“We will, we will ROCK YOU”

I was not prepared for the energy level at iYouth Fusion Fest’s final judging last Saturday night, a part of channelAustin’s teen filmmakers annual boot camp.  The speakers boomed with motivational songs from before the young filmmakers were born, and the live audience, despite their size, filled the studio with laughter and applause.  The two teen filmmaking teams, Down to Film and Shoot for the Stars, worked long caffeine driven hours for one week producing, shooting and editing their own short films.  During the weeklong boot camp the talented teens worked alongside veteran experts in the film industry; Elizabeth Avellán , Kat Candler, Andrew Bujalski, and Keefe Boerner.  I was privileged enough to view the final products and even put in my two cents on the final judging.

Shoot for the Star behind the scenes. Photo courtesy of channelAustin

 Down to Film, the winners of the boot camp and the $1,000 prize were first with their short film Stupid Love. It was all about the flippant angst of a young man in love.  The film recalls the days when a simple hand holding, a walk through the park, or a snuggle on the couch could make us fall deeply into an undying love.  Down to Film captured the rollercoaster called love with a comedic twist.

Down to Film. Photo courtesy of channelAustin

Runners up, Shoot for the Stars, taught us all a lesson about Karma with short film Get What You Give.  The film followed two young ladies, one who donated money to a musician in need while the other threw her trash to the said musician; both who reaped what they sowed.  Shoot for the Stars kept the comedy coming, much to the audiences appeal.

Shoot For the Stars. Photo courtesy of channelAustin

While the live audience and televised viewer audience voted, the two filmmaker crews exuberantly sang, stomped, and clapped to “We Will, We Will Rock You”, sending me into a laughter that made me forget to turn in my ballot!  The crew obligingly sang another round.

Even as an outsider, the energy in the studio was a dead giveaway of the fun the two teams had throughout the week.  While there was a winner and a runner up, the excitement of the week could be seen on all the teens’ faces.  I am excited for next year.

Check out channelAustin’s iYouth media page for upcoming info to register for next year’s Fusion Fest Boot camp as well as other camps and programs for teens!

Be sure to check out iYouth Media’s latest project!  This last Tuesday June 19th  the Juneteenth Historical Parade aired live and in the channelAustin studio.

For the fourth year, channelAustin and a group of talented teens from The African Men and Boys Harvest Foundation  took the annual Junenteenth Historical Parade beyond East Austin and into homes across Central Texas. Celebrating the arrival of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas, the Juneteenth Historical Parade was cablecasted live from channelAustin plus simulcast live in partnership with KLRU Q and brought to you by teens with the Juneteenth Camp.

Juneteenth Camp put the production power in the hands of youth from the African American Men and Boys Harvest Foundation. These campers experienced three days of hands-on training with fully digital, high-def equipment that trained them to produce the live show on Parade Day.

See the channelAustin Facebook page to view the live taped show.

Blog by Katie


Women Creatives in Austin

Displaced 5 by Jennifer Balkan

According to the U.S. Library of Congress, “Although women now outnumber men in American colleges nationwide, the reversal of the gender gap is a very recent phenomenon. The fight to learn was a valiant struggle waged by many tenacious women—across years and across cultures—in our country.”

Woman’s History Month is celebrated every March.  This year’s theme was “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment”. Inspired by this, Austin Creative Alliance is highlighting four dynamic women in the arts as we continue to celebrate women’s achievements throughout the year. In reaching out to these women, we discovered
diverse perspectives about the creative culture that thrives in Austin.

I’ll begin by acknowledging the women at Austin Creative Alliance and Now Playing Austin who provide invaluable services to promote the greater arts community in Austin. To learn more about Austin Creative Alliance go to: www.austincreativealliance.org

In the following interviews, we hope to convey insights and achievements that will inspire other woman in the arts. I presented a list of questions that revolved around this theme.

  1. As a woman in the Arts, how do you see the future for Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment in the Arts?
  2. How can we empower and educate woman to be leaders in the Arts?
  3. Can you describe some obstacles or hurtles you have confronted in your own career as a woman in the Arts?
  4. What insights or suggestions would you have for aspiring woman in the Arts?

I spoke with Catarina Sigerfoos, Chairwoman and Fundraiser of Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAMM) Benefit Day 2012.

Catarina Sigerfoos: These are two organizations I like and respect in Austin who focus on empowerment for women. They are heavily supported and active. Women and Their Work Gallery, is a fantastic gallery that is run and supported by the community, but only features work by female artist members.

