Queers Generate Value by…

on Feb 14 in Article, Blog Salon, Mapping by

Karl Cronnin

When I was asked to blog about queer economy, my first reaction was “maybe they asked the wrong person by mistake. I don’t know even know what queer economy means?”

Before I moved to San Francisco in 2010, I had never used the word queer to define myself, and had only heard the word used a handful of times on british TV and in movies from the 70s as an insult for homosexuals. I didn’t grow up in a bubble, nor on the moon. I spent the first 30 years of my life in Denver, north Texas, Boston, New York City, Nashville, and Santa Fe.  When I got to San Francisco I was told I was queer. I have never lived anywhere with such an interest in classification. I started using the word queer to define myself as I wanted to share my art work, and the only venues that called me back were “queer performance nights”. The underlying ethos of queer felt compatible with my values, so this felt fine. I understood it to mean positioning oneself in relationship to systems in order to question them. I have always called such a lifestyle “artist”, so I just translated queer to mean artist and kept going.

When I met Ernesto, he told me that queering could also be used as a term to describe the process of questioning relationship as a performance/creation strategy. Queer therefore was not simply a persona classification, but performance strategy. This felt far more compelling to me than queer as a catch-all for all the non-normative cultural agnostics. I believe wholeheartedly in holding space for ambiguity. In fact I think it is a vital step in creating vibrant economies. Aha. There it is. The E word.  And yet…I feel that ambiguity is part of cycle that gives way to and is born out of decisive decision making – drawing clear lines in the sand.

For context, I should say that I participate in the economy in MANY ways, but my two primary sources of value generation and income are art creation and art production/management. I toggle back and forth each day between making space for existential mysteries to bounce around me in the studio and periods where I buckle down to work with teams to achieve clearly defined deliverables. I feel this back and forth is what builds healthy culture. Moving forward and just as things seem safe/knowable/secure, pulling the rug out again and building new systems of understanding as we fall.

OK, I’m getting on a tangent. Let me come down to earth and talk about something I feel I understand..

This what I see members of my community actually doing to build economic value and new alternatives:

  • Support the ambitions and needs of others as their own
  • Work on practical, applicable actions instead of theory (god bless the scholars for research theories and cultural context)
  • Reinterpret how spaces are used (i.e. my home studio has been dormitory, conference center, rehearsal space, and gallery in the past several weeks)
  • Upcycling/Recycling
  • Making reuse sexy and stylish
  • Having honest and compassionate conversations about debt
  • Inviting colleagues to see work in development so we don’t have to pay for tickets (making more space for audiences who are not in the choir to show up)
  • Engaging in debate amongst friends and colleagues about what we can learn from our differences – like in a blog salon
  • Reduce waste in culture creation (applying lean start up principles)
  • Merge projects/organizations when they seem to have similar missions
  • Work from a triple bottom line when accounting for projects
  • Collaborate across industries to build sustainable partnerships

Along these lines I’m inspired by this posse of creatives
Chris Kennedy- http://www.queerexplorersclub.org/
Carl Tashian/Caroline Woolard – http://ourgoods.org/
Cassie Thornton – http://social-craft.tumblr.com/worktheatre
Janelle Orsi – http://www.theselc.org/


About Karl Cronin – Karl Cronin is a performing artist, composer-dramatist and cultural production addict. His performance work has been produced at Dancespace (NYC), Boston Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), Jay Etkin Gallery (Santa Fe), and gobs of other places, and  has developed programming for the New England Foundation Center for the Arts, Misnomer Dance Theater, and The Equus Projects. He is currently writing his first full-length opera and fumbling towards sustainability in dialogue with the OFF Center, Intersection for the Arts (Incubator Program), and the Emerging Arts Professionals Fellowship Program.
Current Projects
Cabin Fever
one act opera by Karl Cronin
Workshop reading @ The OFF Center (San Francisco, CA)
April 20-21, 2012 (8pm), $10

Sand Hill Road
FREE reading of a new two-act play by Karl Cronin
followed by potluck party/discussion
La Naranja (23rd and York, San Francisco, CA)
March 16, 2012 (7pm)

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