Led by the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation (FWCRC), The Fifth Ward Cultural Arts District project aims to establish the first African American cultural arts district in the State using unique characteristics that reflect Fifth Ward’s rich history and culture. Working closely with local artists and the community, this cultural arts journey will revisit past histories, explore emerging cultures, and capture the unique hertiage and flavor that continues to distinguish the 5th as a vibrant, thriving, cultural arts destination.
In this phase of the project, we are fundraising for a signature documentary to highlight the stories that are inspiring the cultural arts district. Memory Builds the Monument is an activist form of documentary filmmaking. A thriving renown neighborhood landmark for 37 years was lost, now it seeks to be (re) found through a document of community memories. In short, it is a documentary film of a Houston community's recollections as the basis for new architectural design.
The cultural landmark, the Club Matinee, was an exceptional musical venue founded in 1936. After opening with Cab Calloway, this visionary Cotton Club of the South hosted entertainment legends from Ray Charles (one of his first gigs) to James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Louis Armstrong, Sam Cooke, Little Richard and B. B. King. It lasted till 1973 but was unable to sustain the insensitive highway and urban renewal projects of the 50s and 60s that fragmented the neighborhood. While many of the physical archives of the Club were lost in the floods of Hurricane Harvey, the memories of the Club still resonate in the elderly population of the community and the importance of recording these recollections is urgent. This documentary is an opportunity to not only gather fleeting memories (although important), but to bring community members in as the true clients to meld the memories of the community and challenge the designers to work empathetically. Stimulating architectural design rooted in the impressions of not a single client but in a collective recollection stretches the imagination to realize new forms with the vibrancy of a living community and the inspiration of the legendary performers of Club Matinee.
The film is to be guided by conceptual artist, Mel Chin, a Fifth Ward native son.