BY ROSANNA WEAVER — “Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges through ART” was the theme of a gala held Nov. 9 to celebrate 20 years of the Gateway Community Development Corporation (Gateway CDC) and its role in creating arts-driven revitalization of the Route 1 Corridor. (The Gateway CDC works within the communities of Brentwood, North Brentwood and Mount Rainier. Hyattsville CDC, which was formed in 2000, and Gateway CDC “are sister organizations with a long history of collaboration and engagements,” according to Hyattsville CDC Executive Director Stuart Eisenberg.)
Local politicians joined supporters of the arts at Martin’s Crosswinds of Greenbelt for the celebration, with host Rhett Butler and live music by the Alex Martin Trio.
Over the course of the event, speakers highlighted the Gateway CDC’s programs and its accomplishments over the years.
“Gateway’s 20th Anniversary Gala proved to be a well-received, wonderful event,” said Pat Thornton, Gateway CDC interim executive director. “I was deeply touched by the fact that so many people commented that they learned a great deal about Gateway at the event, and as a consequence they would like to partner with us.”
The event’s keynote speaker was Ann Bernanke, who founded Chance Academy, an academic program dedicated to working with underserved students, in 2007, renting a room at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier. Bernanke opened her talk by highlighting the fraying of communities as exemplified by a billboard she’d seen that read, “My casino is like my family.”
“We are the answer to resolving this problem of the loss of community, and we can accomplish this by building the bridges and breaking the barriers that hinder us from working together,” she exhorted the crowd.
Bernanke described the arts as “the equalizer that crosses generations and cultures” and added, “Arts-integrated education is a crucial component of connecting children to their academics.”
“We need to partner with one another, to find ways to promote economic growth while protecting our senior citizens and our long-term residents,” Bernanke said. “We need to provide a space that anchors education, wellness, peace and restorative practice programs, and arts-based activities for all community members. And individually, we must each commit to shedding our defensive layers and doing whatever it takes to heal ourselves from the scars we carry within us. Our children deserve nothing less.”