Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Alternative spaces for new music

[open discussion topic]

Where are Atlanta's alternative spaces for new music? Are there enough? What possibilities abound for new ones, and how can these better serve Atlanta's composers, performers, and new music audiences?

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Darren Nelsen said...

Let's see... there's Eyedrum and um... well, Eyedrum... and oh!, what about Eyedrum?! :)

While Eyedrum is great, and I applaud them highly, we clearly need more spaces.

I liked Dick's show at Sycamore Place Gallery, (barring the noise floor as previously mentioned.) So art galleries would be good, especially where visual elements could be nicely incorporated, ie. electro-acoustic concerts. There are some very fine new galleries in Roswell, but I have not yet approached them about live music concerts.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a place in each 'burb, ie. Decatur, Roswell, Alpharetta, Marietta, etc.?

We will have to establish our 'hit list' and make it worth each venues while to host new music concerts.

This will happen if we work toward it.

Darren Nelsen said...

Perhaps one of the best ways to find new venues is to put a program together and then 'shop' it around until we get it hosted. To go 'with the goods', so to speak, rather than finding venues and then putting programs together.

Mark Gresham said...

Well, that's a good question, as each potential venue has its own capabilities and peculiarities, advantages and disadvantages. Peggy Benkeser (percussionist) found that out trying to shop her "Kitchen Chaos" one-woman show, which required not only sufficient floorspace but such things as video projection capability. She found (if my recollection is correct) that most small theaters were not intersted in a show that would run only a few days, and not interested in moving their own production sets offstage; often did not have a suitable situation for the video projection. The other side of the coin is to find available alternative spaces, then say "what can we realistically expect to be able to perform here?"

Nicole Randall said...

As a performer, its been tough finding any venues to perfom in. The best luck the groups I participate in have found are churches and some colleges that are affiliated with other members of the groups.

Mark Gresham said...

That's been the traditional situation in Atlanta for many decades.

Interestingly, an increasing number of Atlanta area churches are proving practical to excellent as performance spaces, given changes in architectural trends of the past decade. Atlanta, like other cities, has gone from often logistically difficult spaces of the past (i.e. unmovable fixtures, small multi-level floor spaces, odd choir lofts, etc.) which otherwise have decent though often "live" acoustics, through a phase of more flexible spaces but with really bad acoustics (designed primarily for amplification but also with loud HVAC systems--another story for another article).

However, some musicians have expressed to me concerns about audiences who either feel a little uncomfortable with a "church" environment or assume it must not be professional quality if it's in a church (silly, perhaps, but I can see where they're coming from).

Likewise, some churches are uncomfortable with certain adventurous styles, with subject matter that is incompatible with their community ethics, or simply with the idea of charging for admission.

Frankly, presenting or attending a concert in a church doesn't bother me in the least, assuming the space and context are appropriate. So my concerns are far less those immediately above than new and better ways of getting music out to where people are everyday, and drawing an audience to wherever that might be.

The problem with colleges is that you do have to have some kind of connection via faculty. Even then, there is a sense of academic insulation/isolation from the outside world, often limiting majority of attendees to those who participate in the institution as faculty or students. (There's nothing quite like a 400-seat auditorium with 35 to 50 people in the audience, assuming you can get use of the space in the first place.)

All of this, perhaps, requires both some innovation in thinking from composers and performers, and the cooperation of people out in the community beyond churches and schools.

Jonathan Cazenave said...

"The problem with colleges is that you do have to have some kind of connection via faculty. Even then, there is a sense of academic insulation/isolation from the outside world, often limiting majority of attendees to those who participate in the institution as faculty or students."

Mark,this is a really good point.
Let me add this; recently my wife and I went to a Chinese art and culture exhibit at Georgia Perimeter College. Along with a cool panel about where Chinese art is going, a great exhibit and light refreshments, there was some fantastic traditional Chinese Zither music played by Ms, Shu-fang Chen. A concert. Two things I noticed pertinent to this topic.
1. The advertisements focused on the event, the artists etc.. not the school.
2. Perhaps events that also entail other types of art and variations on a topic (like a panel on_____)
might generate a broader interest, shift focus from school-centric vibe and most of all fill the seats!
I think the way that these types of events are presented go a long way. Another "school or church thingy" VS an EVENT. Perception is reality when all you have to change the mine of a potential concert goer is a black and white ad.