A jubilant community event, inspired by the Underground Railroad and Cleveland’s social justice heritage, is happening Saturday night.
It's sponsored by Cleveland Public Theater, Joe Cimperman and the City of Cleveland and runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday night.
The event, now in its third year, features more than 250 individual artists and more than 40 community and professional arts and culture organizations from across Northeast Ohio, creating diverse original works that address issues of equity and social change.
Station Hope is a free, family-friendly event and open to all. Parking is also free.
St. John's Episcopal Church is at 2600 Church Street in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland.
Last year, more than 3,000 people attended the second annual Station Hope event, which featured art and performance staged in and around one of the most historically significant sites in Greater Cleveland -- St. John’s Episcopal Church -- or as it was known on the Underground Railroad—“Station Hope.”
Audiences tour St. John’s sanctuary, parish hall and basement to view an array of short performances of dance, theater, storytelling and music.
“It's difficult for any artist of color that lives in the city to not be affected by the issues surrounding social justice,” said Darius Stubbs who performed a spoken word piece.
Visual art displays and interactive art activities permeate the event, while choral performances set the atmosphere of the outdoor spaces in and around the historic church.
“Spoken word to dance to opera to family bands that will be performing onstage, again all around the idea of social justice and celebrating the history of the underground railroad,” said Beth Wood, associate artistic director of Cleveland Public Theater. “The folklore of Ohio City is that once residents of Ohio City would see a slave catcher in the neighborhood they would go to their front porch and ring the bell. When you heard someone ringing there bell, you would ring your bell and everyone would ring the bell until they heard the Saint John's church bell ring and it would be the all clear. So it was like a signal to hide your harboring slaves.”
“It was really impactful bringing in the history of Cleveland, bringing in the history of the United States and bringing in the history of this church which I did know about as a station in the underground railroad,” said Makela Hayford in her first year attending.
“All of these artists from around Cleveland coming to this one spot, this one spot that has deep historical significance for the city and the country,” said Stubbs. “Even though there are pieces like the ones that we did that are focusing on frustration and upset feelings, there's also this really strong thread of hope. Hope in the past and hope in the future and hope that we can cling to right now.”