Nonstop creatively evolves, again
- Published: January 21, 2010
In autumn of 2008 a group of former Antioch College faculty, staff and students launched Nonstop Antioch, a radical educational experiment aimed at preserving the traditions and values of the college even after the campus was closed. The effort, supported by the college alumni board, offered classes and workshops to both traditional and non-traditional students in village churches, homes and cafés.
A little more than a year later, the college is back. But the creative thinkers behind what became known as the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute see their mission as continuing, having evolved into a nonprofit group that offers educational and cultural enrichment to the village of Yellow Springs.
“Nonstop is a small boat that can turn fast and move fast,” said Brian Springer, one of the three-member Nonstop Institute executive collective, in a recent interview. “There’s been lots of discussion about an arts center in town and we thought, let’s enact that. Let’s provide a grounded example of what kind of arts can take place.”
The newest Nonstop project, an artist residency called “Open Village/Open Spaces” will kick off with a gala and fundraiser this Saturday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m. with an evening of music, dance and performance at the Nonstop space at 305 N. Walnut.
The evening, which is free and open to the public, will also include a silent auction. Organizers, who are also seeking grant funding, hope the event raises funds necessary to enable Nonstop to plan ahead for future projects.
The event will include dancing by Jill Becker and Colleen Leonardi, who will be improvising with local soprano Jennifer Gilchrist and photographer Dennie Eagleson; a reading of new work by Louise Smith; music by the local band MINK; and drawings by Wesley Berg.
Also on display will be installations by Orion Barrett, Linda Diec and Amy Koenig, the three Columbus artists selected for the “Open Village/Open Spaces” residencies.
Nonstop chose to sponsor six-week artist residencies in order to provide a more in-depth experience than those most often available in the arts community, according to organizers.
“This is relationship building rather than a one-time event,” said Nonstop member Migiwa Orimo. “This is an organization that adds depth to what’s already going on. That’s what excites me.”
Organizers also are excited about the networking opportunities provided by bringing Columbus artists to town. They hope the event will provide opportunities for local artists to meet those from outside the community, as well as bring to town the Columbus friends and colleagues of the featured artists, several of whom plan to attend Saturday night.
The project also provides an opportunity to make use of the Nonstop space, a large, formerly unused area in Millworks. Last year, guided by former New York City set designer and Nonstop member Michael Casselli, Nonstop participants spent several months working to transform the area into usable offices, a library and meeting rooms. Now that the college is back, the use of the space has changed, and continues to evolve.
“We wanted to keep the space lively,” said Nonstop executive collective member Chris Hill. “This is a creative solution to wanting to share the space.”
What direction Nonstop would take was not clear when the alumni board stopped funding the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute last summer, when, after plans for a revived college were finalized, the initial purpose for the group diminished. However, Nonstop members still saw a need for the sort of intellectual and cultural enrichment in the village that Nonstop Presents!, a series of events in 2009, had provided. And Nonstop members, who had worked intensely together to launch and maintain the initial effort, wanted to continue their collaboration.
“Over the last two years I learned this is a group of people who are do-ers,” Orimo said. “That builds trust.”
In August 2009 the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute became the Nonstop Institute incorporated as a nonprofit group. They have applied for, but not yet received, their IRS 501(c)3 status.
The group chose to continue its former leadership model of a three-person collective, composed now of Springer, Hill and Casselli. Board members are Otha Davenport, president; Joan Horn, vice president; Don Wallace, treasurer; Carole Braun, secretary; and Orimo. Working members are Jill Becker, C.T. Chen, Iveta Jusova, Tim Noble, Nevin Mercede and Dan Reyes, along with the collective members.
The “Open Spaces” gala is the formal launch of Nonstop, which has already sponsored a variety of cultural events in the village. In December, the group presented environmentalist and performance artist Mike Bonano of the Yes Men, who dialogued with the group via Skype. It has also launched a series of Sunday evening salons on current topics, the most recent a discussion of open source software by Noble and Chen. And Nonstop offers to any interested persons a reading group, which will focus on “Education and Public Intellectual Practice,” which will meet biweekly beginning on Friday, Jan. 29, at 4 p.m. They also plan an upcoming film series, along with a photography workshop.
For more information about the reading group and other events, log on to http://www.nonstopinstitute.org.
Nonstop organizers see themselves as complementing the efforts of the newly-revived Antioch College, and they hope to collaborate with the college, and potentially with Antioch University McGregor, on future efforts. They also see themselves as offering opportunities for future Antioch College students to interact with villagers, continuing the Nonstop tradition of building bridges between campus and community.
Most of all, the group of artists, educators and cultural workers want to keep stirring the pot of intellectual and artistic stimulation that they believe both feeds the village and themselves.
“We want to stay in Yellow Springs, and in order to do that, we need to feel nourished,” Hill said. “This is a way to do that.”