Name: Tara Lindsey Gordon
Title: co-founder/co-artistic director of The Requiem Project: Emery Theatre
Neighborhood: Mt. Adams, as of June 2011. (I just relocated from New York City.)
What do you do?
I am one of the co-founders of The Requiem Project: Emery Theatre. In 2008, my business partner, Tina Manchise, and I started a site-specific non-profit, The Requiem Project, with the mission to re-open The Emery as an interdisciplinary arts venue. It is the theatre’s centennial, and this project is about preserving a theatre that has withstood 100 years and also creating a space unlike others in Cincinnati, both in aesthetic and programs. The example art centers we have been looking toward are those we frequent, such as BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), the old Zipper Factory, Cyclorama/Beehive… this list is long. Our past three years have been devoted to a stability plan and artistic direction. The vision is a space that centralizes on collaborations of mediums including music, theatre, dance and film, with a 1400-1600 seat acoustically pure theatre as the heart of the building. There will be gallery spaces, a wine bar and a 5,000-square-foot event flexible space that opens to a garden terrace. The Requiem Project is not only the re-opening of a theatre, but just as importantly an aspect of the programming is an Artistic Enrichment and Education Center, a space that supports artists in all stages of development.
Why do you do it?
Tina and I believe meaningful artistic interactions create community. At its core, The Emery is about sound; it is one of three acoustically pure theatres still standing in the country. The core of my and Tina’s work is about voice, and offering opportunities for artists to “say what they have to say,” because artists have rare and specific voices. We borrow this statement all the time from Bill T. Jones, but creating art is placing a stake in the future, imagining something that cannot yet be seen, but will change perspectives; the inclusion of artistic experience in daily life is a preservation of imagination. The Emery will be another place for creative possibility and interaction in Cincinnati. One hundred years ago, Mary Emery bequeathed the building to the city for those purposes. Her desire was to preserve a venue for “civic betterment,” and the confines of her will bind the building to always serve the city in that capacity. Mrs. Emery believed that music makes community and that voices should be heard, and it is an honor to revive her mission.
Cincinnati was not on my map. I am from Boston and moved to New York City when I was 18 and thought I would stay forever. When I started working and developing relationships in Cincinnati, I realized how warm, creative and smart the people I had been meeting are; I am continually grateful to the people who have helped me with my transition. I am still homesick for aspects of living in New York City, like not having to parallel park and being able to buy wine on Sundays, but my experiences here has been incredibly rewarding, and working on The Emery means I get to do exactly what I have always wanted to do.
What do you love about the city?
The people. I just spent this weekend talking to such dynamic people: Chris Hoeting, Missy Lay Zimmer and Eric Vosmeier… John Senhauser, Kevin Reynolds, Katherine Durack, Sarah Corlett, Margy Waller. This project has invited a lot of introductions to extraordinary individuals. I am so happy here.
What are you trying to change about the city?
That is not really on my radar. I miss aspects of a bigger city, but I did not move to Cincinnati to change Cincinnati. I think The Emery will be a lovely addition.
I would like to open the doors to The Emery, and then I would like to take a nap.
In a town the size of Cincinnati, it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking for, and finding, only familiar faces. That’s where this issue of Soapbox comes in.