Nothing goes on in the South Bay: That's a myth Kimberly Feilen wants to dispel.
“But I got this notion that even the South Bay itself was asleep,” says Feilen, a lecturer in undergraduate studies at San Diego State University who was born in San Diego and has family living in the South Bay. “They weren't aware of the kind of arts practices happening, and that's what fueled me.”
Feilen designed a special course at SDSU and enlisted students' help in conducting a South Bay needs assessment. But what was intended to be a 15-week course in project-based research and community engagement morphed into four semesters of students' hands-on work in the South Bay, which will culminate in an event, heART on CENTER, happening outdoors on Center Street (at Third Avenue) in Chula Vista from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11. National City's Youth Theatre Ensemble, Southwestern College, Casa Familiar's Ballet Folklorico and other South Bay arts and performance groups will be on hand to introduce themselves to the community.
Feilen's classes, which became known as the LoCAL Arts Collaborative and eventually got so popular that dozens of people were turned away every semester, had college students engaging directly with South Bay's arts and community leaders through interviews, surveys and site visits.
“One of my students told me she felt like we were making history,” Feilen says. “She felt like we were doing something for the South Bay that no one had ever done before.”
The students found that South Bay already had an active art scene. They found formal and informal arts groups and individuals who simply needed a venue or platform. The students came up with heART on CENTER, an event they hope will become an annual tradition.
“We really hope the community will take this and run with it,” Feilen says.