David Johnston, Executive Director of Exploring the Metropolis (EtM)

David Johnston, Executive Director of Exploring the Metropolis (EtM)

This month's Artist Commissioning Program podcast asks, "What is it like to be a cultural gatekeeper?", featuring an exclusive interview with David Johnston, Executive Director of Exploring the Metropolis (EtM) and ACP Advisory Council Member

We thought David was the perfect person to talk to because he's been on both sides of the gate: as an arts administrator, facilitating panels for the organization's performing arts programs, as well an artist, applying for opportunities--and yes, even receiving the occasional rejection letter (it happens to all of us)!

David can also speak to all three of ACP's disciplines: EtM's residencies focus on space for choreographers and composers, while his personal practice includes playwrighting. 

The idea that we are going to cultivate and develop and train future art producers and commissioners is kind of fascinating.
— David Johnston, ACP Advisory Council Member

In the latest episode, David and I unpack:

  • How artists are chosen for opportunities 

  • What makes panelists tick (and cringe)

  • What makes a good ACP application 

  • How to democratize the commissioning process

All this is done with the help of real, live excerpts taken from the inaugural ACP panel. You'll hear the art producers, who selected the four winning applications, talk about applications done well, and what didn't work so well.

how are applications evaluated, anyway?

The latest episode walks listeners through three of the ACP evaluation criteria that are pretty universal to all artist opportunities: 

1. Artistic quality of previous work

        What are the merits of the artists' existing body of work? And how do you talk about artistic quality, especially when the nature of            the discipline and/project is very abstract?

2. Quality, clarity, and artistic merit of the proposed project

         When evaluating new work that doesn't exist yet, the merits of the proposed project become an entirely other consideration. Why             does this work need to be created? Is it clear what you're trying to do? 

3. Overall project feasibility 

         Is this thing even possible to do? Maybe it's a great project, but how are you going to get it done? As David and I discuss, half the                 battle is simply showing you're aware of any potential obstacles that may arise.

Want to know more?

Want to know more about how ACP selects its candidates? Download the Artist Scoring Criteria Worksheet for Panelists - otherwise known as handout we give to our art producers to help guide their decision-making process.