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A reprise for youth arts program ‘Show Out Boston!’

White Snake Projects brings back two free community arts events

Mandile Mpofu
A reprise for youth arts program ‘Show Out Boston!’
Dance group Area 51 Boston performing at last year’s Show Out Boston! program. PHOTO: WHITE SNAKE PROJECTS

Last year, “Show Out Boston!” a vibrant youth arts community engagement program, was an all-out success. The inaugural event maxed out its space and featured choral and orchestral ensembles, touching poetry recitals and spirited dance performances, complete with impressive acrobatics. This year, community members can look forward to another free installment of the showcase on Feb. 1 at Hibernian Hall in the heart of Roxbury.

“Show Out Boston!” is a gathering of local arts organizations that celebrates the talents of Boston’s elementary school-aged and adolescent youth. The event is a part of the programming of White Snake Projects, a grant-supported activist opera company.

Andres Ballesteros, the organization’s community director, said White Snake Projects’ mission is to subvert the sometimes-exclusionary nature of opera. Opera and classical music are often touted as “the most important” or “the best” art forms, Ballesteros said, and the purpose of “Show Out Boston!” is to demonstrate that “there are other art forms going around the city that are also really valuable and also really important.”

The Boston Children’s Chorus is scheduled to perform at this year’s Show Out Boston! extravaganza. PHOTO: A PRIORI PHOTOGRAPHY

When Cerise Lim Jacobs, White Snake Projects’ founding artistic director and opera-maker, examined Boston’s arts community, she saw many “brilliant arts organizations making wonderful work” that were perhaps too busy to network or expand their audiences. So, she and her colleagues introduced “Show Out Boston!” to bring together underrepresented voices in one place.

“I believe that in today’s time of turmoil,” she said, “art for art’s sake is a luxury that we cannot afford anymore, and that if we have a platform … we have to make it meaningful.” White Snake Projects’ goal is to “make space for marginalized communities [and] for issues that need to be dealt with through the extremely important lens of art,” she said.

One of the ways the organization accomplishes this mission is through “Sing Out Strong,” a community concert series that explores a “socially relevant” issue by partnering with composers to turn community-sourced texts into lyrics. The eighth iteration of the show is “Sing Out Strong: Emancipated Voices,” chosen in anticipation of the general election. The concert will focus on voting as freedom.

The Boston Children’s Chorus is scheduled to perform at this year’s Show Out Boston! extravaganza. PHOTO: A PRIORI PHOTOGRAPHY

Until then, community members can expect a fun, festival-like experience from “Show Out Boston!” Ballesteros said. The extravaganza will kick off with a sale of food and artwork, as well as an opportunity for guests to acquaint themselves with the organizations involved. The main event will be an hour and a half of youth performances.

One of the participating organizations is the Transformative Culture Project, an arts and culture nonprofit that offers multimedia programming within Boston Public Schools and through an after-school program. It encourages young people to use art as an outlet by teaching creative skills such as beat making, photography, design, poetry and more.

Letia Larok, executive director of the Transformative Culture Project, said it was “amazing” to witness the youth talent at last year’s “Show Out Boston!” event and to be educated on other arts programs in Boston that she was less familiar with. This year, a student of the Transformative Culture Project will share a song from an album created through the program.

Larok said she was enamored of the diversity of arts displayed last year and is looking forward to “collectively celebrating” once again.

“I hope … it inspires attendees to be more involved in community and in these organizations,” she said, “and [to help] us to push our work further.”

arts, dance, music, Show Out Boston!, White Snake Projects