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TEDx Skid Row: Where the elite meets the street

by AirTalk®

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Downtown Skid Row Mental Health Center client, Diana Dow, talks one on one with Robert Gupta about his performance and her enjoyment of classical music. Ashley Myers-Turner/KPCC

If you're not familiar with TED talks, the California-born lecture series has become world famous for delivering fascinating lectures to the masses. Now one of its inspirational speakers based in L.A. is bringing the high-minded talks to downtown's darkest streets.

Celebrated violinist Robert Gupta is hosting TEDxSkidRow this Saturday, June 9 at the Hint Mint Gallery downtown. Gupta wants the event to foster dialogue across L.A.’s disparate communities. He asks, "If we can ignore Skid Row and the stories of people there, what are we ignoring about ourselves?"

When Gupta started playing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007, he was confronted with Skid Row, a world away yet a stone's throw from Disney Hall. He began to use music to heal, entertain and connect with the homeless and mentally ill individuals there. His work was featured in L.A. Times pieces by Steve Lopez. (Famously, Lopez's columns, his own good works, and his book, "The Soloist," about Nathaniel Ayers was turned into a feature film starring Jamie Foxx.) Gupta says this inaugural series is about activating advocacy. Because TED's slogan is "ideas worth spreading," Gupta wants the project to help Angelenos in "taking off their blinders" and changing their point of view.

Where do the arts factor in when it comes to homelessness and mental illness? Why does Gupta want this renowned lecture series to focus on Skid Row? Who is he trying to reach? What is his message?


Robert Gupta, Violinist, Los Angeles Philharmonic; Founder, Street Symphony – musical outreach for those suffering from mental illness in disadvantaged communities; Senior Fellow, TED

About TEDxSkidRow

The event will feature recent phenomenal streamed TED and TEDx talks, as well as live speakers from the world of arts and activism, advocates for homelessness, mental health, Veterans care, and incarceration within the community of downtown Los Angeles, the Arts District and Skid Row. The event will take place downtown at the Hint Mint Gallery on June 9th from 8:30 -- 4:00 PM. Registration is required and is now open.

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