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The Future Collective has been without a physical space for much of its existence, but it has not stopped them from putting on events, such as the 2014 Future Fest in Brattleboro.

The Arts

The beautiful and the weird

Future Collective plans art, performance event

BRATTLEBORO—“We’re all approaching the future, whether intentionally or not,” said Future Collective member Tess Lindsay, who is helping organize the collective’s July 23 art and performance event at 118 Elliot.

“What We Bring to Our Future” is the theme of the day’s festivities, and will include a community art show, creative art market, and “collaborative, futuristic performances” from nine acts.

“It’s sort of a play on words,” Lindsay said, adding, “it’s a fairly simple theme, but people can interpret it in their own way. The future is unavoidable, and maybe that’s exciting, and maybe it’s scary."

Locals who miss the collective’s former art and performance space at 17 Elliot Street might wonder about the future of The Future Collective.

They haven’t gone anywhere.

After vacating their space last year, Lindsay said, the collective tried finding an affordable space that would allow nighttime performances in Brattleboro, but that search didn’t pan out.

Supporting artists

So, the members decided to focus their efforts on directly supporting artists. This includes paying them.

“We can support a performer more easily without paying $400 a month in rent, so the artist gets all proceeds from the door,” Lindsay said.

“We want the money to go to the art, not to rent,” Lindsay said.

Since leaving their space, the collective has rented 118 Elliot, the Hooker-Dunham Theater, and the Stone Church for their events. Lindsay said the venue owners “have been very supportive giving us deals on [rental] fees."

Lindsay is excited to hold the “What We Bring to Our Future” event at 118 Elliot. The venue has indoor and outdoor space, as well as something missing from many downtown locales: accessibility for people with mobility challenges. 118 Elliot is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Another form of accessibility the collective offers for this event is financial: admission is free, although art and other wares are for sale and donations are accepted. The day’s festivities are all-ages, and as the Future Collective’s events always advertise: “No booze. No bozos."

The July 23 event has three components.

The community art show, from 1 to 11 p.m., features a few works each from artists Sarah Rice, Clara Karazov, Alex Fischer, Shea Witzo, Jonas Fricke, Karilyn McLellan, Hannah Cummins, Scott Brown, Nora Joan, Ron Schniederman, Jac Kjellberg, Anna Mullany, Ruth Venan-Clay, and Linsday, who said more artists may sign up. The artists’ media includes watercolors, paintings, drawings, writing, photography, embroidery, sculpture, and mixed media. There will also be surprises, Lindsay said.

The outdoor community art market, happening in the lot behind 118 Elliot, runs from 1 to 5 p.m., and includes a wide variety of wares from about a dozen artists and craftspeople, Lindsay said. Some of the items include postcard-size mixed media pieces, small watercolors, handmade undergarments, linoleum block prints, jewelry, tinctures — “art through healing,” Lindsay noted — and snacks.

“It’ll be really beautiful,” Linday said.

Outdoors at last

The Future Collective has long wanted to hold an outdoor community art market, Lindsay said. The intention was for it “not to all be cheap, but mixed and accessible."

The collective made sure the market was accessible to the artists as well as the public. “None of the artists are paying to table there because we’re trying to support the artists selling their things,” Lindsay said.

“Do we ask these artists for $10 for a table, when they may only make $10 an hour? It’s more important to support artists in this community,” she said.

The all-volunteer collective pays the day’s rent at 118 Elliot from money they take in from several fundraisers they hold every year, including the Halloween cover band show, Future Fest, and the springtime show.

“It works,” Lindsay said. “At those events, the performers and musicians donate their time, knowing the [financial] return comes back to them later.”

Performers and musicians make up the third portion of the day’s events. From 6:30 to 11 p.m., nine confirmed acts have 20-minute sets where they will explore the event’s theme using music and performance-art elements.

Most of the acts are locals, including the Ditrani Brothers, Calvin Rey, Manes Prophet, Jonas Fricke, Shea Witzo, and Clara Karazov.

“We selected artists who would ‘get’ the theme,” Lindsay said. She said Witzo’s piece will be “sort of science fiction,” and Karazov is making her debut at the event.

“There are so many creative people around here, we could have gotten 30 musicians,” she said. “Nine felt right."

The visiting acts are Crank Sturgeon from Maine, a Future Fest favorite, Lindsay said, plus Painted Faces from Brooklyn, and Ryan Kayhart from Worcester, Mass. The latter two are touring acts that contacted the collective about doing a show, she said, noting they both asked for the same day, and “they fit in perfectly with the theme."

“I’m sure it’s going to get weird,” Lindsay said of the performances. “It’ll be beautiful and interesting."

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Originally published in The Commons issue #366 (Wednesday, July 20, 2016). This story appeared on page B1.

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