There is also an organization called WIMPS, Women In Music Professional Society, www.facebook.com/wimpsaustin. I belong to this group of women who work in all facets of the music industry. We network monthly and meet working musicians, graphic artists who design cd covers, attorneys and accountants who practice music law and accounting, composers, band managers, music supervisors, and many more. We each get a minute to stand up and tell our story and recruit, inform, and educate about classes, gigs, workshops, auditions and opportunities.

We can support existing agencies whose agenda is in place. The way to do this is by joining and helping with outreach and donations in some cases.

The music industry has been male-dominated as a whole, but since I grew up in the music world (I am related to approximately 20 working musicians), I have been lucky to know the jargon, trials, and successes of working musicians. Occasionally I have heard of certain music genres not being open to female leads, and sometimes, age is an issue for more seasoned artists, especially females.

I think young aspirants should find a mentor, either in the literal sense, or seek someone on the internet who’s style they respect, and try to learn from them. Try to narrow the search so it is very specific to their goals and resonates with your their personal beliefs and approach. Find a strong woman who has succeeded in the field and read about her accomplishments and methods. Imitate and practice until it becomes your own style. For more about  Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, (HAMM) go to: www.myhaam.org

Sherry Mills, formally of “Reel Woman”, who is now retired from her position after serving as the Executive Director for ten years. Since June of 2011 the organization is no longer in operation. Sherry now hosts a radio program, “Ready for My Closeup, Ms. Mills” on KOOP.

Sherry Mills: I think it will continue to grow as an integral component of all arts education. There will always be many programs that are not gender specific, but I don’t believe there is any disadvantage or stigma to having female-focused opportunities.  Women think, feel, act and learn differently from men; and because of personal history and/or cultural history, they will often taken a subordinate role in a classroom or work situation.  As women continue to become clearer about their personal capabilities and aspirations, they will insist on the highest levels of instruction and experience, which means that they will seek out successful, respected teachers and mentors but will not limit themselves to programs that are not inclusive or that don’t offer them the opportunities they need. In working with women of all ages, at all levels of experience in trans-media, many of them performed and learned much better in the all-female environment. They profited immensely from being around the professional female filmmakers, writers, producers, directors, makeup artists, casting directors, agents, etc. who became role models and inspirations to them.

We can support woman in the arts by nurturing, mentoring and giving them opportunities to perform, learn and participate.

Looking back, I believe I created many of them for myself! In a group of men I would generally take on stereotypical female tasks such as being the coffee/food getter/provider, the note-taker, the clean up crew, the one who might not say my opinion because of either the fear of being judged or because I might hurt someone’s feelings. I still do those things sometimes, but it’s certainly with a different attitude because I want to lead by example. I do think that there were situations where I wasn’t paid as much as the guys.

I find that many young women take the attitude of “I want to do/be … (fill in the blank)” without doing necessary research, without being honest with themselves about their personal limitations, without putting in the training/learning time.  For example, I knew a young girl with minimal experience that spent time and money on head shots but was doing very little to develop her acting skills. There is the person that “wants to be a writer,” but they’ve never written anything.  Same for some aspiring directors. I studied theatre in school, and I thought I would be an actress; a little time invested in that direction proved to myself, that I was too sensitive to handle so much rejection. I wasn’t outgoing enough to promote myself properly and I realized in that process, that I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes much more than performing. The defining fact is that I recognized I wasn’t a very good actress!  I say to everyone: Invest the time. Do the research. Study. Practice. Learn. Volunteer. Seek out professionals, mentors, role models. Challenge yourself. Pick your battles; know when to back down.

After I left Reel Women I felt like I was in recovery from a divorce or breakup or serious illness or life tragedy. I knew it was the right thing to do, but it was still very painful.  Luckily, I was able to have the time and opportunity to get involved in radio and to use the knowledge and resources I’d gained in a new way.  Learning the FCC regulations, how to operate all the dials, boards, audio equipment, microphones, etc. Being the “new kid on the block” and having to prove myself all over again was a challenge, to say the least; but it challenged me and gave me validation as well as exercised my brain.

I have an intern now — her name is Paloma.  She is not a KOOP intern — she works (unpaid) just with me.  She had wanted to be a Reel Women intern and very diligently, but unsuccessfully, tried to contact the organization. Somehow she tracked ME down and left a voice message, which I didn’t respond to. She called me two more times, so I finally called her back and explained the RW situation.  She was very disappointed and then asked me what I was doing now, which she found very interesting. To finish the story, she has been working with me now for 8 months, getting involved in everything I do. She’s meeting so many people, going to special events and getting involved in projects.  Smart girl!
Listen to Sherry on the radio: “Ready for My Closeup, Ms. Mills!” Mondays, 1:00-1:30pm, on KOOP, 91.7, streaming LIVE at www.koop.org

Salvage Vanguard Theater is hub for Austin artists, audiences, and arts organizations. SVT creates and presents transformative, high-quality artistic experiences that foster experimentation and conversation.

