Friday, June 4, 2010

A home for our collective creativity

John Dowler is a a generous genius.  He has launched Dreaming Island, a creative space for Bowen's artists, poets, musicians and bloggers, and it is a beautiful site.  If you want to see what a community arts portal can be, especially in the age of Web 2.0, this is it.

The site compliments the rich cultural landscape we have on Bowen.  Last night for example, Finn and I journeyed down to Gino's for the monthly BIMA open mic.  There was a plethora of talent and audience members last night which was fantastic.  It's a lovely thing this open mic, a place to come and drop some polished stuff and try out diamonds in the rough.  Poets, singers, songwriters, all offer a pearl or two and we get to hear them in their glory.  Young artists make their performing debut, and old hands bring new things.

Last night we were treated to at least six new compositions by Bowen songwriters, four new poems from Lisa Shatzkey and some new performance material from others.

Alas the open mic in this form won't be continuing.  Ron Wall has bought the space from Gino for the new Corner Gallery, which is exhibiting Ron and Bill Hoopes' brilliant work.  Ron wants to keep the open mics going, but on Saturday afternoons, with a kind of competition format.  The winners will get a showcase at the Gallery.

Saturday afternoons are a tough time to get people out for an open mic, and the competition format runs really counter to what the open mics have been about.  Over the past year or so these evenings have fostered a lovely sense of community among Bowen's performing artists.  Young artists especially have benefitted not only from the experience but from sharing the camaraderie of established performers.  To pit us against each other seems unwise, and isn't in the spirit of the kind of music making I do.  So I wish Ron all the best with his efforts, and I appreciate the sentiment, but I probably won't be out for these kinds of gigs.

We still have the odd session at the Snug for Irish music, and the junkets are still going, although probably entering a break for the summer.  Perhaps I'll get involved with BIMA to set up a less frequent but more open format for emerging artists to try out their work.

The biggest regret I have about travelling so much in my work is that I don't have time to make music at home with others.  It is the greatest pleasure in my life outside of my family.  Playing with friends and neighbours is my highest ideal of community.  Perhaps here is a moment to make space for that to happen more.

Anyone want to start a band?