Compton, CA — The saying that art imitates life is definitely apropos for Hub City Arts, a community-based arts program that works with youth in South Los Angeles, Compton, Carson, Long Beach and Lynwood teaching them the craft of performing.
Founded about 15 years ago by former Compton Councilwoman Melanie Andrews, the organization works with students in kindergarten through high school as well as some college youth.
Hub City has a show planned Feb. 11 at Compton High School called “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” and according to organization Executive Director Skyy Fisher, the work is an original piece based on a the poem by Langston Hughes. This performance will be open to the public.
“It will also touch a little on safe sex,” explained Fisher who added, “One of our goals is to help battle adult diseases like hypertension, obesity, high blood pressure and to teach them (youth) how to be safe.”
The way Hub City Arts works is that about three weeks before a show, they will go into the theater or drama classes at a school and get students who are interested to sign up to participate.
Then they begin teaching them the craft of acting. At the end of the three weeks, the students perform before their peers during an assembly.
At the upcoming Compton High show, in addition to the student actors, dancers and the Hub City Arts Choir, members of the school band will also perform.
Hub City Arts takes this approach for several reasons, said Fisher.
“One of the things we’ve found out is that when budgets get cut, arts are always the first to go.
Second, inner city students have not had access to the celebrity treatment (when it comes to theatrical performances),” said Fisher, an alumnus of Hub City. “So when the children come and perform in one of our shows, we have a hair stylist back stage, a photographer, and they get head shots. We give them a sense of pride to be on stage. Even when we travel, we have a limo pick us up from the airport. We want to give them a chance to live the fantasy life they see celebrities do on television.”
In the past, Hub City Arts has traveled throughout Southern California performing as well as in New York and San Jose.
This year the organization expects to perform at least six shows during February at various local schools including Henry Clay Middle School, Washington Preparatory High School, Manual Arts High and Bret Hart Middle School. All shows are free, and some, including the Compton performance, are open to the public.
The group is also looking to stage a dance competition to help raise funds to secure its formal non-profit status and to help underwrite the cost of the program. Anyone interested in making a donations should make checks payable to Hub City Arts Collective, 2201 N. Locust Ave., Compton, CA 90221. You can also call Fisher at (310) 662-1046.
If you plan to attend the Feb. 11 show, call to RSVP.