Empowerment Fest brings young voices to Cafe Berlin

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Mizzou put together its second annual Empowerment Fest uniting different local artists at Cafe Berlin.


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Planned Parenthood Advocates at Mizzou held its second annual Empowerment Fest on Friday, April 20 at Cafe Berlin. The event gathered a number of artists to raise money and awareness for the organization and its goals.

The performances varied from the Delta Tau chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha's STEP Dance Team to a band of high schoolers called The Sweaters. MU student artist Callie McCarthy was also at the fest selling her works and talked about her art.

“My art doesn’t really have a theme,” McCarthy said. “I have collages, paintings and ceramics. A general theme is movement and filling spaces.”

Besides artists, Empowerment Fest also had different raffle baskets assembled with the help of a number of local businesses. They included gift cards from Yellow Dog and Skylark bookshops. The tables at Cafe Berlin also had signature lists for people to support the advocates’ main goal: to provide free Plan B pills for students on-campus.

“We started this last August,” Audrey Aton, president of PPAM, said. “We created a petition and so far we’ve gotten over 1,200 signatures from different community members, staff, faculty and students at Mizzou. We’re trying to get as much support as possible, and we’ve set a personal goal of 3,000.”

It’s been a busy week for PPAM. It had a meeting with the Missouri Students Association on April 16, where it got the organization’s support on the cause. Now, Aton and the other members of PPAM prepare for the next steps.

“Next up we have our meeting with the provost,” Aton said. “We’ve never done a campaign like this before so we don’t know what to expect, but if all goes well, we’ll start talking about finance.”

The advocates estimate that if the costs end up reflected in student fees, it’ll be an extra $3 to $7 a semester in every student’s tuition. Aton also brought up that compared to other universities such as the University of Georgia, MU has relatively low health fees. While MU students pay $87.50, the fees at the University of Georgia are $203 per semester (numbers refer to the spring 2019 semester.)

The fest collected signatures for the Plan B goal and also raised awareness about the organization’s mission in between performances. Colleen Lee was responsible for introducing the artists to the audience, and was constantly bringing up subjects such as consent and safe contraceptive methods on stage.

“People keep asking me if I’m nervous but I’m not,” Lee said. “All these performers are willing to be vulnerable and I’m just introducing them. I feel very honored to be able to do that.”

Empowerment Fest combined PPAM goals for the organization and an original idea of what empowerment looks like.

“We created it mainly as a fundraiser but we wanted to not only benefit our club and what our club does, but to bring in young people’s voices to empower them,” Lee said. “At first we were just gonna do music, and then we realized that music just doesn’t cover it, so we incorporated poets, STEP teams, spoken word. What empowers one person may not empower another.”

Edited by Janae McKenzie | jmckenzie@themaneater.com

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