Creative Community For The Common Good

A few weeks back I was privileged to sit with trustworthy friends and wrestle, yet again, to find the smallest, most potent words to describe what Art House means. This kind of exercise has played out many times in the last twenty years. We’ve been trying to put our vision into words since we first imagined the place and purpose that became The Art House home in Nashville, and our non-profit, Art House America. As we like to say, the name Art House designates place, while Art House America is an organizational title.

The new batch of language-tinkering was precipitated by a vision for an Art House Dallas. Specifically, an Art House in the Munger Place historic district. New, enthusiastic hearts from Dallas had entered the Art House America story. We needed to be of like mind and mission. In Nashville, we don’t get asked, "What is Art House?" as often as we used to. If you embody something for twenty years, it takes a little of the burden off explanation.  

Our Dallas team, though — folks like Jenny White, Brad Reeves, and Kate Miner — are going to have to use words, at least for a little while. So we came up with a new answer to the question, “Tell me, what’s the Art House about?”

It’s about: Cultivating creative community for the common good — encouraging everyone to live imaginative and meaningful lives.

That’s as true a description as we’ve ever come up with. I like it.  

I’m from Sutter County in northern California. That’s farmland. I know something about cultivation. It’s about setting the stage for good to happen. If you respect the soil, you increase your chances of bearing good fruit. A farm is nothing if not a creative community of people bringing good things into being that did not exist before. It’s done for the good of all. When a peach goes to market, it’s no respecter of persons. It exists for the common good. A peach’s desire for you is simple: eat, enjoy, be enriched, and nourished.

Like a farm that nurtures good health, Art House America is in the business of cultivating creative people who bring good health to people and planet. Sometimes these creative people are artists in the most traditional sense — makers of music, theater, films, dance, paintings, and metalwork. You know the kind. With the word “art” in our name you know we take this seriously. Just as important, though, is our work of encouraging everyone, in everything, to live imaginative and meaningful lives. We really do believe that every human being is made to be a creative contributor, to play his or her role in the artful, meaningful life of caring for people and planet. We really do believe, along with C.S. Lewis, that the imagination is the “organ of meaning,” and that its fruit is creativity of every kind.   

What’s the Art House about? It’s about: Cultivating creative community for the common good — encouraging everyone to live imaginative and meaningful lives. Good start, Dallas! You’re on your way.

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Charlie is a record producer, Sr. VP of A&R for Twenty Ten Music, and Co-Founder of Art House America.