Robert Bigmill and Lloyd Choice

Duration: 55Mins 27secs
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Uncorrected Transcript

Interview with: Robert Bigmill and Lloyd Choice
Interviewed by: Unknown Interviewers
Date: May 14

Archive Number: OH 062


I1:        00:16 Today is May 14; we're beginning an interview with Mr. Robert Bigmill and Mr. Lloyd Choice of the Black Art Center.  Okay, first of all we'd like to find out how the idea of the Black Art Center developed.

S1:       Well, the Black Art Center is one project of Hope Development, Inc.  Hope Development is a non-profit corporation chartered under the laws of the State of Texas in 1967, August 1967.  Throughout the course of its history, Hope has engaged in various kinds of activities designed to remove conditions of poverty and deprivation that exists in various deprived communities throughout the City of Houston.  Now at some point it was decided by the directors of the corporation, or rather was observed by the directors that there was no facility in any minority community in the City of Houston which addressed itself to the need of blacks and other minorities to express whatever kind of artistic talents they might have.  It was from this observation that a decision was made to attempt to provide such a facility.  So as to make available to the black community and other minority communities a facility whereby they could—demonstrate their talents and capabilities in the area of the performing arts.  From that germ, grew the concept of the Black Art Center, and eventually the Black Art Center came into existence.

I1:        What were some of the problems confronted by people trying to develop the Black Art Center?

S1:       Well, of course, the major problem was money.  The Black Art Center is located in what is considered to be—poorest area in the City of Houston.  In addition to being one of the most rugged areas as far as the incidences of crime that exist and unlawful kinds of activities are concerned.  That being the case many of the merchants who had made their livelihood in the Fifth Ward area, about 1968 or '69, began to desert the community for a more peaceful terrain.  In so doing they abandoned numerous structures; one of which was the present location of the Black Art Center.  The Black Art Center was formally the Roxy Theatre—the old movie theatre.  Now this particular structure had been abandoned for, well I guess about fifteen or twenty years prior to the opening of the Black Art Center.  So you can imagine the—condition in which the building was at the time a decision was made to attempt to purchase the structure to house the Black Art Center.  Not only had it been allowed to deteriorate for that number of years, but being an abandoned building, it fell way to the derelicts and persons who simply had no other place to stay—who actually lived in the building.  Slept there every night.  Fixed their meals there.  Had their clothing there and that kind of thing.  So it presented—some problem—as far as acquiring the initial capital to purchase the structure and subsequent to that, acquiring the capital necessary to renovate the structures—as to render it useful.  So I would say initially, the major problem was money.  There was no lack of enthusiasm.  There was no lack of persons willing to volunteer and render their assistance to—to bring the structure up to par.  In spite of—you know there is only so much that volunteers can do, especially where it—involves very extensive renovation—of a building.  So that in spite of the fact that they were numerous persons who—expressed willingness and in fact, did assist in renovating the structure, there was a major problem as it related to securing sufficient finances to do the major structural renovations that were needed.

I1:        06:24 Let's, you know, discuss a little bit the money that the Black Art Center received initially.  My research has found that you received seventy-five thousand dollars from Model Cities for the ethnic arts program.  Is this money still being granted to you or was this just a one time grant?

S2:       Okay, now don't confuse the two projects.  The Ethnic Arts Center and the Black Art Center are two different projects.  The Ethnic Art Center is—a dropout prevention program designed to service approximately one hundred students per semester on the junior-senior high school level.  Any of the students who are—have been identified as potential dropouts or who are actual dropouts, and the program is structured so as to bring them into an educational environment whereby they can develop a positive self attitude, rejuvenate their interests and enthusiasm as far as their academic pursuits are concerned, with intent of keeping them in school, those who are potential dropouts, and returning those who are actual dropouts back into the regular school system.  Now that's the Ethnic Art Center, not the Black Art Center.

            The only association between Ethnic Art Center and the Black Art Center—well, one association, is that—some of the classes—the drama class, music class, speech class, so forth and so on—that is a part of the Ethnic Art Center.  Some of these classes are conducted in the theater in the Black Art Center.  The Model Cities money that you spoke of, were granted to fund the Ethnic Art Center projects—and it's only to the extent that the Ethnic Art Center uses the Black Art Center—uses the space which is paid for through the Model Cities Grant, it's only to that extent that Model Cities monies are actually used to help defray the expenses for the operation of the Black Art Center.   Now, Model Cities contributed no monies toward the purchase or the renovation of the Black Art Center.  Monies for that were secured primarily through the Menil Foundation.

