“The key word is adaptation”
-Peter Han, Arts & Communication alum and professional artist
We knew that the new year would bring changes, big ones from a physical environment point of view. ACMA was moving from the comfortable, well worn campus we have called home since 1991 to a new building, the epically proportioned Timberland Middle School. We did our best to prepare for the move, our theater and dance departments packing the costumes and sets they imagined they’d need in the next year or two before we return to our familiar performing arts center in the fall of 2021, everyone else filling box after box and preparing to walk away from a campus broken in like a familiar baseball glove or favorite pair of shoes.
We were going somewhere squeaky new.
Summer arrived and with it the move itself. The gym at Timberland filled with boxes, piles of them, and the few of us who work year round began rattling around the new building. Planning for ACMA Day, teachers returning, and the opening of school felt different in the new place, and yet…
Change can be good.
I’ve said that we could be ACMA in a circus tent often enough to get kidded for the phrase, but it’s true, and I realized that our temporary relocation is really an opportunity.
At the end of last year Arts & Communication grad Peter Han, class of ‘99, came to speak to our art students. He talked a lot about his time at Arts & Communication and then about what it took to be a professional artist. Hard work, passion, and drawing-drawing-drawing were a part of it, he explained to the students, as was a willingness to always continue to learn and grow. “The key word,” he told them, in being an artist “is adaptation.”
And that’s exactly what we’re getting ready to do.
Dance is taking over a large space currently called (unimaginatively) the “auxiliary gym.” By the time they’re done installing a new dance floor (sprung for safety and as large as the main stage in our PAC), curtains, and some room for seating it will have been adapted into something marvelous.
Theater, who are taking over a grand Black Box Theatre, are doing some adaptation of their own, building their 2019-2020 season to take advantage of the space. When they stage Cabaret, a show designed to blur the line between audience and stage, they’ll show a creativity that incorporates their new home and artistic process. Cabaret is a show that couldn’t have been put on in either our Blue Box or main stage in the same way, and taking advantage of the new space is both smart and artistically daring.
Visual artists, photographers, sculptors, and writers all have an opportunity to begin anew with a blank page, a gessoed canvas, an untouched block of clay. They will create in an atmosphere that is new to them, sailors on a ship leaving port for unmapped seas. What they will discover in the world around them, and in themselves, is an adventure I’m looking forward to being a witness to.
And at the same time, we’re still the same. ACMA is still a collection of wildly creative and caring people. We’re still divergent thinkers, innovative problem solvers, and kind souls no matter whether we’re surrounded by seventy year old wainscoting or yellow trim.
This move provides us all with an opportunity to create with new resources, new surroundings, and a slightly different point of view.
I’m optimistic that the art that we create this year, from Cabaret to The Ballpoint, from the Spectacular to Art is My Voice, will be a little different and still profoundly identifiable as “so very ACMA.” We’re artists after all, always changing, growing, and adapting.