Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hydrology show, Convergence

Well the last month has been busy between helping my mother-in-law move, shows, conferences, school stuff, etc. Didn't realize how long it had been since I posted. I have two pieces in the Hydrology show at the Chelsea Center for the Arts. The opening is tomorrow - Friday, December 4 from 6-9 and yes I'll be there.

Tuesday was the Arts Alliance's first annual conference - Convergence. Hosted at the EMU Student Center, this half day conference addressed the creative economy. I attended a session on artspaces - work/live or just workspaces for artists created out of spaces formerly used for other things like factories, prisons, schools, etc. The session talked about legal/zoning/regulatory issues with setting up such space and was useful.

I also attended a session on the Arts Alliance's new web portal. I'm really excited about the portal - it's going to be a terrific resource for both producers of art and art events (using the word "art" in its broadest sense) and for consumers of same. Whether one is looking for a play to attend, a kiln to fire one's work in, music lessons, gallery openings or artist community the new portal will be a boon for the county. I'm on the advisory panel for the site development but this was a chance to see the site not quite ready to go beta but close. I'll be talking about the site a great deal once we're live.

The keynote session was given by Stuart Rosenfeld about the economic impact of the creative economy. It was an interesting session full of hard data. For me the biggest take-away from his talk was how profoundly under-counted are the economic impact of the arts. It was unfortunate that most elected officials who were invited to the conference didn't come - the message of how much the arts do in terms of economic impact is an important one that needs to reach those people.

After attending TEDx Detroit I was inspired by the mix of music and poetry interspersed with regular sessions. My friend Ken Kozora said that an arts conference needs art and music and poetry and dance - so we brought those elements in. I curated a one day exhibition of visual art for the conference. Artists showing their work included: Lynda Cole, Margaret Parker, Barbara Thomas Yerace, Laura Seligman, Candace Compton Pappas, Martha Ceccio, Anne Savage, Connie Cronenwett, Rick De Troyer, Francsc Burgos, and Barbara Carson.

Ken played his wonderful music three separate times, two of which included dancers Amanda Stanger-Read, Director of Arts in Motion Dance Studio and Christina Sears Etter, Artistic Director of People Dancing. All three musical interludes had my images projected behind them. Poet Chris Lord read us the poem she wrote about the importance of support for the arts. Many of us had first heard that poem when she read it as part of testimony to the state legislature asking them to not cut state arts funding. We ended the conference with a guided improvisation led by Amanda and Christina which had everyone in the room up and participating. It was quite different than most other arts conferences I've attended with the mix of arts and traditional sessions and set a very creative tone. The events were videoed so I hope there will be video available at some point.

Convergence was a terrific way for our local arts community to come together. One of the important things the Arts Alliance has done is to connect people working in different parts of the county in different kinds of art related fields to one another whether it be music, dance, visual arts, theatre, literary arts or arts administration. I appreciate what Tamara Real has done in building these community connections - it's hugely important, especially in economic downturns for the different arts constituencies to work together. And our community just had a real loss with Angela Martin-Barcelona leaving us due to her husband's job change. As marketing director at the Arts Alliance Angela has done a lot to help the arts community and she will be sorely missed!