Take a group of inspiring individuals who have made it their life’s work to support artists and cultivate creativity, gather them together over a span of five days and you end up creating an electrical current strong enough to power New York City. This powerhouse is better known as the Alliance of Artist Communities annual conference.
The Alliance of Artists Communities is a national and international association of artists' communities and residencies—a diverse field of more than 1,500 programs worldwide that support artists of any discipline in the development of new creative work. This year’s conference took place in San Jose, California and brought together arts leaders, funders, policy-makers, board members, educators, artists, and others from around the country and across the globe to explore the ways in which we can advance and support today's artists. Over 200 people were in attendance representing regions throughout the United States, Alaska, Greece, Italy, the Bahamas and one lone but very proud Canadian spreading the good news about the National Music Centre.
An incredible selection of engaging and valuable conference sessions were offered as well as a daily keynote address including presentations by:
- Teri Rofkar – an internationally renowned fiber artist from the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.
- Fallen Fruit – what began as creating maps of public fruit trees in Los Angeles has grown into an internationally renowned collaborative art project.
- Guillermo Gómez-Peña – a performance artist, writer, activist, radical pedagogue, and one of the “most provocative and dynamic artists on the contemporary art scene.”
As a part of the conference we also had the privilege of visiting other arts organizations and residency programs in the region including the Djerassi Resident Artists Program—an interdisciplinary program located on private 583-acre grounds in the redwood-forested Santa Cruz Mountains. We had the pleasure of touring the grounds which include more than 40 site-specific sculptures created on the property by resident artists over the program’s 34 years.
View from Djerassi. Credit: Candace Elder.
William King’s Orpheus 'Coyote & Friends'. Credit: Candace Elder.
Dale Djerassi with Aristotle Georgiades’ 'Hear'. Credit: Candace Elder.
The Montalvo Arts Centre is an oasis of culture and nature in the heart of the bustling Silicon Valley. Situated on 75 acres of property that encompass a historic 1912 villa, ten artist residency studios, indoor and outdoor performance and exhibition venues, lush gardens and hiking trails.
Villa Montalvo, a historic landmark built in 1912 by U.S. Senator James Duval Phelan (1861-1930). Credit: Candace Elder.
A residency studio at Montalvo. Credit: Candace Elder.
Our opening reception and several of our conference sessions took place at ZERO1 Garage—a one-of-a-kind open format space and central hub for innovative artist fellowships and international Biennial festival “where art meets technology to shape the future.”
We also had an evening reception graciously hosted by the San Jose Museum of Art—the preeminent modern and contemporary art museum in Silicon Valley where we were greeted with an incredible performance by San Jose Taiko, one of the country's premier taiko drumming performance troupes.
San Jose Taiko. Credit: Candace Elder
The Artist in Residence program at NMC is distinct in this field as it is one of only a handful of Canadian residency programs and it has a primary focus on music. Added to that distinction is our extremely rare and exceptional residency model of providing access to our vast collection of living musical instruments and recording equipment for the creation of new work—a key distinguishing factor between our program and other Artist in Residence programs around the world.
Many thanks to the Alliance for providing me with an opportunity to present the work that we’re doing at NMC and for their leadership, vision and hard work in creating and sustaining such a valuable resource for artist communities and residency programs around the world.
“You may not have heard of artists’ communities, but you’ve most likely heard of the artists they have served, and some of the works that have been created there: Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs; Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring; Gregory MacGuire’s Wicked; Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me With Apples, Tender At the Bone, and Garlic and Sapphires; Thornton Wilder’sOur Town; Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay; Allen Ginsberg, David Sedaris, Marcel Duchamp, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Robert Rauschenberg, James Baldwin, John Lennon, Truman Capote, Bill T. Jones, Spalding Gray, Leonard Bernstein, Edward Albee, Langston Hughes, Liz Lerman, Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, Bob Dylan, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and many, many more.”
NMC is happy to add Kid Koala, Timber Timbre, Kinnie Starr, Gotye, and many others to that list. We are in very good company. Very good company indeed.