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Emilie Springer: April is Jubilee Month at Homer Council on the Arts

Homer News

April is the month of Jubilee, a festival for Homer’s youth spring arts in all forms.  This year, and all this month, Homer Council on the Arts is hosting the visual component in their gallery. 

 KBBI's Emilie Springer combed the Homer News archive at the Homer Public Library to review some Jubilee performances past.

Homer Council on the Arts' gallery show:  Jubilee! Celebrating Youth in the Arts is on display through April 30 at HCOA Gallery, 355 West Pioneer Avenue in Homer. The gallery is open, Monday through Friday, from 1 to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, April 18 from 2 to 4 p.m.

What we are missing out on this year is the performing arts, so to revisit it and share memories, I looked into archive material reviewed in copies of the Homer News from the 1990’s and watched a dvd performance from 2011.  

     The performances show a diversity of talent across the entire spectrum of youth in the community.  I had to watch the 2011 show without a program, so I don’t have names to share (though I could guess some) but It begins with a very young girl singing the national anthem, a duet of gymnasts, a trio of singing girls, a talented high school piano player, poetry recitals, more piano players, a violinist, a modern dance, a Broadway style dance to Mary Poppin’s “Step in Time” performed by 10 little chimney sweeps with hula hoops and brooms.  The show closes with lively marimba players who are joined with the rest of the others for a final bow.  I estimate the total performers to be at least 30 young people, all very dedicated to their pieces.  And, it doesn’t look like there is a single empty seat in the theater.  The audience stands in support. 
     The stage design is simple, there is nothing to distract from what the artists show us.  Spotlight is just on the performers themselves.  And, proceeds from ticket sales, as they’ve always been, were designated to fund HCOA’s summer youth scholarship program.

     From Homer News archives of Jubilees past, I do find names and pictures to share.  In 1993, I see photos of Erin Cline “in a voice as big as her bass fiddle belting out “One Promise Too Late,” Zenith Klein’s skilled hands reaching across the ivories, trumpeters Josh Frommer, Loren Absher and OB Berryman playing a song dedicated to Howard Hedges and Jennifer Norton dancing to Lynn Rolff’s choreography.”  The newspaper archives can be viewed in the Homer Public Library and the event always took place in the last week of April, so if you’re interested in finding a particular Jubilee review, look for that month.  

     To learn more about how the event became part of community tradition, I had several suggestions.  Diane Borgman kind of institutionalized the performance as primary director for a long time, but even before her leadership, the process of it started with a group of dancers in the 1980’s.  To tell me about the early years, I talked with long-time dance instructor Jill Berryman.  “It's really pretty simple. Back in the day, before we had established the Homer Council on the Arts we had a small concert association; just a group without a formal organization. It was Mary Epperson and I at that time,” she said.  Jill talked about the days of performing in school gyms and shuttling performance gear around with volunteers.  “The group decided to set up a spring arts festival so we could have an entire month of events all at one time,” she said.  She talked about the process of bringing in more dimensions: including the schools and creating public art classes, collecting youth visual art and finding places to share it.  And, that is what eventually turned into the larger version of Jubilee.

     Even looking back at the archives from almost thirty years ago, I can see how closely connected generations of artists are in our community across performance venues of the Jubilee shows, the Homer Nutcracker and Pier One Theatre.  I recognize the last names of youth performers who are at least third generation Homer residents.  In the gallery displays, the same is true.  This year the show is held at the Homer Council on the Arts Gallery.  Here is a big thank you to all the venues supportive of youth arts.  The absence of a performing spectrum has been tough this year and I know it is missed!


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