Shively residents gathered to celebrate homegrown artists at the Unity in the Community event on Saturday. 

The free event at Shively City Hall featured food trucks, performances and booths set up by community leaders and organizations.  

“We are embracing the arts in our community,” Shively Mayor Beverly Chester-Burton said. “We are just hoping that everyone will just enjoy the performances that are being set up today.”

Chester-Burton partnered with Louisville Metro Council member Keisha Dorsey to showcase the neighborhood’s art scene. 

By highlighting local artists, Chester-Burton wanted to bring attention to the wide range of talent in the area.

“The residents, the community as a whole, there are so many things that people can offer one another,” she said. “There’s so much talent out here.” 

Tasha Wilson-Hatchett, who performed with Faith Works Studios, said events like Unity in the Community are key to building up the neighborhood and its youth.

A similar event Wilson-Hatchett attended as a child opened the door for her to be a performer. She hopes young people were similarly inspired on Saturday.

“I think it’s important for us to be out here today, because we’re cultivating arts in our community and in our youth,” Wilson-Hatchett said. “We want to make sure we’re well represented and make sure that the youth get exposure doing what they love.”

Faith Works Studios members performed numbers from its Disney-themed show, which got the attention of many young people in attendance.

That included the children of Ronisha Squire and Roneka Jones, who are sisters.

“Anything musical, they’re going to do it. They’re going to sing, dance. They love it,” Squire said. 

Jones’ children are signed up to attend StageOne, a family theater company that has several educational programs, over the summer. She said she hopes they are more excited about their summer activities after seeing people on stage performing songs they know.

Jones and Squire also said they believe the event is an important way to connect the community, particularly after COVID-19 lockdowns.

“It builds trust within the community. You got to have trust, you got to have relationships,” Jones said. “It helps to be able to engage with people, to know people.”

“The community is not going to rise unless everybody gets out,” Squire said. “It’s never going to succeed if you don’t get your children out.”

Those community connections are exactly what organizers hoped Saturday’s event would create.

It was part of the Arts in Neighborhoods initiative by Fund for the Arts, which aims to uplift artists and arts organizations throughout the city. The two previous events associated with the program were a South Louisville Art Crawl and a showcase at Central High School. 

“Art is everywhere and it’s happening everywhere,” Fund for the Arts president André Kimo Stone Guess said. “We just want to highlight what was already happening.”

Stone Guess said working with community leaders has been an important aspect of producing the events.

“We don’t know what communities want to do for themselves,” Stone Guess said. “We don’t know how they want to celebrate themselves. We just want to be a catalyst. We just want to be a partner, we want to bring people together.”

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for WFPL.