Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn

Creative Time

Funding Received: 2013
Brooklyn, NY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
June 27, 2013

Creative Time and Weeksville Heritage Center have partnered on a joint effort to produce longer-term public art projects neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Taking care not to impose an artist’s vision on the community, we are cultivating relationships between artists and local businesses based on a process of mutual learning, trust, and shared responsibility, with a goal of achieving a common sustained vision. Artists selected for the project will work with entities as disparate as green-thumb gardens, corner bodegas, churches, and public schools.

Over the past month, project curators have undertaken an extensive review of proposals from some extraordinary artists and arrived at a final list of artist-participants. In reviewing proposals, the curators looked carefully at the issues addressed, as well as at the artists’ aesthetic and whether or not they were based locally and had an investment in the community. They asked themselves such questions as: Would this project have a sustained effect? Would the artist work well with local businesses, organizations, and other nontraditional artistic partners? Would their partnerships create unique spaces and unlikely collaborations that could in turn get neighbors excited? Is the proposal both relevant to the history of the place and of the moment? This process has yielded an ongoing provocative question, which is how best to begin and shape a conversation between an artist and a community member to ensure the discovery of mutual understanding and areas of commonality.

An artist’s process needs time to develop, particularly when working with another entity that may not speak the same “language.” To aid the selected artists in the initial phases of their projects, we’re beginning research related to their ideas, bearing in mind that we are not the sole experts on what is “good,” or, conversely, what is “bad,” for our neighborhood. Rather, artists and local businesses and organizations are working together to create something fruitful for the community.

Lastly we’ve begun our search for a project manager. Interviews are under way as we look for someone who has both experience supporting and executing an artist’s vision, and the ability to develop productive ties across the spectrum of individuals and organizations that constitute a neighborhood. This new team-member will be integral to the development and continued success of this project.

This month’s “ wins” include:

-Artist selection
-Initiating research in support of artists ideas, and forming partnerships
-Interviewing candidates for the position of project manager