by Chris Davis
Here's what NBE Founding Director Katie Smythe had to say about her group's participation in the project.
NBE is included, basically, because out of thousands of invited Arts directors at APAP last January, I was one of thirty who didn't think Ben Barber was too subversive or scary to talk to.
Isn't it incredible that people are afraid to talk about a response to 9/11 that asks us to consider what on earth we'd do without one another?
A preview of NBE's Ubuntu
Anyway - I spoke up about the zero sum game mentality that threatens our arts groups with extinction and about people thinking that they have to learn about how to engage community, writing big grants for, say, 400k just to figure out "outreach" . . . instead of just going ahead and doing it and risking community. I thought that if we could get a bunch of Arts groups together for this we could prove that we COULD be interdependent. So I wrote a BRAVO grant and was turned down I ditched the idea and then brought it back to the dancers two weeks ago after visiting the offices of the think tank in NY where Ben Barber is involved. They talked me into it and we are doing it on a shoe string.
Our artists are from vastly different walks of life. We eat at the common table every day, sweating upon each other, laughing and crying, teaching, eating and dancing. We feel that we can cause a ripple effect of diversity in Memphis.