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PP Organizational Structure

Performance Philosophy Core Conveners

Structure, organization, function, and aspiration

0. Allegory ♥ I. Core Convener (definition, etc,) ♥ II. Becoming a Core Convener ♥ III. Organizational Structure ♥ IV. Performance Philosophy Strange Attractor 

0. Allegory

Some journeys begin with and as mere wandering. Paths that now guide hikers through mountain terrains and forests, for example, were first carved out of the thick wilderness by animals in search of water and salt. The first cautious forays gave way to more certain expeditions and, eventually, animals from many species gathered at watering holes and spots of rich mineral content. Over time, the movements to and from these spots produced what we now recognize as paths. Where do they lead? How do they connect? How do we comport ourselves when we encounter others out for a walk? 

As academics, artists, administrators, researchers, writers, thinkers, and doers, we recognize that some of these metaphorical “paths” have been forged by histories of colonialism, white supremacy, misogyny, ableism, and other oppressive forms of inequity. These histories are present in the academic institutions we work in, and the canons of thought we cite. Our work is not fully separate from them, whether in our writings, administration, or relationships. We strive both to honor ecological paradigms and to perpetually unlearn and challenge internalized bigotry that destroys both them and equitable human relationships. Our bodies live in the present: much of philosophy lives in a bigoted past. Performance Philosophy represents an opportunity to build on and destroy limited and limiting legacies of thought. 

I. Core Convener: What is the Role?

I.A. The Performance Philosophy network (PP) seeks to maintain maximal openness and inclusivity in respect to its participants, scope of its members’ research and artistic creation, and structure of its leadership. While working to foster this horizontal and emergent organizational structure, however, PP also recognizes the need for a team of administrators who can map the network’s activity, arrange formal and informal gatherings, spread word of the group’s undertakings, and, importantly, continually re-approach the relationship between “performance” and “philosophy.” This team of administrators is composed of core conveners.

I.B. The process for becoming a core convener is outlined below. First, it is useful to understand the main activities undertaken by those who play this role:   

  • Demonstrate a commitment to supporting the life of the Performance Philosophy network through individual artistic work, scholarship, public engagement, conference organizing, and other such tasks;
  • Participate in the ongoing work of the PP Task Forces that tend to the network’s website and social media presence, support the activities of the PP Working Groups, seek out funding opportunities, liaise with the editors of the PP Book Series and Journal, expand our understanding of accessibility, etc.;
  • Function independently as a spokesperson for the PP network in one’s own local environment, thereby helping to spread the word about the work that we do;
  • Undertake solo missions to investigate matters that might benefit the group’s infrastructure (for example, research website platforms and design options or devise methods for facilitating large group meetings);
  • Devise and implement fundraising strategies such as crowdfunding campaigns, the completion of research grants, etc.
  • Think, generally, of what Performance Philosophy could be and make proposals for activities that could actualize the realities glimpsed through those thoughts.

II. Becoming a Core Convener

II.A. To become a Core Convener, you must fill out and submit the Core Convener Application Form. The current cohort of conveners will evaluate the proposals according to the timeline given below (see III.D.).

II.B. Term Limits

Core Conveners typically serve for one term of 4 years 

Given the always-changing needs of the organization, it is possible that Core Conveners serve longer than one term. Each cohort will work together to determine when extensions to the term of service are required and/or beneficial for the work of the group as a whole.

In exceptional circumstances, it is possible that Core Conveners serve less time than 4 years. Personal obligations or family crises, for example, may necessitate that an individual step away from the position. Or, in the event that a Convener shows no signs of participation in the work of the group or becomes absent for long stretches of time, the cohort may decide collectively to invite a convener to step down. The difficult nature of this potential occurrence will require the group of Core Conveners to communicate respectfully, and a specific protocol of action may be generated when needed. 

III. Organizational Structure

III.A. We strive to have 16 Core Conveners who represent the breadth and depth of the work undertaken throughout the network (e.g., artists and scholars and artist-scholars and scholar-artists and people outside the academy and people within the academy, etc.). The group will also contain gender-diverse individuals from as many geographic localities, racial and cultural backgrounds, and linguistic populations as possible. Language will always be an issue for debate, though it is likely that English will be the working language of the group.

