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In 2010, because of Trey McIntyre Project’s high profile nationally and internationally, Boise City Mayor Dave Bieter named TMP the city’s inaugural Economic Development Cultural Ambassador. In 2011, Mayor Bieter yet again bestowed the title upon the dance company. This was not only in recognition of what TMP was doing outside of Boise but was also a nod to the engagement activities that TMP is so heavily involved in within its hometown’s borders, such as partnerships with Coldwell Banker, St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital, The City of Boise and the Treasure Valley YMCA; collaborations with local artists; spontaneous performances (SpUrbans) and more. These engagements are known collectively as The Boise Bright Spot Project, a creative placemaking endeavor made possible by the NEA/Artplace grant.

As the TMP team prepared for a tour of Hawaii and the East Coast, TMP dancer and Executive Director John Michael Schert answered a few questions about the difficulties and the rewards of creative placemaking, something the company is constantly developing, regardless of where in the world they are.

ARTPLACE: As you reflect on your work to date, what unexpected challenges have you encountered?

JOHN MICHAEL: One of TMP’s biggest, long-reaching goals is for the creation of a larger, institutional funder for creativity/innovation/arts in Boise. Progress is being made on the City level for a local option tax towards the arts which TMP is actively involved in advocating for – to date there is no sustainable major local funder, but we hope to help create one by the Fall 2012

Our time in Boise is limited. Touring takes us away so frequently that we are not able to fully commit ourselves for long stretches of time to the Boise Bright Spot Project
And last but not least, TMP needs a permanent home: We need to be out of our current residence by June 30, 2012 and as of now, we still don’t know where we will go. We must have a place to base our programs out of.

ARTPLACE: Have you had any happy surprises in your work to date?

JOHN MICHAEL: We have been wonderfully surprised at the excitement and willingness of Americans in a small/mid-sized city to embrace a dance company as their emissary to the world. That relationship has fostered the success of the Boise Bright Spot Project and with the attention cast by ArtPlace and the NEA Our Town grant, TMP is being heralded as a national Bright Spot by organizations such as the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. It has also lead other cities in the U.S. to look to the TMP/Boise model and ask how they can create projects similar to Boise Bright Spot in their own city. We have shown that people are willing to fund (charitably and non-charitably) a creative placemaking endeavor when they realize it is value-added to the their community.

ARTPLACE: Are there things you’ve learned in your work that others in the creative placemaking field can learn from?

JOHN MICHAEL: We learned that directly approaching individuals, businesses, elected officials, students, and self-defined groups one at a time is the most effective way to create a grassroots feeling of “ownership”. We also discovered that a grassroots approach such as this must be complemented by macro/public events such as a performances, high press visibility through awards and accomplishments and engagement omnipresence to create the feeling of inclusion and pride.

Boise artist Rachel Linquist created TMP finger puppets, seen above, for 2011’s 10+1, a collaboration between TMP and local artists.

 

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