Brushy Fork Annual Institute

Performing Community: Why Local Stories Matter

Track Leader: Robert Gipe and Robert Martin

Clear Creek Creative and Higher Ground will conduct a multi-day workshop on community performance that will integrate 1) hands-on tools and experience for communities interested in creating their own performance projects using local stories and talent; 2) analytic case studies of successful community performance projects; and 3) examples of how to make the case for community performance, suggesting why community performance, and by extension the arts, matter in rural communities.

The Arts matter for economic development opportunities and for improving our quality of life. Community Performance as a model of civic participation can be a catalyst to community development. Community-based arts practices – and specifically community performance projects — are not only an effective way to explore our challenges and celebrate our strengths; they are key in developing our youth as a creative class of entrepreneurs and visionaries.

This workshop also follows and highlights a 3-year trajectory in arts-based cultural community development that Brushy Fork has supported since 2013.

Who Should Attend

Anyone who wants to develop and activate an outline for community performance opportunities in their community.

What Can I Expect to Learn?

  • A variety of hands-on methods to turn stories into community performance, including storytelling and storygathering practices, discussion on how to stage and weave scenes with large groups into full performance, and a variety of creative tools, team building strategies, and tools for directors, actors, and scriptwriters.
  • Two primary case studies will be used to provide community performance examples and models: Higher Ground and the Clear Creek Creative.
  • Results from the initial gathering of the launch of the Hurricane Gap Community Performance Initiative will also be shared and discussed.
  • We will discuss grant writing and resource mapping strategies along with developing a recruitment script for community performers and an enrollment pitch to community partners.
  • Participants will walk away with a cultural asset map framework for their community and a process for developing sustainability in ongoing community cultural development projects.

Track Limit: 30

This workshop draws from decades of experience as Robert Martin and Robert Gipe, representing Clear Creek Creative and Higher Ground, share what it takes to engage and create community performance for local communities.  

Robert Gipe has long had an impact on Appalachian culture and literature in his work as the Appalachian program director at Southeast Community and Technical College in Cumberland, Kentucky; as the producer and director of Higher Ground, a series of plays rooted in mountain life; and as a writer whose work has appeared in publications including Appalachian Heritage, Still: The Journal, and Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. More recently, he shared his creative vision in his debut illustrated novel Trampoline. Born in North Carolina, raised in Tennessee, and having worked in several Kentucky coal counties since the 1980s, Robert has developed a keen eye and ear for the realities, beauties, and complexities of Central Appalachia.

Robert Martin works as a theater/film artist, community arts producer, cultural organizer, trainer/facilitator and teaching artist. He is passionate about using story, theatre, and media to create and collaborate in performance that is rooted in the needs, memories, and possibilities of the community from which it is born. He actively uses cultural organizing and story work to examine the intersections of urban and rural communities, to build dynamic partnerships and to bring people into creative collaboration.

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