TBA'S LATE-NIGHT performance venue the Works was inspired much in the same way as TBA itself—by hanging around European arts festivals. Attending a number of such congregations, TBA founder Kristy Edmunds discovered a familiar element: Each would host a late-night salon for artists, curators, and industry folk to meet, drink, share ideas, and carouse.
"[Edmunds] didn't want to create an experience that was rarefied for an elitist group of people," says Kristan Kennedy, PICA's visual art program director, so the Works invited the audience as well. Its programming—mostly music and other lively performance arts—provides a nightcap for each festival day. But those in attendance are just as likely to be chewing the fat outside in the beer garden as watching the show.
"There's nothing artists like to do more than hang out and drink and talk until the wee hours of the morning," Kennedy says. "So you kind of build a house for that to happen in."
And over TBA's eight years, the house has popped up all over town.
There was AudioCinema in Southeast, the Wonder Ballroom, the Leftbank on N Broadway, and last year's revelation, Washington High on SE 14th. With its 600 seat, balconied auditorium, multiple levels, and countless nooks and crannies, the long-shuttered brick school became a magnet.
"You go into a public building like a high school and everyone knows what to do," says Kennedy. "Even if you didn't go to a high school like that, you know how to get in, you know how to run through the halls. There were 50-year-old people shoving each other in lockers. It was just like teenage wasteland in there."
Add the surrounding field and the space becomes almost unpoliceable, which is surely a concern for PICA's staff—they don't want the Works to be a party for party's sake.
"I think we would kill it if that's what it became," Kennedy says. "We had the Dada Ball for years and it became this animal. Everybody loved it, but it turned into a fetish rave and 90 percent of the people there didn't know what PICA was. And even though the party was very successful and a good fundraiser—it's not what we're about. If it's not connected to the experience of the full range of what we're presenting, I think it will go away. Or change, or shift into something else."
The Works, Washington High School, 531 SE 14thMore TBA:10 Articles Here>>>