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Grassroots group plans arts series at Parcel 5 

A new arts-focused, grassroots campaign wants to put a community vision for Parcel 5 into practice. The Parcel 5 Community Programmers, spearheaded by arts activist Ray Ray Mitrano, will collectively organize and fund a series of monthly events at the controversial downtown space.

The idea is to gather together a group of individual city residents and organizations, each donating $5, and together choose that month's arts and culture event — which could be music, dance, theater, stand-up comedy, or even kite-flying, Mitrano says. Each month's donations will go entirely to the artist or performer.

The series kicks off Sunday, April 22, during Our Land Roc's Earth Day celebration at Parcel 5, with a performance by the jazz-hip-hop hybrid quintet Claude Bennington's Fever Dream. The celebration, which is sponsored by a host of community housing and neighborhood groups, takes place 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

"Instead of one billionaire putting down a bunch of money, deciding what art is for our city center," Mitrano says, "we have a bunch of people in the city of Rochester collectively underwriting and deciding on what our arts and culture is in the heart of our city."

Mitrano says the goal is to have 50 "community programmers" — a list will be published on Mitrano's website for transparency — for each performance (Sunday's event already has 54 listed contributors). The campaign isn't simply to show what arts city residents want in the downtown space, Mitrano says, but also "how we want it and demonstrate an economic model in action."

Future dates include May 20, June 17, and July 15. Information is available on Mitrano's website,, or on Facebook at

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