An “individual convener”-position could in fact be occupied by numerous people who decide to work as a team to fulfill the needs of one Core Convener position.

The 16 individual members are divided into two groups of 8 Core Conveners each

The terms of each cohort of 8 Core Conveners are staggered. To preserve institutional memory, one cohort of 8 Core Conveners is in place for two years when the second cohort of 8 Core Conveners comes aboard. As such, each cohort overlaps for a period of 2 years. The language of “cohorts” is used only for the purpose of scheduling and election; in other words, there is no limit placed on how each cohort interacts with the other.

III.B. While serving, each Core Convener will participate in at least one Task Force. At present (August 2020), the following Task Forces are either in formation or already operational:

  • PP Book Series
    • Though the Series Editors currently comprise this Task Force, It is likely that it will eventually expand to include other members. In that scenario, Task Force members will help to solicit manuscript proposals and liaise with the Series Editors to publicize the work of the Series.
  • PP Journal
    • As is the case with the Book Series Task Force, this one is currently populated by the Journal Editors. In the future, however, that need not be the case and all Task Force members can help to attract submissions to various journal sections, liaise with guest editors, track the publication timeline, and perform other tasks to support the ongoing work of the journal.
  • General Funding and Organizational Finance
    • Examples of fundraising efforts include creating GoFundMe (or similar) campaigns, findings and completing grant applications, determining fees for PP events and/or downloading .pdfs of journal articles. Members of this task force will also help to set up and maintain the PP bank account.
  • Accessibility Group
    • This group is concerned with issues of access in PP. The group typically works with the organizers of each future biennial to support considerations of access and other specific needs. The group is also in dialogue with the PP Journal and has a medium term project to produce an accessibility resource for event organizers in the PP community.
  • Future Event Coordinators
    • While this group may work in tandem with the Biennial Conference organizers, it is also responsible for imagining “interim sessions” and other informal PP gatherings that take place throughout each calendar year.
  • General Funding and Organizational Finance
    • This group’s function is to maintain an account of the network’s finances, to allocate funds to various PP endeavors, and to pursue ongoing funding. 
  • Working Group Task Force
    • Part of the work of the 2021 Helsinki Conference is to revitalize the Working Groups within PP. It falls to this Task Force to find new ways of inspiring action among the network members and the working groups in particular.
  • Digital Media Task Force
    • This group works together with the different groups to maintain and expand the website and the interaction with the PP membership. It creates regular social media initiatives that engage the members and working groups and promotes and expands the reach of PP.
  • Biennial Conference
    • Individuals and groups who take it upon themselves to organize the Biennial Conference are welcome to become Core Conveners. This invitation is open but need not be taken if the organizers would prefer not to play this role.

III.C. During the first two years of the 4-year term as Core Convener, new conveners can expect to learn the contours of the position and participate in the work of the Task Forces. During the last two years of the term, Core Conveners may serve as the Performance Philosophy Strange Attractor (PPSA). (For more on this role, see Section IV below).

The PPSA is ideally meant for a small team. While serving in this capacity, members of the PPSA continue to undertake work of the Task Forces which they have voluntarily joined.

III.D. Rough Sketch of how the overlapping cohorts might work in real-time in the foreseeable future:

  • Circulate call for new conveners ahead of the 2022 Helsinki Conference and plan to choose new members and elect the first PPSA shortly after the conference, no later than the end of August 2022 
  • We propose October 1, 2022 as the commencement date for the structure outlined in this document.
  • June 2022: Current squad of Core Conveners trims down to 8 (likely through a voluntary decision on the part of each vacating member). Simultaneously, the new cohort of 8 comes on board.
  • Between October and November 2022 (i.e., one of the first actions of the new core convener cohort): the Core Conveners will elect the first PPSA (following the procedure outlined below (see Section IV.E.)
  • September 1, 2024: Members of the PPSA and all other members of the first cohort step down. Members of the second cohort become viable to volunteer for PPSA. The new cohort of conveners is elected and brought on board.
  • Between October and November 2024: A new PPSA is elected
  • September 2026: Members of the PPSA and all other members of the cohort nearing the end of their term will step down. Members of the cohort that has been serving for two years become viable to contend for PPSA. The new cohort of conveners is elected and brought on board.
  • This process continues, ideally in-step with the Biennial Conference

