All Ages. Always.
Supporting creative youth in Portland through
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Friends of Noise is a non-profit organization built on the values of collectivism and restorative justice. We seek to transform the culture of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth access to the music industry. We foster a healthy ecosystem for all ages to thrive by providing youth-focused programs, teaching industry skills, developing resources, mentorship and professional development. We meet young people where they are by facilitating opportunities for immersion into a safer arts community while uplifting youth voices.
Friends of Noise is a non-profit, educational, all-ages organization. Our mission is to provide safer and productive spaces for all-ages concerts, focused arts education, and leadership opportunities for youth with a focus on providing marginalized youth and youth of color access to performative creative expression. Our long-term goals are to contribute to the development of a region wide network of young people and adults that are learned and ready to pursue a career in the music industry on stage or backstage and to grow into a youth centered arts center that resides in a music focused arts hub in an underserved community within our city.
We seek to create a non-profit, all-ages arts venue that is youth-oriented and youth-driven. We envision a safe, inclusive community meeting place for arts events, with a strong educational and mentorship component. We intend to engage young people in all aspects of event planning and production within this space, in order to encourage real world skill-building. We believe these skills will serve students well in their future endeavors and help them become cultural leaders and engaged citizens in their communities.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
We’re going to keep this simple.
Diversity of artists, music genres and audience members makes for a safer, more vibrant and more open all ages music scene. When Hip Hop is on the same lineup as Rock cool things happen. When youth from different communities are dancing side by side to different styles of music you can see their walls come down. We have a growing roster of artists that span a broad variety of genres. We see diversity not as a task to be achieved but as a feature that draws in like minded participants of all ages.
Equity of access and opportunity makes for a healthier music all ages ecosystem. When we started FoN we noticed that there was an abundance of youth that were ready to play and see rock and Punk shows. We surmised this was because there was an music education infrastructure that focused on those genres. School of Rock, Rock Camp for Girls Montavilla Guitar Studio were examples of extracurricular music instruction that put youth on a path towards performing. In our second year we started recruiting poets to perform at our shows. We figured that writing poems could be a pathway to writing Hip Hop Lyrics. We also scouted locations for our concerts that were within Black and Brown communities so that the youth of those communities could see and attend our events with minimal travel considerations. In our third year we invested in laptops beat making software so that we could develop a beat making crew to support our poet/mc’s. This led to offering free beat making workshops at Boys and Girls Clubs, Portland Parks and Rec Summer Free for All and a grant funded program at a Home Forward low income housing development.
Inclusion is the key that unlocks and opens the door to a diverse, equitable and accessible all ages music ecosystem. By supporting inclusive representation it’s much easier to accomplish the following outcomes: booking shows that are diverse, getting underserved Black and Brown youth onto a pipeline towards playing in our shows, getting a diverse assortment of youth performers and sound techs paid gigs. E were approached by a group of young men that wanted our help producing a Day of DIY festival. We agreed to find them a venue, loan them our gear, get them a teen sound crew and assist on all logistics in exchange for booking half of the 10 band lineup. All of the bands that they wanted to book were punk and rock boy bands. We advocated and booked a multiracial Hip Hop act, a queer singer songwriter, a trans metal duo and other diverse BIPOC acts. Our co-producers voluntarily shared that if not for our advocacy all the acts on the lineup would have been filled with men of European descent. Six months later when the young men were booking another show they reached out to me to help them find a Hip Hop act for their lineup.
