Friday, April 17, 2015

CR Event Series Report: Making it What We Need

For the final installment in our Childcare-Supported Event Series, Cultural ReProducers teamed up with Glass Curtain Gallery to host Making it What We Need, a generative workshop that brought together a great mix of artists, art students, critics, and arts administrators from galleries, residencies, and museums across the city.

The event was presented in conjunction with the exhibition Division of Labor: Chicago Artist Parents, at Glass Curtain Gallery, exploring the intersections of contemporary art, career, and family life.  GC was wonderful to work with, and the exhibition offered a perfect context for brainstorming sustainable and supportive systems for cultural producers raising kids. Our childcare team transformed a nearby meeting room into a dynamic playspace with colorful tape shapes and a cozy reading corner stacked with quilts and books. We learned from past experience to
allow more time for sign-in and transition, and thanks to the gallery's flexible morning schedule we were able to start that process sooner. While the adults hatched plans outside, our kids worked with the fantastic Ash, Craig, Marieke and Andrew to construct their own visions for the future using colored sensory dough, rubber stamps, and poster-sized paper.

CR organizers Christa Donner and Selina Trepp started things off with a slideshow and discussion of the goals and Challenges of the Cultural ReProducers Event Series, from living-room meetups to childcare-supported museum events. Then the whole group got down to business. Participants were invited to fill out worksheets identifying our own needs in the art community as well as key barriers to achieving those goals. After taking some time to reflect on our own, we split into small groups to take on these challenges together. Since the groups were randomized many had the chance to work with cultural producers we'd never met before, making for new connections and great brainstorming.

Working around the time constraints of certain hungry, nap-ready kids in the next room, we wrapped up the whole event in a little under two hours. Sure, it was a bit quick to realize all our hopes and dreams … but as everyone packed up their things, we overheard several people exclaim “we could totally do this!” as they exchanged information to get in touch later. The ideas generated when we put our heads together were amazing, and it turns out, pretty possible with a little teamwork: studio co-ops with childcare, a CR certification program for institutions, reading groups, listservs, and a guerrilla campaign challenging assumptions and expectations about mamas in the arts. 

Want to get involved? We’re now in the process of connecting participants and other interested creative people through project-specific groups. Even if you couldn't make it to this event, feel free to download a copy of the MIWWN Event Report. Then take our quick  Survey to let us know which projects you're most interested in. You're welcome to join the conversation even if you live outside Chicago.

Our goal is twofold: to give parents and their kids the chance to participate as critical members of the arts community, and to inspire cultural institutions to better serve artists and audiences, providing positive models for future programming. The childcare-supported series may be over, but have no fear – there will be plenty more chances to connect, organized by amazing cultural (re)producers throughout the city. More information on our Artist-Run Events coming soon!

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