Cricky received a comment from Christine Harris of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee to my last post about the whole Creative Community Summit/MKE Kre8 Kamp thing. While it seems redundant to reproduce the entire comment in a new post, as the headline suggests, I'd like to respond to a couple of statements she made in response to my response. Why? Because open dialog is one of the most productive activities we humans are capable of engaging in--well, that and well-timed slapstick comedy.
Yes indeed, and I made it perfectly clear in a past post that Cricky was invited to the Summit but could not attend for financial reasons, so I felt no need to repeat that information. It is fair to say that in that post I did not explicitly state that the reasons for my nonattendance were above and beyond that which could be solved by the financial assistance offered by the organizers to those who needed it, and I accept that criticism. However, seeing as I am not running for political office nor for a post in President Obama's Cabinet, the specific details of my and my husband's finances are the business of quite frankly no one but ourselves and the IRS.
I included the fact that there weren't enough artists at the Summit as a main point in the development and formulation of my opinion of the overall effectiveness of the meeting, so it served a more important function than simply pointing a finger of blame. The purpose of that last post was to put a period on my commentary over the last month or so of activities sponsored by the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC) and the Cultural Alliance, and to engage and speak directly to independent artists--who are free to make their own choices and decisions--and for the interest of others. If I didn't make that apparent, I apologize for the confusion, but my intention was to make it more or less an ending post to the recent chapter of goings-on and then move on.
There are a whole lotta people out here not attached to established, mainstream organizations--living and working on the fringe, if you will--who have witnessed similar efforts in the past and who've seen those efforts fail. Some feel as if they've been led on some extremely manic-depressive journeys and that they've been jerked around, so many are cautious and some are just plain pissed off. In addition, there exist still others who simply won't engage with institutions of the establishment for political and/or philosophical reasons, but they have a right to voice their opinions and I am willing and pleased to host those opinions here if they choose to do so. While I remain fairly optimistic, I understand where they're coming from and a voice of healthy skepticism is necessary to the discussion as a whole.
Well, Pegi Taylor, just to name one individual who's been actively speaking out, posted an interesting though already talked about idea on MARN yesterday:
and/or to exchange needs and ideas. This is totally doable without a task force or any further study. It would take the Cultural Alliance will to do it. And I believe it would take something like the CA with outreach capacity to get it going in a big way right away."
So there's something. And, yes, I am aware that this was discussed at the Summit and is a part of the larger action plan, but her point that this could be accomplished rapidly is what's most important.
What else? Given the current economic turmoil, perhaps the Cultural Alliance or a member entity could reach out to independent artists and others in the community who are suffering financial hardships with an online job board. It's something that could be setup fairly quickly and would allow job seekers to connect with medium and large organizations and institutions involved in the Milwaukee 7 Region efforts who need help in achieving the goals set at the Summit. These jobs could be anything from part-time to full-time, from contract to consultant work. It's a win-win for everyone, and helps to sustain the artistic community.
As funding is gained, establish and offer micro grants to independent artists and small arts/cultural orgs immediately. These can range from $200 to self-publish an on demand book of poetry or a novel to $2000 to stage a play or to fund a very low budget video/film. Be clear yet flexible in your standards of what constitutes a qualifying project, idea, individual artist and/or organization. Be open to new and innovative interpretations of what art is, understanding that self-taught artists have as much claim to ask for assistance as those who've earned the highest level of academic study. In other words, it's the work that matters.
The key to whatever you do in your outreach to the independents is consistency and undiminished commitment. As I stated before, many are injured and jaded as a result of ill-informed and poorly managed efforts of the past, and while you cannot be expected to help heal all of these psychological wounds you must strive to do your best to understand them so that trust can be built over time. You will never win over every single person and that is just a simple fact, but you can earn respect through a show of perseverance and an unceasing devotion to the process.
So, that's my response, and a mighty long-winded one at that. I invite Ms. Harris and anyone else to leave a comment so that you may have your own say.
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