Downtown Wausau concert aims to promote community unity

By:  Laura Schulte with the Wausau Daily Herald

The 400 Block will be full of music and community unity on Friday, part of a movement to unite Wausau. 

The Unity concert, hosted by a local collective called the Unity Project, will fill The 400 Block with song as three bands and other local performers take the stage. 

The concert is a chance for everyone in the community to come together for an evening of free and family-friendly fun, said Kate Gaines, who helped to organize the event. The Unity Project hosted a similar event last year, and it was such a success that the group wanted another chance to bring people together in a new way. 

"This year is about moving past and about celebrating diversity," Gaines said. "And it's about how diversity can help the community." 

The concert will kick off at 5 p.m. on Friday, and will feature local bands The Kittens, which plays rock n' roll, Phocus, which is a reggae band and Unified Soul, which performs rhythm and blues music. In between, other artists will have the chance to take the stage and perform short solos.

Gaines hopes the free concert will unite people who may not usually speak with each other. 

"We hope that people find that they have more in common than they thought," she said. 

One way Gaines hopes people will connect is through art, which is why an art installation will be a part of the event. Attendees will be encouraged to take part in a community project, led by Unity Project art director Stephanie Kohli. 

Each participant will get to decorate a 4-inch by 4-inch square with their depiction of the meaning of unity in Wausau, Kohli said. And then all of the squares will be put together to form a mural that will be hung in the Wausau Children's Museum in Wausau Center mall.

Kohli believes the art project will help community members feel closer and express emotion to others around them. 

"The creative process is so important," she said. "When people do it together, they open up. I've been an artist my whole life, and I know how healing it is for me. It creates such a good feeling."

The Unity Concert will be free and open to the public, and will include children's activities, free hot dogs and water and art supplies to make your unity creation.

The concert is being held at the same time as the controversial Ted Nugentperformance at the Wisconsin Valley Fair. Organizers want to make it clear that the two have nothing to do with each other. 

"It's not a political statement," said Tony Gonzalez, a member of the Unity Project. "It's a community statement that Wausau has many communities and characters. This is an event that welcomes everyone. It's an inclusive environment for people who want to gather in a safe, non-political environment." 

Click Here to read the full story.