Tag Archives: music

Art Life

16 May

At the Seraphine Music & Arts Jubilee, taking place May 23rd at the East Room in Nashville, I will be passing out my contact info along with a “teaser” so to speak about a non-profit I would like to start. 
Several years ago I started Art Life with another local artist, Hannah Sheehan. The group was meant to be an artists collective, giving everyone involved exhibition opportunities, a chance to network with other artists, and to one day have its own gallery with affordable studio space and a supply sharing program. We organized many successful shows, but the group eventually disbanded.

For a long time I have wanted to bring Art Life back, but have wanted to expand the dream a little further. Rather than just striving to one day provide affordable studio space, why not housing too? After all, most artists I know struggle to balance a busy schedule between their work and their day jobs. And what good would a studio space do if they barely had any time to spend in it? 

I have always loved artist residency programs – the idea of giving an artist the time they need away from everything else to immerse themselves in their art and the art of those around them. But most artist residency programs aren’t designed to accommodate families, and Murfreesboro does not have one of these programs, family-friendly or otherwise.

So the dream is to one day open Murfreesboro’s own artist residency program where both artists and musicians can live, with their spouses, partners, and children if needed, rent-free with their own studio, access to an art gallery, a recording studio, and a music venue. In exchange for their housing they will spend a short amount of time each week working at some part of the facility.

They will also be required to spend a certain amount of time during their stay servicing the community in some way (aside from their art exhibits at the facility). There will be established programs providing free art and music classes to low-income areas that might not otherwise have access to these kinds of activities, but artists are also free and encouraged to come up with their own ideas for how to fill their community outreach requirements – such as organizing a charity exhibit or concert (or both) or starting a community garden on the grounds, just as a few ideas. 

Several times a week special meals will be served for all of the residents (could be sponsored by local restaurants?), but as for food and other things needed during their stay, stipends will be available to some (maybe one day everyone), but those who don’t receive stipends will be encouraged to find a part time job. Full-time work won’t be allowed, because working a 40 hour job outside of the program would defeat the purpose of giving people free housing so that they can focus on their work. The beauty of a part-time job, especially if it is for a local business, is that it provides the artist with extra opportunities to be engaged in the community and make more connections that could possibly benefit their career.

Classrooms will also be available for artists to use to teach workshops and seminars. They can do this for profit or as part of their community service requirements. 

Another amenity will be a small publishing house, which could also give internship opportunities to local writers and college students interested in journalism or the publishing industry. The publication would keep everyone up to date on all of the happenings at the facility – all of the exhibits, concerts, artist features, etc. 

The beauty of Murfreesboro is that it is it’s own little area with tons of untouched potential, but it is also close enough to Nashville so that artists could make the relatively short commute and look for career opportunities there. The Ryman Lofts in Nashville are also now available and might offer a more permanent living situation to some artists as they leave the residency program. 

Artists would have to be accepted into the program based on review from the board of directors. They would have to have letters of recommendation, a good portfolio (or demo), and would have to show proof that they were a low-income family (or at least that they would be during their stay, after leaving their “day jobs”).

This is the start of everything. And it may never go anywhere, but this is my dream and I am ready to release it from my brain and start getting it out there into the world. At this point I need to work on a solid mission statement, more clear outlines of everything, and do lots and lots of research. I don’t know how I can ever make this dream come true, but I certainly can’t lose anything from trying.