The Venn-Diagramming of Creative Collaboration

Stardust Venn diagram - Pyragraph

Photo by Peri Pakroo.

Guest Bloggers Hannah Kauffmann and Erin Phillips are members of the Albuquerque-based theater company Tricklock.

In any creative community, there is arguably one collective, widespread audience that represents the whole of the given constituency. Yet, any creative doer/maker/thinker would quickly acknowledge that each specific venue, discipline, artist, band, event, etc., has its own audience. And those individual audiences overlap, bleed into, and share street corners with each other while managing to maintain a distinct presence. They are all separate, and then they converge, and then they become separate again.

Venn diagrams are a remarkably useful tool in remembering this convergence and ultimate separation. Oh, do you have ideas that seem completely distinct and separate? Venn diagram that shit. See where the territory actually crosses. (And yes, Venn diagram can now be used as a verb.)

A shared bill presents many challenges. How do all of these things go together?

In creative communities of all sizes, there are collaborations and partnerships born out of necessity, and there are those born out of inspiration, desire and passion. But isn’t there an intersection there, somewhere between the stages of need and want? We need creative partnerships to blend audiences and expand reach, but we also need these collaborative practices to fuel innovation, commitment and economic vitality. So, what does the Venn diagram of productive creative partnering look like?

We are lucky, at this moment, to be at the helm of an inaugural event in Albuquerque: the Stardust Sociable Spectacle and Digital Super Seek. Through the nonprofit theater company, Tricklock Company, partnerships with artists, organizations, vendors and local businesses abound, coming together to host a wild, stardust-themed night of music, live art, galactic dancing, installations, site-specific performances, interactive photo booths, live community-based blogging, and cosmic celebration. It’s going to be rad.

The Venn diagram of this particular partnership collective looks like 15 circles, not quite concentric, overlapping and grouped around a shared goal of awareness, placemaking and expansion. It is a grouping including performance art, theater, music, DJs, and incredible performance venues.

Sharing is hard. We all learned this as children. Sharing titles, credits, venues, etc., can be difficult as a grown artist, but many of us are asked to share our credibility as artists every day in order to appear at certain venues, with certain performers, etc. It’s a tradeoff that’s built on trust, accompanying a belief that local art is viable, that it’s worthwhile to someone, somewhere, and that viability is found through partnerships that may expose you to new audiences.

A shared bill presents many challenges, mainly, how do all of these things go together? You’re a DJ? Great. You have a T-shirt screeny machiney? Super. You make tiny statues of Roman men that people can dress and undress? Fabulous, get in here. Why is hosting all of these ideas under one roof at one time becoming the new norm? Because live art, in whatever form it is presented, shared together in a Saturday Morning Market Style, is the perfect way to take all of your art vitamins at once; participate in what you’d like to, observe what you’re not sure of, and feel free to walk outside whenever you want.

Also, all of our friends should be friends. One might argue that this is a means to shallowing the pool of viable fiscal sponsors, but in today’s climate, it’s more and more true that artists are fairly responsible for supporting each other. There’s an old saying about servers, that servers make money at night, they go out and give it all to bartenders the following day, and the bartenders give it right back to the servers the following evening. The same is occurring in arts communities: The screen printers are buying $20 tickets to the DJ’s show, the DJ is purchasing $20 tickets to the theater, and the theater artists spend it all at the bar. Just kidding. The theater artists then buy the super cool $20 t-shirt (to wear to the bar).

If just one of those people brings along a friend, the cycle has expanded. The ideology behind multi-focus events is similar: We’re all in this together. The likelihood of 350 people showing up to a poetry reading? Sure. It exists. The likelihood of 350 people showing up to a poetry reading with live-blogging, a modern dance piece, three DJs, folks on stilts, screen printers, a photo booth, a costume contest, and a few weirdos dressed like space Barbies? Much higher. At the risk of sounding like a couple of old hippies, if you’re succeeding, you’re helping us all succeed. And we space Barbies like success.

The Stardust Sociable Spectacle and Digital Super Seek goes down Saturday May 16, 8pm at Sister in Albuquerque. Featuring: REIGHNBEAU, DJ Cassyle, DJ James Black and more; hosted by The Page Sisters. Participate in live art-making, installations, a photo booth, costume contests, super rad raffle prizes, and a city-wide social-media-based scavenger hunt, the Digital Super Seek (details below). Tickets are just $15 and can be purchased online or at the door on the night of the event. Advance online purchases include a raffle ticket.

Everyone is invited to participate in the Digital Super Seek, a city-wide social-media-based completely interpretive scavenger hunt. Sign up at to compete for fabulous prizes. Winners will be announced at the SPECTACLE.

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