Santina Protopapa is a self-professed high school "band nerd" who learned about hip hop while organizing a Rock Hall conference, then used it as a launching bad to start her own arts nonprofit.
Ten years later, the Progressive Arts Alliance (PAA
) serves more than 1,000 students across Northeast Ohio every week through hip hop arts education.
"Our students have really grown to be leaders through hip hop," says Protopapa, a percussionist and DJ who teaches rap, hip hop, dance, film and animation. "Teachers are excited because they have no way to present this stuff in a meaningful way to their kids. They tell us, 'We could never have done this without you.'"
Last month, the PA All-Stars, a group of five high school and college students who write and perform their own original hip hop tunes, had a chance to perform on stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. The event was part of a program called "What's Going on Now" which celebrated the 40th anniversary of Marvin Gaye's famous album. The PA All-Stars also ended up on PBS News Hour.
"It was really cool to have the opportunity to present their work to a larger audience," says Protopapa. "Normally our shows are attended by parents."
On August 11th, PAA will celebrate its 10th anniversary with an event called Ten Years of Rhapsody
at the House of Blues in Cleveland. The fundraiser will feature a tribute to Cleveland break dancing legends Project Five featuring Councilman Matt Zone, the Corporate Cleveland's Best Dance Crew crew competition, live dance performances and hands-on art experiences for people of all ages.
Source: Santina Protopapa
Writer: Lee Chilcote