For the last two days I have mostly been covering the puppets in a variety of printed materials reflecting each of the 5 themes of Astor Alive.

Architecture

Imigrant Populations

Radical Politics

Theatre for All

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Scholars, thinkers and writers

All the images used in the surfacing have come from suggestions in workshops, group Pinterest page and Internet searching in workshops.

The thing that strikes me most about this week of workshops is the constant flow of capable adult volunteers. It’s community arts without a pre-schooler in sight.

Workshops have an age 10 plus guidance. WHY? To ensure the work is taken seriously, to ensure four year olds are not dropped off to be entertained as parents chat and to enable the adherence to complex themes, suggestions and aesthetics.

Puppets for Astor Alive have been made from domestic materials. cardboard, paper and glue but the integrity of the way the design has been maintained is excellent.

PAW have a steady flow of regular enthusiasts who follow their work when they are in NYC and volunteer to work alongside new recruits. They bring a great work ethic, a welcoming atmosphere (sometimes cake) and much needed skills and assistance. In the UK, there is a nervousness about inviting “outsiders” as the funding streams are led by the indices of multiple deprivation in particular areas. But why? These figures are often out of date and art is the best tool for breaking down boundaries. 

Workshops are taking place in an empty shop – many local workers & students have joined in through intrigue  based on its visual prescience, returning more than once. This I believe is entirely due to the quality of the experience and products.

 
Notes on how the quality of work is achieved.
As I near the end of the making of the work for Astor Alive alongside Processional Arts Workhop I just want to share a bit of the pre-production process which I believe really helps the artists in their story building for this particular project.

At least a week full time was spent by the artists in visioning, designing and creating a “flat pack” experience for participants to quickly achieve a sense of satisfaction.

Workshops are targeted to age 10 plus –  this is a deliberate tactic to ensure the work is taken seriously. Whilst children younger are not turned away its is made clear that this is an art project and not a children’s activity.

Workshops are signed up to in advance via a web page which details the project and reminders are sent.

Participants contribute in advance of the project via a Pinterest page.

PAW partners with a host organisation, in this case it was the village alliance a BID (business improvement district)  for the Astor place area. THe host invites the community to participate in workshops and runs front of house.

Weekend workshops begin at midday and last for 6 hrs with a second entry time three hours later. Evening workshops begin 2-8 pm and run on the same format. many adults come after work. PAW have a group of regular keen enthusiasts who follow their work in NYC and attend most workshops. These enthusiasts work alongside new recruits and bring an inviting atmosphere (and cake) with them.

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