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 and how it will continue after the ArtPlace grant period is over.
ARTPLACE: Will this work live beyond the grant period?
YOUNG: Community MusicWorks has formed some interesting cross-sector organizational partnerships through our project Gather, and we, along with our partners, are very interested in finding a way to continue collaborating. Last month, we held rehearsals, an art opening and four concerts – two experimental music concerts and two string quartet concerts – in a vacant storefront owned by a community development organization, SWAP: Stop Wasting Abandoned Property. At the art opening, SWAP Staff & Families joined CMW Staff & Families to celebrate the installation of neighborhood-inspired photographs and sound samples taken by CMW & SWAP students the preceding week. Afterwards we all sat in the round to listen to an intimate performance by the CMW Players of a Late Beethoven Quartet. After the event, I had conversations with SWAP staff and SWAP families, and some audience members who had dropped in after seeing lights on and people gathered in the storefront. In each conversation I learned that people were genuinely excited to come together in this unlikely concert space to hear live music, to celebrate the artwork of their students, to meet neighbors they didn’t know they had, and to learn about two organizations that live and work in the neighborhood.
With both organizations motivated to continue the collaboration, and encouraging support from the community, we are excited to continue this new collaborative work with SWAP, and to seek out other organizational partners.
ARTPLACE: How has this work affected the work you will do beyond the grant period?
YOUNG: Our cross-sector collaborations have expanded our definition of what it means to live in this community as an organization. We have long been in partnership with neighborhood stalwarts – the John Hope Settlement House and the West End Community Center – but creating pop up performances in new and unlikely locations each season, and working with more and more types of community organizations, allows us to invite a larger cross section of the community to join in. We feel that our ArtPlace project is an exciting expansion on the performance and community building work that CMW has been doing for the last 16 years and we plan to continue exploring in this direction.
ARTPLACE: How will the work you’ve begun be sustained after your ArtPlace grant?
YOUNG: As we look ahead to next season, we’re exploring plans for collaborative concerts with SWAP and we’ll be looking for opportunities to continue our collaborations with our other community partners. We are also exploring how to support this work above and beyond our normal programming season. Already, we have found that there are resources out there to continue these collaborations – from contributed time from neighborhood volunteers to contributed space from local organizations. Although these contributed resources go a long way towards offering these free community events, we’ll also be looking for local, regional, and national funding partners to sustain this work long term.