Fall 2016 Hatch Training Intensive: Community Hopes and Dreams

There was a full house assembled to watch our Hatch artists present their final projects on December 4, 2016.
There was a full house assembled to watch our Hatch artists present their final projects on December 4, 2016.

Over the past four months, thirteen artists have taken a journey with us to gain a deeper understanding of the nuances that define publicly engaged art through our Hatch Training Intensive. They have spanned a variety of artistic disciplines: painting, aerial circus arts, sculpture, jewelry-making, dance, printmaking, graphic design, performance art, fashion, literature, and so much more. However, all of these artists share a deep love of community and want to share their artistic practice. We are so proud to announce the artists of the Fall 2016 Hatch Training Intensive cohort: Priscilla Alarcon, Maggie Benoit, Foluke Beveridge, Joe Dreher, Sara Gregory, Latanya Hardaway, Phil Harris, Shaun Martin, Lennie Gray Mowris, Miriam Robinson.

This particular Hatch session could be referred to as Hatch 2.0. After our original pilot program last fall, our staff wanted to incorporate some of the feedback provided by the pilot artists. The biggest feedback that we received was a need for a practical way for the skills learned to be applied during the learning process. We knew that having a chance to exercise and hone skills BEFORE working directly with a community was needed to practice the new skill set without putting students or community members at risk as “guinea pigs”. In order to support this goal, we made two major upgrades: the introduction of a Hatch Workbook and Group Presentations.

Sara Gregory and Foluke Beveridge consult their workbooks while finishing up work on their final project.
Terp Vairin, Miriam Robinson, Shaun Martin and Priscilla Smith consult their workbooks while working on an RFP exercise for Hatch.

In order to implement these changes, our staff spent two weeks (and some change) this summer solely on this one program. We made worksheets, wrote detailed explanations of exercises, created case study examples and revamped lesson plans in order to create a workbook that could be utilized as a tool by students even after the class ended. For the group presentations, we researched ACTUAL RFPS and Calls for Artists, as well as artist-led community projects to come up with our theoretical group project prompts. The involved artists were responsible for working together in small groups to create a plan for artistic engagement with community based on the goals and challenges outlined in the prompts.

 

On the whole, the Hatch program we created at the end of that three weeks was incredibly robust. The artists involved in this cohort committed not only to a four month training process, but also to a small amount of outside group work necessary to finish their projects. Classes met one weekend a month, with work due to complete their projects by the next training weekend.

Working together on a project added a necessary challenge for the Hatch artists. When working with community, artists must be able to work collaboratively in order to work with other artists, stakeholders, city governments, planning teams, etc. One group in particular became very adept at working around challenging schedules through distance conferencing and collaborative software. One of the artists in this group is also a firefighter who had to spend entire days solely at the firehouse. Other groups also dealt with scheduling, work, and personal issues that made collaboration a challenge. In spite (and in some cases, because of) their difficulties, these artists all managed to present incredible plans for community.

Each group explored a different prompt with a different community. Here are the prompts that were given to artists:

A visual documentarian recorded our groups ideas while they were presenting. These documentation board will be displayed at Fuse Arts Center.
A visual documentation recorded our groups ideas while they were presenting. These documentation board will be displayed at Fuse Arts Center.

1. Suburban City outside a major metro-area is looking to incorporate arts into their city planning. New development is now required to set aside a 1% for the arts. Traditionally the city has focused on visual, public art. They are now interested in expanding public art beyond just murals. The city has put out a Request for Proposal, with a start-up budget of $5000, for projects which can incorporate multi-disciplinary art (visual, performance, etc.) to engage community.

2. There is an uncontrolled empty lot in an historic city neighborhood which is known for crime, drug use, and vagrancy. The local community has been in conversation with private developers who want it to invest in the lot for a new parking deck for adjacent condos. The community is skeptical about the gentrification happening, and would like to see the lot used for something other than additional parking. How would you engage the community to find a solution to the use of that abandoned lot?

3. A rural community (roughly 10,000 people) has received a state grant to reinvigorate the historic downtown area to answer for the recent drop in population due to a lack of commerce. (Pick a reason: industry factory closed, decline in agriculture, better jobs elsewhere, etc.) This community has a rich cultural heritage, but there has been a lot of erasing of that heritage as resources continue to deplete. The Chamber of Commerce has ear-marked $3500 of the state grant to increase community vibrancy and reinvigorate the local economy. Devise a way to match these funds and develop stronger community pride through cultural heritage.

4. Local public high school has cut funding for after school programming, including the arts, due to limited funds. The school has a history of high truancy, low SAT scores, and high dropout rates. A group of concerned parents (7 families) are looking for solutions to address these issues. These parents are interested in developing a myriad of solutions which may not include strictly school sanctioned programming. Have your group develop ideas which represent the 1500 student body and include key stakeholders of the community.

Class Photo! Back row (from top left): Shaun Martin, Foluke Beveridge, Priscilla Alarcon, Beth West, Phil Harris, Priscilla Smith, Latanya Hardaway. Front Row (from bottom left): Terp Vairin, Maggie Benoit, Lennie Gray Mowris, Miriam Robinson, Sara Gregory. Not Pictured: Joe Dreher.
Class Photo! Back row (from top left): Shaun Martin, Foluke Beveridge, Priscilla Alarcon, Beth West, Phil Harris, Priscilla Smith, Latanya Hardaway. Front Row (from bottom left): Terp Vairin, Maggie Benoit, Lennie Gray Mowris, Miriam Robinson, Sara Gregory. Not Pictured: Joe Dreher.

The following recommendations were also given to the artists:

  • Consider government policies that may help or hinder you such as main street initiatives, tax allocation districts, and federal economic developments.
  • Find a local community which might be a model for your demographic research.
  • Once that community is identified, consider all stakeholders in the community.
  • Final presentations should be more about the process instead of the product. If an art project comes from your time in Hatch remember to stay focused on how you arrived at that idea.

I am proud to present to you the presentations of the thirteen artists participating in this cohort. Below you will find a video of their presentations to the public, which took place on December 4, 2016. Those interested in applying for the Spring 2017 Hatch Training Intensive should consult the Hatch Training Page. Here you can find applications, training dates and more information on our program. You can also RSVP to our upcoming Info Session for interested artists on December 14, 2016 at 11am at Fuse Arts Center. Questions? Those interested in the program may reach out to me by email at Audrey@c4atlanta.org. Hatch is generously supported by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.

Enjoy Hatch Artists Presentations:

 

 

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