Wright State University has joined the movement to preserve and promote Dayton’s funk music heritage.
The university’s Special Collections and Archives department will collect funk-music related documents as part of a partnership with Dayton Funk Dynasty Group. The non-profit organization announced its plans a year ago for the Funk Hall of Fame and Museum in Dayton, partly as an economic driver. The university has been working with Dayton Funk Dynasty since October.
University Libraries Archivist Gino Pasi said there is a demand from the community for research material on Dayton funk artists as well as other popular Dayton acts.
“We saw it as an opportunity to shed light on Dayton music, which has struck gold a couple of times on a national level,” Pasi said. “It is forward thinking as much as it is looking to the past. It is civic pride.”
The university seeks donations of concert tickets, posters, publicity materials, films, audio recordings, band set lists, letters, contracts and other documentation that helps tell the story of funk in Dayton and its impact on the community.
Items are being collected related to Dayton artists as well as funk musicians from other parts of the world.
The material about funk music archived by Wright State, which offers the largest archive in the region, is currently limited to a small smattering of photos and newspaper clippings from the Dayton Dayton News archives.
Pasi said that is not enough when you consider the city’s musical legacy.
The city is nicknamed the Land of Funk. Dayton-based funk bands such as the Ohio Players, Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame, Zapp, Faze-O, Heatwave, Sun, Slave and Lakeside have been applauded nationally, but there are few permanent physical monuments to their work here or elsewhere.
An Ohio Players show in February at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center was a part of a series of events locally recognizing funk music.
Dayton Funk was featured as part of “Finding the Funk,” a VH1 Rock Doc, and the Dayton Metro Library branch held the Black History Month program “The Dayton Funk Music Phenomenon” in February.
Visions of Dayton Funk, an art exhibition that accompanied the Ohio Players concert, is on display at Dayton Power and Light Co., 1611 Woodman Drive, until April 30. It will be at EbonNia Gallery, 1135 W. Third St., from May 1 to July 18.
Brenda Curtis, CEO and founder of Dayton Funk Dynasty, said the partnership with Wright State is an important step in the establishment of what she hopes will be a multi-million dollar tourist attraction modeled after the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Plans also are under way for an R&B Hall of Fame and Museum in Northeast Ohio.
“Not only is it going to create jobs, but we are going to be able to preserve America’s music history,” she said of the museum. “Funk music is finally getting the attention that it needs, and it is going to allow us to help preserve the music, but also give jobs to Dayton and the surrounding area.”
Money is being raised, but Curtis said she and her 10-member board remain miles away from the $30 million goal for the project’s first phase.
She hopes the partnership with Wright State will raise additional awareness of her group’s project.
Wright State will preserve documents in a secure and environmentally controlled manner.
Curtis is seeking an organization that can store and preserve larger artifacts and three-dimensional objects like drum sets, guitars and stage costumes.
Dawne Dewey, director of public history and head of special collections and archives, said that materials will be loaned to the museum once it is established and the department will offer support through student interns and exhibit cultivation.
The museum will support the university’s goals to make material available for people to learn about funk.
“It is a chance for us to provide a service to this community,” Dewey said. “We ought to be preserving and promoting and recognizing that heritage.”
Those wishing to donate documents related to funk can contact Gino Pasi at 937-775-3991 or email@example.com. Those with larger items can contact Brenda Curtis at 937-716-1608 or Daytonfunkdynasty@gmail.com