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Miami-Dade County to celebrate Uganda as 'lush and diverse' – just as antigay life-in-prison law is signed

BY RODNEY MUHUMUZA
ASSOCIATED PRESS

ENTEBBE, Uganda -- Uganda's president on Monday signed an anti-gay bill that punishes gay sex with up to life in prison, a measure likely to send Uganda's beleaguered gay community further underground as the police try to implement it amid fevered anti-gay sentiment across the country.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said the bill, which goes into effect immediately, was needed because the West is promoting homosexuality in Africa.

Click here to read more.

Also Monday, Miami-Dade County announced that Spirit of Uganda, which "celebrates the cultural roots and newer offshoots of this lush and diverse nation," would be performed Saturday night at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.

Here's the news release:

SOUTH MIAMI-DADE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER AND CULTURE SHOCK MIAMI PRESENT THE SPIRIT OF UGANDA - FOR ONE SHOW ONLY ON SATURDAY, MARCH 1

A program of “joy” and “empowerment for the whole family

(MIAMI, February 3, 2014) Continuing their tradition of co-presenting top quality arts performances from around the world, the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center and Culture Shock Miami, the $5 ticket program for 13 to 22 year olds, collaborate to bring the best in family entertainment with the high-octane, heart-warming and inspirational SPIRIT OF UGANDA on Saturday, March 1 at 8PM on the SMDCAC Main Stage in Cutler Bay.

Designed as world-class family events, ticket prices for the show are extremely affordable at $15-$10 through www.SMDCAC.org or by calling the SMDCAC box office at 786-573-5300 and only $5 for 13-22 year olds through Culture Shock Miami at www.cultureshockmiami.org. The Center is located at 10950 SW 211 Street, Cutler Bay. FREE parking is available.

SPIRIT OF UGANDA presents riveting programs of music and dance for audiences of all ages to the melodic tones of standing drums, with dramatic choreography, bright, layered rhythms, and gorgeous call-and-response vocals. A vibrant cast of 22 performers, ages 10-20 brings to life the sounds and movements of East Africa. With Artistic Director Peter Kasule and special guest Rachel Magoola (Afrigo Band) leading the way, SPIRIT OF UGANDA celebrates the cultural roots and newer offshoots of this lush and diverse nation.

The New York Times described SPIRIT OF UGANDA as “invigorating the stage with that elusive thing called joy.”  “The audience hollered with joy,”  said The New Yorker.

Ambassadors for Uganda’s 2.7 million orphans, the children of SPIRIT OF UGANDA personify the resilience and promise of Africa’s next generation when they are provided with the resources to succeed.

ABOUT SPIRIT OF UGANDA

SPIRIT OF UGANDA is not just a show, it is model for empowerment through the arts. From January to March of 2014, SPIRIT OF UGANDA is touring to 18 cities from coast to coast. Ranging in age from 13-21 the group's 21 young artists represent the power and promise of Uganda's youth. Professional, critically recognized and publicly acclaimed, the company has performed at leading performing arts centers around the USA since 2007. Through their performances, educational activities and community exchanges, these goodwill ambassadors share their stories, promote East African culture and raise awareness to help ensure that they and their peers are fully prepared to assume leadership roles in their communities.

The troupe is a program within Empower African Children (EAC), a non-profit organization based in Dallas, TX and Kampala, Uganda. SPIRIT OF UGANDA exemplifies Empower African Children's three pillars of their mission: to provide a transformative education, to create global connections, and to prepare students for a lifetime of leadership.

Empower African Children provides scholarships to 50 young Ugandans. Each student attends a prominent boarding school in Kampala where they receive a high quality education. Each student is supported with individual counseling and programming that promotes healthy child development. Scholarship recipients also receive post-secondary education at a university or vocational school to help them meet their career goals and prepare them for a lifetime of influence.

