2009 Workshops

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The 2009 Roundtable & Workshop Programs

With the semi-retirement of Dr. Marshall Thomas, the foundation has made him available as a leader and participant in roundtables and workshop formats serving downtown forums, university and college campuses and professional conferences. For scheduling inquiries, please contact jim@7artsfoundation.org . Our Executive Director - Emeritus appears in both two-day and single-day formats. For schedules/dates in your area, CALL: 7AF new all points number: 903.831.9219| M-Th 11-4 CST; Sa. 11-12N CST.

This page sponsored by GM Solutions.  "After all, we are what we believe when we give, and nothing more." Dr. Marshall Thomas '00 Address

Is there new thinking in the arts, design, and culture-based destination district arena? Consider the following:

To Our Valued District Students Of Arts, Design, Culture: Suggestions as to what arts, design & cultural districts should be and remain



A district must be one, single republic - never an empire; and, always, a place of public service willing to join, from time to time, with other districts to introduce ripened innovations






Redirected Districts can make fresh choices affecting all parts

A year of 'propaedeutics', i.e., work suitably specialized to lead to an arts or design profession, including aesthetics and criticism, management and conservation, architecture and industrial design, changes the aim of interns and apprentices from assistants to assisting students.

This action allows great Districts to remain a model, a reproach, a blessing...

This allows all the emerging Artists & Designers to simplify their tasks.

Newly tested Artists & Designers can be taught by Masters; the emerging corp then shares its understanding with interns and apprentices via their year of 'propaedeutics.' This arrangement ends strains between Masters and their counterparts in management, the emergent corp, resident guests, docents, sponsors, underwriters, presenters, etc...

Interns & apprentices interface with management, docents & presenters. Masters can choose to work with docents, sponsors and underwriters through the corp of Emergents ...

Extending arts & design understanding as far as it is wanted requires a District to reduce the fever of mandarinism.

Cutting back on offerings should help clarify that any run-of-the-mill District bazaar wherein the customer rules is an accommodation made of good intentions, but an arrangement made at high costs measured in inconvenience to Masters and Emergents and at a loss of integrity for the community. For, in looking at both pursuits, critically acclaimable arts & design make it clear a deed is a deed. Good intentions, honest effort, sudden illness are not called performance.

The consciousness of this fact should prevail without being invoked as a nemesis. The law of truth states that one thing is not another. Afer all, understanding truths is what District pursuits are after. It must become necessary to say that those who cannot give the time and effort to the satisfaction of a Master cannot actively participate. Pastime pursuits and saunters through the gateways are tolerated; but, such works cannot define or arrange the District.

Districts that include masterworks can take a sober and skeptical look at 'methods' invented to afford a livlier understanding of art and design.

Such 'methods' are designed to process refractory material---the dialogue, the class turned over to its actors, the small panel leading the larger group-- all may temporarily generate interest while increasing the ultimate sense of make-believe. Such 'methods' give the impression of learning but deny it coherence. Methodical 'innovations', whose merit is to 'break things up', go the way of gadgetry and other aids. 'Method's' tricks offer to enliven through 'unconventional' means only to rob the bliss of learning to understand its essence. Hearing of art and design, seeing films about them, recognizing references to them, owning paperbacks or 'interaction' experiences with computer imagery about them is not knowledge. The substitutes to knowledge may prove permanent impediments to understanding for some emergents and guests.

Learning to understand art and design is hard, continuous, attentive work. It is done by convention, that is, the convening of studious minds with understanding better than our own, who compel us to change our minds. Understanding begins with knowledge - the ability to explain, relate, reproduce the configuration of a sizeable portion of the field of art or design.

Motiveless people will always haunt Districts.

Collisions and sideswipes with understanding arts and design are a normative response from many tourists and guests. Aimless interns, apprentices and assisting students will be excused from District responsibilities.

Examiners must deliberately set questions that expose the weakness of interns, apprentices and assisting students. This level of understanding for Emergents is won; it is not a right.

Masters may be scholars; few scholars are productive, acclaimed Masters.

What a Master can do is more important than the Master's credentials. A District cultivating effort that recognizes, acknowledges and fosters talent that delivers product will give impetus to talents who would otherwise be likely pulled to other markets, other arenas. Many Masters benefit when working in the presence of new lights. Short of an exclusive Guild by design and in scope, such a District culture increases the chances the destination will serve as a magnet for visitors and a welcoming, nurturing place for acclaimed homegrown artists & designers.

