808 Urban is a collective of “community cultural workers”: artists, organizers and volunteers committed to improving the quality of life for our communities through arts programming. In all of our work, we strive to integrate the highest levels of artistic innovation with grassroots cultural organizing for systemic, progressive social change.
808 Urban started off as a backyard project six years ago by graffiti artist, John “Prime”, who recognized the value of mentoring at-risk youth through urban arts and cultural education. Since then, 808 Urban has grown into a respected local community arts organization, while “staying true to the streets.” Since 2006, 808 Urban has created over 50 large-scale mural projects throughout Hawai’i, offered over a hundred free arts workshops, produced numerous community HI-story events, launched the Junior Board Initiative, collaborated with dozens of local organizations and businesses, and has recently opened a new store and community arts hub called The Refuge.
With the many recent budget cuts that have led to a rising number of Hawai’i's schools cutting their arts departments and the increasing economic division, particularly effecting Native Hawaiian and immigrant communities, 808 Urban has been faced with an imperative responsibility to step up our local support by expanding our free arts and mentorship programming. We believe that through mentoring youth in the urban arts, based upon a platform of cultural and political education, grassroots community organizing, entrepreneurial skill sets, and community muralism rooted in graffiti, 808 Urban plays a vital role within shaping Hawai’i's up and coming leaders.
Our mentorship services focus on four main branches of arts programming: