2005 Arts Festival: Awards Event & Concert

October 1, 2005 – Hollywood, CA: Renown artists were awarded for their contributions towards helping others through aesthetics at the Artists For A Better World 5th annual Awards Event and Concert at Celebrity Centre International. The event was part of the Artists For A Better World annual Arts Festival and honored artists who are helping to make the world a better place and this year’s festival was also a benefit for those affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

President of Artists For A Better World International, George Alger, expressed that “Artists For A Better World is about inspiring artists to use their creative power to support social betterment groups and activities that are dear to their heart.”

The band, Elan Vital, opened the show playing music styled as “Gypsy Rumba Flamenca.” The band was founded by Carlos Panthera and is supported by band members, Tod Nims, Jesse Stern, Rene Castro and Yussi Wenger. The band has performed with international flamenco stars, the Gypsy Kings.

Richard Reich was the Master of Ceremonies for the evening and praised the work of artists around the globe who inspire mankind to forward social betterment. Mr. Reich announced that “Tonight, although you may be dazzled and delighted by the music, dance and entertainment, the real purpose of this evening’s event is to acknowledge several artists who are changing conditions in the world through their aesthetic and social contributions. These are not only great artists in their own right, but these are artists who are helping others and their community.”

Fine artist, Lura Schmiedeke, presented Commendations to winners of the Artists For A Better World “Kids Poster Contest” and said, “A better world through the eyes of children is so simple, imaginative and wonderful! If we could all learn to keep in our hearts the simplicity of just naming, and then just wanting a better world, then perhaps we could all make it happen!”

Founder of Artists For A Better World, Barbara Corodova Oliver, performed her original song, “Mission of the Artist,” which is also the title of a book she authored, which expresses the courage of artists who fight suppressive forces to create a better world for mankind. Ms. Oliver was accompanied by singer, Elan Barram and the Celebrity Centre International Dance Association.

This year’s recipient of the Artists For A Better World LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD had arisen from a childhood of tenement slums and white gang abuse and fear, to become a teacher, a choreographer, and a mentor to kids who went on to become world-renowned Salsa Dancers. His involvement in the careers of such ‘A’ list stars as Margo Fontaine, Bette Midler, Sonny, Cher, Raquel Welsh, Connie Stevens, and Ann Margaret is a major contribution to the entertainment world. This year’s recipient heeded the words of his father who told him “It’s only over when you give up.” Along with garnering the respect of his peers and the industry alike, JOE CASSINI was awarded for a lifetime of dedication towards the creation of a better world through aesthetics and for elevating the understanding and importance of the artist within our culture. President of Artists For A Better World International, George Alger, presented the award and said “Mr. Cassini never ceases to pass up an opportunity to inspire the artist inside all of us.”

Mesmerizing dancers LAURA CANELLIAS and CRAIG MORRIS delighted the audience. They have over 20 years of teaching experience and have choreographed and performed in TV and on films such as Mambo Kings, Dance with Me and Out to Sea. They have also done stage performances with Lionel Ritchie, Gloria Gaynor and Tito Puente. They dedicated tonight’s performance to Joe Cassini, who also helped to choreograph their dance.

Stellar dance performances were also featured by NATALIA LIND from Moscow, and MICHAEL KUKA, who is a US ballroom champion. Michael and Natalia performed in honor of their Choreographer and Director, Joe Cassini.

Additional phenomenal dancers were FRANCISCO NOE VASQUEZ and MONICA FLORES. Francisco has performed in 59 countries and is one of the most famous salsa dancers in the world.

Guest speaker, MARTY KROFT, gave some personal insights about Joe Cassini. Mr. Kroft, of “Sid and Marty Kroft Pictures,” created and produced “Puff and Stuff,” “Land of the Lost,” “Sigmond and the Sea Monsters,” “The Bugaloos,” “The Bay City Rollers,” “Donny and Marie Osmond,” “Barbara Mandrel” and the “Mandrel Sisters.” He expressed his long-time friendship with Joe and Joe’s devotion to helping to make the world a better place through aesthetics.

RACHEL LINDLEY, a veteran of over 700 outreach shows by the age of twelve, was this year’s recipient of the Artists For A Better World SPIRIT OF YOUTH AWARD. Before the age of two she was already the youngest member of Kids On Stage For A Better World’s Talented Tots, singing before thousands of people. This singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer for the last eight years has used these opportunities to encourage other children to follow their dreams, stay off drugs and stay in school. For the last 2 ½ years Lindley has become a senior leader with the Hollywood Drug Free Marshals. Pasqual Bettio, affectionately dubbed “The Godfather of Art,” presented the award and said, “Rachel is always using her tremendous talents as an artist to inspire other kids, and adults, to work hard at their goals and dreams.”

