Address: 541 W. Meadow St. Unit H
Contact: Samantha Sigmon or RD Mauzy
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
How is the project operated?
Do-it-yourself artist and community volunteer-run space
How long has it been in existence?
2.5 years (March 2014)
What was your motivation?
I grew up in Fayetteville going to DIY house shows and it really taught me a lot about community engagement, responsibility, creativity, and camaraderie. When I moved back home after receiving my Master’s degree, I got a job at a small local art gallery and really dove into on meeting the creative community.There was a DIY venue doing great things called Lalaland a little outside of downtown, but it seemed like they weren’t having shows super regularly at that time, but I got to know, love, and work with tons of creatives from musicians, folklorists, poets, square dancers, improv comedians, actors, performance artists, academics, painters, sculptors, students – you name it. I wanted to help foster a place where community members can do something they couldn’t do anywhere else, try something out that was innovative and experimental, a space I felt the community needed.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
So Many! The nature of a DIY venue is that it sort of is impermanent. It’s there as long as people need it to be. People have really latched onto it; they need it. So if someone pitches me a show, a lot of times they run the show, and then they keep wanting to book shows and help run them. It wouldn’t exist without them. The main person who takes care of this now is RD Mauzy and Tyler Harrington who are there at just about every event. I couldn’t do it without them and a handful of people who regularly book certain shows. I got the ball rolling on the space, but I couldn’t have kept it rolling without these folks.
How are programs funded?
We take donations at the door and then RD and I give money for repairs/rent if we don’t make enough that month. So it really matters when people donate. We want it to be for everyone who wants to be there, but we want folks to realize that if they are not paying for it, it’s coming out of our pockets. A lot of the donations go to the touring bands as well and we offer a little bit to locals too. We want to know they are appreciated however we can.
Who is responsible for the programming?
Volunteers! Anyone who is interested and has a good idea usually meets up with one of us so we show them around the space and then one of us will be there to help them set up, help with crowd, and help with donations.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
We have square dances every last Friday, at least two different improv shows each month, probably about 3 or so art shows a year (maybe more), we are working on a ‘zine, and a lot of times we have music shows about 2-3 times a week, so a few hundred or so?
What kind of events are usually organized?
A vast majority are art shows, we also do music shows of all sorts from folk to metal, just stuff we think is good that the community will like. Musicians on tour usually really need a place to play. I do more of the art events. As I said, we’ve done poetry readings, improv comedy, variety shows, theatrical performances, square dances, clothing swaps, film showings, performance art, fundraisers, drawing marathons, all sorts of events that fosters creativity and engagement!
How is your programming determined?
It’s pretty simple, people I know who know good things going on know to come to me with them. I’m also friends with people in bands who know other musicians from around the US, so I have a group of bookers who I trust with the music portion. We also get emails from folks on dodiy.org needing a place to play, or I get emails or Facebook messages.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
Yes! We need a link to their work, a little about them, and anything else and then we’re in touch as soon as we can be!
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
I love things that are weird, inventive, immersive, interactive, experimental…stuff you wouldn’t see other places. I want people to go to Backspace for a one-night-only experience that is interdisciplinary and collaborative. I love the art shows we have with all kind of art and music and other things all going on in the same place.
What’s working? What’s not working?
We are having problems with noise complaints unfortunately. We didn’t have that until recently really, so how many times you’ll have to deal with complaints all depends on who moves next door. We are trying soundproofing, earlier hours, methods of corralling the audience to different places, it can be tough.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
I like to be the connector, using what I learned in my job at the nonprofit art gallery in Fayetteville and it what I do at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art now as interpretation manager. I love bringing folks and ideas together to get something unique happening. I recently got a position on the Fayetteville Arts Council, help put on some other events in our community for the arts, I just like bringing people to the table to discuss challenges and what we can do to make our community better. Backspace itself is one of the only places in the community where you can do the things we do. There’s so much you can’t do at a bar or coffeeshop, people in Northwest Arkansas know that. I want us to be a friendly, open, safe space for everyone.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
More public art! Meeting more people who have the drive to help out on the space and contribute the amazing things they can do to make our programming even better.
Images courtesy of Backspace.