Nearly 125 arts presenters and performing artists from New England attended NEFA's 13th annual Idea Swap on November 13, 2014 in Worcester, MA and shared 74 tour projects throughout the day.  This was the first Idea Swap for Jamie Hook, Executive & Artistic Director, Denmark Arts Center in Denmark, Maine.  Hook presented his project Listen, Little Man! by Complicated, Inc. to all attendees.  He kindly shared a few thoughts about his first Idea Swap experience.

DJ: Why did you come to the Idea Swap?
JAMIE: As both a programmer and a working artist—heck, as an old-fashioned sensual humanist—I remain fixed to the idea that the mysteries of the organism cannot be communicated by proxy.  Thus, the chance to meet with another creature—be it a dancer, a like-minded programmer, a funder, or an advocate—are irreplaceable by other means.  The Idea Swap is a tried-and-true format, in which you may step into three dimensions with one another and dance a bit; see if you both move to the same beat.  So much of what makes art come alive within a community cannot be set down to data, but must be felt: Idea Swap gives that chance to feel.  Plus, it’s kind of like a smorgasbord for a programmer.  So many works!  So many partners!  Such gluttony!

DJ: Are there any projects that were presented at the Idea Swap that interest you for a potential New England tour?
JAMIE: Lots.  I was especially interested in some of the dance pieces, as those are so hard to get a handle on without seeing them. Better still was getting to meet other presenters, and feel out who might be a good partner for a tour. 

DJ: What was the most exciting part of the day?
JAMIE: Like all these sorts of networking events, the programmed portions are really just the negative space around the positive space of random meetings in the bagel line.  I mean no disrespect, but quite honestly, the best moments—and the most productive—were, for me, to be found in random, chance encounters between folks to whom I was drawn, moth-to-flame like.  For example, my board president had been telling me for months about Catamount Arts and its visionary founder, Jay Craven.  Voila!  He’s at Idea Swap!  Met him as I was filling up my coffee….

DJ: What were you hoping to accomplish at the Idea Swap?
JAMIE: As it was my first Idea Swap, I was just hoping to get the lay of the land, and have my small organization assume the mantle of a real live thing.  I accomplished both.  Next year will be even better.

DJ: Did the Idea Swap meet your expectations?
JAMIE: Oh, goodness: Yes.  The coffee was strong, the presentations were brief but impactful, and there was a lot of movement through the day.  Good stuff, all.  And I so appreciate your copious mini swap notes so that, when I inevitably lost mine, there was still stuff to harvest.  Thanks!

Thank you to Jamie for enthusiastically contributing to NEFA's blog. We hope to see you at the next Idea Swap!

Idea Swap photo credit: Abigail Maulion & Ann Wicks