Home + PlaceHouston, TX
HGOco is Houston Grand Opera’s education and community collaboration initiative. Since 2007, HGOco has involved art in the lives of over 700,000 Houstonians of all ages and backgrounds. Sandra Bernhard, Director of HGOco, explains their new program, Home + Place:
Home + Place seeks to build community through art. Building community means creating shared beliefs, languages, and stories among a group of people. Home + Place involves community members in three Houston neighborhoods in building home and place through music, poetry, dance, visual art and film.
HGOco is excited to partner with Neighborhood Centers Inc. (NCI) and Houston Independent School District (HISD) on this program. Home + Place builds on a successful collaboration between HGOco and the Sharpstown/Gulfton neighborhood in Southwest Houston, an extremely diverse community that includes immigrants from 42 countries. HGOco has been in Sharpstown/Gulfton since 2007, working with Neff Elementary School and the NCI Baker-Ripley campus to help the people of the neighborhood tell their stories through art.
At Neff HGOco helps students to lead the entire neighborhood in defining the character of Sharpstown through interviews, historical, cultural and artistic projects that reflect themes of community, identity and home.
At NCI Baker-Ripley, HGOco programs promote literacy and strengthen cultural identity through the arts. The Even Start bilingual adult storytelling workshop encourages immigrant mothers to use poetry, song and filmmaking to tell their journey stories and reflect about the culture they are creating in their households. The summer teen program uses the same model to encourage teens to tell their stories and examine their roles in their families and the community.
As a result of Home + Place, HGOco will work with two new communities in Northeast and Southeast Houston, in addition to Sharpstown/Gulfton in the Southwest, for a total of three Home + Place communities. HGOco will use the Sharpstown/Gulfton model to listen, engage, interact and collaborate.
We can’t wait to see how the two new Home + Place programs will develop. HGOco’s biggest challenge, and the greatest reward, is to listen to the community members and help them shape the projects, rather than coming into a community armed with our own ideas and plans. By letting the community tell its own story, mutual trust develops, and true collaborations are formed.