Gang of 6 update

June 8, 2010

Anyone in Bloomington who’s got a heartbeat knows that conversations regarding the arts are running fast and furious. Tonight there was a follow-up meeting to last month’s “arts summit” at the Waldron.

About 25 people were in attendance & it was finally agreed that we should break into smaller groups. Actually, it was Alain’s idea to start with but I think I was the one to insist on it. I couldn’t help it—the chairs were really hard and I’d been setting down all day.

So there I was, minding my own business, when I suddenly found myself in charge of the performing arts subcommittee. Charrette. Whosis. Whatsis. And so forth.

I am to convene a meeting of as many performing artists/arts groups in town as possible to start visioning what a new arts organization would look like. We also need to examine our wants and needs, as well as what we have to offer.

I got to my car, bewildered at how I’d managed to end up at the front of the charge. “This is what you get when you don’t say no,” I said out loud (unhelpfully) to myself.

So I’m hoping to meet in the next two weeks so we have time for a second meeting if necessary before the next whole-group meeting on the second Tuesday of July. Was that a run-on sentence? Anyway.

The downside is that I’ve just gotten a bunch of work in that I need to crank on tomorrow and my brain is currently buzzing with fantasies of where we’ll have the meeting, how I want to structure it, whether or not I’ll tank it with an attempt at humor that instead offends everyone, or maybe I’ll just burst into a Turet’s-like stream of obscenities from sheer pressure. This is not conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Joni McGary runs a really good meeting. Maybe I can sucker her—ehm, I mean, ask her to run it instead of me. Oh, but really there’s a part of me that wants to do this. I was just at the BloomingPlays cast party a couple weeks ago, talking about how I wanted to get more involved with the community. Plop! The universe conveniently drops this into my lap.

Ah well, I’m excited at the prospect of shaping Bloomington’s artistic future through grassroots agitation and collaboration. While I can never be a dynamo like the divine Charlotte Zietlow, I can contribute this little piece that might lead to a greater whole.


The Ceilidhs

January 11, 2009

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Ask anyone in the know about the céilidhs we held in 1996 and 1998 and they get a dreamy look in their eyes. 

The céilidhs are hard to categorize. They were based on “authentic” céilidhs I’d attended in Scotland. Our version was like a mini-Lotus, only focused entirely on local talent. The explanation we gave was “world music, poetry, dance, and storytelling.”

My role was organizer, producer, marketer, creative director, vocalist, and more. I participated in the collective planning/producing brain with the outstanding Daniel McDeavitt and Denise Travers. I believe Hanna McDeavitt helped produce the ’98 one.

The 1996 edition was focused on audience participation, so we saw a lot of artists breaking the fourth wall. Many of our acts performed in the audience space rather than onstage. 

In 1998, artists focused more on collaborating with each other, so we ended up with the Trifecta Of Bliss: Vida, Rhythm Quest, and Windfall Dancers all performing together.

All of the artists were outstanding. Planned to last about 3 hours, both céilidhs went overtime but the audience never left. After 4 hours in ’96 and 5 hours in ’97, people still hung out afterwards to soak in the bliss. Alain Barker ended both céilidhs by leading everybody in a group jam with instruments he brought and shared among the crowd.

Somewhere in the CATS vault is a recording of the 1998 céilidh. If you want a real treat, ring them at 812-349-3111 and request that they play it. After more than 10 years, it still holds up!

These “events” were sacred for me and remain dear to my heart. I will always feel bonded to Denise and Daniel for co-manifesting a night to remember.

The line-ups for 1996 and 1998