October 18, 2012

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I was awarded a MakeWork grant in 2008 for a project with my group, Shakespeare Chattanooga. With it, we created an original compilation, “Songs, Sonnets & Soliloquies”, that we performed in Renaissance Park that June. (Ask me sometime what it’s like to try and do Shakespeare with Riverbend bands soundchecking across the river. But that’s another story.)

The grant had repercussions far beyond just that project. I was able to pay the actors, musicians, designers and stage managers. We have a script that we can re-stage at any time. And we were able to do a number of staged readings throughout the next year, using the momentum generated by the grant.

That the MakeWork program has continued successfully after the “Supernova” of parent organization CreateHere is a tribute to its value in the arts community. Its vision for helping artists see themselves as self-sustaining entrepreneurs has had big community impact. This year, 15 grants were awarded out of 120 applications, with an average grant amount of $7,000. I talked with five of the recipients. To follow projects as they evolve, check for artists’ blogs to be posted on

Paul Rustand: Printmaking

Technology, Paul Rustand fully acknowledges, rocks when it comes to graphics design, and he makes full use of it in his commercial work. But there is something about the old, hands-on methods of creating posters and manuscripts that is irresistible. So his MakeWork grant will fund purchasing additional letterpress equipment that will join the collection he and partner Matt Greenwell already have accumulated at their new space, 1271 Market Street, across from Urban Stack. The idea is to launch as “community-based print collective” that will also include intaglio and lithographic printmaking.

“There is a charm to letterpress and the simplicity of the equipment,” Rustand says. “It’s a craft of times gone by…there can be something missing in designing on computers. Printmaking lives in that in-between world.” But the letterpress equipment is expensive and increasingly rare, so creating a place where multiple artists can receive instruction and hands-on time with the machines means everyone will benefit.

Rustand and Greenwill intend to offer classes at Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced levels. “It will open to the public, and we hope, very accessible,” he says. The project should be up and running by March.

Sybil Baker: Literature

When writer Sybil Baker saw UTC’s production of “Anton in Show Business” last year, the concept clicked into place.

A Southern native, Baker has lived in multiple places—North Virginia growing up, Vermont to get her MFA, South Korea for 12 years as a teacher—before coming to Chattanooga to teach writing at UTC. Most of her writing up to this point has been set in Asia. All along, however, she’s been a fan of the work of Anton Chekhov. “I learn so much from him,” she says. “He’s really the father of the short story.”

So…Chekhov…Chattanooga... “The Three Sisters”…the idea for a novel about three sisters from Chattanooga inspired by the Russian writer’s iconic play emerged. Baker had already settled on this project when she realized it might be a perfect candidate for a MakeWork grant. What was already conceived expanded into a multimedia exploration. The grant is helping her write the novel, titled “Replay, the stories of three sisters (“Really,” says Baker, “three aspects of my own life”), a lawyer, a reporter, and a musician, in Chattanooga from 1999 to 2011. And Baker will record and provide a CD of local music, and include photographs of different parts of Chattanooga. Readers all over the world will access Chattanooga and its reinvention through multiple vantage points.


October 18, 2012

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