Germantown Artists Roundtable brainstorms Hidden City participation ideas

Wednesday night’s Germantown Artists Roundtable meeting featured updates on upcoming events including reopening the old Town Hall to reimagining Maplewood Mall.

Hidden City organizer Jeremy Beaudry spoke about artist-participation possibilities for the upcoming festival, which will open the old Town Hall building on Germantown Avenue on Thursday through the end of June.

Reviving a forgotten building

Beaudry discussed that building’s conditions at the Roundtable’s monthly meeting, which was held at BuildaBridge International’s headquarters on Tulpehocken Street.

“It’s as if the world ended and everyone disappeared,” Beaudry said, describing abandoned spaces where papers and cups still rest on desks.

He invited Roundtable members to provide art or musical entertainment during the six weeks that the festival will turn the white edifice into “Germantown City Hall.”

Beaudry said he hopes that Germantown residents — who can enjoy the Town Hall site for free during the six-week stretch — will activate the space by holding meetings, workshops and performances.

A major “asset” of Hidden City, which lets the public experience otherwise dormant or abandoned structures, is the “broad audience” it will bring to Germantown, which joins eight other sites for the Festival this year, he said.

“There’s some good energy that comes with the festival,” Beaudry added. “We hope the Artists Roundtable could be a conduit for [Hidden City] artists.”

Roundtable organizer Paula Paul then urged attendees to brainstorm ways to participate.

“If that were our City Hall,” she said, “what would we want to have going on inside it?”

Those interested in scheduling time in the space, as well as those who’d like to contribute art for two-day rotations in a Town Hall gallery, or outdoor exhibitions, can e-mail info@gtowncityhall.net, or call (575) 446-3676.

Wyck events

Bob McKee, a programming and outreach staffer at Wyck House and Historic Germantown, was there to invite Roundtable members to four free, day-long Wyck festivals over the next several months.

This year’s program, which starts July 13, includes a “Summertime Collections” theme focusing on the site’s historic artifacts with special events on Aug. 10 and Sept. 7. It will conclude with a fall harvest event that celebrates “Nature’s Curiosities.”

“It’s about tying history to the contemporary urban community in Germantown,” McKee said, inviting Roundtable artists to participate as vendors or musical entertainers.

Reviving a forgotten walkway

Paul then brought the group up to speed on the June 22 “Re-Imagining Maplewood Mall” event.

Organizers hope to draw magicians, musicians, a drum-circle and jugglers for the 4:30 – 8:30 p.m. event for which art galleries in at least two buildings will be opening their doors. Local restaurants and food trucks will also get in on the act.

Ongoing bylaws discussion

The artists spent the meeting’s final hour discussing the group’s new bylaws, which were developed by a committee of volunteers.

“We’ve been operating by sheer energy — positive energy — for the past year,” Paul said.

Bylaws-committee member Conni Bille noted that most new organizations can choose one of two models: a board of directors which controls elections and general members, or a board that operates at the pleasure of the membership.

Membership-controlled organizations are often “messier, but more resilient,” she said.

Build-a-Bridge co-founder and Roundtable organizer Dr. Vivian Nix-Early led the conversation during which attendees discussed levels of membership, benefits, nominations and elections. They also fine-tuned the existing mission and goal statements.

“Now that was sweat equity,” one member remarked as the meeting ended.

The Roundtable usually meets at 7pm on the third Wednesday of every month at the Build-a-Bridge headquarters. However, next month, the group will take advantage of Hidden City’s Germantown City Hall for its meeting, time and date TBA.

For more information, e-mail gtartistrt@gmail.com.

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