Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mi arts casa es su arts casa

For all my DC artist friends,

This post is about something I've always offered in passing, but wanted to really, intentionally put out there, as 2014 comes to an end.

I have a pretty awesome space in the +Brookland Artspace Lofts. One of the perks of being the first resident to move in. In fact, check out this video I took from when I and my roommate initially moved in, back in 2011!!



So granted there is furniture here now, but the living space set-up is very modular. Even with the furniture in, when it is all pushed to the sides, one is still left with a clear space to play in of 25' wide by 15' deep, with a ceiling just a little over 9' high.

I, myself, have had dance and theatre rehearsals in my apartment. And this is what I'm offering to my friends and arts colleagues. My space should you need it, and it's available.

Beyond the space, there would be a few additional perks:
  • Food & drink: I would at least have bottled water stocked and available. Any other snacks, let's talk.
  • Tech:
    • I have a video camera and Google Glass for you to help document and record your process, if you want. With the video, I could probably even edit and send you highlights, of bloopers and breakthroughs in your process.
    • I also have a blue-tooth speaker in case you need to play an audio/music.
    • There is Wi-Fi.
What would I want in return, if anything? I'm honestly not sure yet. Maybe access to your social media analytics, so I could do an audit of your organization, which I would obviously share with you, but would also add to my own personal body of knowledge and data. Maybe permission to ask to interview and blog about you and the other artists you're working with, for my own social media channels. Would there be a monetary component for the space, food, tech, or my time at all? I'm going to leave that completely up to you.

But first things first. Let's just figure out if you could use the space at all.

The location's convenient, it's barely a 5 minute walk from the Brookland/CUA metro station.


And if you're driving, there's plenty of street parking as our street has not been re-zoned as a residential one yet. Bad for residents, but good for non-residents.

Time-wise? I just need to be here, so that limits it to 6:30pm and after on weeknights. Otherwise, it's just pending availability with any other commitments I might have.

If you want to put in a request, you can do that here: http://doodle.com/AWayofLife0.

I think that's about it for now. But, like I said, I'm trying to be more intentional about putting this out there as something I want to give back to the community I've received so much from. Especially as I've transitioned to doing more administrative things.

Because after my space was included this past week as one of the stops on a tour that included Dance Place and the Arts Walk on Monroe Street, one of the attendees' reaction and shock and awe reminded me of just how much of challenge space can be, in this city.

And if/when I move out of here (hopefully not anytime soon), I would hate to think that I didn't try to take full advantage of my apartment, even if only providing it as a place for others to help their own artistic visions manifest.

Just to reiterate, this is definitely a one-degree kind of thing right now. If I don't know you personally, I'm sorry. But if we know someone in common that you're working on something with, just have them ask.

- JR

Sunday, November 30, 2014

In case you missed it

Hey there,

So I thought I'd try doing a new kind of blog post. I share so much on various social networks, but the half-life for content on any of those, well...you just have to get over the fact that you will miss things and can't see everything.

That being said, here are highlights of links I've posted over the past week for one reason or another, all in one place. In case you missed it, in no particular order.
One more video, the one that I thought would break the internet, the Star Wars Teaser Trailer for Episode VII.


And a mix of a DJ I saw last night at Echostage, Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation.



That's it. Curious to see what you think, what you missed, what you saw.

Or if we're not connected at all and you just happened to come across this post.

Let me know what you'd like to see more of!!

JR

Monday, November 24, 2014

If you could see privilege...

...what would it look like?

For some reason, that is a question which my Facebook news feed has answered twice over the past week. The timing is particularly eerie as I am helping with a video project on exploring the topic of diversity at Burning Man, and privilege being one of the issues and topics that comes up.

Regardless, I wanted to share several examples in order of increasing effectiveness for me.

The first one is one that actually came up when I google'd "cartoon privilege" for one more example to round out the other two.


The only problem is that as it's oversimplified history and groups of people into a single interaction between two people, the challenge is how to have an engaging dialogue about a multifaceted and complex issue, which leads to definitive actions with measurable outcomes.

By the way, if anyone knows the artist of the cartoon above, please let me know? The image is used so much that trying to google its creator was not yielding any results.

This next comic, while a bit better, still has an illogical statement. I don't want to repost it without permission, but you can see the cartoon with some context at Everyday Feminism.

My problem is the supposed conclusion of the exchange is with the "white male" pointing out his own burden, and it seemingly the conclusion that there's no way for the others to convince him of the fact that their own backpacks are considerably bigger, by virtue of the fact that he doesn't even notice the difference himself; the mere presence of his own backpack to bear is enough.