Andre Middleton (Executive Director)
Andre Middleton is a native New Yorker that moved to Portland to attend college. He has many ties to the arts and music scene via friendships that stretch back for at least 2 decades. He is the Executive Director of Friends of Noise. Andre is a community activist on issues of inclusion and equity and a community connector within the arts. He produces Friends of Noise Presents: a weekly hour of radio curated by youth DJs Monday’s 2-3 on XRAY.fm. He’s on the Board of Directors for the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, where he hopes to have a profound impact on their efforts to connect and share current and challenging art within a broad cross section of our fair city. André also serves on the Portland Parks and Recreation Budget Advisory Board as well as on Literary Arts Youth Advisory Committee
Jonise Orie (Development/Communication Associate)
Jonise Orie is from NM but has called Portland home for 15 years. She has been a lifelong lover of music, and spent many years making music as a vocalist. With a background in social work she is proud to be part of an organization that cultivates the forces of music and creativity to advance social justice and equity. She wishes that she had access to a program like Friends of Noise when she was young.
Board of Directors
Mulu Habtemariam (Interim Chair)
What’s good? I’m Mulu Habtemariam, a cultural producer from Portland, OR.
I was born in Sudan to Eritrean parents, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Communication, and spent the past few years leading community art projects in my hometown. After a stint in a strategic role, I formerly worked as a production coordinator at Wieden+Kennedy and spend free time being the ultimate hype man during my music buddies shows.
A comedian and professional stick figure artist on her off time, Raiyasha Paris is a long term student new board member on our team here at Friends Of Noise. In regards to music she is a vocalist and pianist who strongly follows in the footsteps of Alicia Keys, Mary J Blige and Erykah Badu. Music is a staple in the Paris family and Raiyasha desires to live up that family tradition and second nature. She states, “the moment I heard the story from my mom that my grandmother sang at Carnegie Hall in New York alongside Marian Anderson (St. Mary’s High School) and saw that how powerful one can be, I knew a gift was in me somewhere, and once found, I knew I had to share it with the world.
My family has a long history of music appreciation. My grandmother was a radio DJ for KMHD 89.1 throughout the 70’s. My father was a DJ in the late 80’s early 90’s when breakdancing and pop locking were the scene. Today I have the privilege to express myself creatively through music curation in all genres. Exploring new restaurants and vintage shops are a favorite way to spend my time. I also have an interest in the fashion industry and I hope to be more involved in the future.
Vaughn Kimmons, affectionately known as Brown Alice, is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Through music and dance performance she celebrates Blackness as the cosmic source of sacred inspiration and gives voice to the connective power of shared human nuance. She is a vocalist and songwriter in Portland based bands Brown Calculus and Tribe Mars.
I am a 4th/5th generation Chinese and Japanese American working in Portland, OR. Given the prevalence of historical and ongoing race-based displacement and community separation, themes of community, resilience and loss often come up for me in explorations of space and stakeholdership. I wonder about the capacity for art to engage and create stakeholders, to actively involve people in repair and visionary thinking. I have worked in education for over 17 years. In the past 7 years I have worked as a classroom teacher in a public school facilitating a teen digital media think tank and skill building program with an emphasis on cultivating a critical social justice lens. The program aims to equip young people with media skills to create positive change and participate in visual culture. In 2015, we built a screen printing studio that now trains over 120 youth printers a year. Creating opportunities for young people to express their visions and engage and community members is of great importance in my work as an artist.
Connie Wohn is known for delivering truly unique activations. With over 16 years of experience of breaking brands into the market & building effective teams, she’s produced innovative and memorable client events through highlighting artists, brands and musicians for success. Connie truly understands what people seek and what they want to experience. She knows how people want to make memories. Connie has a strong focus on communication and team building and clear priorities of efficiency, and creativity. She brings an intimate understanding of not only the local market but culture at large, and puts an emphasis on sustainability and equity. Her intimate understanding of both the local and outside markets gives her a strong supportive community that supports the clients’ experience and the brands’ exposure. She is herself an active member of this special Portland community and has a philanthropic skill set that sets a support foundation for the activations to in turn contribute to the local landscapes and communities. Connie thrives on these experiences and at creating these spaces for all the community to gather and celebrate. With a list of flawless executions in her history, she is a leader in the discussions for events and industry experiences.
All Ages. Always.
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