Gather: Curating Community Through MusicProvidence, RI
Community MusicWorks’ Gather is a monthly series of curated experiences combining exceptional musical performances with neighborhood-building activities, with a goal of drawing resources, people, and ideas to the economically challenged West End of Providence. Gather grows out of Community MusicWorks’ fifteen-year history of music education, performance, and community-building by resident musicians based in its storefront office and rehearsal space.
ArtPlace spoke with CMW’s Managing Director, Kimberly Young, about the project.
ARTPLACE: What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your efforts? How did you get burned, or how did you prevail?
YOUNG: The biggest risk we’ve taken has been to build several new partnerships that are key to making the project happen as we’ve envisioned. These are cross-sector partnerships, with organizations for whom this project is a bit of a side project rather than a mission-criticalventure, and with whom we don’t have a track record of collaboration. It’s exciting to us to build these new partnerships, because can look back and see how important some of our earlycommunity partnerships have been to the development of our programs.
In this case, we’re depending on these new partners to come through with venues for a couple of the performance projects we’re most excited about. For example, next month, we’ve calendared a month-long residency in a storefront in our target area. We knew the soonest we’d know about the space would be 45 days in advance, but a few things have happened with our partner to push the time frame back even more. As of thisinterview, we still haven’t signed a deal for the space. So, to find out whether we get burned or prevail… talk to us in a month!
ARTPLACE: What are you learning from navigating this situation?
YOUNG: Well, it’s interesting. I’m relatively new to Community MusicWorks, but I can see that it has always been a flexible organization – one of the real benefits of programming chamber music is that it’s really portable, and doesn’t have the kinds of technical requirements of other art forms. It’s unplugged! But I think the projects we’re developing for ArtPlace are encouraging us to explore just how quick, improvisational, andnimble we can be. Can we prepare a raw space to be performance ready in a matter of a couple of weeks? I think we can, and as we push those boundaries and build an organizational facility with it, it will open up all kinds of opportunities for us.
Even beyond these specific projects, the requirement to be this nimble is already expanding our self-definition as presenters. CMW’s Artistic Director Sebastian Ruth and I have already begun talking about how to continue to present classical works in these riskier non-traditional performance spaces beyond the ArtPlace project. We’re also talking about the converse – presenting experimental music in more traditional spaces. All of this serves as ways to productively challenge expectations – both of what’s possible in the sites where we perform, and of what “chamber music” can be. Community MusicWorks may teach classical music, but we play in a wider world of art and presenting models.