Redmoon: Naming Our Beliefs and Addressing Difficult Issues

ArtsFwd asks the Innovation Lab grantees: What is one major “a-ha!” moment your team experienced during the retreat?

Rendering of floating river platforms for Redmoon’s Great Chicago Fire Festival. Image: Lin Ye

This is the second post from Angela Tillges about Redmoon’s experience in the Innovation Lab for the Performing Arts. We asked her to share some of the deep thinking that took place during their team’s five-day focused retreat. Read more from the other Lab participants here. 

What is one major “a-ha!” moment your team experienced during the retreat — and how will it influence how you move forward?

Last month, Redmoon brought together an innovation team with representatives from Chicago Park District, Cure Violence (formerly CeaseFire), Family Focus Lawndale, and the Harvard Graduate School’s of Design and Education for a week-long retreat.

Together, this team developed a prototype called The Forge, which is the articulation of the collaborative process model by which Redmoon builds relationships with community partners and engage them as core collaborators.

The “a-ha!” moments for the group came from the power of naming, both in our relationship building with partners and in Redmoon’s collaborative process. What I mean by naming is making explicit our assumptions, beliefs, and practices, and engaging partners in a mutual dialogue about them.

The innovation team did hard work, overtly considering the difficult questions often overlooked in a collaborative process; power disparities, class, race, cultural distinctions, and other issues were directly addressed.

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and the segregation of wealth, race, and culture is a tangible in any partnership that crosses neighborhood lines. The innovation team discussed the ways in which Redmoon partners across difference, which is a practice at the core of Redmoon’s mission and artistic work.

We began to decipher Redmoon’s previously ineffable process that we follow when creating partnerships with outside organizations in diverse neighborhoods, and worked towards creating a process that can be reflected upon, refined, and ultimately shared with others.

Our innovation team will test The Forge prototype over the next several months as the standard for building healthy reciprocal relationships with our 15 neighborhood partnerships for the inaugural Great Chicago Fire Festival.

About Redmoon’s Innovation Lab project

Redmoon’s project asks: How can we cultivate a well-trained community of collaborators to build the next generation of artists, and invest in individuals in the long-term by scaffolding training from intern to apprentice, apprentice to collaborator, and from collaborator to peer artist?

Angela Tillges is an artist and educator currently serving as Associate Artistic Director for Redmoon, where she oversees the vision of Redmoon’s community and education programs. She has collaborated with Redmoon since 2004. As an Educator, she develops the curricular and aesthetic programming for Redmoon, which serve over 1000 students, 30 educators, and 100 emerging artists annually. As a Director, she has shaped several youth-created Spectacle events locally in partnership with Chicago Public Schools and twice internationally with the community of Donegal, Ireland. Angela speaks about Spectacle and youth authored culture, nationally and internationally, most recently at the Tate Modern World’s Together conference.