to figure out, what's the answer to a relatively complex question or issue, and interpreting various statutes and laws but anyway, it's a good way of thinking about a lot of issues and so it was useful to me as a young lawyer.

I was reading an article in the LA Times, that's where I was living at the time, about a young choreographer, at that point, somebody you may know, Bebe Miller, and Bebe Miller, who now is in Columbus area, she teaches up at Ohio state, has her own dance company that's on tour now, the critic at that point was talking about how ridiculous it really was, that Bebe would never be seen in Los Angeles, that was just not going to happen because Los Angeles could not get it together to bring an artist of that stature and that caliber, they didn't have the good sense to know that she was a great artist, et cetera, and I said, "oh that's interesting, I wonder if we could just rent a theater and present her here," and I called up a bunch of my lawyer friends and we, not knowing, talk about not knowing anything, you know, I had come form the theatre but knew nothing about producing shows, we put on the show with Bebe Miller and that led to my involvement with First Impressions, which was a dance presenter that did a project that really changed the landscape of African American dance, called 'Black Choreographers Moving Toward the 21st Century, and it was a project that looked at all the different ways that African Americans express themselves through choreography. From traditional dances all the way through the Bill T. Joneses and Ralph Lemons of the world, so that wide spectrum presented really asking the questions. What is really black dance? What are we talking about in asking those questions?

From that a began to do work as Cal State in LA and UCLA, I taught there for a while, went to the University of Texas, where I ran the performing arts center and, you know, as an African American when I was in charge of the programming, but at one point my director got the idea that we should produce a program that was about Latin America, about the role of Latin American arts in the world. This is because we ere in Texas, the demographics there are changing quite remarkably, so I had to really sort of come up to speed about. So, what does that mean, as an African American I'm now being asked to curate and put together a festival that's really about Latin America? Well, what we quickly discovered of course is that people of African descent are a critical part of Latin America. While they may refer to themselves as Latin Americans, people from Venezuela or Cuba or Brazil, they are, in fact people of African descent and we share a heritage and that, for me, opened a wide range of possibilities in terms of what might happen with my own life.

When I was called to think about coming to Pittsburgh, a place that I knew nothing about really, and had no impression either positively or negatively about, I was met with a group of individuals…