I1:        09:18 What is the Menil Foundation?

S2:       Well the Menil Foundation is—a private foundation that—a nonprofit foundation that functions as—how nonprofit foundations do—namely they contribute monies to various projects around the country that fall within the scope of what the foundation is created to do.

I1:        Did you also receive money from the National Endowment Fund?

S2:       Yes, well after the—after the structure had been purchased and renovated—a grant was applied for from the National Endowment for the Arts for the purpose of establishing an adult repertory company at the Black Art Center.  I don't know offhand exactly how many grants were received.  The grants are made on a yearly basis, but I think at least three grants were made by the National Endowment of the Arts—averaging around twenty thousand dollars per grant for the establishment and maintenance of an adult repertory company—I think only two grants were made for that purpose.  The third grant was made for a film workshop project.

I1:        Mr. Choice, you are the curator—can I say of Black Art Center?

S1:       Well, at one particular point I was curator of the Black Art Gallery—which is 27—I'm sorry—3303 Lyons—two doors down from Hope Development—which is a different project from the Black Art Center.

I1:        Okay—would you—

S1:       The Black Art Gallery came about as a result of the involvement of the Menil Foundation, and we saw it as expanding upon the artistic services that we could provide for the community.  Up until the late '60s, there were very few places where young blacks had the opportunity to experience real gallery—art gallery activity in terms of the rubbing of elbows with special artists, entertaining people who are interested in the arts through seminars, learning and participating in various painting workshops, and solicitation, and hanging, and displaying artworks of other professional artists and their own work.  So—let there be known there have been many galleries all over—there are many galleries all over town, but there's very little black involvement—or there was at that time—and still is very little black involvement on the part of black professional artists.  So the concept was to establish a facility where blacks—young blacks could come and practice, study, learn, and display their artworks, as well as having at least four major exhibitions of top professional artists per year.  That project was begun with additional support, financial support, and artistic support in terms of securing artwork by the Menil Foundation.  It opened in April of '72 also.  It had previously opened as the Deluxe Show, which was a one-shot project sponsored by the Menil Foundation prior to the opening of the Black Art Center.  About a month prior.  It was only after the—Deluxe Show failed to really involve the community—that Hope Development began to supervise and direct the operations of the gallery.  It reopened—see it first opened as a Deluxe Show with New York artists, Peter Bradley, Joe Street, and a few other guys, but it reopened under the direction of Hope Development with the consultation of Dr. Biggers over at TSU and Mr. Simms, TSU Art Department.  This included—this show—this opening featured the permanent collection from the TSU Student Art Center.  Professional works by Dr. Biggers and Mr. Simms and other professional artists and parts of the Menil Foundation collection of African art.  This marked the opening of the Black Arts Gallery.

I1:        14:24 Do you have any connections with the Organization of Black Artists?

S1:       Yes, I was one of the original organizers of the Organization of Black Artists.

I1:        Okay, could you tell us a little bit about this?

S1:       Well the Organization of Black Artists began under similar situations and conditions as the Black Art Gallery—there were—during the activities of the '60s—a lot of people moving toward involvement in the arts.  There was this group of black artists whom I was a part of, who had no place to display artwork.  No place to meet regularly other than others houses.  No place to carryout workshops.  We also observed that a lot of—work—hard work was being disseminated within the black community.  That had no merit or value as far as we were concerned.  No real illustration of what black art was all about.  So we sought to improve our own abilities as well as saturate the community with black art—and we sought also to form a gallery.  And we did successfully open a gallery—didn't operate too long because they opened on the lack of funds.  OBA operated at Operation Breadbasket.  The people who were involved in organizing that project was—my—Willie Moore, Darrell Simms, John Biggers, Al Blair, myself, and a few other—Olva Parsons, Herman Oliver, and on several occasions Bert Evans participated, but he was not one of the real organizers.  We founded that organization the same year.  Also, Connell Linsen, because Connell Linsen had the idea that if we were successful in organizing that particular group, that it could also serve as a house group of artists for the Black Art Center.  The idea was to move from that location once we got organized, to the Black Art Center as a permanent group and the name OBA was derived after considerable time spent trying to determine what it was going to be called.  We knew we wanted to be an organization of black artists and the initials were OBA, but we also knew that OBA meant King of a Benin civilization.  We wrote to the King of Benin, and got permission to use OBA and designed an insignia and sent it to him, and he approved it and sent it back to our organization.  That's how OBA came to be.  We did that through S/L Dr. Ockewuwu at TSU, he's the one who established contacts with the Benin.  So OBA was designed—was structured to be, and is a significant part of the black arts activities in the city.  However, it never matured to be the group that would be the house group for the Black Art Gallery.  It now meets—I think at Adept Gallery.

