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By Andy Argyrakis
Love Fest champions victim empowerment through all-star entertainment event:
One on one with Angela Rose and Anne Harris
"One on One"
Feb. 12, 2009
Chicago-based outreach organization PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment is celebrating its eighth anniversary with an action packed festival featuring several facets of the arts. Organized by PAVE founder, activist and musician Angela Rose, the event also includes appearances by headline singer/songwriter Anne Harris, HBO "Def Jam" poet Nikki Patin, model and television personality April Rose, plus several surprises. Here's more from both Rose and Harris on what to expect from the inspiring and entertaining event.
Livewire: How would you describe PAVE to those who've yet to become aware of your organization?
Rose: PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment is a nonprofit that uses education and action to shatter the silence of sexual violence. PAVE is rooted in grassroots activism using social, educational and legislative tactics. PAVE has created simultaneous national action in 40 cities across the country. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused by the age of 18. Although I was abused by stranger when I was 17, most of the sexual violence is committed by someone who we know and trust. Sexual violence is an alarming problem, but one that is very difficult for people to talk about. Oftentimes survivors of sexual assault are silenced by not only their perpetrator, but also by their loved ones. Moreover, there is stigma attached to survivors of sexual violence that doesn't exist in other crimes- victims of sexual abuse are frequently blamed for somehow "asking for it" either by what they wear or what they do. This attitude of victim blaming in our society creates shame, self-blame and silence- which can greatly hinder the healing process.
Livewire: What inspired you to expand from speaking events to concerts and festivals?
Rose: I think that music is a powerful way to foster awareness and inspiration. As a musician myself, I find great power in spreading messages through song. The first song that I ever wrote was the theme song for PAVE's documentary "Transition to Survivor," which is frequently used to educate students, police and military across the country.
Livewire: How has the arts community thus far responded to your call for action?
Rose: The arts community has been extremely supportive of our efforts. Our headline act for Love Fest, Anne Harris, has been a joy to collaborate with on this event. Our last event, Fear No Fashion, was a charity fashion show that featured three designers. Also, many visual artists including painters and jewelry makers have donated pieces for our raffles and silent auction. We have also received vocal support from musical icons such as the drummer of Phish, John Fishman. Violence is a tough topic and we have found that using different art forms provides a platform that reduces the tension of the subject. People are free to express themselves and gain a deeper understanding of the emotions that can be associated with sexual abuse- either on the part of the survivor, perpetrator, loved one, or community member.
Livewire: Anne, how did you get involved with Love Fest and what can fans expect from your performance at the show?
Harris: PAVE's founder, Angela Rose, and I have a mutual friend who felt that the two of us should know each other. He had us over for pizza and we hit it off right away. I was blown away by her incredible story, and by her vision, voice and activism. I wanted to participate in Love Fest on whatever level and support this important organization. My performance at the show will celebrate the spirit of PAVE- Angela's bold choice to transform her own pain and fear into action that inspires so many others working their way thru the tunnel of victimization.
Livewire: As an artist, why is it so important to get involved with socially conscious causes?
Harris: Art has the unique ability to entertain while lifting consciousness. It offers the possibility of expansion, education, enlightenment. My hope is that thru my work, I will be able to participate positively in that process.
Livewire: At Love Fest, how do you hope to inspire the audience towards empowerment?
Rose: PAVE's Love Fest will weave inspiring messages and ideas for community action through the entertainment. We have an extremely talented line-up of acts that will include members of the Chicago Fire Department. Chicagoans shouldn't miss this event filled with surprises throughout the evening. Our event coordinator, Tim Toth from Lather Chicago Salon, will transform the venue for an unforgettable experience. Tim is also a celebrity hairstylist who has worked on movies such as "The Dark Knight" and his team of hair experts will providing complimentary hair styles from 4-5pm.
Harris: I hope that people walk away from this event feeling lifted and empowered on some level. The focus of my music is has always been to try and lift the vibration thru positive consciousness, so my wish is that this contributes to the experience of the evening in some small way.
Livewire: What do you hope attendees can learn from the evening?
Harris: Attendees will learn more about PAVE's work in both prevention and awareness of sexual assault. PAVE strives to break to silence of sexual and domestic violence thru education and empowerment. Love Fest will be a celebration of the power of voices united towards that goal.
Rose: We hope that our attendees can celebrate with PAVE on eight years of successful programs, projects and campaigns. We want people to believe that if we work together, we can shatter the silence of sexual violence. PAVE is making a strong impact nationally as we continue to offer ways that everyone can get involved as an individual, campus chapter or community affiliate.
Love Fest takes place Sunday, February 15 from 4p.m.-8p.m. at Martyrs, 3855 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago. For additional details, visit www.pavingtheway.net.