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Wide aWoke Wednesdays coming to an end




In 2007, Motown Maurice was a 26-year-old entepreneur with a dream of spurring dialogue in Tampa Bay's African-American community with a live, issues-based talk show called Wide aWoke Wednesdays.

The result was a lively -- and at times, popular -- monthly forum with provocative titles like "Why Black Men Don't Go to Church" and "The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys." In June, Soundcheck attended a Wide aWoke Wednesdays R&B/hip-hop showcase at USF, and about 70 people were there.

But as was the case with Antisocial @ the Social, we're glad we caught it when we did. Because after more than two years, Wide aWoke Wednesdays are coming to a close.

"It's unfortunate that it's going to come to an end," said Motown Maurice (nee Jeoffroy). "The shows have been successful, the quaility of the shows have done nothing but get better. But it's really challenging to maintain. In my opinion, I've done everything right but achieve sponsorship support."

A few businesses partnered with Wide aWoke over the months, but only through in-kind donations. Only a couple of times, he said, has he been able to cover cost of the the facility rental with money from the door. "All the rest of the time, the money's coming out of my pocket," he said.

Motown recently attended the American Black Film Festival in Miami, where he realized he might have better luck if he tried his hand at producing short films instead of a talk show. He said that might be his next step as an artist.

He also sounded discouraged -- as many Tampa Bay artists often do -- by what he saw as a lack of support from the local community.

"I'm not one to give up or accept defeat or anything like that, but I would definitely say there's a sense of bitterness," he said. "I'm at the point where I don't even know if I want to do anything on that level again in this city. Maybe I need to try somewhere else. I've always heard, over and over again, that Tampa is not thep lace for this. Well, I've always fought against that. I've always felt, 'Well, maybe I can be the one to make Tampa be that city.' But after a drop in my spirits after my recent decision with Wide aWoke, it has got me thinking, maybe I do need to explore some different options. ...

"I understand why you might not see that many young people do things in the community, because there really is no foundation to help you grow."

The next Wide aWoke Wednesday, on Aug. 19, will also have a musical theme -- Motown said it'll be a celebration of gospel music and the church. Scheduled performers include September, Toni Rackard, Abraham's Daughter and G-86.

The series will end on Nov. 11 with a "Stomp the Yard Fest" of dance and step choreography.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:12pm]


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