I1:        What was the reception of communities to the Black Art Center?  The initial reception—

S1:       Oh, the initial reception was overwhelming.  The opening of the Black Art Center Theater itself, opened to a capacity crowd of four hundred people and there were those that were outside.  And there were people who had worked—opening and developing the exhibits for the gallery who could not even get in to the opening ceremony at the theater.  That same thing happened at the gallery.  An overflow crowd of people.  We maintained accurate records for about a year there and I would say about ten thousand people came to the gallery—in that first year of operation.  That's just a conservative estimate—people from all around—we've had people from the Detroit Institute of Art to come visit it.  We've had people from the Guggenheim Museum come to visit it.  We've also had people come as far away as London, the Rich Museum to see the collection of African art that we've got.

I2:        Did you receive any financial support from the city administration?  Or any type of support at all?

S2:       19:04 No, during those initial years—none, and even to date—really the first public—monies that we received were through the Model Cities Grant and through the National Endowment for the Arts.  I might retract a little and go back and relate some of the experiences that the—during the period when Hope was organized.  As I mentioned earlier, Hope was organized in August of 1967 and there were five individuals involved.  Earl Allen, who was the director from inception until the later part of 1973 when he resigned.  Larry Thomas, Roosevelt Huffpower, Kelton Sams, and myself.  We were the five original organizers of Hope Development Inc.  Hope came to be out of our discontent with the way in which we perceived the piloted program was functioniong at that time.  We were all employees of the local piloted program and after having been frustrated in our efforts to work through that structure to bring about some of the kinds of changes we felt were needed in the various minority deprived communities around the City, we decided to form an organization of our own wherein we would have the freedom to do the kinds of things that we felt were needed to bring about permanent and substantial social change. 

            Initially, we went for about six months with no funding whatsoever.  We simply lived off our savings and received no substantial support from the black community because we were an unknown entity.  Also there was considerable controversy surrounding us and our activities and many persons were actually afraid to associate or be associated with us.  So we struggled, literally, for the first six months until we received our initial grant from the Inter-Religious Foundation, a community organization.  They committed something in the neighborhood of ninety thousand dollars over a three year period.  That really sustained the organization through its first three years of existence.  We were given approximately thirty thousand dollars a year.  Subsequent to that time, the organization through the interest in establishing a facility for the visual and performing arts, became involved with the Menil Foundation.  Subsequent to that, did it, in 1973 receive any kind of federal monies through the National Endowment for the Arts and the Model Cities program. 

I1:        23:13 You were talking a little bit before about the reception of the Black Art Gallery.  Has this continued to be the case as far as the community-at-large is concerned?

S2:       It has continued as much as we have been able—in direct correlation with the amount of time and money we've had to spend in programming the gallery.  We have not had sufficient funding to continue at the level that we opened, and that is due to a variety of circumstances, but we still have a continuous flow of people on particular occasions that come in; mainly children from school, teachers bringing in classes by appointment to see the gallery.  In terms of being open on a day-to-day basis, we're not.  Therefore, that kind of continued support would not be possible because we have not been able to maintain regular open hours since that first year and a half of operation.

I1:        What kind of financial support do you get from the community at large that's hard to secure?

S2:       For the Black Art Gallery, we get really no financial support from the community.  This particular community in which we're located really has no funds to give us.  The community at large seems to be involved in more visible cultural activities such as the Contemporary Arts Museum and the Society of the Performing Arts and all of those kinds of things.  Our only support for the gallery has been the Menil Foundation. 

I1:        You mentioned before that some teachers bring their students to see the Gallery.  Is this widespread among, HISD, for instance, for teachers to bring their students to see the gallery?

S2:       No it's not widespread.  There are groups of teachers in particular schools, we would hope that it would be widespread, but that group of teachers in particular schools continuously bring their classes over and over.  We have some of the same people visit this year as did last year.  There are just a few additional schools participating.  They had a problem back during the energy crisis when their school district didn't allow them to transport to—well they cut out a lot of field trips.  That has curtailed a lot of visitation.  So no, it's not widespread.

I1:        How about black artists in general.  Do they contribute a great deal in terms of art or providing their talent for workshops and stuff?

