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Roving Reporter: Boston Media, Arts & Ideas Mixer

Last Monday evening, the back room of Brattle Street’s Beat Brew Hall transformed into the second Boston Media, Arts & Ideas Mixer. Over drinks, popcorn, and pretzels, the event brought together creative individuals from the Boston area — across all academic and professional disciplines — in a vibrant, friendly, and inclusive environment. It fostered conversations about past accomplishments, current projects, and future ideas, and served to introduce creators (in many forms) to potential future collaborators. This Roving Reporter spoke to some of the mixer’s attendees to learn more about them and about Boston’s creative scene.

James C. Hamet, Boston-area resident and professional

RR: What brings you here tonight?

JH: I have a background in science — I have academic training as an electrical engineer and I now work in neuroscience. To me, science is art. But I see all these people, coming from visual arts, performing arts, music. That type of energy is what I want to see in science. I think that if you’re a scientist, that doesn’t mean you only do science. I think you can do lots of things. By integrating myself in this community and encouraging others to do [so], we can benefit from getting the energy that this community has, and give our own energy back.

RR: What do you think of the intersectionality between arts and science?

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JH: I think that you can’t really have science without art, just as you can’t have art without science. We’re constantly seeing how technology is being used in art, but it’s not just that artists now have new tools. Having the energy and vision of an artist changes how you do science. It gives it direction.

Emma K. M. Watson and Mayu Asukai, students

RR: What kind of creative work do you do?

EW: I’m a senior at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, studying film and video. I’ve done narrative, documentary, experimental [films]...and I’ve been gravitating towards video installation. One project I’ve done is called “Head, Hands and Feet,” using three 10 inch cathode-ray televisions with footage from infomercials as a reflection on advertisement culture over the years.

MA: I’m [a student] at Suffolk University, studying film and media production. I don’t have a lot of experience but I’m learning editing and everything related to production. I’m also volunteering with the MPC (Massachusetts Production Coalition) and with IFF (Independent Film Festival) Boston.

RR: How has your experience with Boston’s creative scene been so far?

EW: I think it’s been overall positive. It’s not like L.A. or New York, but I feel a sense of upward momentum. The MPC used to have one Hollywood production per year. Now, they have eight. There’s this big surge of creativity here, where people want to connect with each other and get out of their bubbles, created over the years for various reasons.

MA: When I first came here, I went to school, went home, and that was it. But now, I’ve been trying to step out of my comfort zone with my friends, and since, I’ve been learning a lot from events and from people. It’s been great, generally!

Allison T. Tanenhaus ’05, artist and professional

RR: What creative work do you do?

AT: I’m a writer by profession and experience. After college I worked for an independent film company in Waltham and an online video startup, but then I returned to writing through marketing and communications. I had to leave writing to want to come back to it. What has recently sparked my interest, however, is my digital art. I had a lot of friends who were graphic designers. Seeing that, I could parlay my love of words into art by learning typography. I’ve put business cards around town, as a street artist, and in the process of photographing that, I’ve gotten into image manipulation.

RR: Have you been attending events like these often? How is Boston like for this scene?

AT: A little bit. There’s this event called Network After Work which does speed-networking — you meet a lot of people. I’m from New York originally, and I feel like it’s less saturated here. There’s a nice balance — I don’t feel like I have to choose between 20 things to do every night. I’m also able to go to events and see people I’ve met before. I’m able to foster connections and to know the community, as opposed to feeling like I’m on the outside or that I’ll never be good enough. The arts scene is very welcoming — there’s something with Boston in that there’s so much science, and academia, and education. There’s also so much “fancy” art, but I’m also seeing indie artists coming together. What’s nice about Boston is that there are so many learning opportunities — it’s pretty energizing. People aren’t snooty or competitive here.

Clifford C. Anderson, host and organizer

RR: What do you do?

CA: I have had two primary careers in my background. I currently compose music for media: film, games — any media, really. I’m very passionate about that. The other part of my background, which I find relevant in a cross-disciplinary way, is enterprise software development. That, in turn, was inspired by my studies at Hampshire College, which was very much interdisciplinary in its approach, and takes as a basic premise that if you’re interested in things, what if you cultivated all of those? What if that makes you distinctive in your fields because of what you can bring from other realms?

RR: How did you come about organizing this event?

CA: There were a couple of things: I was really inspired by what I had seen in other cities around the media, arts and entertainment industries. In L.A. and New York, there’s a lot happening in community-building. In the Boston area there are similar events in individual disciplines — but what I didn’t see was [anything] cross-disciplinary. There were major players in different realms but there was nothing that was bringing together people who might have a natural fit.

RR: Are you planning to continue with these mixer events in the future?


CA: Absolutely. This is our second event; the first two have been experimental, in so much that I wasn’t sure who might turn up. I haven’t promoted it very much. It’s been more like, “What if I posted this in a couple of places, told a few people… What would happen?” After two events, I’m convinced there is definitely an interest in this, and it might be worth promoting on a more rigorous, organized basis. It’s all done out of the spirit of wanting to help people.

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