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Uncovering the Craft – early thoughts on an artist speaker series

May 1, 2007, 12:24 pm

The Homestar talk got me thinking toward a regular speaker series. I’m going to pitch it later this month, but here is my brainstorm…

Uncovering the Craft
Revealing the Artists @ Tech

I want to pull together a multipart speaker series focusing on the creative segment on campus. In the past we’ve invited people in to perform or display their work, many libraries do this sort of thing, but let’s dig deeper. We’re already pulling together a regular series of talks by undergraduates who have conducted research to discuss their work and the process, so why not do the same for artists?

Let’s bring them in to talk about the craft, what goes into it, techniques, workflow, a glimpse behind the scenes. Ultimately, the objective is to foster a creative community. Give people of a similar bent or nature (character) the opportunity to meet and hopefully extend beyond the walls of our event. Let’s try and get people together who might not have met otherwise and encourage or inspire them. Our payoff is that we’ve contributed to intellectual stimulation and can form a marketable segment once we’ve identified the artistic community. This will enable us to deliver tailored advertising and develop future partnerships. Essentially we can manufacture word of mouth for the Library.

I’d like to find two students to run it: an SGA type looking for leadership experience and the opportunity to enhance the cultural atmosphere on campus, and another student who is rooted in the artistic community with all the right connections and influence. This combo could potentially give us positive outreach points, aid in student development/relationships, a little funding from SGA, and most important: legitimacy. Instead of a lame Library event, we spin it as for artists, by artists. It would be nice to offer some exotic refreshments too… pizza, soda, and cookies are tried and true, but let’s stimulate the sense of taste too.

I imagine a one hour program along these lines:

  • 10 minutes – Demonstration of Work
  • 20 minutes – Talking about the Craft / Process (somewhat of a clinic)
  • 15 minutes – Interviewed by Host (a la Inside Actors Studio)
  • 15 minutes – Open Discussion / Further Demonstration

I anticipate a Fall Semester launch, on a weekly schedule across six weeks. Maybe every Wednesday night at 7pm or whatever—that’s for the student coordinators to determine. But also build in the suggestion that everyone is going to hangout afterwards at a nearby restaurant… again, building a community, encouraging fellowship, all loosely connected to the goodwill of the Library.

So the line up would be something like this:

Week 1: FILM
Award winning student filmmaker talks about the process and production design.

Week 2: MUSIC
Students in a local band describe the songwriting, recording, and touring process. Maybe nice to juxtapose with a classical violinist, student band member, or other musical talent.

WEEK 3: VISUAL ART
A panel featuring a painter, sculptor, and a graphical designer.

WEEK 4: ACTING
Feature a student actor, and maybe also a tie in with the campus theater group. What goes into putting on a show? How do the actors prepare? How do they pull it off? What goes on behind the scenes?

WEEK 5: WRITERS
Maybe bring together reps from the student newspaper, the yearbook, and the literary magazine to talk shop. I am interested in the creative process, but production value, workflow, and other topics could be interesting too.

WEEK 6: COMIC
We have a professor who’s a standup comedian and a friend of the Library. He’s done a routine before in the Library, but let’s learn about the process. How does he write material? What goes through his mind on stage? How does this influence his teaching style?

Anyway that’s it in a nutshell. The beauty is that we can video the presentations and add to them our Institutional Repository (I hope!) We can interview the students for our podcast series. Use the participants in print and web advertising, and design word of mouth and social networking campaigns around them. Essentially, manufacture these students into Library Advocates. (This framework will be detailed more here.)

The artist crowd is easy, the real challenge will be to branch out to less obvious and less accessible segments and provide meaning for the as well.

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