Archive for the ‘community arts center’ tag
Last week when I interviewed Tom Borrup and he discussed the impact of globalization as well as the ways in which all communities have often untapped and obscured pockets of creativity, I was reminded of the ways in which my own community manages to surprise me on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
Recently I read a research brief by Maria Rosario Jackson on the impacts on arts on communities. Sometimes we think that the creativity of a community lives in artist neighborhoods, amateur arts practices and companies, even audience participation in downtown venues and events; but in fact, creativity lives and runs through not only these events but some more ‘mundane’ places and practices as well. For both Tom Borrup and Maria Rosario Jackson, these pockets of everyday cultural creativity are reservoirs for the creative spirit and presence of multicultural diversity in ‘our homes’. They can be festivals, gatherings, community celebrations, informal but recurrent gatherings in parks and community centers, church based artistic activities — anything that maintains and invents group traditions. As Maria Rosario Jackson puts it, these are ” often important aspects of communities that go overlooked and are missed only when they are gone.”
These simpler forms of community arts and creativity provide important grounding devices for newcomers as well — they communicate home, help build social capital and individual as well as collective efficacy in terms of making a home for one’s family. They also socialize newcomers into dimensions of work and the working life of the community, mitigate crime and improve public safety. I remember living in Japan and even in the early hours of the morning, there were always lights on in houses, people out in the streets talking and walking. You were never alone. Someone was always watching for you. You were always safe.
When we first moved to Fort Collins, we lived in Colorado State University Village where many international families make their homes. The same sense of community prevails there also. Residents attend multicultural events, celebrating all their diverse cultures; children learn new games and ways of working with diverse others and languages; residents share belongings, food, toys, children run around all day between the buildings, in and out of homes, gardens and communal spaces. Everyone shares in the responsibility of the community.
This weekend I went to the International Children’s Carnival and as always, I am amazed at the diversity of people present. Sometimes when I attend these events, I can barely believe that this is the Fort Collins in which I live. The rich tapestry of peoples, languages and performances that surrounds me at these events ground myself and my family in what we consider ‘our world home’ and remind us of the often unseen gems of our community. Over the course of April, we encourage you to take some detours in your everyday life and walk some less familiar paths, sharing in some diverse celebrations of art, crafts, narrative, architecture and performance. Just this week alone, the Traveling Heritage Quilt Project presences itself in our community, there is our usual First Friday Gallery Walk on the 3rd, the Fort Collins Museum and Open Stage Theatre present “The Move to Fort Collins – Local History Stories of Immigration” and we celebrate the first open house of the Museo de las Tres Colonias this Saturday. Finally, OpenStage Theatre & Company begins their season of Anon(ymous) which will run over the course of this month.
Remember…Wherever you go, there you are!
Listen to the podcast:
Welcome to the first podcast for this blog, featuring Tom Borrup, a leader and innovator in non-profit community and cultural work for over twenty-five years. Tom’s work explores the intersections between
culture, community building, and economic development and he consults with foundations, nonprofits and public agencies across the U.S. in strategic planning and program evaluation. He has been especially involved with projects nurturing artists and other cultural assets in diverse urban communities, and has served on multiple boards for arts funding and leadership development. Over the course of his career, Tom has consulted with the Rockefeller, Ford, Wallace, and Andy Warhol Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He received his B.A. in Liberal Arts from Goddard College, and continued there to receive his M.A. in Communications and Public Policy. Tom currently teaches for the Graduate Program in Arts Administration at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and for the Institute for Arts Management at the University of Massachusetts.
When we talked with Tom, we asked him about his views on creative economy and its influence in contemporary times. He shared with us the ways in which the forces of globalization have forced communities to focus on and encourage their multicultural nature as a source of creative efforts and perspectives as well as a continual source of inspiration and learning. Our increasing knowledge of the world around us is forcing us as individuals and communities to revisit the ways in which we function and to think creatively as we adapt new ideas and new cultures into our lives. For Tom, this perspectival shift is becoming central to community survival.
