Roanoke talent show cost draws concern from local leaders

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 6:54 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The latest plan from Roanoke’s Gun Violence Prevention Commission is drawing some concerns from members and the mayor. They are planning to host a talent show for youth in the Star City but the idea isn’t the issue. It’s the cost - $25 thousand.

“A number of $25 thousand was thrown out and that’s a little concerning,” said Mayor Sherman Lea. “That’s a lot of money for a talent show.”

Lea says he thanks the commission for its work, time and ideas, but says it’s time to start asking if some of their efforts are reducing the gun violence in the city.

“We have other venues like our youth services for the city that can do those kinds of things,” added Lea. “I’d like for this commission to primarily be focused on curbing gun violence.”

Lea says other members on the commission have the same questions. He says the city council is planning to be more involved this year.

Nicole Ross is spearheading the talent show. She volunteers as a commissioner for the committee. Most of the money is going to pay for the Jefferson Center. It is also being spent on marketing and prizes for the children. First place will win $500; second place will win $300; third place will win $200. Each child participating will also get a $25 gift card.

“I’ve been getting some calls saying why can’t they just perform at Fleming? Why can’t they just perform at Patrick Henry?” explained Ross. “And my response to that is because we’re showing them what greater looks like. We’re giving them an opportunity that they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Ross says kids asked for an outlet other than athletics through surveys conducted. To perform they must commit to at least two workshops with TAP.

“Teach them about non-violence, self-care, things like that,” added Ross. “So, that we can start shaping them, giving them the idea that violence is not the answer.”

So far 182 have registered for the event. But Lea says he’s concerned whether these are the youth the commission should be reaching.

“Kids that live in neighborhoods that are at-risk. Kids that are living in those kinds of environments,” said Lea. “To make sure we can bring them out. Work with them and prepare them.”

WDBJ7 asked Ross if this event was reaching the “at-risk” youth in the community.

“Well, first of all I want to throw out that word at-risk. First of all in my opinion every child in Roanoke, we need to support,” responded Ross. “At risk sometimes has a negative connotation. That we’re looking for bad kids. And we’re not. We’re looking for talented.”

Auditions are scheduled for Saturday morning at the Dumas Center at 10 a.m. Kids who haven’t signed up can audition until 10:30 a.m.

The talent show is scheduled for March 24 at 6:30 pm.