The Act of Discovery for a Community

Posted by Bill Mackey On November - 10 - 2011
Bill Mackey

Bill Mackey

Many of the comments inspired further thoughts on my desire to create community based art projects that embrace satire or humor without an apparent or direct tie to any institution (be it commercial or public).

It sounds like everyone here wants artists to be the new generation of urban planners. I have been involved with a few urban planning projects of the past and I just do not know if it is possible for the variety of creative processes described to enter that field.

However, I do believe the current processes used by urban planners should change and Bill Roper’s call to action inspires me to look further.

I appreciate the comments from the folklorist Brendan Greaves, in particular, addressing the need to complete cultural inventories, archival research, and interviews. The process brings historical concepts and multi-generational people into the fold of a project. Today, society knows too little about our general history, our built environment, and our elders; and what it does know is understandably simplified.

I also am appreciative to the comment by Lex Leifheit regarding the necessity to ease up on content restrictions, which is directly related to the decision-making process.

Regardless of the production company, be it an institution or a bunch of skateboarders, the method of decision-making should be flexible. We should always remember the process and product are about themselves, they are not about outlier agendas, maintaining a particular identity or brand, or appeasing to a politically sensitive situation.

Both of these processes of gathering histories and data and developing new ground rules and decision-making are extremely arduous. The histories and data take time. The new rules and decisions require patience and an ability to embrace conflict. The methods require the artist(s) to navigate the communities within the community. The methods require the artist(s) to accept failure.

The methods of creating these processes and requiring the artist(s) to navigate a community help reinforce my earlier comments about the project having a blurry face – the project is no longer a direct extension of one artistic vision, but a multidimensional project associated with a variety of actors.

It becomes a series of informal networks that are loosely associated with a variety of players – some established, others not. This creates something new. This is the act of discovery for the community.

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Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.