Continuing its mission to empower Savannah’s youth through the arts, Deep Center will host a special performance of its Block by Block program on June 8.
“Migration Stories: Deep Roots of the Collective” will feature a mix of high-school authors and adult artists, marking the culmination of a year-long process of research and creative production focused on the complex past and present history of Savannah, according to a press release.
“When Deep chose migration stories as our focus for this year's work in Block by Block, we did it because migration stories are a common bond at a time of a lot of division in our country and a lot of false narratives about who has a right to be where and who doesn’t,” Deep Center Executive Director Dare Dukes said in an email. “We recognized that everyone has a familial and personal migration story, whether that migration was forced, voluntary, or something in between.
“And we need to begin with that fact if we're going to have truthful conversations grounded in fact. Using creative-placemaking strategies, we supported our youth and numerous adult artists and other community members coming together, sharing stories, making art, having real conversations about Savannah's challenges, and envisioning change.”
The showcase will feature spoken word, dance, music, and a visual art collaboration between mural artist José Ray and youth — all inspired by personal, family, and community histories. The array of work represented explores migration across multiple contexts, including geography, culture, mind and body. The stories reveal what it means to grow up in Savannah, address injustices, and envision a future of community healing and transformation.
“I’ve partnered with Deep’s young artists for three years,” Ray said in a press release. “And I’ve witnessed their tremendous growth as masters of their craft. This production illustrates what’s possible when communities work collectively and creatively to address real issues. And I’m confident the audience will be inspired to continue the conversation themselves.”
The event will take place at 1:30 p.m. June 8 at The Yamacraw Performing Arts Center. At the event, Deep Center will release this year’s full-color, 200-page anthology featuring the writing and artwork of the participants in the Block by Block program. The book will be for sale at the event for $25, and all proceeds will benefit Deep Center.
Following the performance, attendees will enjoy local cuisine including 520 Wings, Rancho Alegre, Kayak Cafe, Mofo’s BBQ, watermelon from Joseph Fields Farm, and frozen treats from Leon Williams, Savannah’s Thrillologist of So Icey Thrills. This food collaboration will be coordinated by community partner Farm Truck 912 of Forsyth Farmers Market.
"This year's artist showcase demonstrates what happens when Savannah is serious about making sure its youth--and the funds of knowledge, lived experiences, and cultural histories they bring--are honored and celebrated," Program Director Keith Miller said. "Using the healing power of performance, art, and writing, these high school artists embody what it means to be fearless, conscious, and ever aware of the city's most pressing issues that negatively affect us all. And with an unshakable resolve, they remind us that they not only have a voice but know how to individually and collectively empower us to dream, think, learn and feel differently. Together, the audience will experience the hardships, uncertainty, joy, transformation and healing made possible at the intersection of art, community, and culture."
Recently, Deep Center was the recipient of $200,000 of funding from The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which was more than double their largest NEA grant to date.
The grant awarded $50,000 to Deep Center for their after-school creative writing program and an additional $150,000 for their creative placemaking program that focuses on project-specific funding for projects “that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes,” according to reporting from the Savannah Morning News.
“The art and writing the audience will experience at the event is a celebration of these hard and fruitful conversations, and we invite Savannah to come hear and learn as young people express the joys and challenges of growing up in this city at this moment in history,” Dukes said.