In Search of the Artistic Home
Jamie Gahlon has asked theatre artists from around the country to talk about their personal search for an artistic home. Diane Ragsdale continues this series.
What makes an artistic home?
An artistic home is co-created. It implies a steady relationship: a place an artist can return to periodically, or stay for a period of time, and in that place find particular resources and support from a theatre, which is able and enthused to provide them because having the artist “come home” brings life and meaning to the theatre. It’s reasonable to think that artists desire and require different environments and people working with them (in general, and at different points in their processes or lives) to feel “at home.” In other words, there’s no such thing as an “artistic home-making kit" that would work for all artists and all theatres at all times. An artistic home implies that the home owners (the artistic staff at the very least, but ideally the entire staff and board) know the artist, and understand and appreciate his or her work and process; that the artist knows and understands the ethos of the theatre and its purpose and processes; and that (upon honest assessment) both parties believe they are able to create an artistic home together.
If I were an artist, I imagine my artistic home would be the place where I have had the most satisfying work experiences—the place I yearn to be because I need the place as much as it needs me.
Where and how did you find yours and what does it mean to you?
I’ve never had an artistic home as I’m not an artist. If I were an artist, I imagine my artistic home would be the place where I have had the most satisfying work experiences—the place I yearn to be because I need the place as much as it needs me. I imagine it would mean feeling comfortable calling the artistic director of a theatre on a regular basis, or knowing he or she would call me on a regular basis, and talking a bit about what’s going on with me and my work, and what’s going on at the theatre, and knowing that we are both interested to sustain the relationship and work together. I imagine it would mean that either side can ask the other for something and can expect to receive a compassionate, open reception and honest, thoughtful response.
How can one create and/or build an artistic home for others?
As corny as it sounds, perhaps what makes a place an “artistic home” is the mutual acknowledgement between the artist and the theatre that the artist has become “family”—that both parties perceive that they have already committed to one another in heart and mind and now it’s just a matter, perhaps, of formalizing the relationship. One imagines there could be shared goals or at the very least a tacit sense of how working together on a regular basis might be mutually beneficial.
What is the artistic home of the future?
I would suspect that the artistic home of the future will need to be able to house not simply single artists but collectives of artists (writer/director/composer, choreographer/writer/actor) who need a place to create work. It also seems that the artistic home of the future will not merely be asked to provide “shelter” but to be a “melting pot” where artists come and go and, while they are in residence, have impact on the theatre as much as receive resources from it. An artistic home would ideally imply shared ownership (of the physical space, of the idea space). After the artist leaves, one would hope that his or her influence would continue to be seen and felt in the offices and board room, on the stage, and in the ethos of the theatre.