The Importance of Community in the Arts: Why We’re Launching the Creative Outpost
A few months ago, we announced the launch of our online community for artists, the Creative Outpost. It’s a space for artists to connect with one another, crowdsource solutions to challenges you might run into, and to share inspiration and ideas. We are building the Creative Outpost because we believe that community is essential for artists and for a thriving and just arts sector.
They share what community means to them, why it’s important for artists, and what they hope for the future of the Creative Outpost.
Check out our Q&A and learn more about how to get involved with the Creative Outpost below!
What does community mean to you?
Colleen: Community to me means collective priority and support. That priority can be a political candidate, an ideology, an artistic discipline, really anything. But to me a community generally has one overarching value that a group of people organize to support and cultivate with each community member’s individual priorities fluctuating regularly.
So what does that mean to me on a daily basis? It means I have a community of artists that I can turn to if I need help producing my podcast; I have a community of political organizers that I can turn to if I have questions about ranked choice voting; I have a community of friends who I can ask to help move furniture in my apartment so I don’t hurt myself.
Sophia: I agree with Colleen. I turn to my community for support and hope that I can also be supportive. I also think of community in terms of power. When there is a collective, there is a lot of power there that sometimes cannot exist in just one individual. For example, how one worker may have difficulty enacting change in a workplace but a union can.
In the arts, I turn towards two examples. One is the art collective, whether that is a group of artists or a budding small arts organization with a collective goal. The other is the relationship between artists who also are activists and the communities they engage with. In this case, the artistic practice is directly linked to the larger community in a different way than say a collective of artists.
Why is community especially important for artists? Why now?
Colleen: After over a year of isolation and industry shutdown, artists need each other more than ever. We all learned a lot over the course of pandemic, and one of those things was just how unequally resources are distributed across our country. Now’s the time to lean on each other and redistribute some of those artistic resources and knowledge.
Sophia: With the shutdowns came a wave of movement to virtual platforms. As a result, in many ways we were even more connected than before through various means–social media channels, livestream chat rooms, endless emails. I think our desire to connect was made even more clear by how much we turned to each other during this time. I don’t think this should be an isolated incident linked to the pandemic and instead, we should grow ties to our communities, whether it’s virtual or AFK, as we navigate a world scarred by the pandemic.
How has your community supported you as a creative or arts worker?
Colleen: I have a background in theater and I’ve been connected with the majority, if not all, of my collaborators through my community. I need a lighting designer - I ask my community for recommendations! A director is looking for a dramaturg - I recommend my recent collaborator. I also find that any discount or money saving tip related to my art has come from my community (i.e. discounted rehearsal space, free costumes, etc.).
Sophia: My main creative practice outside of being in arts administration is in curation, and the work of being a curator is not possible without the community of artists and audiences. When I’m stuck on an idea, I ask a fellow curator; if I need help with an installation, I reach out to an art handler I know. Like this, most shows and programs are just a manifestation of the support that the community gives.
What are the examples of creative communities that you’re inspired by or looking to?
Colleen: I’ve never traveled to their farm, but I’ve heard about their apprenticeships and Bread & Puppet Theater really seems to be living the creative community dream. Also, who doesn’t want to attend a puppet show that comes with sourdough?!
Sophia: Started by the wonderful Lauren Ruffin, Crux is an example of an amazing cooperative empowering Black storytellers and immersive artists by providing a community to support their work and each other. Chinatown Art Brigade and the ecosystem of arts and activism they’ve created with the (primarily Manhattan) Chinatown community is another source of inspiration.
How do you hope the Creative Outpost will grow as a community and support artists?
Colleen: My hope for the Creative Outpost is that it will encourage reciprocity between members; we all have valuable knowledge to share! I also hope it will connect folks who maybe never would have crossed paths due to their physical location and/or discipline - the internet can be a great tool sometimes!
Sophia: I’m excited to see how the Creative Outpost grows and transforms depending on how the artists that are currently part of it want to shape it. We’re hoping to have more synchronous events for artists to connect and to expand it in ways that will be of service to the arts world across various disciplines. But ultimately, I’ll just be really happy if someone finds a new friend through the Creative Outpost.
Want to Learn More About the Creative Outpost?
At the moment, the Creative Outpost is available to dues paying members of Fractured Atlas but we have plans to open it up to the general public soon. If you'd like to receive updates and information on joining the Creative Outpost, sign up here and we'll be in touch. We look forward to welcoming more people to the Creative Outpost and growing this community together!
About Nina Berman
Nina Berman is an arts industry worker and ceramicist based in New York City, currently working as Associate Director, Communications and Content at Fractured Atlas. She holds an MA in English from Loyola University Chicago. At Fractured Atlas, she shares tips and strategies for navigating the art world, interviews artists, and writes about creating a more equitable arts ecosystem. Before joining Fractured Atlas, she covered the book publishing industry for an audience of publishers at NetGalley. When she's not writing, she's making ceramics at Centerpoint Ceramics in Brooklyn.