City on the creative edge

A past We Are Takoma presentation. Photo courtesy of We Are Takoma

BY JUSTINE MCDANIEL

Takoma Park’s city-sponsored arts program will kick off its fall season with new artists and events beginning September 12.

We Are Takoma, a series that offers affordable arts programming to the Takoma Park community, is set to host films, poetry readings and arts performances, including some events in conjunction with National Hispanic Heritage Month, during September and October.

"Money and Life" film screening and discussion will be presented Sept. 12.

“Money and Life” film screening and discussion will be presented Sept. 12.

September 12 is also the gallery opening for the newest art exhibit at the community center, “Made in Takoma Park,” which features only local artists.

“We have a really diverse range of programming,” said Emily Cohen, the city’s Management Assistant. “It’s very engaging. These are definitely performances that you won’t necessarily see at mainstream venues but that are very high-caliber.”

Culture you can afford

The interactive series allows artists to engage with their audiences by discussing their pieces and soliciting feedback. It hosts at least one film screening, one poetry reading (on every third Thursday) and one other performing arts event like a dance performance or concert per month.

The events, whose audiences range from 20 to 150 people, are intimate gatherings that “give the community an affordable cultural experience,” Cohen said.

"Love At Last Sight," musical by local resident John Guernsey. Photo courtesy of We Are Takoma.

“Love At Last Sight,” musical by local resident John Guernsey. Photo courtesy of We Are Takoma.

We Are Takoma offers three or four events a month on average. Events usually free for the public. Artists aren’t paid, but they can ask for donations.

Though many performers come from the local area, We Are Takoma hosts regional, national and international artists, Cohen said. Often, they perform or screen work that has never been seen before.

Feedback for artists

Cohen said the program has garnered a positive reaction within the community and from artists since it was launched in fall 2010.

“A lot of the work we have here is featuring up-and-coming artists or filmmakers, so the audience has the opportunity to give those performers feedback. It’s a pretty powerful dynamic,” she said.

The open call for artist applications for next season is closed, but interested performers can still contact the city for more information.

Fiber-arts sculpture by Maria Simonsson, "Fancy." Photo courtesy of We Are Takoma presentation.

Fiber-arts sculpture by Takoma Park resident Maria Simonsson, “Fancy.” Photo courtesy of We Are Takoma presentation.

“[The arts] connect people with something larger than themselves,” said Cohen. “They’re inspiring. They allow people to find another outlet and to explore their own creativity by experiencing somebody else’s creativity.”

Events are held at the Takoma Park Community Center. They are filmed by Takoma Park City TV and often streamed live or later broadcast on channel 13.

The last event of the summer season will be a fiber art workshop with Maria Simonsson on September 8.

Visit takomaparkmd.gov for a full listing of events.

 

About the Author

Justine McDaniel
Justine McDaniel is a graduate student in journalism at the University of Maryland. She graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2012 with a degree in Foreign Language and International Affairs and was most recently senior editor of Cake Central Magazine. A California native, she has written for various arts and news publications on the West Coast.