Stage|Craft:  Connecting Creative Communities

We believe that Portland’s thriving Maker Community shares values with the city’s live theatre and arts community: a drive for creative expression, hands­-on learning, local pride, collaboration and one-­on-­one connection with craft, art and community. Stage l Craft will use Hand2Mouth's "in the field" theatre-making techniques, Artists Repertory Theatre’s ArtsHub program and season productions, Disjecta's multi­disciplinary expertise to integrate and showcase the work of Portland Makers through Art Design Portland (ADX), Portland Apparel Lab (PAL) and Portland Made. These partnerships aim to bridge the gap between Portland’s various creative communities by integrating local Makers, their products and their passions into the existing art and theater community. Stage l Craft will integrate Portland’s Maker community into the forms and programs of the art and theater community, encourage robust intersections of art and artisans in both behind-the-scenes and live iterations and to result in increased awareness and participation in both communities by the artists, makers and general public.

Artists Repertory Theatre, in collaboration with Hand2Mouth and Disjecta Contemporary Arts Center, is a participant in the Audience (R)Evolution Cohort Grants program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the professional not-for-profit American theatre.

Thanks to those of you who took our survey!

The survey was a chance to get to know you and to test some of our assumptions going into the project. Our hunch was that while arts organizations and our audiences might share similar values with the maker community we are probably pretty isolated from one another.

The survey results surprised us.

SURPRISE #1:  While movies and music topped the art experiences that folks will see in the next 12 months, theatre and visual art were a narrow second.

Many of you actually recently attend an event at our organizations. Disjecta and Artists Rep were just behind Arlene Schnitzer as venues that you had visited in the last 12 months.

SURPRISE #2:  You don't pay a lot of attention to advertising but take your recommendations from your social networks.

You find out about events via Facebook and word of mouth though you do give some credence to OPB and Willamette Week’s recommendations.

SURPRISE #3:  The definition of the term 'maker' is slippery.

A big realization for us was that we shouldn’t take the term maker* for granted. A lot of you who might be consider 'makers' prefer to be called artists or artisans. So what do we mean when we talk about 'makers'? Those who make things by hand or small scale industrial operations that pay attention to where things are sourced and designing in response to local needs and aesthetics.

SURPRISE #4:  Your definition of 'locally made' is super varied.

In response to a question about locally made things purchased in the last 6 months, a lot of you listed beer, spirits, jewelry, ceramics and other crafts but a significant number cited theatre and paintings as examples of recent purchases. A few of you also named local produce including ‘weed’ and ‘organic produce from Fred Meyers’.

SURPRISE #5:  Many of you think of theatre artists as 'makers'. 
A lot of you were passionate that the maker community contains theatre but an equal amount argued that 'maker' refers to someone who hand crafts physical objects, not experiences or events. One of you very eloquently argued that art may have more transformative potential than the work of makers which is geared to commerce and a clear use value.

The survey results did confirm something that we suspected going into the project. YOU (makers, artists & art lovers alike) crave participatory experiences where you are an active participant and social agent. You want to meet other artists, makers, etc. at workshops and happy hours- places and spaces where you can meet and talk and learn and hear from your peers. 

That's a wrap... for now.
Thanks again for taking the survey. Stay linked to StageICraft. We are about 9 months in and we have completed some fun activities so far. If you have attended an Artists Rep show in the past few months you may have seen a locally made piece made by a maker linked to ADX or Portland Apparel Lab on stage. Or you may have shopped at Artists Rep's holiday bazaar. Stay posted for more information about upcoming events in the next year led by Disjecta and Hand2Mouth.