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Ann Arbor-based Neutral Zone to have multigenre production Dec. 7 in Ypsilanti

Teen artist-activists will perform production with an impact

"Staying Power" performers from left to right. Malik Henry, Ashanti Kenyatta Campbell, Shane Collins, Samuel Martin, KhiLaina Allen, Rachael Somers, Zakiyyah Rahman, Sakinah Rahman, Ciatta Tucker, Tiyera Hall. Photo | Jamie Chiu

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – On Dec. 7, teen artist-activists will perform a multigenre production of poetry, film, music and theater at Ypsilanti High School.

Titled "Staying Power: Concrete, Not Wood," the production will be an evening-long conversation about gentrification and housing injustice that is experienced throughout the U.S.

Hosted by the Neutral Zone, "Staying Power: Concrete, Not Wood," has been jointly created by youth from Ypsilanti, Michigan and Richmond, California. The show is the culmination of efforts and weekly Skype-based workshops by the youth through an exchange program between the two communities that began in May.

“Staying Power’ to me is a movement filled with people that are determined to make a difference and raise awareness about gentrification and other issues within Ypsilanti. It’s important and amazing because we’re helping other people realize what’s going on in their city.” -Lu Allen, youth performer

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Both historical communities that have faced gentrification and its associated issues and impacts, Ypsilanti and Richmond have been nerve centers of artistic and political action. Having received a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Neutral Zone and Ozone House, along with other community organizations, were able to connect with the Richmond “Staying Power” coalition to young leaders in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area

The performance is also acting as a book release for a collection of original works by the performers.

"In order to fix a problem like gentrification both the victims and beneficiaries must first acknowledge the problem. By notifying people on this problem staying power acts at the first step to change the problem." - Ashanti Kenyatta Campbell, youth performer.

"Staying Power: Concrete, Not Wood" is open to the public. Tickets cost $5 for youth ( anyone younger than 21), $15 for adults and $45 for VIP access.

Tickets can be bought in advance online here or at the Neutral Zone or at the door the day of the performance.

Ypsilanti Community High School is at 2095 Packard St., Ypsilanti.

"Staying Power" performers Tiyera Hall, Malik Henry, Ciatta Tucker, KhiLaina Allen, Ashanti Kenyatta Campbell, Rachael Somers, Zakiyyah Rahman, Sakinah Rahman, Shane Collins, Samuel Martin. Photo | Jamie Chiu

About the Neutral Zone

The Neutral Zone is a diverse, youth-driven teen center dedicated to promoting personal growth through artistic expression, community leadership, and the exchange of ideas. It offers more than 20 weekly, after-school programs to all high schoolers in music, visual and media arts, literary arts, and education and leadership, as well as drop-in hours and tutoring services.

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