Open Door Collectives

Thoughts on artists, FTH:K and particle accelerators

The internet is a good place for ideas. It’s sort of like that Hadron Collider thingy, smashing bits together at high speed to see what does or doesn’t come out. Here’s an interesting sentence I tripped over in an article on New York theatre troupe Superhero Clubhouse:

“Superhero Clubhouse describes themselves an open door collective, embracing both the value of longstanding relationships as well as the transient nature of artists.”

I’ve seen a number of companies get formed and break up. This week I heard the official news that FTH:K was losing two more of its key people: Rob Murray and Liezl de Kock, who’ll be heading out to work with Ubom! in the Eastern Cape (their blog for more about this). The company is emphatically not breaking up, but it does put the question of its future into the scrum. But there definitely will be a future.

As captured in the quote, artists are transient. They like collaborating and creating, they don’t like repetition. After 6 years it’s probably time for a change – it’s good for the company and good for the artist. Much like the particles in that super collider thingy, artists need to move about and come into contact with new ideas and people at high speed if they’re going to change (I’d say grow, but that’d definitely be mixing up the analogy).

Like Superhero Clubhouse, our institutions need to understand artists and let them move, the problem being that for any company less than 10 years old it is a monthly, weekly, daily struggle to survive. Finding funding is hard. Even what we think of as established companies like Magnet and FTH:K aren’t immune. What will happen when the founders move on? Will there still be a company?

FTH:K has always emphasized the management side of its operations. It has everything in place to continue, having mentored and nurtured the next wave of its ranks to take over. Could this be the first South African ‘open door collective’ in a truly sustainable sense? The next couple of years will tell, but I have faith in the staying power of a good idea well executed.