One of the first documents in the three-inch binder in my basement that contains the early Hub-Bub archives is a printout of a PowerPoint presentation called “How to put more BUB in the HUB.” It’s dated October 5, 2004, the day a group of early hub-bubblers invited a small group of city officials and potential funders to the sprawling, empty second floor of the Montgomery Building to present “the big idea.”
On our team that day were the founders of Hub-Bub : Mark Ferguson, Kerry Mulvaney (who had not yet married Mark Ferguson), Stephen Long, Pamela Ivy (my assistant at Hub City, now living in Portland, OR.), artist Nikki Caulk, poet Philip Belcher, Mickey Pierce (Hub City’s chairman of the board), John Lane and me. Alix Refshauge was with us in spirit—she had just left for graduate studies in Charleston.
A few months prior to this meeting, a branding consultant had suggested to City Council members that they fund a website that would make the city seem more hip. Those of us on the early Hub-Bub team weren’t convinced that a website would do the trick. We had a much bigger plan.
One of the slides in the PowerPoint presentation says this: “The most serious problem we face is stemming the out-migration of young creative people and finding ways to bring new ones in.” That is followed by a series of slides about successful “artist relocation programs” from around the country.
That day was followed by a furious three months of brainstorming, documented now in emails and various versions of a proposal for the former Gilbert Shoe building. The first mention of what is now one of the country’s most innovative Artist-in-Residence programs, calls it “Hub-Home.” It is alternately called an “artist colony,” “artists’ lofts,” and “live/work” spaces.” Somewhere around mid-2005, Stephen Long came up with the phrase “Live Free and Create.”
By that time we had pledges of $630,000 from public and private funders to move forward with something that I believe has changed the DNA of this small Southern city.
As the pages in the white binder suggest, Hub-Bub was born of an amazingly creative process. But the true genius of this community project is that it is reborn and reinvented every twelve months through the artists in residence program. Each year there are new ingredients to keep it from going stale. Each year, there’s a new character to Hub-Bub. Each year, there are new people attracted to these artists and to our program.
And as each year passes, I learn better how to say good-bye to these wonderful young artists. It no longer feels like an end, like a heart-break. It feels like the Hub-Bub universe is expanding. It feels like we have a family that grows in size every year. As the AIRs pull out of the parking lot for the last time, it feels like the Hub-Bub web of friendships and connections only gets stronger.
To Ron and Kerri and Corinne and Ian, I say “thank you” from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for what you made Hub-Bub into. For these eleven months, you were Hub-Bub. And Hub-Bub was you. Your year of creating something new at Hub-Bub is over. But we will never forget you or what you created.