The smaller the District's reach, the higher the likelihood the District will lose more talent per population and throw down the drain nearly all that has been fed to it. The heralded exceptions help prove the verity of this 'rule of thumb.' Masters are needed in every District community; for they help assure continuity.

Reward those Emergents possessed of an idea & capable of giving it form.

Let upwards of one emergent in each discipline create on his or her own substantial work or monograph. Independent work is the hallmark of the emerging Master. Colleagues and Masters may help, as a last resort, if asked. An emerging artist or designer with something to say & possessing the ability to say it is so rare it deserves a nod from each District.

Time limits will apply only when a District underwriter or sponsor demands such: the rules apply here just as in any ordinary professional commission. Otherwise, no time limits apply.

District Emergents' lives are too precious, too complex to be engineered, too demanding, too expensive to be institutionally imposed.

Emerging artists & designers' lives often suffer from mental overcrowding. Emergents solve arts & design problems, not urban redevelopment issues. Pursuing the understanding of Art or Design fulfills the obligation to the District. Social work and putting art or design talents in service to mitigate emergency demands invalidates the mission of the District. Emegencies demand the division of tasks, staying out of each other's way and doing what is necessary by those who know how.

Manadarin urgings and unconscious mirroring of the multi-District in Emergents' minds can lead them to follow the commandment imposed by public opinion to be all things to all District participants. Confusion & waste are the featured products of the all-purpose Emergent in an all-purpose multi-District.

A District can demand its Emergents pusue a thorough understanding of art or design.

It has a responsibility to enforce its Masters' demands that Emergents study and experience enough of the right things in the right ways. Again, acclaimable results matter. Emergents learn, as we know, from their peers, how to learn, how to work. They learn discipline and the harnessing of passion from a Master. Making it possible to learn and work as emerging Artists or Designers is one role of the District's Masters.

Every arrangement is designed to help Emergents be receptive to art or design pursuits. When these pursuits become secondary or marginalized, many Emergents will seek seriousness elsewhere - social work, urban zoning.

District quarters for Masters, Emergents and prodadeutics must serve the mission.

The District has some obligation to rent or sell available, adequate quarters to all active participants. District residences are designed to permit small, natural groupings to form within the larger wholes. On-site residencies are an essential way for visitors and guests to properly learn how the District works.

Self-governing residency policy means the District is not in the business of housekeeping or domestic proctoring. The limit is the extent with which good order can be maintained.

By statute, the District is administered by a Manager & programs are designed by Masters & policies are set by a Board.

Emergents & propadeutics are full partners in learning; in all other matters, their status implies a self-disqualification. Masters earn their place at the table by doing extraordinary things; managers earn their spot by serving the District at the pleasure of the Board; Board members earn their place by exercising wise, knowledgeable and discerning stewardship & fiduciary oversight on behalf of the District. All these arrangements protect the pursuit of understanding & doing acclaimable work.

Foregoing these protected rights & responsibilities means the District has lost its raison d^etre. Districts lead, they are not led as a political unit. There is no warrant for turning any District into a forum. The work going on in a District is important, delicate work.

The District needs an outlet for grievances.

A District ombudsman performs necessary functions, primarily educational and assistive. Threading the way through 'red tape' is sometimes difficult; new or temporary workers may prove less helpful than others; the patience of Masters & Emergents, propadeutics & assisting students can wear thin; time is always of the essence for everyone. The OM's experience will help determine how to go to work, with whom to work to arrive at suitable outcomes, and what conditions move the District forward.

Anyone who suffers an injustice from a rule or a worker needs fair redress. The way to avoid becoming a second District administration is to not duplicate or interfere with the separate offices hard at work. The OM teaches by example why the District has to act as it does and how to get from the District all one is entitled to receive.




End of Section II of VI

By Dr. Marshall Thomas, Chicago, 2007



Camford Observed, by J. Rose & J. Ziman, London, 1964



De Quelques Idees Recues sur la Recherche et l'Enseignement, by V. Kourganoff, 1967



Science [periodical] vol. 156, May 19, 1967, 890

7AF | Roundtables | Workshops | 2008


Science [periodical], passim, article by D. S. Greenberg



The American University, by Jacques Barzun, New York, 1968

Edited by Intern from Texas A&M University


The Politics of Cultural Despair, by Dr. Fritz Stern, Berkeley, 1961



The Senate Speeches of W.B. Yeats, by W. B. eats, Bloomington, 1960



Unemployment and the Overeducated Worker, by Ivar Berg, New Generation [periodical], vol. 50, no.1, Winter 1968



William James, by G. W. Allen, New York, 1967