Performance Space

A House Is Not A Home

Nearly $7 trillion dollars went up in smoke with the housing crisis in the United States. The loss in social capital has not been calculated.

The Trailer Trash Project is hitting the road, taking a mobile recording studio into Southern California neighborhoods to the tell stories of families fighting  to stay in their homes in the face of foreclosure.   A House Is Not A Home is the name of our new series of bi-monthly reports for KPFK 90.9 FM (Pacifica, Los Angeles). We’ll dig beneath the surface of housing crisis to pinpoint how one foreclosure can affect an extended family, a neighborhood and community.  We’ll also document how a coalition of activists have come together under the umbrella of the Occupy Movement to bring about much needed change. The series will also include a traveling exhibit will online access to material

Help us report from the road on the foreclosure crisis in Southern California.  We need to raise $3500  to buy an audio recorder and a used van to tow our 1972 mini camper. The camper will serve as  recording studio and home on wheels which we’ll take into neighborhoods around Southern California. (This 16′ camper is not to be confused with our 33′ Spartan trailer we are restoring as a performance space.)  Click here  to make a tax-deductible donation.

Javier Hernandez: "You hear stories of people who loose their homes and never get over it." Javier and his 4 year old brother are pictured at a rally in downtown L.A. to lend support for a lawsuit seeking redress of unlawful foreclosure practices.

We’ll tell the stories like these: Javier Hernandez was a 25 year old delivery driver in 2006 when Countrywide Finance him a $546,000 loan on a home.   Before signing, Javier, who planned to live in the house and share costs with mother, father and brother asked the lender if he thought the family could swing the $3,900 monthly payments that would require more than half the family’s income (The family had no   no credit medical or car payments debt.)   The lender assured him that after two years the value of the house would increase substantially and he could then refinance with lower payments.

In fact, the opposite happened. In 2008 Javier’s mortgage payments ballooned The lender assured him that the value of the house would increase substantially after two years at which point the family could lower their payments.  The opposite happened. In 2008 Javier’s mortgage payments balloonedThe lender assured him that the value of the house would increase substantially after two years at which point the family could lower their payments.  The opposite happened. In 2008 Javier’s interest rate ballooned, raising mortgage payments to $5,000. They asked to refinance but were told the value of their home had sunk; the only way to get help was to stop payments and go into default.  In 2008 they were given three months to vacate the house.  While the family remains in the house, they know the axe could fall at any time.  Meanwhile, Javier and his brother Ulysses – both previously apolitical,  have joined the Occupy Movement to support the fight to keep people in their homes.

When Bank of America bought Coutrywide,

Faith Parkerwho has lived in her South Central L.A. home for 50 years.  An educator

Mrs. Faith Parker and her eldest daughter Brenda outside Mrs. Parker’s South Central L.A. home of 50 years.

who has contributed much to children and families in her community, Mrs. Parker fell on hard times when she refinanced her home to get a loan to help care for her daughter who had contracted multiple-sclerosis.  Her mortgage payments shot up from $900 to $2200.  When Mrs. Parker asked for a second revision, Bank of America told her she would first have to default.    In a letter the Bank told her not to worry, trust the bank,  she didn’t need a lawyer.  After months of frustrating letter writing and calls, Faith’s house was put up for sale.

Bertha Herrera, a grandmother and volunteer chaplain for has lived in her home of more than 40 years.  Mrs. Herrera’s troubles started with an accident and ended with eviction from her home in January.  The Trailer Trash Project was there when deputies with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department broke down her door and evicted her.  On hand as well were more than a dozen “Occupiers” providing support and publicizing Mrs. Herrera’s plight. 

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

Sam Breen Receives Investing In Artsts Grant

The Center for Cultural Innovation has awarded Sam Breen an Investing In Artists Grant, given to individual artists to acquire equipment or materials that will support them in their creative process.  The $6,500 grant will be used to build a performance space inside the 1951 Spartan trailer that Sam has been working on since September, 2010. Thanks to CCI, Trailer Trash is able to engage Eddie Paul Industries to open up the trailer’s now-fixed front windows, making the indoor performance space accessible to outdoor audiences.  The process requires considerable re-engineering, since it means cutting into the trailer’s aluminum skin the structure that gives the trailer 80% of its strength (see monocoque design.)

The banquette will be used for readings and discussions. It can fold away and become a small performance stage for indoor or outdoor audiences.

The work should be finished for up-coming performances this Fall, including one in December for the NOMAD Lab Art Project for kids.  Like Sam, most artists pursue their work with little outside help – often by holding down low-paying, no benefits jobs. CCI understands that at certain points along an artists’ creative path, material and organization support can be critical.  In addition to material assistance, CCI provides training organizational support and networking with organizations like USA Projects. 