And this leads me to the third visualization...less of a cartoon, and more of an exercise. This one, I have to thank Buzzfeed for, "This Teacher Taught His Class A Powerful Lesson About Privilege".

The gist of it is that everyone sitting in a class can move up from their own class if they get a crumpled piece of paper into a bin at the front.


Human nature unfortunately leaves us relatively aware of our backspace, much less anything behind it. So folks from the front of the class, while they have their own challenge to make the shot, don't realize much less think about how much more difficult it is for those farther and farther back to do the same. But it is painfully obvious for those towards the back and especially those in the back of the advantage others have and their own disadvantage.

You can read about the exercise more in depth Buzzfeed. But what I appreciate about that exercise is that while physically demonstrating the challenge of working with different privilege, it also illustrates the challenge of having a conversation about it as everyone isn't coming to the table from the same perspective.

Anyway, just wanted to share. Are there any favorite visualizations, from comics to exercise, that you think have helped you and others understand and talk about privilege?

Please share in the comments,

JR

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Modern dancing with the pop stars

Hey there,

So as someone who majored in modern dance (which isn't always what some people think it is), I love seeing contemporary choreography in the music videos of pop stars.

While I used contemporary and modern somewhat interchangeably, here is a definition of modern dance, from Wikipedia:
Modern dance is a style of western concert dance which began loosely in the late 19th century and early 20th-century. Modern dance, which has birthplaces in the United States as well as Germany, was a direct response to ballet as the primary form of concert dance. Modern dance refused aspects of classical ballet and broke away from codified movements and balletic narrative structures. Because of early pioneers like Martha Graham, modern dance now encompasses a wide range of styles, many of which are associated with renowned schools and masters. There are over a thousand Types of Modern Dance including the Graham and Horton techniques. Eventually, postmodern dance would reject the formalism of modern dance and include elements such as performance art, contact improvisation, floor work, release-technique, and improvisation.

So for me, the choreography in these videos stands out from other music video choreography because it's less literal and more abstract in it's movement vocabulary and motifs. It's less of a direct visualization of the music, and rather works in conjunction with the song to create meaning, rather than being dictated by rhythm, melody, and lyrics.

That being said (and I share this with the caveat that I don't watch many music videos to begin with), here are three that have stood out in the past several years. And, weirdly enough, I'm going to share them in the order of the Choreography track at UMD's Dance program, three semester long classes, choreographing for solo, duet, then group.

So first up, a solo. It's the music video for Sia's Chandelier:


The  choreography is by Ryan Heffington, and the dancer is Maddie Ziegler (who was born in 2002!!). If you haven't seen the video, you might've seen a Saturday Night Live skit referencing it this past Halloween. And this year, it won the MTV Music Video Award for Best Choreography.

The second video is a duet, the music video for Pink's Try.



The choreography is a collaboration by the Golden Boyz and stunt choreographer, Sebastien Stella. The dancer/love interest is Colte Prattes, who is on the faculty of the Broadway Dance Center. Colte is actually touring with Pink, but as soon as he's back I think I'm going to be planning a road trip up to NYC.

Third and not least is a group piece, the music video for Carrie Underwood's Something in the Water.


The choreography is by Travis Wall, a former So You Think You Can Dance competitor, and the dancers are company members of his dance company, Shaping Sound.

What's HUGE about this is the challenges dance has as an art form, in the south. And the majority of pop music videos tend not to help. You can check out the comments on YouTube for a clear example of this. I remember talking about it in undergrad, and how in many parts of the U.S. south, dance had to be coded as physical activity, just to even be considered as programming, particularly in educational settings.

Which it is, very intense and strenuous physical activity, don't get me wrong. But that's the subject for a whole other post.

What I thought was interesting was that the three pop artist who came to mind were all female. And I wonder how many male pop artists incorporate contemporary and modern dance into any of their music videos.

That being said, if you have any music videos which features modern choreography, please share them in the comments,

JR

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grantmaker resources, working in the DC arts scene

Hey there,

Just a quick share about three resources for grantmakers which we take advantage of, at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities:

Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers:

  • "The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers is a membership association composed of grantmakers in the Greater Washington region - Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Our members represent a vibrant cross-section of philanthropy, including family, community, corporate, and independent foundations, as well as corporate giving programs, governmental grantmakers, grantmaking public charities, and individual philanthropists. We provide a variety of services to our members to facilitate more effective, strategic, and efficient grantmaking, thereby making the Greater Washington region a better place to live and work."




