franklin school dc


Home for Creative Industries

From coalition fan François Smit in Berlin:

Franklin School Center for Creative Industries

I was thinking of a cultural center that services and supports the needs of the Creative Industries. A service center that supports artists in 

a) finding jobs, 

b) getting their jobs done, 

c) furthering their education, 

d) supporting the promotion of these artists.

And this is how it could work:

Artists of the different areas (performance, figurative, literary etc.) join a sort of Co-op. They become Members of the School, with a little card, and a membership number. Let's do this hypothetically.

I am a painter, and I need to prepare a website so that I can publicize my works a little more. I do not know exactly how to do this, so I go to the Franklin School. There, the administration has contacts to Lawyers who work with the co-operative. These lawyers are specialized in copyright issues. With my membership card, I go to these lawyers and (ideally at reduced rates) can talk to the lawyer how best I can ensure my copyright on my new website. After this, I go back to the school - and ask for a list of contacts of Website programmers (also members, or people who work with the school). I go to them, and they have a few ideas about how best to make my website, and go at it. On the website, there are also the dates of my next exhibition, which will be held at the school. At the end of the month, I get an account for the services I used over the school - and my website is finished, done, and I am preparing my exhibition.

I have a car dealership, and I would like to make a short advertisement for the local TV station for my car company. Whilst doing so, I would like a new concept for all my posters, and advertising. I contact the Franklin School, and they put me in touch with some of their members that could be of help to me. Smaller TV production companies, design companies, actors and even a composer to compose my new jingle. I organize for them all to meet, and explain the pitch they should prepare for me... This is however only one possibility to get this all done. I could also simply tell the school what I want, and ask them to prepare the pitch for me - and in the end I simply get my invoice from the school, which - because it is a cultural institution of further education etc. gets reduced taxes for me... So even as a non-member I can use the administration of the arts center as a support pillar.

I am a musician, and I am preparing for an audition. The call for the auditions I read on the website of the Franklin School, where they have a complete list of things happening for all the arts areas. I rent a practice room from the School for the time, and am very happy that it is possible for me to practice on a Grand Piano, before I hit the Audition piano.

So for members, and non-members, you get the idea.

The Administration of the School is occupied in physical offices on site. There is a speciality office, for each area of the Creative Industries - be it Creatives (Artists, Actors, Musicians), or Creative Economists (Fashion, TV Production, Websites). The members are all represented with a small profiler page and is also available on the website, searchable, and manageable. 

The department responsible for Actors for example, knows exactly when all auditions for theatre, castings for TV etc. take place in the area, and keep the members informed.

The same counts for musicians, dancers etc. Also when deadlines are for applications for schools and other grants.

Also, divided into the four months, there is an “Artist in Residence Program” at the Franklin School. For that period, an exhibition, concert or workshops are organized with the artist who currently holds the seat. Per Trimester, it is always an artist from a different field. For example January - April: Music, May - August: Photography; September - December: Acting. The field changes every four months, depending on the needs and the interests of the members. The Residency program is also organized by the Administration - in close collaboration with the “Friends of the Franklin School” organization, who find money for the school.

There are practicing rooms at the school, there are one or two studios for painting - there is a dark room for photographers, all the equipment and the facilities can be rented by members and non-members, naturally members pay reduced rates.

There is also an office for the members, where they can use a computer, make DVD copies, or photocopies, or simply use the fax machine or the very good color printer.

Looking at the drawings of the rooms in the Franklin School, I thought the basement would be ideal for the photography and practicing rooms, the first floor for the different offices, and the Great Hall  upstairs is an ideal area for concerts and exhibitions. All the other rooms can be used for these other different facilities I have explained.

What would the program look like?

Depending on the artist in residence, and the current programmatic emphasis of the Franklin School, each trimester, the program changes accordingly. Imagine an architect currently is writing his PhD, and has been named the “AiR”, the Artist-in-Residence - the main focus of that trimester would be Architecture. With photographic exhibitions about architecture, seminars and get-togethers for local architects. The “AiR” architect would give talks at different events also organized or held for/by the “Friends of the Franklin School.”

In the next trimester, the "AiR" is a dancer, meaning that automatically, there is a new emphasis laid on Dance for that trimester.

So all in all, the center should be more of a physical help and support for local creative people; not something where these people merely work on their projects next to each other and pay rent - but where real, physical support is given to the creative community.

                    - François Smit