Marcy Thompson is a woman on a mission.
Maplewood, according to Thompson, has not yet begun to plumb the depths and exploit the riches of its locally based arts community. Previously quartered in Brooklyn (but of course), Thompson said she and her husband "moved here because Maplewood was filled with artists and writers." And those artists—writers, photographers, painters, sculptors, filmmakers, actors, dancers, singers—are of the world-class variety.
Said Thompson, "This town has more going for it in the arts per capita than a lot of neighborhoods in the city." Thompson herself is a freelancer writer and former choreographer with a Masters from NYU in performance studies.
But once they arrived, said Thompson, they then had to ask themselves, "Where is everybody?" Creative types were shuttling in and out of Maplewood to the big city but had found not found a way to connect within their town of residence.
Thompson, who serves on the board of Arts Maplewood and begins her work as Maplewood Director of Cultural Affairs tomorrow, May 1, said she and Jenny Turner Hall (also a local writer) started working on a project that could tap into, network and reach out to artists in the community. "We came up with Studio B, a venue and outlet for all those people to come and see, and come and present their work and network with each other."
Studio B is "in and of and because of the rich diversity of artists who live here."
The first Studio B program takes place at The Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts tomorrow night, May 1, at 8 p.m. It's a showing of the documentary film No Impact Man, about a New Yorker who spent a year living off the grid with his wife and young daughter in the city. ($10 per ticket.) This film is not produced or directed by a Maplewoodian, said Thompson, but does "speak to" the interests of Maplewoodians who are well noted for their environmental consciousness.
At this point, Studio B is an event series, but the plan is to incorporate it as a nonprofit and solicit grant money. The next event will be a more eclectic evening titled "A Family Affair" on Friday, June 18, that will combine music, reading and photography. Studio B will also produce a children's film festival over the summer and is looking to showcase the work of local filmmakers in the fall.
Tonight's screening of No Impact Man will include a Q&A with the film's co-director and producer (colleagues of Thompson's husband who is a documentary filmmaker himself). Kari Capone of Kari's Cafe on Springfield Avenue will be running a concession. Thompson said 56 tickets have already been reserved (there are about 80 seats, but Thompson said she can squeeze in more if necessary). You can reserve tickets by emailing Thompson and find out more at the Studio B Facebook page.
Thompson has big plans The Burgdorff as well. 'We're reaching out to the Mapleowod Village Alliance" with the idea of promoting The Burgdorff through businesses and "making it more a part of the town." Thompson feels that The Burgdorff should never go dark: "We want to get people into things that have been going on in town and new things that will be happening. It should never be empty in there—whether it's performances, readings or installations."
Right now, "Jenny and I are casting a wide net" in reaching out to artists of all stripes. "We want to see what people come and who gets excited."