Fostering a Creative Community, by Jacob Patterson

By Jacob Patterson
Think Tank Gallery director

     I recently took a train ride sabbatical in a sleeper car up the coast, stopping in a couple of cities along the way. The goal was, like any creative millennial must do sometimes, to clear my head and begin planning 2016 with the gained perspective of visiting new places. It was made apparent by the responses to my “out of office” message that many of my peers need such a trip. I highly suggest it to anyone reading this – the Amtrak West Coast Starlight tour was dreamy to say the least.
     My stop in Portland was the most telling. Portland artists have a sense of community that centers on experimentation, and seeking support from their insane grant options (look up RACC and be forever tempted to seek refuge in the Pacific Northwest). The DIY community is strong; it reminds me of starting the Think Tank in the Fashion District back in 2010. 
     DTLA was a different place then, and while our funding may now come as corporate sponsorships more often than arts grants, the same rings true: a rising tide lifts all boats. Creative refugees from San Fran and New York are flooding Downtown just as quickly as Portland and it’s our job to show them the ropes. There is a rich culture in DTLA despite stricter production laws in place here than in most places. Add to that the delicate nature of inviting magazines and corporate brands to back our projects and events, and we’ve got an intimidating shell to crack.
     As our neighborhood explodes, our community must not. Downtown LA is the kind of place where you meet someone new trying to start a traveling collective, and the next week discover a warehouse venue they could use. We must strive to share our creative resources with each other.