Intern Amy Tsai writes about the Long Center’s community focus, including an interview with Tapestry Dance Company‘s Matt Shields about the Sole2Soul Festival Showcase, June 14-15 in the Rollins Studio Theatre.
I knew I wanted to give back to Austin’s creative community even before I started my internship search. As a musician and a dancer, the arts have given me so much – my greatest obstacles, my greatest triumphs, and my greatest mentors and friends. I don’t wish to now live a selfishly artistic life centered on what I can gain or achieve. As a result, the Long Center’s internship program quickly became my preferred summer destination. The Long Center is a non-profit organization that dedicates itself to not just celebrating the arts, but the arts for all. The Long Center’s community-orientated focus, which includes the Long Reach for the Arts, a program for giving free tickets to schools and local organizations, attracted me in a way no other organization did.
As a current intern, I’ve learned about another wonderful Long Center program. Since it was established in 2007, the Redd Carpet Fund has awarded over $300,000 to 54 Austin arts organizations. Through the Redd Carpet Fund, the Long Center underwrites a portion of production costs primarily in the Rollins Studio Theatre. Small performing groups are so important in facilitating a diverse Austin arts scene. My own dance teacher is a member of a company that does not own a performance venue, and she is one of the most expressive and dynamic dancers I’ve ever had the opportunity to learn from. Austinites would miss out if small organizations could not perform or get the word out due to expensive venue costs.
This weekend’s Soul2Sole Festival Showcase, presented by Tapestry Dance Company, a Long Center Resident Company, is the latest performance subsidized by the Redd Carpet Fund. I had the honor of speaking with Tapestry’s Assistant Artistic Director Matt Shields about their electrifying showcase and the Rollins Studio Theatre.
Amy Tsai: What are some exciting things we’ll be seeing at the Sole2Soul Festival Showcase?
Matt Shields: It’s a really diverse group of some of the finest tap dancers that we have on this planet…all right here in Austin, Texas. It’s that time of year when all the tap dancers come to town!
AT: What are you most looking forward to about the festival?
MS: The hang – it’s a small-knit community. The tap community is now global, but it’s such a family-orientated dance alumni. When we all get together, it’s something rare.
AT: What is your favorite thing about performing in the Rollins Studio Theatre?
MS: The Rollins is a unique space. It gives the audience a very intimate look at what we do. They’re right there. Mere feet separate the audience from the performer. It really brings them right into that world.
AT: How does the performance venue make a difference when it comes to shows like Tapestry’s Soul2Sole Festival Showcase?
MS: Being that it’s an intimate space, it’s very live. You’re not going to miss anything in that space. From the performer’s perspective, it’s also nice because the audience is so easy to reach. It’s not hard to look somebody in the eye; it’s a great space to make a connection.
AT: Why do you think programs like the Redd Carpet Fund are so important?
MS: It makes it easier for an organization like ours to get into the space which makes our work more accessible to the public. It really allows more time and more resources into addressing the community and getting the community to come and experience what’s happening in Austin.
Support for the Redd Carpet Fund helps open the door to such a creative experience… for performers and audiences alike.
You’ll be sure to connect with Tapestry’s Matt Shields – and the rest of the global tap community – at the Sole2Sole Festival Showcase, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
—Amy Tsai, Marketing & Development Intern