When does something come to fruition? For me, the Flight Deck fully came to life last night, on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 7:00 pm, when I saw images of our first public event. That was the moment when, what we discussed over the past weeks, months, years, started to have an actual physical presence, with weight and walls, texture, color, form, and even smell (and by looking at the pictures of the cupcakes from Township, I can only imagine the taste). I almost don't believe it, even though I have been in the gritty details of its realness for some time now. My head is still stuck in the budgeting, fundraising, strategic planning, painting, cleaning, chaos. Especially lately, I have been focused on the next task and not dropping "that" important piece. I almost forgot that we were building a thing. A place that other people can see, visit, and experience; that's not just an idea in an architectural drawing or a feasibility study, or in our musings on what could be. A thing with a life of its own. Today the pictures reminded me.
I am proud. Beyond proud. Amazed. Stunned. In disbelief. Worried (well, that's just my personality). Tired. But more energized than anything. And grateful. The Flight Deck couldn't have happened without each of us. All of us. As Amy Sass said to me yesterday, "It takes a village to raise an art space."
As we sat at dinner, working out the latest in an ongoing series of unexpected challenges -- which, in my opinion, we are becoming very good at doing -- we talked about the collective story of the Flight Deck. Ragged Wing, as a theater company that has been around for nine years, is in the business of telling good, original, engaging, sometimes quirky, stories. It's what we do, one might say. But how do we tell this narrative when it is outside the confines of a two hour performance? Who tells this story, and where does it begin?
Does it start with the founders, Amy Sass, Anna Shneiderman, and Keith Davis on the day they decided to band together to create their unique style of theater and performance? Or does it begin with the conversation to look for a space and bring ensemble practice to a larger scale of community building? Was the idea birthed when Amy found the vacant building at 1540 Broadway, and put in motion our relationship with the developer (our now landlord). Was it when the board voted to sign the lease? How about the moment when Ragged Wing hatched out of the incubator program at Intersection for the Arts and gained its own 501c3 status? Was it when we signed our first contract with one of our Resident Companies? Or was it when we achieved unprecedented success by raising $300,000 in one year (and then spending it)? Was it when we realized, we (well mostly Anna) are kind of sort of pretty good at managing really big construction projects and coming in on budget and on time (more or less). Or when we were moved by the many many volunteers who came in to paint the walls, lay the floor, and build furniture with us?
Well, I think it is all those things. The story of this space, true to its collaborative spirit, is one that must be told by each of us with our own beginning and unique lens. As a place for artists with purpose, the story, undoubtedly will be told with lots of authenticity, through multiple artforms, and at least some messiness or mischief.
I want to take this moment to recognize this achievement. Before the party next week and the celebration, and before the conversation about the next challenge, I want to recognize the birth of this space and many metaphoric parents, doulas, lamaze coaches and doctors who helped bring it into the world. It is a beautiful thing to hold.
I also want to invite you to help us tell this story. More on that later.