FAITH RIVERA was the recipient of this year’s Artists For A Better World OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION AS AN ARTIST AWARD for exceptional contribution of her art and creative abilities towards the creation of a better world through dedicated service as a community volunteer. Not only is this Emmy-winning artist’s music heard on television, in concert halls, symphony halls and college campuses, it can also be appreciated at many diverse community events from the annual Women’s Festival of the Arts in Long Beach to grass roots movements for positive change in the U.S. Humanity’s Team all around the country. She volunteers her time at both groups as Music and Performing Arts Coordinator. Presenting the award was Carmelita Pittman, who is a singer and fine artist and Founder of the Rose Breast Cancer Society. Ms. Pittman said, “Faith is using positive music & positive music artists to support the empowering work of organizations around the country.”

In recognition of his dedication to the enhancement and revelation of beauty in multi-disciplinary art forms the Artists For A Better World SETTING A GOOD ARTISTIC EXAMPLE award was presented to JASON WATERS. Mr. Waters, co-founder of the multi-arts open mic ArtistSalon, serves on numerous councils and cultural commissions dedicating his energy to discovering the answer to the question for each of us: “At what point do I actually do anything that positively impacts this time and fabric in a beautiful way that allows for the existence of all?” Actress and award-winning photographer, Denice Duff, presented the award honoring his work forwarding community betterment through aesthetics. Mr. Waters is an Actor, Writer, Director and Producer. He has performed many roles in Film, TV and Theatre. He has starred in films such as Spokane, Strange Things, Inner City Blues and Get out of Dodge. On TV he has co-starred in the X-Files, Days of our Lives and Seventh Heaven. He also has been in many plays and has been in several commercials.

The Artists For A Better World HUMANITARIAN ARTIST award for long-term devotion to the promotion of human welfare and the advancement of social reforms, through art, towards the creation of a better world was presented to DEBORA GILLMAN. Her community work spans most of her adult life, 28 years of which at the L.A. Anti-Defamation League contributing to the agency’s primary work of fighting bigotry and discrimination of all kinds. Among the many groups she supports, Ms. Gillman serves on the Board of Directors of “The Artery USA,” is the past Executive Director of the “Park La Brea Arts Council,” and is currently forming “Save the ART Foundation.” Exhibits of her own fine art have been featured on both coasts of the United States and her work is also part of the permanent collection at Cedars Sinai, Los Angeles. President of Artists For A Better World International, George Alger, presented the award and said she believes “That art is a means of healing ourselves and facilitating the healing in others.”

RUTHIE RIOS was this year’s recipient of the Artists For A Better World OUTSTANDING YOUNG ARTISTS award. As a vocal artist in both English and Spanish she has performed in film and television as well as on stages throughout California. This award is given for personal commitment towards the creation of a better world through aesthetics. Singer, Dancer and Actress, Shelby Lindley, who was the recipient of the same award from Artists For A Better World in 2002 said, “Since a very young age Ruthie has performed at many charities. These include events for Mexico’s Earthquake Victims, Israel’s Charity Event for single parents of the 9-11 disaster, Homeless mother center, Guatemala Hurricane victims, and LA Homeless families.”

In addition to the awards, a video was shown featuring the Volunteer Ministers helping those affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes. The video was brought to life by an original song written by Top LA Sing/Songwriter, Dee Dee O’Malley. The Volunteer Ministers in the audience were brought to the stage and acknowledged for volunteering to aid those in need. Photographer/actress, Denice Duff, was among those helping in Louisiana and she emotionally expressed, “They need so much help. They have been through such a catastrophe that nothing can convey the true toll inflicted on so many lives. It was an honor to be part of the team of Volunteer Ministers. City Officials gave us so many privileges to help down there and our help is still desperately needed.”

Singer ANGELA McKENZIE performed her original compositions “Water in My Well” and “How Many.” She was presented an Artists For A Better World “Special Recognition” award for co-founding a non-profit organization to advocate against hunger through her music and her resulting work that helped finance hunger relief agencies in New York City through which Mayor Michael Bloomberg recognized her efforts.

Professional guitarist MARK ROMERO performed an original Flamenco composition and was presented an Artists For A Better World “Special Recognition” award for using his music, keynote concerts, and interactive workshops to heighten consciousness and present people with tools to help them create extraordinary lives.

Singer Jeannie Deva was the final performer with her emotionally evocative performance of “Dream in Color” by A. Lang & S. Peiken. With an international career of over three decades, Ms. Deva spread a spiritually uplifting message of hope and a vision of a better world through the audience, as she has around the globe through her life’s work.

To wrap up the evening, MC Richard Reich read a quote from humanitarian and writer L. Ron Hubbard which inspired the formation of Artists For A Better World, “A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists.”

Special thanks was also extended to the show’s Director, David Bartlett, to the Technical Support Coordinator, Larry Williams, to Petrina Sharp who was the Awards Host, to the staff of Celebrity Centre International’s Showcase Productions and all the volunteers who helped to create the 2005 Artists For A Better World annual Awards Event.