S2:       We've had one community show.  The purpose of having the community show was to allow the black arts in the community an opportunity to display their work in a gallery setting.   We have had enormous participation, in fact we were amazed at the caliber the show was able hang, and we filled the gallery up with art.  Since that time we have not had another community show.  The seminars we've had have not really been art seminars.  We've had cultural seminars, and black symphonic arrangers who were in town held a seminar there.  We've had seminars with our—we've had art seminars with our students who enrolled in our interest art center program.  We have had minor participation of some professional artists in that particular aspect of it.  We've had seminars with some of the groups that have come. 

I1:        26:54 You mentioned some of your seminars.  Do you have a vivid, often or—?

S2:       For the last two years we have kept one particular exhibit on display.  We've done that because of the enormous impact that we just had on the students who visited, and that's the African Art Exhibit, the big Menil collection of African art.  Prior to that we had scheduled four shows per year.  We were successful at doing that. 

I1:        Mr. Bigmill I think you mentioned earlier the Adult Repertory Company, would you tell me a little bit about that?

S1:       Well, yes the Adult Repertory Company—as I mentioned, is funded primarily through the National Endowment for the Arts and the major objective is for us to establish a repertory company, a permanent repertory company comprised of community persons and to stage four major productions per year.  The initial director of the repertory company was Loretta Devine, and she left last year.  She received a fellowship to Brandeis University.  Subsequent to that point we retained another director who is our current director, Ms. Linda Piper.  During the time that Ms. Devine was here, the four major productions were staged each year.  Ms. Piper is new and today has not yet staged a major production.  In fact, she only came on full time the fifteenth of last month.  But she has, last week for example, had an open house whereby persons from the community could come in and get acquainted with the current repertory company and they presented excerpts from various plays for the entertainment of those who came.  It ran for three nights, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  We had a very good response to that. 

            To go back a little on the current situation with the Black Art Gallery as in relation to the Adult Repertory Company.  As I mentioned earlier at the end of 1973 Earl Allen resigned as director of Hope Development Inc.  At that time—prior to that point, I had not been directly associated with the organization for about two years.  I had attended law school and during my last year in law school and the first year subsequent to that I had not, while remaining on the board, I had not actually been directly involved in organization activities.  Upon his resignation, he asked that I along with State Representative Mick Leland become involved again with the activities at Hope in an effort to help the organization over the transition period and get it on a smooth functioning basis once again.  Well to make a long story short, I've been here ever since that time.  But the point that I want to make is that when the organization underwent a leadership change, the National Endowment for the Arts placed a twenty thousand dollar grant that had been approved on administrative hold.  The reason being that the National Endowment for the Arts considers numerous things in making grant allocations.  One of which is not only the content of the program, but also the leadership involved.  So they explained to us that they would place the funds on administrative hold until such time as they had an opportunity to come down and interview current directors personally and to again personally inspect the facility that was here.  That was over a year ago and have not yet had that visit from them.  We've corresponded, but to date the visit that is necessary to release the funds from administrative hold has not taken place.  We have had to secure funds elsewhere to continue the operation of the theater and of the Adult Repertory.  Now, we have been able to survive, been able to maintain the staging of major productions each year and we've been successful in securing funds to retain a director for the project but, the funding is very minimal and it not at a level that would allow us to really get off into some of the kinds of things that we hoped to do.  Now, hopefully within the next thirty days the situation with the National Endowment for the Arts will be cleared and funds will be forthcoming from that source again so that we can really be about the business of developing a first class theater, first class repertory company.

I1:        33:52 In spite of the problems with the National Endowment for the Arts, what are some of the goals for the Black Art Center and the Gallery and Hope in general?

S2:       Well, the goal for the Black Art Gallery remains the same; that being establishing a permanent adult repertory company in the community and staging at least four major productions a year.  In addition there are other ancillary kinds of theatrical activities associated with the operation of the Gallery.  With the repertory company the productions are the major objectives.  Measured with that are programs designed to conduct workshops in the performing arts, both for adults and for children to have professionals come in and lecture or assist in the conducting of these workshops so as to bring about a broad based participation on the part of the community for the persons who are interested in the performing arts.  They may never really join the repertory company or perform in a repertory company, but their interested in performing arts, they want to know more about the performing arts.  Some of them may be interested in writing plays.  Some of them may be interested in the technical aspects of theater; lighting, sound, props, so forth and so on.  So we conduct workshops and I'll be there to help persons who are interested gain more knowledge and more expertise in whatever area their interest lays.  So that's about where it is for the Black Art Center. 

