Elsewhere on the interwebs, someone asks how our Filipino American community orgs. are evolving with the times. Given technology. Given other innovations. Given all of this change, how do we garner community engagement, and (how) can we sustain it? How do we garner support for our orgs., given the state of art funding in this country. How do we create as artists today? Central to the question of support is this: what are our community members willing to support monetarily, such that we are able to sustain what new work we are doing as artists and community workers.
As the VP of the Board of Directors of PAWA, I have always believed in providing a space that is reflective, meaningful, and of value to community members. I am also a minimalist. Not into spectacle and circus. Minimize administrative costs.
I am also a firm believer in paying the artists.
At PAWA, we created a regular reading series maybe five or six years ago, but interest in that fluctuates, and attendance is kind of sad to me. We have offered workshops; attendance and participation in these have also been quite sad. We offered poetry manuscript consultation, which brought in pretty good revenue, but that was really hard for me to sustain. And there was definitely interest, but not too many people able to afford, even with the sliding scale. That’s for real.
Now, we are offering a 10-week, online Pinay literature and writing workshop, and are using generally the same sliding scale as the manuscript consultation. And people are signing up! So this is telling me something about what our (my?) community members value and think of as beneficial, such that they are willing to commit their time and money to 10 weeks of a pilot, internet-based workshop program.
One thing I’m thinking more and more about is that we must learn to work, operate, interact, and communicate much better in e-space. As the teacher of the Pinay Lit class at USF, I’d received all kinds of comments on FB, from folks in the general community that they wished they could take my class. So then I sent out an informal “feeler” via FB post, regarding interest in such a course if it were to be offered via PAWA and with a creative writing focus. The feedback was enthusiastic that online, much more so than in an actual brick-and-mortar space, folks would hella totally do it. And they really are.
It’s great. You don’t have to leave your families and commute, pay for gas and parking. You carve out the space in your own home life, a couple of hours here and there. You do it. You plug away, and you do it. You work independently, and you do it.
And we do this, not with set e-meeting times, but with a schedule of what to read and write and by when. As the instructor, I create the structure and the schedule. I can record myself speaking if I must, or I can just write. Just like this.
This is great for our org., in that we do not have to worry about finding, reserving, and paying for spaces. This is great for me, because I don’t have to leave my home or my work desk. I can open up the option of Google Hang-Out or Chat or whatever it’s called these days, and it can be optional, by appointment.
As an org., we have to charge, because there is indeed value to what we offer, and so that people know there’s a commitment involved. And for me as the instructor, this is a lot of hard work.
But yeah. You know what, Pinays? Yes, we can have nice things. PAWA Pinay workshop info is here.