As part of the Hatchery Project the organizational partners dedicated considerable time together in advance of artist residency activities throughout the three-year cycle to plan, meet, evaluate, and learn. By making a commitment to this layer of collaboration, reflection, and research, the partners have attempted to tend to a significant gap in the performing arts field.
The visual art world and its cultural workers have widespread access to curatorial residencies, which provide administrative leadership an array of opportunities to retreat, conduct research, embed themselves in other creative communities, and learn from their peers. At this time, the performing arts field does not offer comparable opportunities for its leadership. And, without this kind of time to think deeply about their practice and to get away from the grind of the day-to-day, the field is missing critical opportunities to elevate, sustain, and evolve what we do and how we do it. Because this partnership tended to research and development in dance, which is under-developed and under-resourced, the partners felt it was crucial to invest significant time and pay particular attention to how they function as a learning community and, ultimately, as researchers. Below are some key topics that the partners have been exploring together through monthly calls, annual retreats and a convening held in October 2014 at the Alliance of Artists Communities annual conference:
- Diversity of the partnership: The four partners have shared values and overlap in their interests and ways of working, but each one comes from different mission orientations and locations. The group has been learning from those differences of perspective and practice.
- Flexible and robust methodology: The partners have been uncovering how to build a methodology that’s responsive and flexible, not cookie cutter, to address artists’ needs and the ever-challenging and ever-changing realities of art-making.
- Audience engagement: Each partner has particular ways of engaging local community members in artists’ creative process and have been learning from each other’s approach with and delivery of this end of their work.
- Trust: The creative process is often raw, sensitive and revealing. The partners have found that the degree to which a residency site is able to build trust with an artist has a tremendous impact on the depth and success of the experience.