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Interview with Meggie Keung of Groundworks

Meggie Keung, Groundworks college intern, in front of a mural at Groundworks by @john.rowse on Instagram

On November 13th, Tucson's new youth-driven arts space, Groundworks, was finally able to hold its grand opening event after months of postponement due to Covid-19. I was lucky enough to attend the event and catch amazing sets from AJJ, Th'eyus, and other great musicians. Before the show, I was able to sit down with Meggie Keung, Groundworks' intern from the University of Arizona, and talk with her about Groundworks' mission and the incredible work that went into making this event possible. Read the interview below:

Ruby: Hey everybody, this is Ruby Fulford from KAMP student radio! Today I am interviewing Meggie Keung from the Groundworks Tucson organization at the Groundworks Grand Opening on November 13th.

Meggie: Hello everyone!

Ruby: Can you start by telling us a bit about Groundworks as an organization, what you guys do, what your goals are, et cetera?

Meggie: Yeah! So Groundworks is a youth driven arts organization, and the main focus is to promote the young artists and musicians within Tucson. We do events like this, we want to do educational programs, we want to allow for arts showcases and concerts to all youth. We do all ages events, but our main focus is just youth.

Ruby: Cool! So what is your role in Groundworks as a college intern?

Meggie: I actually started before I became a college intern as part of their arts team and I loved it. We create a bunch of different events, a bunch of different showcases. We started with online showcases and 3D tours, but now that I'm back in Tucson—I’m not from here—I am able to help as a college intern with some of the administration decisions, the events we’re doing, the planning of everything. That’s just a little about what I do.

Ruby: What exactly is the arts team that you referred to? Is that organizing arts stuff?

Meggie: On the arts team, we create fundraising events, we create the art shows in the gallery, and we are going to start doing more concerts. One show that the arts team created was back in September and it our Evolve art show.

Ruby: Oh yeah, I remember reading about that.

Meggie: The Evolve art show was one that we all created, and then we are creating one in about 2 weeks, on November 28th, that is our fall carnival. That will have a bunch of carnival games, a bunch of food, and that’ll just be a really fun event for everyone to come and see Groundworks at our new location.

Ruby: That sounds awesome! So about this grand opening, it seems like kind of a big deal! Everybody at our radio station is pretty excited about it because AJJ is coming, and it sold out super fast. I’m super excited for it personally! How are you feeling about it? Are you nervous or excited at all?

Meggie: I was pretty nervous and stressed about it the last two weeks. Logan was stressed and I was just trying to stay calm to help him out, but I’m very excited now that the official event is here. Just seeing the space that we are in and how it all came together is just amazing because our old space wasn't able to be utilized as much as we wanted to. Now that it's actually happening in this space it's a really big deal for all of us.

The Groundworks performance venue

Ruby: I would imagine the planning that goes in to it is a lot of pressure. Speaking of your old space, I know that the first opening was interrupted by Covid. I think I remember seeing that Instagram post in spring of 2020, and thinking 'oh my gosh its such a shame that it can’t happen'. Building off of that, how did that shutdown effect Groundworks, and what did you guys do to keep things going throughout the pandemic? I know you were still having events and doing your best to still put yourselves out there in the Tucson art scene.

Meggie: Like most art spaces and music programs, we switched to online, we did everything on our website. The way we were able to have a grand opening at our old space was through a 3D tour. We used a software called Matterport and that allowed us to take pictures of our space and create a 3D layout, and then through that we were able to have our gallery on the computer. So, we still had a grand opening, and for the rest of our shows up until now, they have been digital and online. We’ve also collaborated with a few other spaces like Subspace, & Gallery, and the BCC [Blacklidge Community Collective]. With those we did a whole show online called “Creation in Isolation”, it was kind of like a year anniversary, saying 'show us the work that you’ve done throughout Covid'. And then we had a digital fundraiser through Twitch, and we did a twelve hour stream. We were able to raise over ten thousand dollars!

Ruby: That’s amazing!