            For the Black Art Gallery, as I have mentioned for the last two years we've had the Menil collection on African Tribal Art which is probably the most extensive collection in this country on African Tribal Art.  It's a priceless collection.  It's just simply fantastic.  But the Menil Foundation feels that at this point that the collection has been in the Gallery long enough.  Their opposed to creating a kind of museum atmosphere at the Gallery and we concur in this.  I don't think that perhaps there is another collection that we would retain in the Gallery for as long a period of time as we have retained that collection of African Tribal Art.  It's only due to the—enormity of the collection itself that allowed it to remain to this point.  By the end of the summer we see that collection being removed.  We will be retaining several pieces from the collection on a rotating basis.  We going to construct a permanent display window and keep maybe four or five pieces for sixty to ninety days and take those out and put a few other pieces in.  The Gallery at that point is going to begin to become involved again in the kinds of activities that which it was involved initially.  Namely, bringing in major exhibits from major artists around the country.  Community shows from local artists, both professional and non-professional.  In addition to that, we're going to conduct extensive workshop activity in the facility.  Art workshops. 

            I might mention in that regard that we have presently on the drawing board and the project has actually been funded, we simply don't know at what level it has been funded.  That is an ethnic heritage studies program which we hope to kick off by July.  This program will be a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural project designed to accommodate students from the Houston Independent School District.  They will be trained—or they will be exposed to a class that teaches them about the history of a given people via the music, and dance, and the art of that particular people, whoever is involved.  Now that program has been designed primarily with the assistance of Dr. Biggers and Dr. Marjorie Spruill, and Dr. Rhinehart from Texas Southern University.  So, they will be using the gallery extensively during the operation of that particular project.  That's about where it is for the Black Arts Gallery. 

            Now the Ethnic Art Center, which is the dropout prevention program, we anticipate expanding that program so as to accommodate an additional fifty to one hundred students per semester so that instead of being unable to serve one hundred students as we presently do, we hope to, per semester, we hope to be able to increase that to one hundred fifty to two hundred students. 

            40:34 In addition we intend to institute a teacher training workshop which would be a program designed to teach teachers how to teach potential and actual dropouts.  The dropout problem in this country—while beginning to surface has not gotten the kind of attention that we feel it warrants.  Houston Independent School District alone has twenty-five percent of the schools who are actual dropouts—which translates in real figures to somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty thousand students.  In our dealings with the Harris County Probation Department, we're informed that they last year, processed some thirty thousand youth through their agency.  We feel that there is a direct correlation between the number of who come involved in deviant kinds of behavior and who thereby experience police contact.  I think there's a direct correlation between that and the number of dropouts.  We know that there's a direct correlation between education and the economic status that one could hope to attain during his lifetime.   We know that there's a correlation between the educational achievement of persons in a given community and the kind of community that evolves from their participation, their living in a given geographic area.  Now the area we serve, the near north side Fifth Ward area of Houston, Texas has the most dropouts, has the lowest median income, and has the highest crime rate of all of the communities in the City of Houston.  So we feel that the whole problem of dropout prevention is very critical and that if something is not done soon to begin to curb this trend of having massive numbers of students dropping out of school before completing their high school education that the country is liable to faced with massive numbers of persons of who cannot actually sustain themselves in this particular socioeconomic structure.  All kinds of problems are going to result from that kind of situation.  So we feel it's necessary, and this is why we have designed the teacher training institute.  We feel it's necessary that our efforts here be proliferated and replicated throughout the city in this district and throughout the nation so that we can, in effect, help create an army of persons who—on a daily basis are dealing with the whole question of—the dropouts.  We feel that teachers who specialize in this area should be given the same kind of recognition as our other specialists in the area of education; those who teach the gifted, those who teach the handicapped, those who teach students with special learning defects, so forth and so on.  We think that teachers who teach dropouts should be elevated to that same level of professional recognition and speciality.

I2:        44:43 At this time, how many children are you reaching directly?

S2:       Currently enrolled in the project we now have one hundred.  Now, as you pointed out, that the project here is a demonstration project, an experimental project and the number of students that we can afford services is directly related to the number of funds, the amount of funds that are available.  But the idea is to use this project as a vehicle for developing curriculum, developing strategies, and techniques, and methodologies for coping with the whole question of dropout prevention.  Then to have these findings and materials—disseminated throughout school districts, throughout the state, throughout the nation and consequently have them implemented in other regions.