Grantmakers in the Arts

  • "The mission of Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) is to provide leadership and service to advance the use of philanthropic resources on behalf of arts and culture. GIA is the only national association of private and public funders making grants to artists and arts organizations in America. GIA’s strength is in its diversity of members: private, family, community and corporate foundations, national, state and local governmental agencies, nonprofit national, regional and local service organizations. What they all have in common is a belief that America is a better place to live and our communities are stronger when the creativity of artists is prevalent in all aspects of society."


  • "For more than 15 years the GEO community has advanced smarter grantmaking practices that enable nonprofits to grow stronger and more effective. As a result, GEO members consistently outpace other funders in terms of making productive changes to help nonprofits achieve more — such as providing support for grantee capacity building, engaging external voices in decision-making, giving multiyear grants, forming strategic partnerships and funding collaboration among grantees."


Just thought I'd share, for any other grantmakers out there, hopefully you'll find at least one of these useful, if you're not already a member.

And as new members to the latter two, I'm looking forward to taking advantage of their programs and learning more.

Any other similar organizations you'd recommend? Please share in the comments!!

JR

Friday, August 01, 2014

Fun facts about DCCAH's FY14 grantees

Hey there,

As we're getting to wrapping up FY14 and prep for FY15 at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, there were some things that I was curious about, not just as a grants manager, but as an arts administrator in general as well as a board member of a small arts organization.

In reviewing organizational profiles, several data points piqued my interest: founding year, board size, and when an organization's fiscal year ended

So check this out, from data about 115 organizational grantees:

  • The average founding year is 1987
    • The median founding year, however, is 1991
    • The oldest organization was founded in 1918
    • The youngest organization was founded in 2010
  • The average number of board members an organization had was 16
    • The median number of board members, however, was 12
    • The smallest board had 3 members
    • The largest board had 59 members
  • The most popular dates for when fiscal years ended were:
    • 12/31 for 37.4% of grantees
    • 6/30 at a close second for 33% of grantees
    • 8/31 at third for 13.9% of grantees
    • 9/30 at fourth for 7.8% of grantees

There it is. Just thought it was interesting.

I was surprised to see that half of the FY14 grantees were organizations that were less than 23 years old. I guess I assumed that organizations were generally older than that. Board member wise, 12 made sense to me, as a median, because to me that seems to be an ideal number of board members.

And date wise, I wasn't surprised that many organizations aligned their fiscal year with the calendar year. I was surprised that the next most popular date was June 31. I am very curious why some organizations chose that. I was surprised that September 30 was fourth, because it is the DC Government's fiscal year end, and thought more organizations would have aligned their own fiscal year with it.

Anyway, there you go. What do you think? How does your own organization compare?

Let me know in the comments!!

JR aka Nexus

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bookland in Brookland

And no, I'm not talking about Catholic University's Barnes & Noble that looks like it's getting close to opening.

I'm talking about Bookland (if you're on Foursquare, here's the page), studio of artist Caitlin Phillips. She's among a number of artists that have studios on the ground floor of the Monroe Street Market, a mixed use development. You can like them on Facebook here or follow them on Twitter here.



Caitlin is a wonderful person I've had the pleasure and privilege of getting to know as I've become more active in the DC Burners community. And Bookland is home to Caitlin's shop, Rebound Designs.




Rebound Designs mission?
A second chance for well-loved books!
What does Caitlin mean by this? Well I'm not a fan of paraphrasing things when folks already say it so well themselves. So, from her Facebook page:
Rebound Designs is a novel approach to accessories. I combine rescued and discarded hardback books with beautiful fabrics to become functional, one of a kind Book Purses. Paperbacks are turned into durable wallets, vinyl covered, and lined with pages of the books. Book lovers, I’ve got you covered!
And if you're on Etsy, favorite her shop here.

Bookland is located at 716 Monroe St NE (right up the street from my place at the Brookland Artspace Lofts!!).



And you can also find Caitlin at Eastern Market on the weekends. You can find her Eastern Market Vendor page here.

Also (like I couldn't love her even more) she interviewed in 2009 on NPR's All Things Considered, Judging a Book (Bag) By Its Cover.

And the thing is, I have multiple book shelves in my library at home. I treasure books in their physical form, and before I knew Caitlin and what she does and WHY she does it, I probably would've had the same reactions others have undoubtedly had.

But when I think about how much the book is more of a reminder of its story after I've read it, rather than how much I've actually reread any of the books in my library, I have no doubt I will be going to Caitlin soon, to give my own books a second-life, instead of one that's just gathering dust on my shelves.

- JR aka Nexus