A college-level U.S. Scholarship program makes it possible for a few of these exceptional students to deepen their education at leading colleges and universities in the Unites States. Over the last year, four students have graduated from leading universities in the U.S. Visit EmpowerAfricanChildren.org for more information and opportunities to support the education of students in Uganda.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR, Peter Kasule

Peter Kasule (Artistic Director) is a musician, composer, and choreographer. The founding Artistic Director of SPIRIT OF UGANDA, Kasule researches, creates, and arranges all repertory; he casts and rehearses the troupe, and produces the company's music recordings. Peter Kasule was born in Kampala, Uganda in 1981. Having lost his parents to AIDS, he lived at the Daughters of Charity Orphanage from 1989-96. In 1994, Kasule traveled to Germany for the International Children's Festival where his dance troupe was awarded "Best Performers." In 1996 he accepted an invitation from Alexis Hefley to attend Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas where he established himself as an award-winning musician. Supported by Empower African Children's US Scholarship Program, Peter earned a degree from the College of Santa Fe in 2007 in music technology, with a focus on composition and recording and an interest in blending African and Western music. After graduation, he worked at the World Bank in Washington, DC as an audio/visual engineer. Peter was an original member of the Children of Uganda company and served as that group's director from 2004-2006. In addition to overseeing all of Empower African Children's artistic initiatives, Peter is involved in developing other opportunities for young Ugandans . He partners with Father Joseph Luzindana, working as a sound technician during retreats and other religious events. He is also the sound technician at the YES Center (Youth Encountering the Savior). Peter has established a recording studio in Kampala. As a producer, performer, and DJ his work is seen and heard throughout Uganda. Peter is married and father to two children.

ABOUT THE BUILDING

South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center serves as a showcase for the performing and media arts, welcoming people from all backgrounds and economic means.  The facility includes 961 seat state-of-the- art theater, which features a fly tower, orchestra pit, front of house spaces (box office, lobby, concessions, etc.) and back of house support spaces (dressing rooms, storage and work areas, administrative offices, etc.).  The site also includes an activities building which houses lab / experimental theaters, and may be used for classrooms, rehearsals, and small-scale performances.  A beautiful outdoor plaza allows for festivals, art shows, and other outdoor activities.  The concert lawn “back yard” slopes to the Black Creek Canal, and can host outdoor concerts, performances and events.

ABOUT CULTURE SHOCK MIAMI AND WWW.CULTURESHOCKMIAMI.COM  

Culture Shock Miami was inaugurated in 2005-06 by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, with a generous grant from The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation.  Since then, it has sold nearly 35,000 tickets through its website www.cultureshockmiami.com.  A core group of arts organizations participate regularly in the program, including Actors' Playhouse, Adrienne Arsht Center, Cleveland Orchestra Miami, Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and ZooMiami. In 2011, Culture Shock Miami was selected and introduced as a lead partner to Florida International University’s Honors College's initiative, HEARTS - Honors Education in the Arts. HEARTS gives Honors College students the opportunity to be exposed to the arts in their courses, as well as through extra-curricular activities. In addition, HEARTS serves as a clearinghouse (and curatorial framework) for students to experience the arts on campus and in the community-at-large by providing them with information about and access to cultural activities and performances. Culture Shock Miami continues its sponsorship and support of the program for the 2013-14 season.

The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council develop cultural excellence, diversity and participation throughout Miami-Dade County by strategically creating and promoting opportunities for artists and cultural organizations, and our residents and visitors who are their audiences.  The Department directs the Art in Public Places program and serves its board, the Art in Public Places Trust, commissioning, curating, maintaining and promoting the County’s art collection.  The Department also manages, programs and operates the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, a campus of state-of-the-art cultural facilities in Cutler Bay,  as well as Miami-Dade County Auditorium, Joseph Caleb Auditorium and the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, all dedicated to presenting and supporting excellence in the arts for the entire community. Through staff, board and programmatic resources, the Department, the Council and the Trust promote, coordinate and support Miami-Dade County’s more than 1,000 not-for-profit cultural organizations as well as thousands of resident artists through grants, technical assistance, public information and interactive community planning.  The Department receives funding through the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, The Children’s Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.  Other support and services are provided by TicketWeb for the Culture Shock Miami program, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the South Florida Cultural Consortium and the Tourist Development Council.

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