Another thing that I particularly like about the Pomegranate Center is that they clearly see community improvement as their mission. Their work then flows from that belief. I would argue that any 501(c)(3) organization has that view as a responsibility (and a privilege). How is the work of the arts altered or adjusted if that mindset is adopted?via Engaging Matters | Pomegranate Center.
I've been thinking more and more about this responsibility and privilege.
Small Wooden Shoe is in the process of becoming a charitable organization. A step that most arts organizations take in Canada. It allows us to write tax receipts for individual donors, apply to foundations and to request larger, on-going, grants from government funding bodies. It means that we are responsible to the Canadian Revenue Agency for how we spend our money.
The nagging feeling that I have though, is that we're not (as a sector/community/"industry") living up to actually being charitable: working for the good of the community.
This is a messy and potentially controversial subject, but I simply don't think that my self-expression is a charitable act. Nor is the self-expression of the other professionalized, privileged artists I mostly work with.
Something else is needed. I want to take seriously a mission of reducing alienation through engagement, rigour and "a good night out." I want to take seriously the charitable goal of reducing "need." And I want to work in the frame of theatre. I could, and do, volunteer with other charities and NGO's (what would change if if arts groups thought of themselves as NGO's?) But it is theatre that I know best and somewhere, despite much evidence, I believe that the process and event of theatre can make people's live more better. The important word here though is "can" - I don't think it inherently does. I think we have to work at it, make choices and probably change some thing about the work and the modes of production and distribution.
I'm thinking a lot about teaching and community work right now - about how Small Wooden Shoe can do those things both within the context of contemporary arts practice and in the community.
We're starting up a program that mixes teaching and community productions for people who have no interest in becoming professional.
This is, like Populism, something that I want more movement around. It's not an either/or. I want to be able to do the kind of work discussed on Engaging Matters and I want to work with highly talented and skill artists on projects like Antigone Dead People and I want all of that to be responsible to our charitable status.