Wheels Begin To Turn

I had a really productive meeting today to plan a site specific performance on campus for next Spring. We have never done this sort of thing before so I am starting conversations as far in advance as I can so that I can uncover problems and answer questions early on.

About six weeks ago, I approached a woman about putting a performance together than would involve our students and perhaps people from the community at large. She was excited by the prospect right out of the gate. I think what piqued her interest even more was my vision of having other members of her group conduct workshops starting next fall whose work would feed into the Spring performance. For example, we will probably have workshops in mask making and mask work and stilt work and perhaps revisit the fabric climbing tissue workshops students participated in last fall. My hope was to have these workshops open to the general public as well as our students.

What I felt was most productive about today’s meeting was that I managed to get one of our professors to agree to involve his acting class in this project instead of creating the regular spring drama show for our lab theatre. When I proposed this idea to him, his only concern was that the project didn’t replace his class or displace him as the instructor. My vision was that he would spend his class periods as he usually does, except that he would be working with his students to prepare part of a larger piece.

The academic concerns answered, he was really energized by the whole vision that the lead artist and I laid out. By the end of the meeting, he had actually negotiated another slate of workshops for his students. Not that he is a person who craves control, but I was fairly impressed by how willing he was to cede control of a project he traditionally directs.

There are a few more people I need to bring on board and a million details to resolve in the next year. This is one of the projects I was thinking about when I wrote yesterday that were there special funding or tax breaks for employing 100% local creativity, I was confident at least one of our shows would qualify every year.

Also, even though I would have likely worked on generating this partnership regardless of whether it existed, I have been inspired by the Creative Campus project. I think our program is too small to qualify for participation, (though I just realized upon linking to it, that the program is open for another round of grant applications), but I am encouraged by the efforts of other campuses around the country who are attempting the same sort of things.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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