West Side Block Party celebrates Savannah’s young writers and artists


Deep Center will host the free and public West Side Block Party and Dramatic Reading, on Sept. 18, 3 to 7 p.m., at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum.

The event celebrates the stories, history and culture of Savannah’s West Side and presents the work of young writers who participated in Deep’s Block by Block program along with the works of Savannah’s leading artists.

Beginning at 3 p.m. inside the museum annex, Deep youth will present dramatic readings of their work inspired by their research of the history and culture of the city’s West Side, the seat of its Civil Rights movement. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. and seating is limited. Deep will release a full color, 170-page book featuring the writing and artwork of the participants in the Block by Block program.

Following the young writers’ performance there will be a block party on Wayne Street featuring live music, food trucks, public art and Story Tours.

The Story Tours along Wayne Street, led by the young authors, will focus on their work and critical issues facing the West Side neighborhood. Through a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, audience members will use their phones to respond to the art, readings, and conversations in a dynamic virtual space.

“This party marks the joyful culmination of a year’s worth of research, play, and hard work by a team of Savannah’s brightest young people, as well as artists, parents, and many community leaders,” explained Dare Dukes, Deep Center’s executive director. “The creative writing and art on display at the block party will remind Savannah how much there is to celebrate about the vivid past and present of the West Side, one of our city’s most storied neighborhoods.”

Deep recruited local artists José Ray and Jerome Meadows to create original public art inspired by and in collaboration with the young authors. Panhandle Slim has painted portraits of the 25 Block by Block participants, and these will be on display at the block party and, after the event, at the Live Oak Public Library on Bull Street. The Savannah Development and Renewal Authority will exhibit results from a collaborative workshop with the Deep Center that explores future plans for the MLK corridor.

“In many ways, my art has always been about perceiving, understanding and conveying the rich and complicated truths that communities celebrate and sometimes hide,” said artist Jerome Meadows. “It is in this way and for this reason that I am delighted to have been provided the opportunity to design and create the two sculptural works that will anchor the West Side Block Party.  My close relationship with Deep’s young authors has been immensely inspiring. Through getting to know them, and by way of their insightful words, they have served as compelling collaborators for me throughout this process.”

The block party is free and open to the public and will be held in the parking lot of the Civil Rights Museum, extending east on Wayne Street to Chatham Square. Food will be available from the Savannah Food Truck Festival, and a DJ and local bands will play music throughout the day. The Block Party is coordinated in partnership with Art Rise Savannah, the local arts organization behind the First Friday Art March and the Better Block Project in Starland.

Deep Center’s Block by Block program is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, the City of Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs, and the United Way Coastal Empire. Deep Center is a nonprofit that provides free, fun and rigorous writing workshops for public school students in Savannah, Georgia. Deep connects kids with a thriving community of writing mentors—local authors, poets, and journalists—to help them share their stories. In addition to the donors listed above, Deep Center is funded in part by the Adler Family Foundation, the Johanna Anderson Trueblood Foundation, the Georgia Council for the Arts, Georgia Power, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, International Paper, Publix, the Savannah Community Foundation, and many generous institutions and individuals. Learn more at deepkids.com.