Networked Communitas


The DC Metro Virtual Town Hall: Strategies for Survival in the Arts is TODAY, Tuesday April 14, 6-7:30pm. To register and access the event, visit the Third Space Network Crowdcast platform. Co-hosted by the Third Space Network, Hamiltonian Artists/DC, McLean Project for the Arts, and VisArts/Rockville. 


The only way we will survive in the turbulence of this period of transition, is through communitas, the formation of intense social bodies of equality and purpose. In the face of the pandemic, this is not a moment for the status quo, it is time for action, to rally whatever resources we can to come together: to share, distribute, collect and reinforce our humanity. Without the forces of social agency, we are doomed, everyone for themself, to expire in isolation and loneliness. We now find ourselves bound and tethered, via the Network, to the electronic umbilical cord that has become our central nervous system and the means for collectively salvaging our future.

It is in the spirit of building communitas in the networked environment of the third space that we have organized the DC Metro Virtual Town Hall: Strategies for Survival in the Arts. For without communitas there is no strategy, there is no survival, and there is no art. All we have is one other to navigate through this pandemic rite of passage into the unknown. None of us can predict the aftermath of a global economy that will be shuttered for months on end: the impact this social and economic rupture is now having on the arts is beyond comprehension.

And so we have brought together the critical pieces of the social and economic puzzle that is the foundation of the community of the arts: funders, arts organizations, and artists. It is all too rare that these vital components of the arts ecology are brought together into a single conversation. But that is the very essence of the need for communitas when activated in extreme states of transition, rupture and times of crisis: when social structures unravel into unstable states of being. There is no doubt the enormous outpouring we have seen for the Virtual Town Hall would not be conceivable in times of normalcy. That is unfortunate, but all too true.

We now turn to the connectivity of the networked third space to socially regroup and to reimagine a course of action. The third space is an idealized social architecture ideally suited for this very purpose. Why you might ask? First, we enter into a decentralized zone of engagement, in which EVERYONE has a voice from all corners of the spatial environment, whether it be on camera or in the chat space. The Virtual Town Hall is just that: it is the 21st century version of the ancient agora that reinforces social interaction BETWEEN audience-participants, not just from the podium to the floor, but rather via a distributed, creative dialogue.

Furthermore, in the Virtual Town Hall, the video Webcast and the text-based chat arena constitute an integrated space of collective research, in which every presentation, every comment, every question, every link, every hello, every word, is documented as a record archiving the moment. In our Crowdcast Webcasting platform, the conversation has been democratized and streamlined through an ingenious technique of crowdsourcing. The audience-participants vote on one another’s questions so that they are prioritized according to consensus: once again decentralizing the hierarchical dynamic of the social environment as a virtual platform for heightening communitas.

To survive this pandemic catastrophe, we must participate in this massive paradigm shift, a migrational turning to the creative invention of tactical solutions in third space environments. We now find ourselves in a period of reconstruction of all aspects of our social and economic existence through networked communitas. We are all part of a right of passage on a global scale at this moment in time, to avoid elimination, to protect humanity from extinction, to preserve one another. Right now, the third space is nothing less than our salvation, and we must activate it to the fullest. Please join us.


The DC Metro Virtual Town Hall: Strategies for Survival in the Arts is TODAY, Tuesday April 14, 6-7:30pm. To register and access the event, visit the Third Space Network Crowdcast platform. Co-hosted by the Third Space Network, Hamiltonian Artists/DC, McLean Project for the Arts, and VisArts/Rockville.