Howard County Center for the Arts Presents THE LARAMIE PROJECT & Charity Art Event, 10/03

THE LARAMIE PROJECT opens Oct 3, 2014 at Howard County Center For The Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City, MD 21043. Performances Fri at 7pm, Sat 1pm & 7pm, Sun at 1pm. Tickets: $20/$18 Seniors/Students/Military. Black Tie Opening GALA Oct 3rd: $25. A portion of all proceeds will be donated in support of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

THE LARAMIE PROJECT, is a powerful play created by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project examining the impact of a violent hate crime, the beating death of Matthew Shepard on the close-knit community of Laramie, WY.
In the early hours of October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence, pistol whipped, robbed, and left alone to face the cold Wyoming wind. After seventeen hours, he was found and transported to a Colorado hospital where he succumbed to his injuries six days later. Only months before, on June 7, 1998 James Byrd Jr. was chained to the back of a pickup truck and dragged three miles to his death after his body hit a concrete curb. His attackers dumped his battered corpse near a cemetery a mile further down the road. Matthew was attacked because he was gay. James only crime was the color of his skin. Thousands of miles separated them while hate joins them forever in the battle against hatred. On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. It expanded the 1969 United States Federal Hate-Crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

In spite of this far-reaching legislation, hate crimes are still pervasive in our society and their incidence is on the rise through out the country. The American LGBT community is often the target of hate crimes, and among this group transgendered individuals face an even greater threat.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998. Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs, and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, & Acceptance" through its varied educational, outreach and, advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew's story.

Erase Hate Through Art is an exciting new creative and charity event under the umbrella of How Do You Like Me Now Productions, a 501 (c) 3 Non Profit organization, for the purposes of advancing the cause of acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Community, in and around the greater Baltimore/Washington DC region as well as nationwide. Our goal is to facilitate an open and free flowing dialog between the LGBTQ Community and non-LGBT citizens, promoting the ideals of acceptance and equality through the use of theater and fine arts. This mission includes creating awareness of hate and hate crimes against all races, genders, sexual identity and humanity as a whole.

Erase Hate Through Art has assembled names and stories of some of the most notorious hate crimes of the last thirty-five years as a beginning. It is these stories that serve as the inspiration for the art incorporated into this Art Exhibit at the Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, Maryland, 21045, a Columbia Association Facility. The exhibition opens September 14, 2014 with a reception, Performance Art & Poetry Reading from 2p-4pm, featuring MANNEQART as well as several poet and speakers.. Exhibit runs through October 12, 2014. Original work of artists in various media examines the fate of victims of LGBT related hate crimes, revealing the nature of hatred through a courageous expression of creativity, compassion, and caring, and as further tribute to victims of hate crimes. These people, young and old, were students, artists, politicians, members of our armed forces; straight allies and activists. Most importantly, they were friends and family. Through the powerful medium of the imagination transformed into art, they will live on; to inspire hope, and remind us of how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. A portion of Art Sales will also go to Matthew Shepard Foundation.

For more information contact Robert Neal Marshall, 410-984-0225, or via email or visit our website For Columbia Arts Center, Contact Liz Henzy, 410-730-0075.

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