Each and every day, I lose myself in the immediacy of the moment, find myself in the joy of the movement. Each and every day, I learn more and more...and, within that new knowledge, realize that I have so much farther to travel.

Shallom Johnson is a contemporary dance artist, visual artist and freelance writer based in Vancouver BC. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Contemporary Dance from Simon Fraser University, and has been active in the Vancouver dance community as a choreographer, performer, and instructor since her graduation in 2004.

Shallom is interested in art in public spaces, site-specific performance, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community involvement. Her street-based artwork, performance and photography examines and documents who gets to make art, where it gets made, and where/how the creative process and product is viewed. In the future, she hopes to explore this theme further via new media and technologies, new methods of creation, collaboration and community engagement.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Building a creative community

I've been thinking a lot about community lately. Me and my good friend kk aka Kris aka Kris Krug were just talking about this idea earlier tonight. It's hapening to both of us and has been happening for a while and we both see it in ourselves and others, and want to encourage it and nourish it and watch it grow......it's about having a network of artists that not only support your work as you support theirs, that not only collaborate with you and are there to bounce ideas around, but a community that really functions as individuals and as small functional groups and as a whole. An entity that is loosely tied through all these minimal degrees of separation, so that when you've got something going on and you need to spread the word, and get folks on board, people start talking to their friends in their own little way and one thing leads to another and pretty quick you're in touch with so many amazing people that you can't help but feel the love comin in from all corners of your world. And you end up meeting amazing people whom you never knew existed but always somehow felt like they were out there just beyond your reach and through the magic of mutual friends (or random strangers) something clicks and you connect and wonderful things happen.

Every artist in this community is in the process of building up his or her own network. And all of those networks have little overlaps....places where interests and impulses collide and collapse into eachother and slowly but surely all of these small webs end up becoming one big web and it stretches across the city and the country and the continent and the globe and without knowing it opportunity comes crawling across that wide wide web and knocking at your door with a smile.

I've been thinking about ways to maximize this idea of community building through the arts. Realizing that as my network of friends family coworkers collaborators acquaintances grows, that I have a lot to offer and that my ideas are growing in tandem, necessitating the expansion of my network and feeding the positive cycle.

Ah, finally. A positive cycle. I can use more of these.

I don't claim to be a techie, by any means. I blog, and I use online social media (not nearly as much as many people I know) but I appreciate them and try to put them to good use without letting it go overboard. I am not good at moderation.

For me, the value in online social media lies in the ability to translate into real-life networks, real-life collaborations, real-life inspirations. If things like Facebook and Twitter and all the myriads of blogs out there don't bring us together online and also bring us together offline, then there is really only so much I can get out of it and in the end I need more. I need face time, I need to meet up with the people of the internet in all our nerdy glory and find ways to work together on real-life projects that enrich our respective communities and - hey, maybe those projects find a way to exist online - but there has to be some sense of a feedback loop to what I do as I go about my day, or I'm gonna find more useful things to do.

Lately I've been chatting with a few people about creating an interactive social website for the dance community and the arts community at large. Something that can act as a public forum, something where artists can post public profiles and publish RSS feeds for blogs directly on their profile, something where there is an image/video gallery and possibly a way to combine it with the Open Source Dance idea that Diego Maranan was working on lately (think of it as a creative commons for movement-based art forms) as well as all the good things that CADA and the DTRC and SFU Contemporary arts and W2 are doing....a way for dancers and dance students and former dancers and choreographers and presenters and artists in other genres and audiences and general members of the community can all get together and give each other feedback and have a space for dialogue and find out what's going on with everyone and help eachother build that network that is so very important, and get offline to create projects together, and then upload those projects online to share them with a wider audience and get feedback that would then initiate another project with someone else, or with the same people in a different way...

These are all just random and somewhat jumbled thoughts. But I think that in time they will combine into something wonderful. But I need a team, I need a community, I need a network behind me and under me and around me and above me to make it happen.

Two days ago I was approached by Lee Down of OMC Social Media Solutions, and he basically proposed the idea of this site. Said that he was willing to build it if I was willing to get on board and drive the bus and help build the community that would generate content to make it an effective and useful and interesting place to coexist. And I agreed. So now we're going to do it. Lee found me through Twitter. And we're taking this online connection offline to create something that is going back online that will (hopefully) influence and affect how people exist both on and off the internet. In a small way, in a big way, who knows - but the fact that we are in contact and excited about this project is proof that the system works, and that the potential is there to be capitalized on. And I've talked to Andrea Gunnlaugson at the DTRC and Im talking with Henry Daniel at SFU to try and integrate it into what they are doing with their respective networks (where there is already HUGE overlaps) and I wanna propose some kind of partnership with Irwin Oostindie and Kris Krug at W2 and Caroline Farquhar at CADA BC (where they already have an online community forum but it is inactive and pretty insular and there is so much room for improvement and reaching out to the community instead of keeping it limited only to dancers.....)

Ok, it's 2am and I'm rambling and repeating myself. Time for sleep. I'll keep ya posted. Please, please, come join me and let's help make the dance community in Vancouver - and the arts community at large - a more integrated and interdisciplinary and interesting place to create.

goodnight all
here's to being excited about the future

1 comment:

Lee said...

Bonjour Shallom, I'm really looking forward to working on this and seeing what we can create in community.