by Katharina Abderholden
I have been fortunate enough to have worked both in the States and in Europe as a modern dancer. During my time working in Europe, specifically Switzerland and France, I experienced some incredible art spaces that focused on artistic collaboration and immersion. These spaces offered artists the opportunity to connect with the community and share the powerful impact of the arts. Many of these spaces offered programs that would help engage the community, specifically young people and teachers, in order to understand the importance of art and allow them to discover and take part in the cultural landscape of the artists creating in that space
The Arsenic in Lausanne, Switzerland is a magical place for artists and audiences alike. The building is constructed of three studios, two galleries, two laboratory spaces, and a full-service café. They generate a monthly newsletter for the city of Lausanne, highlighting all the creative art events happening in the month. They function as a research space for the arts, inviting local and international artists to prepare work in the space and eventually showcasing it to the locals. They also have programs for audience members like young professionals and teachers to encourage the conversation of art and how it can change our lives. The Arsenic is located near the center of the city, making it highly accessible to community members and to be a focal point in the city’s art scene.
La Base in Chambery, France is much like the Arsenic in Switzerland– focusing on cultivating the arts and culture of France. The space is open to artists working in both individual or collective projects. La
Base is also constructed of a restaurant, open stage, galleries, cinema, and meeting spaces. They hold residency for local and international artists to develop work and share with the community. Once again, with the goal to elevate the conversation of what art can be and how to connect with it. I recently saw my friend perform a serious of solos that she created in La Base. In the end, there was a fully engaged community talk-back. And while some of the community members did not have the language to communicate about dance, they still asked questions and engaged with the artist.
So why are art centers important for our communities? It is one of the ways that we learn about our culture and our community. It also helps develop a healthy human being. Art is essential to human development in the ways that we develop motor skills, creative processing, and decision making. With the cuts that have happened to the arts in schools, children are losing both the opportunity to learn through the kinesthetic approach of the arts and to learn about our community’s culture. Community art centers are a space that everyone can come to and feel like they belong. Through offering a variety of programs for all ages, we can create a center where people can feel free to express their stories and viewpoints.
So why do we need an art center in our community? TO CONNECT!!!! To connect with artists and community members and create a conversation around the importance of arts in our lives. To grow as humans and develop new skills through creative activities. To create art that will engage the community in change and movement. We are here to build the arts community that we want to create in, and one of the first steps is creating a space to change lives.
Katharina Abderholden graduated the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a BFA. While attending the university, Katharina was able to perform in works choreographed by Mark Morris, Arnie Zane, Christina Briggs, and Colleen Thomas. Professionally Katharina worked with Danceworks Milwaukee (USA), Le Marchepied (CH), and projects created by Stephen Kowplowitz (USA) and Cie Utilité Publique (CH).