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Jakari Sherman for Company XV Dance

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Company XV - Grant Report #2

A photo of a film shoot with an artist in the foreground and the director in the background

Project Update

This has been an extremely special experience that would not have been possible without the support of ILF. Company XV was born and incubated through the Grant for the Web, and this is just the beginning of the work we’ll do within the web monetization and the dance communities. We’ll continue learning and growing, careful to lead with equity, transparency and curiosity.

Summary of Findings:
As an eXperiment in Virtual dance, the greatest success of this pilot season of Company XV has been the insights we have gained on the implementation of web monetization as means of supporting dancers within a company structure. The obstacles we’ve encountered, primarily around the subscription-based model of WM adoption, speak to the importance of the user experience. We’ve learned a great deal about how dancers interact with social media, and as a primary point of interaction between fans and dance makers/performers, this detail must be part of the conversation when engaging artists for Company XV. Furthermore, the nature of artistic work created or curated by Company XV must be determined alongside an understanding of artists’ ‘digital identity’.

The staff of Company XV certainly took a faithful ride as we navigated unfamiliar waters. Briana Stuart, Alorie Clark, Bethany Gambino, Deatrice Clark, Laura Rodriguez… I so appreciate everyone’s hard work and commitment to this work. And the artists of Company XV - Tamara Arruti, Marie-Laure Lesage, Dan Martin, Maya Balam Meyong, Ronnique Murray, and Nick Stewart… We wanted to center artists in this project, and they have certainly owned the spotlight.

Progress on objectives

Summary of Objectives:
• Democratize the relationship between artists, dance companies, and patrons.
• Explore a way to leverage artists’ fan followings to grow the exposure of the company.
• Minimize barriers between artists and patrons by providing a means for interaction and direct support.

I am pleased with the platform of agency we have created for artists. And while there is much to be developed in how we support and promote this platform, I feel that we have laid a solid foundation on which to build.

As a company we identified strategies for connecting with artists’ social fans, and as our own social platforms grow we will continue to find means of social collaboration and symbiosis. One of the most significant takeaways from this experience has been a greater appreciation for the relationship between artists’ digital identity and their concrete identity. The way in which artists see themselves, present themselves and their choices in the utilization of social platforms play a significant role in how they interact with the public and thus, how effective certain models of web monetization can be.

We’ve also created a structure in which fans are able to make personal connections with the artists and are able to support them directly. We are continuing to explore what meaningful connection looks like for both artists and patrons as we refine our platform moving forward.

Key activities

Summary of Key Activities:
• Develop website to serve as the hub of Company XV Dance, to include web monetized fan pages for each of 5 artists
• 100 subscribers by project midpoint, 250 subscribers by project end
• Production of five (5) micro works (1-2 minutes each), and one (1) headline work (15-20 minutes)

Our website was completed as planned. This included monetized fan pages that allowed fans to READ, LISTEN and WATCH content developed by and about each of our five artists.

Although we did not hit our benchmarks for subscribers, we consistently reached audiences through our IG Live events we began hosting in September.

Our artists completed five screendance works, 3-5 minutes each, that are available for viewing on each fan page. We began hosting launch parties for each of the works starting in September as a way to increase exposure and viewership. Through the launch parties, we experimented with online tutorials to walk fans through the subscription process. We also completed the filming of our final headline work, which will be premiered in early 2023.

Communications and Marketing

Since our last reporting, we began a series of IG Live watch parties for each of the five dance works. We had regular audiences for these events, consistent with the social fanbase of each artist. Marketing resources went to the creation of trailers for each work. A large part of our next phase will be the screening and promotion of the works we created and premiered during the grant period. I am also planning a series of public and academic presentations around our findings and to discuss the implications of web monetization within the field of dance.

What’s next?

We are continuing to assess our pilot season and to develop strategies for the future. The objectives at this time are to share and promote the works we have produced, to share the findings of our experimentation, and to identify partnerships and cooperative modalities that might help further our work.

What community support would benefit your project?

We are getting insights from the community on some of the challenges we faced with our subscription model. The ILF community is rich with information and support, so I am keen to deepen connections within this network as a part of our next phase of development. We’ll definitely be reaching out soon for conversations and connections. Please check out the artists and their screendance works. We’re also interested in presenting works for virtual or in-person events and open to public or private dialogue about the expansion of web monetization for arts-based work.

Additional comments

I want to extend my gratitude to ILF for this opportunity. It’s been an incredible learning experience both personally and for our team, and has opened a completely new realm of possibilities for us as artists and administrators within the field of dance. Special thanks to Chris and to Ayesha for all the work you do behind the scenes to facilitate this space and this resource for such a diverse and talented group of people.

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