Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why Not?

Why Not?

I had the pleasure of traveling to Baltimore this May (courtesy of the Center for International Theater Development). While I was there I went to a lot of arts venues and centers and talked to several area arts advocates. The big thing that I walked away with after this trip was that Baltimore has an arts scene that is very socially focused and justice conscious. These artists all seemed very passionately connected to community, and to improving their communities. I was particularly impressed with the space initiatives happening in Baltimore and wondered how we could transplant these ideas to Austin.

The non-profit service organization Jubilee was very inspiring. ( Their main focus was to create artist housing in artist neighborhoods as a means of stopping the rising wealth and interest in those communities from driving out the poor artists who created that very vibe that is attracting people. Every city in America deals with this gentrification and the results, the patterns, are always the same. Artists move to poor areas and start creating life and vibrancy. The market values go up, the rich move in, the artists are shuffled off to the next poor neighborhood. It was exciting to hear about and witness organizations actively trying to stop that tedious pattern.

The other space that really impressed me was the Creative Alliance. ( The space had a bar and restaurant, two galleries, a performance space, 6 artists studio apartments, and classroom space. This sort of multi-use arts facility is really exciting. It is such a beautiful example of how collaborative creative spaces can work and thrive in their communities.

After my week in Baltimore I feel much more compelled to push for deeper conversations and creative problem solving in terms of our own shared resource space. It feels like the right path to follow in terms of the Co-op and some of our ideas about a giant shared resource center, with shop space, storage space, classroom space etc etc. Last month I talked about dreaming big, this month I was inspired by the city of Baltimore to say “why not?” and really get organized about making these dig dreams happen.

Jenny Larson, Salvage Vanguard Theater/ Austin Scenic Co-op