Sustained Support recipient Theatre Puget Sound sits in that grey area known as “arts service organizations”—organizations that do not create art themselves but help others to do so. TPS not only offers assistance to individuals and organizations but also cultivates creativity across the theater spectrum. To that latter end, TPS presents Arts Crush Course 2013, a full day of speakers and workshops designed to stimulate, engage, and inspire. Modeled somewhat after the popular TED talks, Crush Course features short presentations by arts luminaries from Seattle and across the U.S.
The Seattle-based folk bridge the visual, literary, and dance worlds: Seattle Art Museum’s Sandra Jackson-Dumont, whose talk is called “To Be Real: Personal Shine and Organization Identity,” specializes in participatory art experiences and blurring the lines between academia and pop culture. Dance grande dame Pat Graney will discuss her acclaimed program Keeping the Faith, through which she’s been working with incarcerated women for over 20 years. Ed Marquand’s Marquand Books creates arts books for museums, galleries, and architects, but he’s also the founder of Mighty Tieton, an incubator for “creative and artisan businesses” just outside of Yakima; his talk is subtitled “Building an Entrepreneurial Community in an Unlikely Place.”
The people coming from further afield are just as varied: Writer and arts consultant Roberto Bedoya of the Tucson Pima Arts Council will speak on “Creative Placemaking and the Politics of Belonging and Dis-Belonging.” Polly Carl directs and edits Howlround: A Center for the Theater Common, which promotes new practices to make theater more accessible to all, and will speak about “The Beauty of Complexity: Or the Death of the Pure Aesthetic.” Marc Bamuthi Joseph, co-founder of Life is Living (a national series of one-day hip-hop festivals aimed at revitalizing under-resourced parks), has a talk called “Kindred: Packing for the Future.” Margy Waller, a senior fellow at Topos Partnership (a research organization dedicated to “transforming the landscape of public understanding”), has one of the simplest yet most open-ended titles: “Serendipitious Art.”
TPS Executive Director Karen Lane, while enthusiastic about the entire line-up, is particularly looking forward to hearing the founding artistic director of Portland’s Sojourn Theatre, Michael Rohd. “Arts Crush began as ‘audience development’,” said Lane. “I question that ‘label’ and ‘goal’ now…I certainly believe that audience development can be a by-product but it seems to lack integrity and be disingenuous as a primary goal…Michael Rohd calls for a conversation that clarifies intention; he asks, ‘What common values, if any, do we believe engagement should hold as a growing body of practice?’”