Jenny Larson: I think it is a “one step forward, two steps back” situation. Certainly more and more women arts leaders are emerging but on a whole, more men are in charge and more male playwrights are being produced on a national level, heck, on an international level. Roles for women are slim and POSITIVE roles for women in theater storytelling are few and far between. I do think that with each generation women find more and more empowerment and voice in leadership but its a slow and steady growth, slow and steady change. The current political climate certainly makes me stop and re-evaluate exactly how much progress we have made…

That is a giant task, and as the single mother of an 11 year old girl I can tell you that the task starts when they are young. It takes no small amount of vigilance to ensure that our daughters and our next generation of women arts leaders do not fall into the “traps” of femininity. I am currently reading the book Reviving Ophelia so my thoughts are in a place right now of really trying to help my daughter hold on to her true self. I think the more our daughters learn to hold on to themselves the better chance we have of growing more women arts leaders.

You create the life the job the career the path that you want to have. Do not let fear stop you and do not get stuck in thinking that you can’t or thinking that the obstacles are too large. I have never been a goal oriented person or much of a planner, so for me, my stumbling into a position of leadership was just an opportunity offered that I decided to take. When I look at my life in general, that is what it has been, a series of opportunities taken. So keep your eyes peeled for the opportunities. Volunteer for artists that you admire, get close to them and let them know you are passionate. Be dependable. See other peoples work. Read. Read a lot. Read other peoples work. Travel and see work outside of your community. It is easy to fall into ideas of the way you must live your life, and in the arts its very important to be creative about how you live your life and creative about how you make a career for yourself. Austin does not have a wealthy arts community so most of us are working 3- 5 jobs to make ends meet. We are also living very humble lives in order to stay in the arts. This re-examining your needs and your consumption as a human in the world is also integral to a career in the arts. Be humble and need little. For more info go to: www.salvagevanguard.org

Women & Their Work is a visual and performing art organization located in Central Austin that serves as a catalyst for contemporary art created by women living and working in Texas and beyond.  For over 30 years, W&TW has brought groundbreaking art to Austin, with exhibitions,performances, literary readings and educational workshops.

Chris Cowden: More women are majoring in studio art and are going on to earn Masters of Fine Arts than ever before. While women have achieved near parity with men in their educational accomplishments, they still lag behind after they graduate. Today, women earn 81 cents for every dollar a man earns in the same position. (It has improved in the last 20 years–women used to earn 75 cents for every dollar a man earned.)  However, the pay ratio is even worse in the arts. This is the biggest challenge for women seeking careers in the arts in the future–to  achieve equal opportunities for employment, for exhibitions of their work, and for pay.  Also, their work historically sells for much less than male artists.

Young women can learn to be leaders by seeking mentors whose leadership style they admire.  Often becoming an intern can provide excellent opportunities to work with, observe, and emulate women who have succeeded in their field.  There are a number of women who direct galleries and museums who can serve as powerful role models for women who seek to follow their career path.

Women & Their Work was founded in 1978 when there were very few opportunities for women in any artistic discipline. Organizations such as W&TW created their own possibilities outside the established hierarchy. I was not involved in the founding of the organization so I didn’t have  to do any of the really heavy lifting that had to take place to make this a successful art organization. I spent my early career working in academia and then in a large corporation on Wall Street. The biggest difficulty was being taken seriously. I think the best thing to realize is that you have to take yourself seriously–but not too seriously.

I always remember Meryl Streep’s advice to the graduating class of Vassar, her alma mater.  She said  to integrate  what you believe into every area of your life. To take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else. And preserve your own special character in the world. That seems great advice for any field –maybe especially the arts. For more info go to: www.womenandtheirwork.org

Blog by Lucas

Welcome Creative Alliance Interns!

Interns make everything more fun. Welcome to our three new New Media Summer Interns, helping with Content, A-Team Blogging and Now Playing Austin Promotion. You’ll see them out and about Austin this summer, so be sure to say hi. Also a shout out to our original Arts Associate Intern, Xaq Webb (President Rock Us Entertainment.)

Laura Romer

I’ve lived in the Austin area for over 13 years, and I’m currently a senior communication studies major at Southwestern University.  During the school year, my activities include working for the university’s newspaper, volunteering with Circle K International, and making late night Whataburger runs in search of brain power/french fries in the name of productivity/procrastination.  Anytime of the year I love story time with friends and $2 margaritas at Applebee’s, live music shows at the Mohawk and Stubb’s, scarves, mix CDs, and impromptu rhythmically challenged dance-offs.

