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Review for CounterPulse, San Francisco, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I write to express my appreciation for CounterPULSE and all of the tremendous work this organization does on behalf of San Francisco artists. As a 2007 winter artist-in-residence at CounterPULSE I was the fortunate recipient of truly top-notch artistic support. My goal in applying for the residency at CounterPULSE was to take my work to the next level. Though it sounds clichéd, "taking work to the next level" is paramount, especially for those of us who make movement-based performance, who tend to languish for longer than we would like in that category labeled "emerging." At CounterPULSE, I was treated as a real, valid, adult, professional artist. Yes, I was creating new work during the residency, so there was some emerging going on, but the residency validated that emergence as the well-thought-out evolution of a body of work that already exists. CounterPULSE Executive Director Jessica Robinson is joy to work with. She is a rare find: a fully committed arts producer/administrator. She is thoughtful, intelligent, organized, and most important to an artist-in-residence, available. The production support I received from CounterPULSE was unparalleled. We had regular production meetings with Jessica and other (wonderful, competent, professional) staff members. Things got done. Calls got made. We received reminders about deadlines (from which most of us artists benefit greatly). The minutiae that can weigh an artist down like rocks in her pockets and keep her from emerging were taken care of, or at least made less daunting. Jessica and Marielle Amrhein helped me prioritize, which was definitely on my list of goals. And the first priority during the residency was the work. Every production meeting, no matter how pressing the other items on the checklist, always started with Jessica asking: "So, how is the work coming?" Even when the answer to that question was a terrifying gaze into the abyss, its asking always lifted my spirits. In addition to the production meetings, built into the residency was the expectation that we (my fellow artist-in-residence and I) set aside time to watch and share feedback on each other's work. This kind of thing does not happen enough in this community, in which we are all so busy making work and making a living. We had one of these sessions before the work felt quite ready (always an important leap) and one about a week and a half before the show. We used the critical response method, again facilitated by Jessica, with every CounterPULSE staff member present who could be there. This wide rang of viewpoints was especially valuable. In the residency, I developed a new work Crying in Public. It was a success. Its success was a direct result of the fact that I got to create and rehearse it in the actual theater in which I performed it. Rehearsing in the performance space is a rare luxury in this country. Another rare luxury in this country is monetary compensation for artistic work. In addition to receiving free and discounted space, I actually received considerable financial compensation. I got to pay my director and myself well for the hard work. This was definitely "the next level." One of the other components of the residency that helped me emerge into new territory was the requirement that I teach a workshop. I had been wanting to teach performance for quite some time and had a lot of ideas. Teaching the workshop as part of my CounterPULSE residency forced me to articulate these ideas. Now I have teaching experience, a great step toward artistic sustainability. Had it not been for the winter CounterPULSE residency, I might still be vaguely pondering that step toward teaching. Working with CounterPULSE helped me articulate and achieve my artistic goals and create new ones. The support I received there has helped me not only to emerge, but to build. While this is a continual process for any artist, it feels great to have made tangible progress. I could not have made that progress, and it certainly would have been less tangible, without Jessica Robinson and the rest of the CounterPULSE staff.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the increased vitality of the community it serves.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

always helpful, curious and capable.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

make a real difference to artists and activists who would share the wealth.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


Role:  Client Served & I was a resident artist.