Meggie: So we just did everything online and that's how we were pushing through. And again, now that we have this new space, and Covid restrictions are able to loosen up just a little bit, we are able to be in person now.

Ruby: That’s so cool! So this builds off some stuff you were just talking about, in terms of collaborating with different arts organizations: I wanted to hear about your experiences in the Tucson art and music scene, and how you see Groundworks taking a place in that scene. It sounds like you guys already have, but what do you anticipate going forward from this grand opening?

Meggie: I’m not from Tucson, I’m from Florida, so I’ve just been helping out with Groundworks for a little over a year now. Its just really exciting that interdisciplinary things are starting to take charge in our society, and the fact that were able to allow for musicians and artists to grow in this space is, I think, a really great thing. Right now we are trying to build our education program even more, to help the youth, to help underprivileged youth, to help youth that need a voice, because we want Groundworks to be a safe space for them. Moving forward I think more collaboration is important. We definitely want to have events almost every week so that when kids are free on a Friday night or free on a Saturday they can just come here and know there’s a concert or there’s an arts event; that’s how we’re creating that connection to the youth.

A beautiful mural on the wall of the Groundworks performance venue room by @loneheartart on Instagram

Ruby: That’s a really great thing to do! So I feel like you answered this question just now, but is the idea to keep Groundworks more of a youth-focused space? I know you are from the University of Arizona, could you see Groundworks ever collaborating with the University to do things for college-aged kids?

Meggie: I think all of us that are working here are under 40, so we are very youth-driven, or just young-driven. I definitely think we want to stay youth-driven, and youth for us is 24 and under, so definitely with college kids, we can definitely work with them. Its just right now, because of the new space, we are still just trying to build up everything, so I think we’ll start with the younger kids and then when we can build that relationship with college students we will definitely take that opportunity. I would love to do that! Something that I really like to do is create events that everyone can come to. As a college student I would want to see myself at this space, so I will stay here as long as I want to make those things happen.

Ruby: Focusing on you, you mentioned to me earlier that you are a music major. Is this kind of organization something that you want to do throughout your career, or this just something that you re doing in college?

Meggie: To be more specific about my major, I am a music via integrated studies major, which means that I focus on the music business and production side, and I have an arts administration minor. So my major is in music, but I like to focus on the fine arts in general. This is the perfect space for me, because we do a little bit of everything. Right now our focus is just art and music, but I would love to have drama programs, any theater programs, and dance programs also come through this space. This is definitely something I see myself doing as a career, either working with non-profits or just helping different businesses with their community outreach and their development and everything. Groundworks is definitely a stepping stone for me, and I really appreciate the opportunities that Logan has given me.

Ruby: Yeah it sounds like an ideal organization for your goals! I was also wondering if you have a favorite Tucson artist or musician.

Meggie: I have a favorite artist, I have two. They’re both my friends, one I met through school and one through Groundworks. One’s name is Brianna, but her Instagram is @drink-bebetea, and the other artists is Chelhyun and her Instagram is @scarletartist04. They are amazing, they do digital art. I am very amazed by those artists as a musician. For musicians, I don’t know a lot of Tucson yet, I haven't stepped out of my own bubble. Definitely through Groundworks I am exploring and expanding my taste in music.

Ruby: Do you have a particular musician that you are excited to see tonight or are you just looking to explore the Tucson sounds?

Meggie: I know Imogen Rose, she is a helper here, but I’ve also heard her in previous concerts so I know she is gonna be amazing and I like listening to her.

Ruby: I haven’t heard her stuff yet but I’m very excited to hear it! Well, do you have any final thoughts you want to share on anything?

Meggie: I would just say, help out your local nonprofits, help out your local artists. I have definitely learned all of that through being a part of Groundworks. Especially during the pandemic, just helping local businesses is really important. I think just supporting the arts and everything around it in your youth is very important. Thank you for listening to me!

Ruby: Thank you so much for meeting with us!

Be sure to keep up with the goings-on at Groundworks by visiting their website or following them on Instagram @groundworkstucson . And stay tuned to the KAMP website for my upcoming review of the performances at the grand opening event!

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