NY Daily News, Harlem Arts: Simply the Fest

J.J. El-Far, Neal Ludevig and Chelsea Goding are hoping to bring a Harlem Arts Festival to Marcus Garvey Park this summer. Photo by Harley O.

A trio of Harlem artists have taken a big step in making their dream for a summer arts festival showcasing local talent come true.

They’ve successfully reached their online Kickstarter goal of $12,000.

“It’s a milestone,” said one of the organizers Neal Ludevig, 25, who hopes to bring a two-day summer art festival to the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park this summer.

“It illustrates the community support,” said Ludevig, the executive director of the festival.

“It’s an illustration of people wanting it…We’ve got a ton of artists that have already applied.”

Ludevig, along with organizers J.J. El-Far, who has a background in theater, and Chelsea Goding, who works in dance, have been working to bring an arts festival to the area since September 2010, he said. The festival will include musicians, dancers, theater acts and there will also be an area for visual artists to display their work.

“We’re not stopping for anything,” said the professional musician, who books talent for jazz clubs.

Nearly 200 donors contributed to the Kickstarter campaign. A total of $12,623 was displayed on the site, as of Friday evening.

He said one of the biggest donations – a $1,000 contribution – came from popular Harlem bakery Make My Cake.

“Some of the biggest supporters were the local businesses,” he said.

Ludevig said they also received pledge support from Sen. Bill Perkins; Councilwoman Inez Dickens; and the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce.

And the fund-raising efforts haven’t stopped with reaching their Kickstarting goal.

The organizers are planning a gala in April to help with the costs of the festival, which will be free to the public.

“The idea is really presenting as many artists that are from the area,” he said, noting all three organizers are part of the “new wave” of people in Harlem.

All have moved into the neighborhood over the last few years.

The organizers plan to host the festival from June 29-30.

The deadline for artists interested in applying to perform or showcase their visual art at the festival is March 31.

“We’re presenting the most artists, the most exposure,” he said. “We want it to grow every year.”

For more information, visit HarlemArtsFestival.com.

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