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Workshop 23


BostonAPP/Lab Notes from December 15, 2015


The many participants in the Lab’s November 24, 2015, workshop – where we began to bring the ArtsCommons to life -- created a rich set of both general and specific responses to the ArtsCommons’ core questions:

  • Location: where can/should the ArtsCommons best be sited?

  • Users: who will/can/should be engaging with these spaces?

  • Curation: what topics/ideas issues can the ArtsCommons’ programming address?

  • Criteria: how do we set priorities - and who is “we?”

  • Infrastructure: what are the essential mechanical, electrical, environmental, safety requirements for the ArtsCommons?


One of November’s participants wrote later that the ArtsCommons’ “openness is its generosity; once the artists and community get their minds and hands on it, it will go beyond anything we come up with in a workshop.”

The challenge, then: identify the specific steps required to create a successful launch and ensure a residual impact of the ArtsCommons. For example:

  • What are the most critical ingredients for structuring an effective ArtsCommons partnership?

  • Given the flexibility built into the ArtsCommons’ initial design, what are the most efficient/effective approaches to siting, configuration, use of materials, etc.?

  • What kinds of “prompts” will activate what kinds of activities or uses over the course of a two week long residency at a single site?

  • What are the definitions of success – immediate as well as ongoing for the ArtsCommons?


The ideas summarized in the notes below suggest the multiple strategies by which participants saw the ArtsCommons coming to life.


Brainstorming kinds/examples of potential partnerships:

  • Community Investors, via ideas and/or time

  • Town Hall meetings to provide the community a voice in what happens in their space, as well as a way to find out what we should/can be leaving behind

  • Space is money. What is a surplus in the community that needs to be shared?

  • “Life Is Good”

  • Studio Fresh

  • Loft F Gallery, Design Museum Boston, Industrial Designers Society of Boston, Energy companies – solar, batteries etc.

  • Blockchain (bitcoin) companies – enabling people to prove concepts

  • Incentivizing partnerships via potential profitable scalability

  • Organizations already established in communities that can foster activity. Places may not have the kind of venue like the Children’s’ Museum; however, they do have organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, where children can create a sense of community and are encouraged to express themselves through art. Thus maybe a “leave-behind” or performance is not a physical mark on the location, but enhancing these established communities via existing assets.

  • Micro communities

  • Boston Redevelopment Authority


Brainstorming kinds/examples of activities:

  • Collaborative/diverse performances based on the specifics of a particular community (anniversaries, memorable dates).

  • Themes for local civic engagement; dialogues and themes via installation(s) that would address social issues, and travel from one site to the next.

  • Incubator for social groups.

  • Physical platform that can engage and enable communities to evolve/continue.

  • Location, location, location: The “black box” as a means of creating a place of activity? To draw, engage, and connect people – perhaps in a place with little or no pre-established initiatives re social engagement.

  • Visual, lecture, performing -- one of each.

  • Theme for X amount of time.

  • Social media pulling attention, keeping focus on creative direction.

  • Food and gardening (seasonal).

  • Campfires.


Brainstorming kinds of/criteria for success:

  • Knowledge: consistency, accessibility (social media), word of mouth, visibility.

  • Create/sustain dialogue with the community to see what the ArtsCommons means or could mean to them.

  • Pre-work with and preparing the community for the ArtsCommons as crucial component of what happens on/in/around the ArtsCommons.

  • Regularity, reliability.

  • Variety of audiences at one time (be open and consciously ambiguous enough to appeal to everyone)..

  • Cross-seasonal unit that can scale and be simple/pure/"magical"/intuitive

  • Timeline enabling community to engage and adapt to it before taking it away.

  • Physical “list” that can be passed on.

  • Growth of community in platforms, groups, friendships.

  • Educational components such as people learning about local activities or just generally learning from one another.

  • Cross-fertilization of cultures.

  • Drop Box – social media hype before it gets there. 

  • Equal Opportunity: “natural selection” shouldn’t rely on funding – kit of parts should enable any idea to be seen through and given the chance to “prove itself.”

  • Spatial/ physical hype: what happens in the space before the physical structure gets there? Excitement, questions, mystery, imagination

  • Ideological hype/community Influence: community brainstorms for topic/themes that reflect an understanding of community needs. Who knows best? Insider or outsider?

  • Constructive community input – ideals, not problems. Fill the space with good, not remove the negative.

  • Involvement – core community vs. outside community.

  • Incubator for movement: urban gardens, uplift what exists, reality that needs healing.

  • Creating community: social media ... network > physical space ... destination

  • Sponsor a network via, e.g., Kickstarter.

  • Must-haves: power, wifi, security.

  • Performance: intimate, secured stage, collecting something – filled with stuff.

  • Barber shop; mani-pedi.

  • Transparent walls.

  • Open studios/open streets.

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