Online Arts Network

My mom is amazing. 

Julie Balen joined twitter in 2009 and is the sole reason I have an account. Through pursuing her masters online, taking part in #ETMOOC (Educational Technology & Media Open Online Course, 2013) and co-developing #OOE (Open Online Experience, 2013) my mom has had the ability to create a flourishing PLN (personal learning network. I know, I didn't know what it stood for either). Living on Manitoulin Island, she (and everyone else who lives there) is segregated (...with one another). This is the very element that draws people to move to a place like the island, but in some scenarios, it's a pain. My mom is a teacher, coach, curriculum developer, and all round educator. She began her career after staying at home with three darlings for ten years and is bursting with passion and determination to become and evolving expert in her field and positively impact as many young lives and she possibly can. The development of her PLN gave her the opportunity to create new relationships with people she otherwise would most likely have never met, and able to share, learn and work with these people. It's amazing. I've gone to events with my mom where we have worn "Hello, my name is" stickers with your twitter handle on it and people have recognized her. Crai. 

I'm constantly on the look out for artists of any variety to collaborate with, but honestly, it's a struggle. I typically reach out to other dancers but there is a lot of the community working on their own numerous projects who do not have the time or creative energy to enter into another project with an unknown outcome with some stranger via the web. Totally fair. Basically, I'm looking for people. Totally jealous of my ma's PLN, I'm all like, "Well fine. I'll just get me one of those."

Right. 

This brings me to the point of this post. I started this blog extremely recently. I decided I needed to force myself to be more present in the digital world. I wanted an outlet to throw my thoughts out there and have a home on this endless universe that is the internet. I also wanted to begin the process of making these connections with people via the web that have the power to spur on some amazing stuff (as I have seen with my mom in #craftreconciliation and #CDNcraft). However it seems like this particular end of internet universe is pretty empty.

After searching the internet for any hint of active conversations occurring between artists online I found a number of things:

  1. Artists websites. Typically including some of their work, CVs, media coverage, reviews, critiques, awards, contact information, etc...
  2. Places to sell art. Typically visual art online stores.
  3. Forums to share art, once again typically visual (think deviantart)
  4. Commercial art outlets. 

Ok. Well what if conversation does not need its own website? I mean, my mom's PLN is basically hosted and supported by Twitter. I have yet to find an active conversation about dance or art through the twitterverse and the dance community I follow online. If anything I find that the majority of the tweets I see are self promotion. There's little conversation, response or personality in the tweets I see. This bothers me because I BELIEVE in art. I crave to have more conversations about it. What makes something like education more accessible to those on the internet then art? Why aren't these online communities forming naturally like others? Am I missing something that is already in existence? I don't know the answers but I'm ready be a participant in pushing the movement forward. I believe the conversation online has to be one around professional development. The internet provides a vast range of opportunities: promotion, advertisement, education, inclusion, presence, etc, and in addition to all of the imagined purposes, is also our opportunity to connect. Like a lot of new things, the idea of meeting and working with people who you can not see, who you can't jam with or judge(-I mean...connect with) during an audition is weird. But lets be honest. That "weirdness" usually stems from our own insecurities. "Noooo, I just don't have the time to nurture another relationship and collaboration that takes so much energy to establish and grow and find momentum...you know?" No. That (sentence) is what life is actually about. And if you don't have enough time, Toronto, put down you damn Americano, skip your yoga class and talk to a stranger online. Yup. You can even do it in your lulus.