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

Trailer Trash Kicks Off Arts Conference

Late night set-up in preparation for Arts In The One World Conference, Jan. 27-29

Last night, Sam and fellow students towed the Spartan trailer to the entrance of Cal Arts where it was used as a performance space during the  Arts In the One World Conference, January 27-29. Sam kicked off the conference with a presentation of the Trailer Trash Project tomorrow morning.  Over the course of the event, participating artists will also perform inside and around the trailer. A stage is being constructed around the trailer today.  The stage was designed and construction under the direction of Ben Womick, MFA student at Cal Arts in technical direction.

Participating artists include: Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, choreographer Lindsey Lollie, dancer Andrew Wojtal and playwright Isabel Salazar (No Comas Tomates antes de Dormir porque Tendrás Pesadillas).

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

Ben’s Design for Performance Space

Check out  Ben Womick’s design for the Spartan’s outdoor performance space.  The stage was launched at the Arts In the One World Conference! Ben is an MFA student in Technical Direction at Cal Arts.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL DESIGN in PDF format:   AT 1000.ben

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

Nomad Alert (Sam’s Post 3)

As part of the Trailer Trash Project,  Sam will be working with the Nomad Lab - children and their parent from the Valle Del Oro Neighborhood Association in Newhall (Santa Clarita) CA.  The Lab offers all kinds of  art workshops in graphic design, print making, music, acting, etc.  It is run under the direction of Evelyn Serrano who also teaches a class on art and activism at CalArts. Sam recently met with the class. Here are his notes: [ed.]

-by Sam Breen, October 17, 2010

I met with Evelyn’s class, and we are starting to make a plan.  Our first date with theNomads and their parents is in Newhall on Nov 6 . There should be about 30-40 students there, ranging in age 6-14. Evelyn wants me to bring the trailer, so I will need to install a work-floor in the Spartan  by then! Nomad workshops in photography and creative writing are already under way. Teachers are exploring the idea of what home means to them. So they’ve begun thinking about this theme (which is great ’cause that’s my theme, too!) I’ll give the kids a small presentation of the project and take them

What makes a house a home?

on a tour of the Spartan. Then the photography kids will take pictures. Some will start writing, some of the Arts and Activism students from CalArts will lead theater games (with the idea of home in mind). Some of the Nomad kids will be commissioned to talk about what they’d want in the trailer if it was their home (they could draw, write etc.) We could have a projector in there, so I might put up some ideas for my wish list – things like solar panels, a grey water system, compost. I’ll also be asking them about ways to use the trailer as a performance space – even before it’s finished.

On Oct 20, well’ll have another meeting of the Arts and Activism Class.  Stay tuned.  [Sam will have got to install a temporary floor in the Spartan in the next three weeks. That also means floor insulation, a belly pan, and tanks for storing clean and water. -ed.]

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

A Long Way Home (Post: #1)

– by Sam Breen
I’m a 27 year-old graduate student in acting, at CalArts. I’ve just embarked on the final year of my master’s degree and the fun and games are over in class. The focus has shifted from voice classes , movement  and Shakespeare scene-study, to entrepreneurship.  In less than a year, my classmates and I will be classically trained professional actors. But before we graduate we’ve got a whole lot to learn about the business of acting- these days it’s all about “booking the job”.

On evenings and weekends, however, my mind is elsewhere– you’ll find me on the lower parking lot, renovating my 1951 Spartan trailer.

I’ve convinced the school to let me park the 36 foot monster on campus. This gives me easy access to the Institute’s scene-shop and mostly importantly, to the theater school’s technical designer, Michael Darling. My carpentry skills are basic, at best, and Michael’s mentoring has been absolutely essential to the project.

Sculptor and faculty member, Michael Darling works with CalArts students in the scene shop.

In exchange for letting me house the Trailer Trash Project on campus, I’ve offered to put the Spartan to good use. Once finished the trailer will be a home for my mother, a journalist and Katrina evacuee, but while it is being built I want it to serve as a work and performance space for the artist community at CalArts and beyond.

Inspiration piece.

The notion of displacement is one that my mother and I are all too familiar with.  As I began my studies in art school it became  clear to me:

…all artists are, at one time or another, displaced. We’re perpetually confronted with the reality of having to leave home to pursue our craft. Art-making can often distance us from our families.  And when we’re away, the feeling of longing inspires us to make more art.

Over the course of 7 or 8 months, the Spartan will take the form of a mobile performance space/ make-shift classroom/ screening room, used to explore how displacement and artistry go hand-in-hand.