III.E. To encourage active self- and intra-group reflection, and to provide an opportunity for the group of Core Conveners to discuss what both is and is not working in the group of Core Conveners and the PP Organization more broadly, all Core Conveners must complete a “2nd-year Articulation.” You can access this form by following this link. Conveners, under guidance from the PPSA, will ideally hold a meeting to discuss the content of these articulations.

IV. Performance Philosophy Strange Attractor

IV.A. The Name: Other names have been considered for this position, each of which gives a sense of the position’s scope and duties: Convener Coordinator, Creative Director. Since, however, the core conveners coordinate their own activities and direct their own creative endeavors, the top-down connotation of those titles gave way to Strange Attractor. 

Similar to a tropism in biological systems—i.e., a growth toward or away from a certain stimulus—a strange attractor functions in mathematics and chaos theory as a condition that enables such (non-linear, non-teleological) growth. While the attractor produces material effects—e.g., growth, turning, movement through a circuit—its material existence is a bit of a mystery and is often only reducible to an immaterial mathematical point or set of points.

IV.B. In Performance Philosophy, the Strange Attractor arises out of the group of Core Conveners and encourages growth and movement within that group and the PP organization more broadly. The vision and creative impulses of the Strange Attractor condition movement of PP—in the form of events, special projects, etc.—but it is also very much a part of the organization. As such, the Strange Attractor does not exist at the top of a governmental hierarchy, nor does it reside somehow outside of the PP group; rather, it emerges from within the organization, as part of the organization, while also exhibiting the ability to conduct the movement of the system as a whole.

IV.C. Becoming a Strange Attractor: The Strange Attractor is formed from a duo, trio, or small group of individuals who are in the second half of their term as Core Conveners. To become the PPSA, this duo, trio, etc. must submit an application form some time around the midway point of their 4-year term. The other Core Conveners will evaluate all proposals and vote. By winning a majority of this vote, individuals become the PPSA (see IV.E.).

IV.D. Duties of the PPSA: This role requires three main avenues of work to be conducted simultaneously. The first is to facilitate communication within the group of Core Conveners and assure that the projects undertaken by each Task Force reach completion in a timely manner. Specific duties include but are not limited to:

  • Setting dates for virtual meetings of the Core Conveners
  • Setting agendas for these meetings
  • Following up on action points created at meetings
  • Collating the Task Force Reports

The second group of activities is ambassadorial and helps to make connections between PP and other groups within academia and within the general public. Specific duties include but are not limited to:

  • Connecting with other professional organizations to bridge activities there with ongoing projects within PP
  • Forming alliances with public and private organizations whose work aligns with the mission of PP and who, in turn, may benefit from the creative power of PP’s members

IV.E. Electing the PPSA: To harness the momentum of the biennial gatherings, the election of the PPSA will ideally take place at (or during the time of) these gatherings. This election will ideally receive its own line item in the agenda of one of the Core Convener meetings. 

If it is not possible to time the election with the biennial, then another date may be set by the Core Conveners.

To become a PPSA, the applicant(s) must receive a simple majority of votes from the body of Core Conveners. If an individual Core Convener cannot be present for the vote, they may enable another Convener to act as a proxy. 

The third group of activities stems from the vision of the PPSA. This vision will have been articulated in the initial application form filled out by members of the PPSA. Generally, the purpose of this vision is to help PP grow in specific directions with the understanding that this growth aids PP’s desire for maximal inclusivity within its membership, the emergence of vibrantly creative art, scholarship, and all combinations of those things, and an ongoing investigation into what precisely “thinking” might be and what precisely we mean when we invoke the words “performance” and “philosophy.”

IV.E. Leaving the position: the end of a PPSA’s term coincides with the end of those members’ term as Core Conveners. The PPSA will be able to vote for the next PPSA before leaving the position. For a general sense of the specific timeline of these terms and votes, see Section III.D. above.