AK: What's the most interesting potential of mnartists.org for you?
TMR: Any opportunity to make bridges, a net to capture and include and inform other artists, is about what we as artists do. And as members of the community we can, through this conduit, get a breath of things, we can know about the work of artists.
It comes at a phenomenal time, this opening for artists. It is a concern that it remain free. Artists don't usually have a lot extra; we put a lot of financial and material resources into what we do.
This is a great opportunity for the collaboration of nontraditional mediums, and will allow people to be patrons who may have never thought in that way before--seeing all the arts together.
AK: Is there a downside to this new medium for you as an artist, for your medium?
TMR: Absolutely, there can be . . . while as artists we look forward and are encouraged and inspired by those who see our work and comment on it, there's no way to track the use of our work. As living artists, it's important that people do not choose just to download the work, that audiences come out to see us.
With time, I'm sure there will evolve ways of using the medium that are more pro than con.
AK: What are some of your current projects?
TMR: I've just completed a holiday CD called The Gift: A Christmas with Love. This is a culmination of many years of songwriting. You see, for many years I wrote a holiday song every year for my family, as a gift. People started asking me, "You must have a CD of those by now, why don't you publish them?" and so I recorded this work--there are 11 original holiday songs and 4 standards. The CD is out--go to tmychael.com. Also, this Thursday at the Walker I'll be doing a new piece, Silver Tongues, Poison Lies . . . and this season I'm also in the new production of Black Nativity produced by Penumbra Theater at the Pantages.
AK: Is Minnesota an arts center? Could it be?
TMR: I do believe it is a hub for the arts in the Midwest. Per capita, we have more equity-house theaters than any comparable city. We're in line with New York, Chicago, LA. Rent was workshopped here; the first production of the Lion King--there are lots of good theaters, lots of stages. And then the Historic Theater Group, opening old beautiful houses . . .
People who live here as well as people who visit are amazed at the depth and breadth of theater and perfomance here. With the Walker and other art museums as well, we've shown a welcoming attitude. We have good lobbying for the arts because quality of life here depends on the arts, given our weather issues!