We’re excited for Jim Brown to step in as Interim Director while our Board of Directors and search firm work to find our next Executive Director. Jim joined the Arts Council staff team in 2016 as Deputy and Tannery Director, helping to steer our vision and build community here at the Tannery. Read on to find out how art has changed his life and more.
What’s something you love that has nothing to do with your job or kids?
Since I was a little kid, I’ve loved to dance. I used to dance in my room to Beatles records when I was a kid. In high school I took ballroom dance lessons with my best friend. In college I used to go to as many Grateful Dead shows as I could, and, when I moved to Santa Cruz, I discovered Dance Jam and later helped to found Dance Church. For me, dance is freedom. It is that place where I can completely let go and be myself, in all my humanity. It is a great metaphor for life. All my joys and sorrows, challenges and victories play out on the dance floor and, somehow, in that space, it is easier to hold, see, and accept it all.
Tell us about a moment when art changed your life.
Prior to 2004 I worked as a software engineer developing demonstration systems for semiconductor companies. I was making a lot of money, but I was really living a very small life. My one foray into the community was attending the Friday night Dance Jam at the 418 Project. I attended this event almost religiously for years, but I kept very much to myself, despite a secret desire to join in the contact improvisation that happened there regularly. One night I was dancing with my eyes closed. The music was slow, and my right hand was extended. I opened my eyes to realize that I was in a circle of four other people with their hands all extended into the center of the circle. We began a slow graceful dance together with just our hands. I don’t know how to explain it, but my life changed in that dance. Afterwards I was part of that community. I came to understand that what is possible as an individual is so much smaller than what happens when we create together. It wasn’t long after this that I left the tech world and began my work with nonprofit organizations, always with an eye towards building communities that support people’s authentic expression.
How do you start your day?
I’m a morning person, so I typically wake up at 5 am. Somewhat sadly, the first thing I do is check my phone, the weather, my calendar, my email, hopefully not the news! Then I get out of bed, walk the dog or lift weights, pack snacks for the kids, and then meditate…for about 5 minutes. Then it’s kids up and breakfast and off to work!