AMC Workshop Reportback #2: Building Movements Through Touring

This is the second in a series of reportbacks from my time at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit.

I’ve been scheming on curating a selection of shorts to accompany my film once it’s finished (soon! soon!) and attended this workshop to get inspiration as well as logistical tips from this seasoned group of touring artists. This panel was made up of folks from the Beehive Collective, Salt Lines Poetry, iLL-Literacy and Eggplant Faerie Player. There were a great group of artists in the audience as well from a variety of disciplines from filmmakers to musicians.

The discussion centered around the question of how to build a tour that is not just about coming to town and disappearing once you’ve performed/exhibited, but actually building on the momentum of local community organizing work for social change and linking with their work.

So much ground was covered, but here are some summarized highlights from the discussion:

  • The Beehive Collective sees its role as “cross pollinating the grassroots”. They share stories between cities they visit thereby connecting peoples’ struggles.
  • View your tour as building leadership, both internally in your group as well as building up campus and community organizers—in some cases you may be teaching people how to organize an event, go after funding, etc. and that is a part of touring!
  • Make sure there are interactions that carry on after the event  both with your individual contacts and the communities. How can your project/work continue? How do you maintain the relationships?
  • Talk/phone/skype with community organizers in the town you are visiting beforehand and find out what issues they are facing. How can your work link to those issues?
  • If you are on a campus, research the history of the campus and relate your work to some historical context there.
  • Set up your schedule so that you can stay for a week and engage campus activism and community through workshops.
  • Offer “open rehearsals” where audiences can attend and offer feedback.
  • Find ways for local artists to participate in the show/event/exhibit.
  • If you are doing the college circuit, look to build yourself as a “resident artist”  at about 10 schools. This will give you a solid base to sustain yourself financially.
  • Set a budget for how much you’d like to make. That way you are clear about when you can take a gig that pays less and when you need to ask for more.

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