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H'art Works
Long Beach, Calif.
(562) 438-2931

Objective: Provide opportunities for creative expression to youth in Long Beach.

In a Nutshell: H’artWorks is a nonprofit arts and human services agency that provides after-school and summer programs for youth in the east Long Beach area. Programs include a drama class, group art project sessions and a computer lab.

Where and When It Happens: H’artWorks is based at the Immanuel Community Church: A Center for Conscious Living, located in the Bluff Heights community in Long Beach. Each program runs several times a year. Drama classes range from six to 12 sessions, and arts projects range from four to six weekly sessions.

Who Started It and Who Runs It: The Rev. Jane Galloway, the pastor of Immanuel Community Church and a former actress of 30 years, began the program five years ago. Brought in to revive the dying church, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, Galloway’s strategy was to open its doors for more community programs. Galloway is assisted by Co-director Terra Taylor Knudson.

Obstacles: Initially, building bridges of communication among the three neighborhood entities: the church, the Bluff Heights Neighborhood Association, and the local school, Horace Mann Elementary School. “Due to the rapidly changing cultural diversity of Long Beach’s residents, there was much pain and a sense of upheaval among all three entities … caused by a lot of old racism,” Knudson says.

Bluff Heights was once an upper middle-class, mostly white neighborhood, but has rapidly diversified like the rest of Long Beach, which USA Today’s Diversity Index rated as the most ethnically diverse large city in the nation. Galloway convened three community meetings to discuss the tension and figure out how the groups could work together.

Cost: $50,000 a year. There is no charge for participation.

Who Pays: H’artWorks has been supported almost entirely by large, in-kind donations: $20,000 in free electrical work by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, for the computer lab; $15,000 in donated art supplies from Trash Busters of Long Beach, a company that empties out and guts foreclosed properties; and the $20,000 worth of work by the Richard and Karen Carpenter Center, to launch the H’artworks Third Street Theatre. H’artWorks has begun to seek funding through grants, corporate sponsorship and individual donations; it recently received a small support grant from the Long Beach Arts Council and city funds to bring the facility up to standards for handicapped access.

Youth Served: Students at Horace Mann Elementary School. Seventy-eight percent of Horace Mann’s families live below the poverty line, and 83 percent are minorities. The rapid increase in diversity in Long Beach is “wonderful,” Knudson says, but has produced noticeable tension in the city.

Youth Turn-On: High-energy games, the opportunity to be on stage and perform for an audience, and access to a high-speed Internet computer lab. Many of the youths don’t have computers at home.

Youth Turn-Off: The need for additional outside rehearsal or prep time when producing a final product, such as an art exhibit or play, and strict attendance requirements. “Within reason, after missed attendance, we will let kids go,” Knudson says.

What Still Gets in the Way: “The single greatest challenge continues to be funding, without which it is impossible to continue to grow and offer the programs,” Knudson says. She hopes grants and corporate support will allow H’artworks to hire some of its volunteers.