In two short years, San Diego’s Voices of Our City Choir has vastly transformed the perception of homelessness by connecting diverse communities in positive ways through musical performance, advocacy and education.
Photo courtesy Idyllwild Arts

Idyllwild Arts symposium to raise awareness for an endangered minority

With the fraying of community bonds and the gaping holes in the U.S. safety net leaving millions of Americans only a health crisis or a job loss away from becoming homeless, the crisis of homelessness touches more of us than we’d like to admit.   

On Feb. 1, Idyllwild Arts Academy’s annual Art in Society Symposium will present “Uneasy Street – Untold Stories of the Homeless.” The annual series focuses on misunderstood groups and endeavors to connect with those groups through communal art projects and stimulating dialogue.

The Art in Society program is coordinated by Eduardo Santiago. The Art in Society program gives the academy’s high school artists opportunities to link the development of their craft to efforts to solve social problems — a task for which the arts, with their persuasive powers, are well suited.     

“The symposium isn’t meant to solve all the problems of the world,” said Santiago. “It’s supposed to make our students and our community more aware of how they can inform, inspire and influence society through the transformative and healing power of art.”

Because the creative population of Idyllwild Arts is best reached through the arts, the 2019 symposium will feature San Diego’s renowned homeless choir, Voices of Our City. They will appear along with the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), a performance group closely tied to Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood.

“Their name is a provocation of the original LAPD, the Los Angeles Police Department,” Santiago explained. “The homeless are mistrustful of all police because in most places it’s a crime to sleep on the streets. That’s like making it illegal to be poor!”

At least for one day, Feb. 1, the small but active community of Idyllwild will have a chance to hear the truth about homelessness.     

The event is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, in the William M. Lowman Concert Hall and the Idyllwild Arts Foundation Theatre on campus.

The event is free and open to the public.