SPACE: The importance of cultivating creative environments for writers.
“Personal space.” “Claiming space.” “Safe space.”
All of these expressions inspire feelings of safety, empowerment, freedom, imagination. And they all speak to the power of space. Give the same word to 100 writers, and you’ll never find the same idea twice. But the following is undeniable: All writers need space where they can feel inspired, supported, and free to explore.
That’s the founding philosophy behind the DGF Music Hall. Our salon-style rehearsal space has all the resources a writer might need: a conference table and chairs, music stands, a state-of-the-art projector, surround sound system, a small theatrical library, and a baby grand piano (donated by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty).
What makes us most proud, however, is that we’re able to offer this space for free thanks to the generosity of the Grisham Foundation and the beloved late Carol Hall (Best Little Whorehouse in Texas).
“ From the first moment I walked in the Music Hall, I felt a warm and safe energy. It was the perfect place for my collaborator and me to explore our script without the pressures of the outside world.”
— Nolan Doran Lyricist, Bookwriter WOODY – A New Fairytale, Honor and Family
When you strip away the piano, the sound system, the library… what’s most important about the Music Hall is the space. That’s the real luxury.
The Dramatists Guild Foundation is located in midtown Manhattan, an area where real estate is priced by what seems like the millimeter. And for many writers, budgeting for rehearsal space is stressful, renting a separate office space is often impossible, and working from a cafe is an unreliable option. All of these present limitations. It’s hard enough to get into a creative flow without someone’s latte dangerously tipping near your laptop, overhearing a primetime-worthy breakup at the table over, or choosing between renting space and eating breakfast.
This is particularly true in New York City, but the same can be said of anywhere that creative communities struggle to connect and thrive because of fiscal or physical constraints.
When it comes to space, of course it’s about cost, but it’s more about the value for these artists.
“As an emerging writer, the greatest cost of my craft is simply space. We live in New York City where real estate is the hottest commodity, and every writer in the room at [my] reading came up to me afterwards to ask what the catch was. How could DGF just give space away? I hope you’ve all had the opportunity to see a writer’s face light up when they are told that there is no catch.”
-Alex Rubin, Playwright, Lyricist, Bookwriter The Actual Paucci, Dear Diary
Moreover, for writers with a dedicated space to work, the quality of output is much higher.
From the point of view of traditional corporate settings, the ability of those in creative fields to work from home may be enviable. But we would challenge that mindset with a brutally candid question: when you work from home, are you expected to work from home well?
And let’s not forget the gifts that collaboration and co-working can bring.
Without space, a writer can not easily share their words with other artists. With actors, audience, producers, even other writers. This is a critical step in the creative process. Where a new work leaves the vacuum of writer and page and enters the space of the world, where it can, hopefully, find a home.
We are endlessly impressed by the work being developed in the Music Hall.
Because of access to space, the work of artists like Cara Reichel and Peter Mills has been nurtured and transformed into wildly successful works like Hello, Girls. The Music Hall helped Bobby Cronin and Crystal Skillman create Mary and Max. Every day, new productions join us to discover, share, and experiment on new pieces (some of which you can see on our Instagram feed).
This buzzing energy of creation in the office inspires our own work as an organization. We are passionate about the benefits of the Music Hall on both practical and creative levels, so our challenge to you is…
What spaces can you establish? Where can you encourage writing to happen?
We’re living in the Share Economy. From AirBnB to Lyft and co-working communities, people are increasingly willing to open up their spaces and to open up their lives to others.
And you certainly don’t need a baby grand and a wall of books to offer enormous value to writers.
Maybe your office has some scratch paper and an empty conference room a couple times per week.
Maybe your empty nest craves a community, and your own living room could host a salon-style reading once a month!
Perhaps you’re a small theater company whose volunteer base could monitor before or after-hours access to a writing group. (Our own Music Hall operations would be nearly impossible without the aid of our incredible volunteers).
People are everywhere. And thus, writers are everywhere. When we consider the amazing things that have come out of our space, we get excited to ponder what could come out of other communities. You have the opportunity to cultivate work like this. To stimulate your local art scene. To awaken your own creative pursuits.
Think what could happen if more writers could take creative journeys and get lost in space, rather than having the space simply be lost. That’s a world we want to live in!
For more information about the DGF Music Hall, visit https://dgf.org/programs/music-hall/