Round Up: Workshop on Creating Participatory Art in Miami

Written By Josie Gulliksen
July 28, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Round Up: Workshop on Creating Participatory Art in Miami



Round Up: Workshop on Creating Participatory Art in Miami

July 28, 2014

By Josie Gulliksen

The creative juices flowed during the recent event Open Creativity: A Workshop on Participatory Art in Miami hosted by creative think tank group Miami Whereby.Us and held at the Miami Center for Architecture & Design. Co-hosting the event were the Arts & Business Council of Miami, the Knight Foundation, and the Miami Foundation.

As the audience gathered at the interactive event, they were asked to share their ideas on how they live creatively on a chalkboard, and to share via post it notes what areas of Miami they feel need the most attention in terms of living creatively.

Once everyone settled into their seat, five speakers stepped up to the front and presented their “lightning talks,” where they spoke of their specific organizations in a quick five-to-seven minute synopsis.

First up was Malik Benjamin from Creative Mornings, an organization that began five years ago and has grown to have 83 chapters around the world. They partner with designers and artists to create innovative events in all their cities and each chapter has a specific theme each month, he said. They are open to pitches for their monthly events. The last one in Miami was at the Bakehouse Art Complex, with Scott Cunningham from the O, Miami Poetry Festival.

Justin Trieger and Amy San Pedro, co-founders of this year’s Buskerfest taking place throughout the streets of Miami, divulged the various questions they asked themselves while conceptualizing their event. Downtown Miami popped first in their mind. How could they create a vibrant Downtown and use the desolate streets of Miami creatively? They thought, why not populate the public parks and spaces with performance artists? Then, they approached performers and visual artists, as well as business, community and government entities. CreativeGlu designed their logo and the Downtown Development Authority partnered with them to put on Buskerfest. The top three performers during the event won performance time around town. “Through our event, we felt that for one night we engaged the community,” said Trieger.

Melody Santiago Cummings of O, Miami, a non-profit that advances literary culture, “is as much a celebration about Miami as it is about poetry,” Santiago Cummings said.

She suggested that when putting on creative events it is best is to partner with someone who embraces your mission and has a similar goal; for them, that was WLRN. They also partnered with Gramps in Wynwood for one project and they also went inside neighborhoods to source poems.

Another success was when they asked Seraphic Fire and 45 other groups to highlight poems on their Websites. The most interesting by far was when they posted poems on street signs around town and in more than 300 public bathrooms. Wash your hands, read a poem, was the concept.

O, Miami also provides workshops to students and writers — the 2015 RFP will be announced later this summer. “Just getting together you can amplify what you do; and definitely keep it simple when partnering,” Santiago Cummings said.

Rayna Davis from the New World Symphony spoke of how its community engagement programs work. The Symphony’s fellows do one-on-one smaller interactions with music students, and schools around the community come in and see their concerts. The Symphony’s fellows are learning to be teachers by interacting with students in a very direct way.  “We also have an instrument petting zoo, where the young kids can actually touch and play an instrument, something many of them have never done before. It gives them a platform to grow in a special way,” Davis said.

The final presenter was Chris Barr from the Knight Foundation, who also introduced himself as a participatory artist whose Webpage is called Chris Barr is Available on Thursday. The latest project on his site is entitled “No Time For Love: Worldwide.” Barr said that “without the audience we don’t really have an artwork.”

He mentioned several one-time art happenings that have taken place across the country as examples: Toronto’s The Mammalian Diving Reflex, New York’s Group Material, Stockholm’s Bus Line 993 by Jorgen Svensson, Pittsburgh’s Conflict in Kitchen Street with a View by Robin Hewlett, Philadelphia’s Future Farmers by Soil Kitchen and Oakland’s Neighborhood Public Radio.

He also posed the question about how to leverage institutions for these projects. Where, at what scale and how do they make it meaningful?

Following the talks, breakout groups were formed to discuss ideas for participatory art projects for Miami. Each group was tasked with coming up with at least one idea that would cost only $1,000. Additionally, they had to come up with a pitch poster, basically a big ad for the idea and a few bullet points for each idea.

Nine projects were pitched. The idea with the most votes was “Chalk it out, Talk it out, Wipe it out,” a street party that could be held in neighborhoods around Miami, in which people of all ages chalk the streets, do open mic performances, and end with a water party.

Other popular ideas included:

Our Secret Garden: A mapping app that allows Miamians to share their favorite nature spots for future visitors. 

Dance Miami: A portable dance party with a dance floor and sound system that could travel around Miami’s public spaces.

Selfie with a Stranger: An activity in which locals go to popular tourist spots to interact (and take selfies) with visitors to our city.

Rebekah Monson of said “the goal of Open Creativity was to identify new ways to highlight art in our city from all of its residents. In just a few hours, our participants collaborated and came up with really fun, innovative ideas.”

WhereBy.Us will follow up with participants in the coming weeks to see who wants to spearhead their projects for future development, and they’ss connect them with arts and business leaders to help them realize their ideas.

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