What's Going On... Now


In May of 1971, Marvin Gaye released the landmark album What’s Going On.

A year later, he performed it at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

The Kennedy Center is leading the national conversation celebrating the 40th anniversary of this iconic work. In May 2012, we’ll bring that conversation home to the Kennedy Center in a celebration concert featuring John Legend, the National Symphony Orchestra, and many special guests—including young artists and youth media producers.

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What’s Going On… NOW

A national conversation and celebration inspired
by Marvin Gaye’s revolutionary album

The Kennedy Center has launched "What's Going On...Now," a national youth campaign to inspire young people to share their art and expression by telling us "How have things changed?" since Marvin Gaye's album "What's Going On" was released.

At www.whatsgoingonnow.org, young people can use art as their voice, upload and share their creative expressions. On May 3-4, John Legend, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings and the National Symphony Orchestra will reinterpret and perform an updated version of the album at the Kennedy Center, commemorating the 1972 performance that Marvin Gaye held in the inaugural season of the Kennedy Center.

Join us in celebrating an international youth media campaign with a simple and direct call to action:

In 1971, Marvin Gaye captured and commented on the spiritual and cultural chaos of the nation.

It’s been 40 years. Have things changed?

What’s Going On…Now? You tell us.

The campaign invites young people to compare “Gaye’s then” and “their now,” inviting them to share their perspectives through images, poetry, video, music—wherever they find their creative voice. The objective is to create media that examines the themes of the original recording—war, poverty, the environment, addiction, personal truth—in contemporary contexts, specifically asking them to tell us what’s happening in their lives, in their communities, and around the world. Leveraging the album, historical artifacts and a custom social history and digital media curriculum, youth partners from seven different cities across the United States are now deeply involved in the educational resources and are responding to the critical question, “What’s Going On…Now?

Through the original recording, as well as historical artifacts and contemporary celebrity interviews and remixes, the Kennedy Center will provide the foundation for youth producers to be at the forefront of this national conversation.

To ensure deep connections for teens and young adults, the project was incubated with a network of established youth media, arts groups, high schools, and media partners before its public launch in late January/early February 2012. We’ll showcase the best of this youth-produced media online and at the Kennedy Center during the celebration.

Through this project, the Kennedy Center and its collaborators are providing youth the incentive and opportunity to develop their artistic, critical literacy, and career skills – and nurturing their idealism and commitment to civic action through the arts.

The Kennedy Center has launched a series of interactive programs that celebrate the arts as a catalyst for civic action and cultural activation. Leveraging digital and live event spaces, locally and at the Kennedy Center, this initiative invites teens and young adults to explore the social impact of the arts and understand their roles as citizen artists.

What’s Going On…Now is a collaboration of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Universal Music Enterprises, Fleishman Hillard International, the Digital Youth Network, the Grammy Museum and others committed to fostering the critical connection between music, cultural history, social action and self-expression among young people and their communities.


What's Going On... Now, part of the Rubenstein Arts Access program, is generously funded by David and Alice Rubenstein.

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© 1996-2019 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts  

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