Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Arts on the Go

By Kathy Young, Director of Operations.

I'm still pretty excited about the food truck movement, recently blogged about with savory enthusiasm by my colleague Evan Robertson, so you can imagine my delight upon learning of Dance Truck, an Atlanta-based organization formed in 2009. I stumbled across Dance Truck while facilitating a focus group for a good friend and founder of another innovative Atlanta dance troupe, Zoetic Dance Ensemble, during an outreach project they've begun. Our dialogue led us into a discussion about other cutting edge dance companies and arts organizations, which led me to add "Dance Truck" to the group's list of peer organizations as we filled up several flip charts. This entry gave me pause, as I was wholly unaware of what was being referenced. So then,  in the company of a diverse group of arts professionals and enthusiasts, I dared to ask, "What's Dance Truck?" The answer was embarrassingly simple... "like food trucks, only with dancers."


If you're like me - you value new cultural experiences but don't always make the time to seek them out, let alone carve out time to actually go to new venues or check out new groups - the idea of having art being mobile is quite intriguing. In the case of Dance Truck, over the course of the first two years, the organizers presented programs by more than 50 local artists at festivals, museums, galleries, and roadside gathering spots using the back of a rental truck as a stage platform. *I should note here that its reflects much more on me than the Dance Truckers that I haven't encountered them in the past couple of years. Clearly, they are out there, I am not.

For some of us, our first exposure to mobile arts and culture may have been the time-honored bookmobile... for hard-core bibliophiles, I would venture to suppose that the arrival of the bookmobile was not unlike the excitement churned by the jingle of the ice cream truck. Now, there are more and more opportunities to experience varieties of mobile art. Several communities have programs that bring art to children, but my current favorite is Art Feeds, based in Joplin, Missouri. In addition to delivering program onsite in schools, churches, and other locations, the Art Feeds folks can also serve up to 15-20 children inside their mobile art center. The Mobile Arts Program is another interesting idea operated by artists in the San Francisco Bay area. To quote from their website, "In essence, we build a temporary, creative microcosm where community and creativity can intersect and flourish. In a world where we are becoming more insular with advanced technologies our events hope to bring residents together through positive interactions with neighbors and their neighborhood."

For communities seeking to build their arts community as a benefit for residents,a draw for tourists, and a memorable experience for prospective residents, business owners, investors, and the like - supporting low-cost, highly flexible mobile arts organizations seems like an easy win. With mobile arts, a little investment can go a long way, and lead to a number of unexpected collaborations. Or, somewhat expected... recently, Dance Trucks teamed with The Good Food Truck to double the delivery of quality "truck-based" enjoyment.