Nov 19, 2019

by Jean-Marie MAUCLET

As soon as artists choose to seek funding to pursue their work, they are faced with strange processes: they are required to assign a cost to each of their creative steps.

cTOO is an experiment.

We have a vision, we have a mission, we have a timeline, we have a budget. But as an experiment cTOOshould not neglect any of the steps, exchanges, anecdotes, events which unroll along the way. They are as many open-ended “in kind” contributions, added on the plus side of the ledger to assure that we will not run out of energy, feedback and inspiration.

cTOO is paid partly in Reciprocity then, this most urgent social currency in our days of viral individualism and self-aggrandizing. Making sure that when we engage in an art and culture in/with community project or any form of exchange, we will give as much as we receive, listen as much as we talk, reciprocate.

An other trait of cTOO is a consequence of Reciprocity: tacking!

Tacking: “Changing course by turning into and through” the events of the moment. cTOO is very sensitive to the moment, the context. That may be what makes us less incisive but makes room for the grassroots dimension of the work. The booklets we ask our partners to fill out are a tool for tacking. The questions asked may seem unpredictable or out of place but we dive into and through their unregulated responses and adjust course. Experimenting is as much searching as it is adjusting.

Of course, at one point, the arts must bloom and show their shapes, movements and colors. Here, in order to detour the dangers of design by committee, cTOO prefers autonomy over consensus: within budget and timeline, each cTOO participant shall remain experimental; as long as it is in collaboration with other folks, partners or participants, artists or not. And as long as sources remain open, accessible.

The last aspect of cTOO-the-experiment is that cTOO itself will open shop as a TINY business. This way, the contacts, the programs, the products, the Web App, developed over the two years become its assets. cTOO will hopefully be sustainable and continue organizing support for TINY businesses, for Art and the spirit of the arts in/with communities in Charleston, for the sake of entrepreneurship, equity, open neighborhoods. To mark the points of intersection found on the social and economic justice map, inter-generational and interracial.



“Creative Placemaking is any artistic, cultural or creative effort to strengthen a community and its existing assets.”




“Creative Placemaking is a ten year old term, and an ancient practice. What we now call the arts have always been  at the center of community life, and in support of meeting the physical, social, spiritual needs of the community. We at ROOTS have been supporting this work for 42 years, with the understanding that we are in a lineage that stretches back and back”


Alternate ROOTS


“The radical potential of public art lies not in merely bringing people together, but in making as much space for rage as for laughter; for anguish as for pleasure – and ultimately in forging transgressive and collective practices that are simultaneously critical, conflicted and hopeful.”

RIKE SITA, DURBAN South Africa in Public Art Review



“Art happens at the intersection of social and economic justice. It gives voice, open new possibilities and much more. Creative Placemaking is everywhere today, the word and activities. Is it all for the good? Why are artists accused of being gentrifiers in Brooklyn or elsewhere? Is it to include everyone in the mythical ‘Middle Class’ without sharing the Big Privilege Dream Machine?”

Charleston Rhizome Collective




conNECKtedTOO, as an Art & Culture In/With Community Project for Economic Development, is a multi-component artwork. If we understand we all belong to a community… somehow artists have to be able to listen to community, work with community, give to community… We have to try. It may not work but it will be at least a start, more than an experiment. “For us, the idea of the ArtPlace Award is that we have two years to start something; we don’t have two years to accomplish something and go fishing.” We as a Collective are at work.

We see conNECKtedTOO as a network and wish it becomes a TINY Business as well, insuring the longevity of the project, the sustainability of the network, energized by artists. Collectively we know how to dream it, imagine it, how to represent it, how to talk about it. But can we do it? “can we do it because of our search for belonging and becoming…”

PERCEPTION, the process of perceiving, becoming aware, affirming, representing, has always been part of an artist’s. “And aren’t we all artists? TINY is Beautiful!”

When the downtown BiLo closed we heard the mayor speak of “food desert”. What food desert? What were the criteria?

“What about us, TINY Businesses in that same neighborhood? Why didn’t you talk about us? Why didn’t you promote us, our vegetables, our wines, our flowers? Are we outside of the perception of our governing bodies? too small to be considered?” 

conNECKtedTOO is anchored in art, culture and the history that is not publicly told. We, artists, believe in exploration and the power of collaboration with educators and activists.“What kind of unique artistic initiatives may come out? What kind of energy and excellence? What kind of performances? We believe in questions as an art form.”

We believe in telling, re-telling, re-presenting, dancing, singing stories. We believe in creating new approaches to dialogue. We seek shared ownership. “We believe in respect before marketing. We take challenges, avoid appropriations.”

“Employees need more than money…..  The work of an artist can be/add anything …..”

        “My overall goal is to create an environment/ model for visual artists

to have a sustainable (Profitable) practice within the community.  I do not know any artists, in Charleston or elsewhere, that can live off of their artmaking alone.  We all have other gigs to support ourselves financially, which hopefully don’t sap us of energy so we can still create art off the clock, and if we are lucky, the gig is at least somehow related to the ‘art field.’   We all know that art is a necessary and important part of culture. It is reflective of the cultural climate and essential in that it provides a platform to question, investigate, approach ideas from another perspective.  A simple foundation, it provides the means for growth and the flow of information from one system to another. This model will need to be integrated into the charleston community through engagement from/with all walks of life here- other artists, performers, businesses, public office, students, tourists, etc. Not corporate or hierarchical, artists and community members need to be united in the same goal.   If art is for everyone, then support and collaboration are key.”  Morgan KINNE