Mitchell Mazurek

Mitchell is a rambunctious whipper-snapper born and bred outside of Austin, graduated in English from Texas State and, on the side, writes for Austin’s branch of The Deli Magazine. He loves grammar and diction and long walks on the beach and syntax and punctuation and playing with language, has favorite writers, enjoys a good beard, and is just a delight to be around.  Mitchell fights crime, does creative things, and has been to the moon and back a few times.  He says it’s “Okay if you’re into that sort of thing.”
Hannah Masius
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hannah migrated over to Austin after long journeys traveling overseas in order to experience the mystic “live music capitol” and couldn’t be happier. When she’s not looking up new music and festivals to attend and volunteer at she can often be found drumming on her Kanjira, DJing, firespinning, hiking, swimming and exploring. An audiophile at heart, artist by craft and empath by nature, she looks forward to fully immersing herself in the people and sights and sounds that make up this great Texas city!

Welcome All!

Create Austin Passes!

The Creative Alliance was very excited to see CreateAustin become approved by the City Council.

From Cookie Ruiz’s Speech to the Council

“Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and Council Members,

In December of 2006 a diverse group of 75 Community Leaders accepted the charge of developing a Cultural Plan for Austin for the next 10 years.  Along the way we worked with hundreds of Austin’s working artists, organizations and representatives of a broad array of creative enterprises…listening to their needs and concerns.  Somewhere in the process we experienced a dramatic shift….we moved from a collection of disparate artistic genres and disciplines comprised of organizations and individuals…. to a collective creative community that annually generates $2.2B in economic activity and is responsible for 44,000 jobs.

So what have we accomplished since our briefing in these chambers two years ago? As the consultant contract ended, a group of citizens gathered in September of 2008 and committed to never let this investment of time and resources sit on the shelf…Our citizen volunteers decided to keep moving forward with a second phase of the process… the process of prioritization…using personal resources and time.  We reviewed the plan’s top 10 recommendations and decided to dig more deeply into the following areas in order to establish clear priorities for implementation….. (See Full text of speech:  Final Endorsement)”

Also- Check out the Official  Resolution Here.

Thanks for rolling out, Austin Arts Community! Was wonderful to see so many of you stand in support of CreateAustin!

Austin Arts Unite! Help Support Our Community Tonight!

Again, we have an opportunity to use our voices to stand in opposition to another Arts situation. Action needs to be taken immediately.

The city budget has proposed eliminating co-sponsorships for events that take place in city facilities. This would mean that Austin Shakespeare and Zilker Theatre Productions could no longer be produced at the Zilker Hillside Theatre without paying substantial rent. Both organizations provide FREE theater to the community, which could be jeopardized. This also may affect other arts groups city wide. I ask that you register your opposition to this component of the city budget.

There are two ways to do this:

1. Visit http://www.cityofaustin.org/citymgr/budget_input.htm
Click on:
Give us your feedback:

Prioritize Potential Service Reductions

Click on:
Eliminate free co-sponsorships of community special events. Do not click to Vote, but only click to leave a comment.

You will be provided a comment field in which to express your opinion. You may have to register during this process, but this is done very quickly.

2. City Council is having a public forum tonight 6 – 9 pm at the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau to hear input from the community on the city budget. You can sign up to speak in opposition to this budget provision.

After tonight, City Council will not be soliciting input on the city budget.

This is an important issue for not only arts organizations, but also for other small nonprofits who have co-sponsorships in city facilities. I hope you will take this opportunity to make a difference.

Stay tuned for other important opportunities to help support the Austin Arts Community in the near future!

Arts Advocacy Day

Latifah Taormina, the Greater Austin Creative Alliance Executive Director, traveled to Washington D.C. this past week to take part in Arts Advocacy day. Here is some of the information she returned with.

Breakdown by Congressional Districts ( local districts)
District 10: 2,467 Arts Related Businesses ( Employing 7,306 people)
District 21: 3,003 Arts Related Businesses ( Employing 10,833 people)

Continue reading

World Theatre Day Wrap Up

Written by Rachel Martsolf

As the Artistic Director of The Exchange Artists I would love to thank The Greater Austin Creative Alliance for partnering with us in producing SPECT-ACTOR, Austin’s 2010 World Theatre Day celebration. The day included eight performances in public places around the city engaging unsuspecting audience members in theatrical events all day long, and an evening party.

At 10:30 a.m. Exchange Artists actors took their places at bus stops along Guadalupe only to have the first actor in the sequence of events cut short and asked to exit the bus! The aborted performance will remain a mystery to the passengers on the LM/1 that morning, much to some great disappointment and some great delight.

Not to be defeated, 14 Exchange Artists undercover actors broke into song and dance in the prepared foods section at Whole Foods Continue reading