Evelyn Serrano, a member of CalArt’s faculty in the Art School is onboard with this idea. Evelyn is an artist who means business. She’s a staunch supporter of education through the arts and teaches a class at Calarts, Arts and Activism, designed to

From the Nomad Lab web site: “The “NOMAD LAB is a program created to support the goals of the Valle del Oro Neighborhood Committee in partnership with the City of Santa Clarita Community Services Division, The Village Apartments and the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. As an initiative of the Valle del Oro Neighborhood Committee, NOMAD LAB is devoted to building a better neighborhood through programs and activities for youth and their families.”

help her students develop and pursue their own social agenda. One of her latest projects is Nomadlab in nearby Newhall, which offers free creative writing classes to young students in the Valle del Oro neighborhood, who are at risk of gang activity. She’s offered to make the Trailer Trash Project a key element of her Arts and Activism class this year. Her students and I will be devising ways to use the Spartan as a means to collaborate with Nomadlab. But ultimately, I want to leave it up to the kids of Nomadlab to come up with ways in which the trailer can best serve their cause.

Another source of inspiration for my project has been Side Streets, a community arts project co-founded by Cal Arts, alum, Karen Atkinson along with RIDS grad Joe Luttrell, two artists committed to the belief that the creative process belongs in the streets as well as in studios and galleries.  More on Side Streets in future posts.

My mother, who has been researching and writing about the green revolution sees this trailer as an opportunity to display mobile, sustainable living. So we’re going eco!

This is a former FEMA trailer turned into a mobile disaster art studio by Paul Villinski. The trailer has solar panels and a wind turbine. We’ll use both on the Spartan, along with a composting toilet, and sustainable building materials. Credit:

My Trailer Trash Project will be carried out in collaboration with The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, founded by CalArts alumni, Miranda Wright and Ian Garrett.   The CSPA is a network providing artists and arts organizations with resources to help them adopt more sustainable practices in their work.

The Trailer Trash Project will be carried out using safe, clean and renewable materials as much as

feasibly possible.  (See for instance, posts on “green” insulation materials.)  Believe me this is no easy task. To give you an example, I was convinced bamboo flooring and cabinetry was the way to go. It’s super renewable (it only takes bamboo 3-5 years to reach maturity) but in recent years controversy has surfaced over the use of bamboo: it has to be flown over from China, lots of chemicals are used in the manufacturing process, deforestation and others.

Keeping up with this has been a little too much for me to handle right now– I’ve got my hands full as it is. So I’ve charged my mother with this task. This blog has lots of interesting info about sustainable materials, information that Michael and I use when deciding how to proceed.  Perhaps it will be of interest to you as well.

Stay tuned.  It’s going to be a wild ride!

The CSPA is helping Sam Breen with the Spartan Trailer Restoration Project by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

ashdenizen: flowers on stage: the daffodil

In the second in our summer series of blogs, the artist Sue Palmerwrites about the daffodils and the desk fan in Mary Southcott’s ‘Let’s get some weather in here’

One moment – a movement – remains with me. I can remember none of the content now – it is about 8 years since I saw the theatre performance and the stories are blurred, fleeted. What I do remember is Mary performing her solo show, and one moment within it has fused itself onto my memory.

Just off centre in the performance space is a window box, a white plastic window box, and facing the audience are a row of daffodils, yellow and bright in the studio lighting. They are looking perky and buoyant as only daffodils can, and very yellow, the trumpet variety. At one point in the performance, Mary switches on a desk fan that stands behind the daffodils and a deeply satisfying event takes place.

As the fan turns its automated 120-degree span, so the daffodil heads respond – bobbing, nodding. The bobbing heads in the breeze are met by collective warmth and delight from the audience – our attention is absorbed by the responsive movement of the flowers that is so familiar, so recognisable.

Mary’s simple creation of a small ‘weather system’ in the studio is utterly captivating: the outside is suddenly on the inside. The relationship between the wind and the flower is placed at the centre of my attention, so I can see in absolute detail the architectural brilliance of the flower at being able to both receive and resist the wind. Due to the travel of the fan, the breeze interacts with the flowers over an arc of time so the daffodil heads respond to the beginning of the wind touching them, nodding vigorously as the full fan passes over them, returning to a small stillness before the process loops to a return.

The articulation of the flowers and their ability to work with the wind ‘speaks’; their ‘heads’ work with receptivity, capacity, intelligence. The daffodils have performed for us.

At ‘Presence’ Festival, Dartington College of Arts, Devon, June 2002

Photo: Ed O’Keefe

See also flowers on stage: the poppy. Next: flowers on stage: the lotus.

via ashdenizen: flowers on stage: the daffodil.

High Tide, Art and Aviva at Poulsen #COP15

Acting as the official High Tide COP15 envoy, distinguished ecological artist Aviva Rahmani has been writing on her daily blog about her experiences in Copenhagen during COP15. Friday was her last day here, and she finally got the change to go about town and see some art. Check out the entries from December 18th to see what she was up to.

Below are some excerpts from her entires about her time about town. Not only do some fantastic artists connect, but The Yes Men were able to give back though Good COP 15, what the tensions of COP15 took away!