I2:        I was speaking with a resident in this area and he was talking about the Art Center and one of her complaints was that, it's not benefiting the people from this area, that the students come from outside this area and that most of the staff come from Southwest area of the city and it's not really dealing with the people here.  I was wondering if you might—

S2:       46:14 She made a mistake.  Most of the children come from a five mile radius of the center, which is this community.  All of our schools are within a five mile radius.  That's one mistake.

S1:       The center as far as the student population is concerned, while a separate entity, with its own directorship, its own identity, maintained a very close relationship with the school district and interfaces at various levels in various ways with the school district.  For example, the potential dropouts are recruited through the various schools, the schools that are served by the center.  With the cooperation of the principal, the counselors, and the teachers at those schools.  Students attend classes here half day and attend classes at the schools in the district a half day.  They receive credit for the classes that they attend here, just as they receive credit towards graduation of the class they attend in the district.  Our teachers are credited.  We interface with the school district in the purposes of teacher training.  Various teacher training programs that are conducted by the school district also involves our teachers.  We interface with them for purposes of evaluation and documentation for attendance records and those kinds of things so that we can trace students throughout their history in the junior-senior high school.  Find out how many of them actually graduate, stay in school, dropout, or what have you so that we can gauge to some extent how successful or unsuccessful we are being in our efforts here at the center.  Now, it is true that a majority of our staff are not from this immediate area.  They are there from other deprived communities.  Black communities in the city.  Of a staff of, well the Ethnic Art Center, the total of maybe twelve teachers, we have about five who are from this immediate area of the five mile radius area that Lloyd mentioned earlier. 

I2:        I assumed when she meant the immediate vicinity, she was speaking clearly—

S2:       Well, she probably was speaking of Pearl Harbor area which is one small part of the general Fifth Ward area. 

S1:       Most of the people in that area don't work anyway.  That's where the highest rate of joblessness is in the city. 

S2:       Now we have some persons on our staff from the immediate Pearl Harbor area.  One of them is in an administrative capacity as assistant coordinator of the project.  And that person is also in charge of security, and maintenance, and scheduling, and that kind of thing of the Black Art Center.  And the other person is in—we retain as a maintenance man.  I would have one other young lady on the staff—who is from the Fifth Ward area, but not from the Pearl Harbor area per se who is our accountant.  Our ratio has always been that low.  Some of the months we have had half the staff.  With a third of those being directly from the area.

I2:        Do you plan to have regular hours such that regular publication of them would allow people to come in when they wanted to?  At their conveniences?

S2:       We plan to, but that's again dependent upon the kind of funds we get.  You have also got to have an armed guard and security system at the same time as you maintain a regular open house.  Right now that just isn't financially within our reach.  We plan to do it, which is one of our main objectives; is to have it open where the people in the community can have a visual experience of the arts at any time at the community level and not have to travel outside of this particular area to have that experience.

I2:        What is the nearest site?  Are there many schools immediately located?

S2:       Yes, about four or five elementary schools.  There are five junior high schools, two senior high schools.

I2:        Have all of them made trips here?

S2:       Oh yes.  We've had somebody every year.  In fact, the elementary school right next to us, each year they run their whole student body through the program.  They're frequently here.  In addition to that, all students in our various workshops are particularly drawn, having the center draws schools in the immediate area, as well as the college level, the TSU—

I1:        Are there any areas we haven't talked about, the black-white gallery.  Anything you would like to add?

S2:       I would also like to note that many of the organizations that grew out of the civil rights movement turmoil of the '60s are out of existence.  With that said, with the diligent efforts of some competent people like Mr. Bigmill and others around here, Hope Development and its projects have been able to continue to thrive though in a meager way.  So I always like to point to that as a degree of success that's not achieved by many.  Having a non-profit community-based organization to be still in existence when there's really no real visible elements of that kind of situation that developed these organizations grew of.

S1:       I think that's a very significant point in that it was the intent of the original organizers of Hope Development that the structure would become institutionalized and of course, one of the major characteristics of any institution is that it survives its originators.  I am presently the only one of the five original organizers of Hope who is still functioning with the organization and within the not too distant future; I anticipate severing my relationship with the organization.  I have no doubt whatsoever that at that time, the organization will continue to exist and continue to function in the absence of all of those who originally organized.  In fact, I could depart today and that would come.

I1:        Okay, in ending our interview we'd like to say, "Thank you" to Mr. Bigmill and Mr. Choice for allowing us to come in and share with you some of the things about the Black Art Center, the Black Art Gallery, Ethnic Art Center, the Houston Metropolitan Art Center.

End of tape.