Patrick Gandy is an internationally acknowledged composer, pianist, conductor, orchestrator and musical director who has worked with such great artists as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Dianne Reeves. But, first and foremost, he is a man on a mission. Armed with talent and hope, he decided to help break the silence about the presence of HIV/AIDS among women of color in the U.S., and especially in the African-American community.
His project, ‘The Silence is Broken,’ applies some great online fundraising ideas for nonprofits to secure ongoing revenue for community-based organizations that serve people infected with HIV/AIDS. We support Patrick with our Video-on-demand paywall technology.
Patrick approached our Cleeng team a couple of months ago with a request for our support by giving him access to a monetary solution that would be used to raise donations from a concert movie (starring Loretta Devine, T.C. Carson and Patrice Rushen), that promotes his initiative. We equipped Patrick with a functional video-on-demand paywall, that allows people to donate money in return for a chance to view an educational concert video about HIV/AIDS. The video itself is a highly effective tool for raising awareness and supporting sex education among young women. I sat down with Patrick for a short chat to let our audience get to know ‘The Silence is Broken’ project a little more:
Monika Zameta: If you had to describe your initiative in 140 characters or less….
Patrick Gandy: We describe our mission at the moment in these words: ‘WE USE THE CREATIVE AND PERFORMING ARTS AND A SUSTAINED MASS MEDIA CAMPAIGN TO HALT THE SPREAD OF HIV.’ Although HIV is our main focus, we do much more. So generally, if I have to describe what ‘The Silence is Broken’ is about, I’d say we’re a for- purpose organization that assists socially conscious organizations to build awareness and raise funds to achieve their mission.
M.Z.: Let’s get back to your project’s inception. How was ‘The Silence is Broken’ born?
P.G.: Well, I have children and my kids were young teens at the time. As they started developing and maturing, one of the last things I wanted them to come home and talk to me about was having HIV. I could no longer stand by and watch my daughters grow up in a world so threatening without doing something. I wrote a ballad for them under the title ‘The Silence is Broken.’ It tells the story of a woman who discovers she’s HIV positive, and her struggle with the virus. After a while, I decided to put it out to the world so that my kids and their friends would talk about it with each other because it’s harder sometimes for the kids to talk about these things with their parents. I wanted to do something to ensure that my children and other kids knew what was going on outside. The song inspired me to come up with the ‘The Silence is Broken” initiative. I also had a lot of friends who succumbed to AIDS. There has been a rallying cry to pay attention, and it’s high time to take some steps against the spread of the virus, especially within communities of color.
M.Z.: What has been the hardest part of running the ‘The Silence is Broken’ initiative?
P.G.: There’s so much stigma surrounding the virus and people infected with it, and also toward my project. There are easier ways to create awareness about other things, but HIV/AIDS is a big issue that is devastating poor and marginalized people. HIV is not talked about anymore with the urgency and fervor like in the days when the virus was initially discovered, nor is it discussed enough. The incidence of new HIV infection in the U.S. hovers at 50,000 each year. This is unacceptable.
I learned very early, during an interview with Phil Wilson, the President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, that I need to meet people where they are, in their environment, in their communities and especially in their thinking. We’re definitely making visible progress but it is difficult.
P.G.: What gives me the most pleasure? First of all, being able to work with community-based organizations that are too small or financially too weak to disseminate their projects to scale is really empowering. Secondly, winning over people to work on ‘The Silence Is Broken,’ for them to be a part of it, to see how flexible and how powerful it can be to use your creativity to help other people are tremendously satisfying. And I certainly dig the creative part of the project and the process of telling a story. By the way, the Cleeng solution has made it all possible.
M.Z.: Why did you choose Cleeng to collect donations?
P.G.: I was searching for online fundraising ideas for nonprofits, such as a paywall that’s able to cover all of my needs, and I discovered Cleeng through Brightcove. You sounded like a perfect fit for us. I could use it right away without needing a lot of money or programming knowledge. On a basic level, the Cleeng video-on-demand paywall solution helps us to deliver the movie in a VOD format and gather donations in the most intuitive and easy way. I’m really looking forward to doing more with you in the near future.
M.Z.: You raise awareness using a crafted content that conveys your message exactly as you want it to be conveyed. How would you advise other non-profit organizations that want to create a ‘desirable’ content and ensure that the donations do trickle in?
P.G.: Great content is designed to bring down the walls, so it needs to be entertaining. It has to provide an ‘aesthetic arrest’ so the the information can settle in. It should be designed to disarm you so you’ll have no preconceived notions or stigma while you’re sitting in the chair and watching the movie or performance. This is an opportunity for artists and thinkers to go beyond the usual limits placed on you in delivering a product or service. Here you can break barriers and implement the extraordinary while helping people. Just stay on the road and what you need will come to you. If you keep your integrity, it will all work out. I would advise other organizations to collaborate with artists and producers. Telling your story through entertainment works.
M.Z.: I’m curious about your next steps. What are your plans for the coming months?
P.G.: We are planning a new concert at the end of the year, on December 1st, World AIDS Day, with celebrities and orchestra. It will take place in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati is undergoing a Renaissance. Their civic revival screams, ‘collaboration.’ After that, we are creating a major spectacle performance of my Modern Opera, The Family, which addresses exactly what we have been speaking about here and other social and structural failings that contribute to HIV infection.
I trust we will move forward, it will work out and The Silence Is Broken will bring in more money to equip our communities with awareness and education. I trust we will earn a foothold within VOD delivery and non-profit service and help more people. We are planning to reshape the way we split our donations too. We would like to give more away, upwards of 25% – 75% of our entire revenue. I’m also excited about unveiling new features of our project such as inviting more distinguished artists and creators on board to brainstorm about how we all can fuel non- profit initiatives with our creative work to make service and art more meaningful in the U.S. and beyond.
The silence needs to be broken again and again and again-everywhere.
☞ I encourage you to support Patrick Gandy’s initiative and to spread the word about ‘The Silence Is Broken’.
If you run a non-profit organization and you’d like to repeat the success of Patrick Gandy, simply register your account!