Creativity is about being inquisitive and being open to new ideas as well as new ways those ideas can be put together. Artists are central to the sustenance of creativity as this is part of their natural way of working and being as individuals. Thriving communities are open and welcoming to new ideas and new people. Cultural celebrations bring people together and are a baseline ingredient for encouraging a true sense of community. Tom shares with us several examples from his work over the years as well as how different arts organizations and community initiatives encourage creative communities to thrive. We hope you will learn as much as we did about participating in community based arts from Tom and look forward to seeing you all at our own Finding Home celebrations over the month of April!
A recent article in the Calgary Herald discussed how we are entering a conceptual age dominated by the ideas of collaboration, creativity, innovation and invention. Sometimes we like to think that the ‘creative classes’ and ‘creatives’ that will spearhead this coming age are born that way, but the reality of creativity is that it is a fundamental part of what makes us human and humane, what brings us together at philosophical, physical and emotional levels and which, therefore, flourishes in a supportive environment (as do we!).
It is therefore, considered, in these challenging economic times, a desperate time for the arts; and yet, as the people of Melbourne, Australia ( a city of considerable artistic flavor and character in my own eyes!) can attest, creativity can thrive even in a recession. Indeed, different and difficult times and economic conditions bring forth different kinds of people and different cultures. We find ourselves, as the most recent Economist attests, in ‘interesting times’, as old forms of work fall away and new work waits to be imagined. In the recession of the 1990s, Melbourne found itself losing people in droves as they moved north to the brighter lights of Sydney and yet what people love most about Melbourne now emerged exactly from that time of migration. Melbourne’s development of its live venues, outdoor cafes and bars, smart graffiti and street art, its distinctive inner suburbs (check out St Kilda if you get a chance!) and eclectic shops was not a result of large scale, fully funded arts agencies and progressive central planning, but more the vibrant, hard working, low budget working ethos of the city’s creatives and those inspired by their work which held the city’s character in place in the face of some dark economic days. Melbourne’s experimentation and risk-taking provided the grounds for its innovative spirit and community, even in the face of an uncertain and unknown future.
Recently, both in the UK and in the US, on both small and large scales, community arts projects have engaged in some similar kinds of grassroots community efforts to kick start conversations around art, creativity, place, identity and community. In Kansas City, for example, Kacico Dance Company holds a 3-C (creativity + community + coffee) hour at its studios for an hour of communal creativity where creative people from all walks of life are invited to do their creative thing in a common space. Coffee and creativity flow and community is created as movers/dancers, writers, visual artists, musicians, architects, engineers, graphic designers, observers, people who meditate, thinkers, and martial artists all come together to create, be inspired by others’ creativity, meet other creative people, and do something different.
In a similar but different way, an interdisciplinary community arts project in Charleston entitled “The Future Is on the Table” organized by Charleston’s Jean-Marie Mauclet and Gwylène Gallimard, brought a number of artists to South Carolina from England, France, India and South Africa to work with local communities around the concept of gift exchange and the themes of water and shelter, and included local artists as well. These conversations borne of diverse partners, reminded the people of Charleston of the cultural walls that divide them and their community around these difficult issues.
Speaking of divisions and perspectives, in order to get some perspective on his own particular space in Trafalgar Square, Anthony Gormley, designer of the Angel of the North which we discussed in an earlier blog post, outlined his new project entitled “One and Other”, which involves inviting individuals to spend an hour on the top of the Fourth Plinth to ‘ see the place from the perspective of art’.
Many of these art projects are about the democratization of art and how the creativity of our communities comes down to individuals participating in artistic conversations, projects and discussions, of having access to creative thinkers and artistic spaces and engaging art on their terms and from its perspective. With that thought in mind, we hope to encourage you to take in the First Friday Art Walk here in Fort Collins sometime, catch the galleries and artists, spend some time in our public spaces, check out live performances and think about how to engage your own creativity in this community! Click here for a wonderful list of all the people waiting to meet you in our creative community!
With thanks to jef_safi for his wonderful image!