Modeling the Survival Ball at the Poulsen Gallery in Copenhagen on my last day

We walked thru the beautiful, old part of the city and I got a lesson in Copenhagen’s demographics while snapping pictures of the city, which now looks like the home of Hans Christian Andersen rather than the shocking site of police violence it was Wednesday.


Aviva’s COP15 Press Conference became a GOOD COP15 Press Conference.

Larkon took me into their performance space and started a press conference for me in “the Good COP,” set up to look like the Bella Center. They’ve done about 100 press conferences so far, including with Darryl Hannah, of what people would want to say (not just your fifteen minutes of fame but a whole press conference) at Bella. Larkon just had a little hand held, but then a REAL news crew came in: Wendy Jewell, producer and Sister Jewell-Kemker, filmmmaker, reporter and activist for, “An Inconvenient Youth; kids fighting for their future,” with serious camera. We did it all over, inc a Q&A, and all happily exchanged cards after wards.


So finally, I had my press conference in the “Good COP) with the Yes Men. And maybe, in the end, that was where it was supposed to happen.

I had the chance to sit down and talk with Aviva at the Klima Forum on thursday night. It was a great conversation, so look for a transcript to appear here soon!

Community Supported Theater

A model we’ve been discussing for a while at the CSPA in regards to our producing partnerships, it’s exciting to see the idea of modeling a theater on a community agriculture model. Makes sense to us since we started trying to make it so that community wasn’t a dirty word in theater anymore.

To catch you up on the discussion we picked it up through The Artful Manager this past week:

Is unprofitable theater (or other arts endeavor) a charity, a community resource, an entitlement, a labor of love, or some combination thereof? Whatever we choose as our cluster of definitions, it will be helpful to align our business models and our resource strategies accordingly.

Which led us to Flux Theatre:

I talked a little about this model, and how it might work for Flux, in the post The Metabolism of Theatre. On the surface, this idea could feel like a reframed subscriber relationship for an age that hates subscribing. For the change to be more substantive, several conceptual and practical things need to happen.

and Stolen Chair:

For the past nine months, Stolen Chair and six other artists have been developing models for economic and financial sustainability through The Field’s Economic Revitalization for Performing Artists (ERPA) program, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2008 New York City Cultural Innovation Fund.

Jon Stancato/Stolen Chair proposed a way to adapt the business plan followed by most Community Supported Agricultures (CSAs). Like the CSA model, Stolen Chair hopes to build a membership community, a “CST”, which would provide ‘seed’ money for the company’s development process and then reap a year’s worth of theatrical harvests.


Listen to the CST model presentation for ERPA’s Public Display of Invention at WNYC’s Jerome L. Green Performance Space, Sept. 21, 2009.

ERPA Clip 5 Jon Stancato/Stolen Chair Theatre Company from The Field on Vimeo.

All of this comes out of ERPA….

Economic Revitalization for Performing Artists (ERPA – pronounced ur•pah) tackles tough economic realities on two fronts: inventive public dialogues (AKA Invention Sessions) and an ambitious entrepreneurial lab. Since 2008 ERPA dialogues have engaged more than 500 artists and cultural stakeholders in topics ranging from alternative fundraising tactics, to the romanticization of the starving artist paradigm, to a smackdown exposé on the ‘new’ economy.

The Invention Sessions helped set the stage for a competitive proposal process in November 2008, from which seven projects were selected (out of 116 applicants!) to receive Planning Grants from The Field.  Each ERPA artist received a $5,000 stipend and a variety of professional development resources to support their ideas-in-progress.  After more than a year of entrepreneurial investigations, their unique approaches to financial stability were presented in a Public Display of Invention at WNYC’s The Greene Space – visit the ERPA blog for audio coverage.  View clips from the Public Display on the ERPA vimeo channel.

Pittsburgh Opera joins citys green renaissance with renovated building – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh has had a lot of attention turn its way as it has been transitioning from the heart of the steel industry and industrial epicenter to a green industry powerhouse. This is from an Article in today’s Tribune Review. Thanks to Thomas Rhodes for brining it to our attention!

Original By Thomas Olson and Kim Leonard Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Pittsburgh Opera uses the three-story brick building at Liberty Avenue and 25th Street as a headquarters with rehearsal and performance space. The opera expects to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification by years end from the U.S. Green Building Council, which already has designated seven other pre-World War II buildings in Pittsburgh.”Pittsburgh is serious about being part of the green revolution,” opera General Director Christopher Hahn said. “And we wanted to be part of that.”The citys burgeoning “green” reputation is one reason why the Obama administration chose Pittsburgh to host the Group of 20 summit for two days starting Sept. 24. The David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the worlds largest green convention building, will host the meeting of the worlds finance ministers and top government leaders.

via Pittsburgh Opera joins citys green renaissance with renovated building – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.