Project 4

1- Audience/Community engagement

One of the most eye-opening experiences I had during my stay in Los Angeles in 2008 was our walk through Skid Row. I knew nothing about the existence of such a large homeless ghetto in L.A. or in the United States, for that matter.

I remember feeling overwhelmed as we walked through street after street lined with homeless people sitting or lying on the sidewalk, and appalled by the fact that such a “lost city” within the megalopolis of Los Angeles would be allowed to go on in such a permanent fashion. What kind of help did people get? How do Angelinos go about their daily lives next to the struggles of a large section of the population?

We visited an art studio back then where neighborhood folks could come in and work on personal art projects as a way to heal or find some solace in their lives. I thought then that the life of this neighborhood, its activists, artists and members would make a rich canvas for a team of journalists to delve into.

I can imagine a kind of project in which journalists would be going out in the neighborhood and collect (for a blog), personal stories, take photographs of street art and shoot videos of music and musicians, talk to residents and community activists, including of course, those who run art, and self-help programs such as the studio we visited.

I think there is a huge story there and many potential discoveries, mostly untapped or not talked about nearly enough.

In this case, the audience would not only be the people of Los Angeles, but also those of Skid Row. Our audience would also be our subject. This project would not only put Skid Row on the map in a unique way by presenting the members of its community in a different light but–whenever possible—it would invite its members to contribute materials for the blog.

2-Critical response

I remember a local NPR program which asked non-professional but thoroughly enlightened movie critics to review new films every week. I always felt this was a very effective way to present a review. Not only was the approach of the non-professional film critics, funny, but compelling, because brief personal anecdotes peppered the commentaries. While listeners would not get an educated critique or unbiased review, they would be receiving strong images that could strike a chord with them, one way or another, and clue them as to how they might feel about a particular film.

I think having a group of art journalists gathered during this alumni fellowship begs for experimenting with a chorus of voices reviewing the same performance. If not a chorus, then a duet or a trio, two or three people going out and writing a collective review, just the way one has a conversation with friends after seeing a performance.