Back in November, SFR received an email from Santa Fe University of Art and Design about a free public event featuring legendary hip-hop act Public Enemy. The April 28 “hip-hop symposium” is a part of SFUAD’s Artists for Positive Social Change series, a five-year initiative spearheaded by Director of Photography and Artist in Residence David Scheinbaum. According to the press release, “Artists for Positive Social Change is a groundbreaking, university-wide series of events and performances that highlight one high-profile issue or genre.”
Given PE’s highly political/socially conscious message, it seemed like the perfect fit. And on top of that, the community would have a chance to participate in a discussion with living legends while getting pumped for a performance from one of the most important acts in the history of music—hip-hop or otherwise.
Life was good.
But then, somewhere between that initial announcement and the press invitation, the Public Enemy appearance became an invite-only event for SFUAD students, alumni and various high schools and youth organizations across the state.
Say what?! I was working in a record store in California a few years back when Chuck D came through and put everybody who happened to be there on the guest list, so the change seemed uncharacteristic. It was also unfair, according to a poll of SFR staff, all six of us.
But then I spoke with Scheinbaum, who helped shed some light on the issue. According to him, the decision to make the guest list invite-only boiled down to a combination of space constraints and SFUAD’s desire to prioritize students. The on-campus venue for the show was debated for some time before administrators settled on the outdoor tennis courts at the Driscoll Fitness Center.
“At first, we had these outdoor, Woodstock-type fantasies, but it became clear that was unrealistic,” Scheinbaum says. “Once we realized [Driscoll] had the room for a couple hundred more people, we extended the invitation to groups outside our own enrollment.”
OK. That sounds kind of cool. I certainly do ramble on about the youth being underserved in our community, so I salute SFUAD for making an effort to provide a curriculum-based event that students actually want to attend. Furthermore, the organizers should be commended for including youth not just in Santa Fe, but throughout the state. However, a lot of people in Santa Fe will be disappointed by the news that they’ll be unable to attend one of the more exciting shows to come through in…ever.
“This is by no means your typical concert, because as much as it’s about Public Enemy, it’s more about teaching, and I want everyone to understand that it’s not a question of who can’t come; it’s a question of who is coming,” Scheinbaum says. “We are, first and foremost, educators—not concert organizers—and if people have a problem with the fact that it’s kids who’ll get to go and not them…I don’t know. Like I said, I’m an educator, and my chips will always fall with the kids.”
I think I get it. I just wish it wasn’t an either/or situation. So even though I feel bad for people who can’t attend (full disclosure: I was invited and I totally intend to go), I will say that it’s about time for Santa Fe/New Mexico youth to have their own thing.
“Besides,” Scheinbaum says, “Public Enemy tours the world, and if people want to see them, it’s not like that’s impossible.”
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