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Pitch Contest Targets Creative Millennials

Two creative Connecticut millennials will each be the winners of a $5,000 prize that will allow them to turn their ideas into reality.

A contest called The Push! is looking for pitches for short-term video projects or public-gathering events that must be submitted to YUPntwk.org by 5 p.m. on Oct. 15.

Six finalists — three video pitches, three public-gathering pitches — will present their ideas at a free event on Nov. 4 at TheaterWorks in Hartford. Members of the audience will choose the final two winners in each category.

The contest is organized by the YUPntwk, short for Young Urban Professionals Network, a branch of Connecticut Public Media tasked with finding out how to engage millennials. The public is invited to the TheaterWorks event, but only registered YUPntwk members will be able to vote. Membership, for now, is free.

“We are focused on millennial creatives, age 20 to 35, folks who are black, brown, multicultural,” says Meg Fitzgerald of YUPntwk. “Whose voices are we not hearing? It’s time someone started listening to their stories.”

The Push! is part of YUPntwk’s long-term strategy to go into Connecticut’s millennial community, find out what makes them tick and pursue lasting relationships with community members, especially creative leaders.

The Push! is a follow-up to The Plug!, a hip-hop and R&B musical showcase held last fall at CPTV and hosted by YUPntwk. YUPntwk also has co-sponsored other events in the city, including last summer’s District Night and READI Music Conference.

“Creators are cultural leaders, trendsetters. They create things. They see possibility. They transform things,” Mallory Mason says. “If we support and nurture and enable them, it will have a ripple effect.”

The YUPntwk team — Mason, Fitzgerald and Lauren Komrosky — was created to address the gap in programming on CPTV, which has shows for kids (“Sesame Street,” “Daniel Tiger) and for older adults (Masterpiece Theater,” “American Experience”) but nothing really for millennials.

“This is a new audience that we have had no relationship with before,” says Komrosky. “Our core audience is older and primarily white. We need to engage this community, build audiences, relationships, trust.”

Komrosky, Mason and Fitzgerald want to lay a groundwork, finding out what Hartford-area millennials are thinking about, worried about, focused on.

“It’s a long game. We’re not going to just flip a switch and shoehorn new content onto CPTV,” says Komrosky. “We need to find out who this audience is.”

For more than a year, Komrosky, Mason and Fitzgerald have been going out to millennial gathering places to get to know people. Once a week, on Mondays from 1 to 6 p.m., Mason has office hours at Tainted Inc. (56 Arbor St., Suite 33, Hartford), where millennial crowds gather to chat about current events, learn dancing, martial arts or self-defense.

TO SUBMIT A PITCH TO PUSH!, join YUPntwk at yupntwk.org, then follow the submission instructions. Submissions are free, as is admission to the event at 6 p.m. on Nov. 4 at TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl St. in Hartford. Those who join the network at yupntwk.org can vote at the event. Nonmembers also are welcome but they cannot vote on the winners. facebook.com/yupntwk

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