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Meet Hayley McClintock of Art Time Presents in West Adams and Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hayley McClintock.

Hayley, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My family of four fell into poverty shortly after I was born, and thereafter slowly grew to a family of seven. My four sisters and I learned to make our own fun with our imaginations and got creative with really basic items around us. We lived in Big Bear, so had lots of woods and rocks and sticks as a never-ending playground. Ladybugs could delight us for quite a while when they migrated through our mountain town.

My parents worked endlessly to strengthen our foundation and correct the mistakes that brought our family to homelessness during my youngest years. By the time we moved to Orange County, we were on our way out of the worst of it and living in a transitional shelter. I was well into elementary school by the time we moved to Irvine to live in a three-bedroom condo through a low-income housing program.

In middle school, I started to realize that living as a poor person in a wealthy town is an interesting way to go through adolescence. I couldn’t afford many of the things my friends could, didn’t go to any of the far-off places they spent summers with their families, or even take piano lessons after school. I wrote scholarship essays to the principal explaining why I deserve to go on field trips despite the fact that we couldn’t afford the fees. I’m grateful that this method almost always paid off thanks to the resources my school had access to and honestly shout-out to the hard work of parents that put time into fundraisers for kids like me.

I was always taking advantage of the resources at my school. I packed my schedule with extracurricular activities, playing clarinet and saxophone in all the various bands, working my way to captain of the improv team, acting in school plays, and running tech for the musicals. Any new experience I could get, I went for it. I felt on top of the world when I played the role of Alice for my senior year production of Alice in Wonderland. I was prom princess and Outstanding Senior according to the theater department. Things were going great! Obama was President!

Then came the time that comes in every high school graduate’s life: time to get into debt. I got a combination of grants and loans and found myself able to go to college at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I did work-study at the Recital Hall as a stage manager. I studied film and literature and tried to really focus myself on learning to make films and stories. It was four years of mind-expanding bliss and learning how good a community feels. I fell in love and got my heartbroken. I fell in love again. Thanks to a scholarship, I studied abroad in Prague and it unironically changed my life for the better; I made some of my lifelong best friends. But the timing fell apart with the person I loved back home. All of the combined feelings put the fire under me. I graduated and did everything in my power to live on my own, unable to move back home because my family of now-adults outgrew the three-bedroom condo where they still lived. I was determined to build myself a good life without relying on my parents.

I moved into a garbage apartment in Long Beach. I loved it there but didn’t really have any friends in the area. I had just left the warmth of my community in Santa Cruz, and I felt very alone for the first time in my life. I lovingly called this sudden quiet in my life “big family syndrome.” With my Recital Hall experience, I got stage tech jobs at all the big theaters in the surrounding area — Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Musco Center for the Arts, The Broad Stage, and worked any and all shifts I could manage. I felt like I was doing good work in beautiful places, but I didn’t really feel like an artist. Was I really making anything? Was I sharing my work? Do these rich patrons really care or notice that I set up all those platforms? My whole world was getting wrapped up in survival and I needed relief in the way only an art community can give you.

I decided I would invite all my friends over to my house once a month to share their art. When everyone told me they loved the first gathering, I kept sending out invites each month. I called it Art Time with Hayley McClintock. It was a free forum art collective for our community. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only displaced graduate looking for an art home in Los Angeles. Every month I would doubt what this thing even WAS, and every month my living room was packed with incredibly talented folks. I started moving furniture into the bedrooms to make room for everyone.

Trying to move up in the world, I took an office-type job. 9-5. Soul sucking. I was great at it and made amazing friends, but it wasn’t giving me anything. I started feeling sick all the time and got depressed. I started smoking cigarettes, which I had never done before. I was saving money in a small way, but at what cost?

When I got the offer to stage manage Weed Shop the Musical, I knew I had found the potential to really grow my community with talented folks I had already admired from a distance. They were friends of my study-abroad-friends and I wanted to trick them into being in my life as well. It worked! The show was amazing and the community there started to blend with Art Time.

Over the years, the two groups became melded into one, full of collaborations and support for one another. A few of us doing a lot of the organizing realized: this is an organization. And we started to make it more legitimate with myself and two other primary directors.

We got a fiscal sponsor and rented space as artists in residence. We all got a flexible-type day job to support ourselves while making almost nothing to pursue our craft. We changed the name of our organization to Art Time Presents to represent that we’ll also be putting on stage shows at least once per year. We’re putting on an updated version of Weed Shop the Musical again this November 8th-23rd and it’s like life is cycling back around. Or spiraling up, rather. It feels really good, and it’s a really scary, fun place to be.

Has it been a smooth road?
I don’t think anyone’s life is really a smooth road. Amidst all of the growth in my organization, life has a way of pushing back. My family moved to Northern California as I climbed myself out of my 2016 depression through therapy, weed, art, and many other self-care strategies. I recognized my own personal growth just in time to learn that all that work wasn’t only to deal with the past but to prepare me for what was next.

I spent a year feeling the opposite of what I’ve always felt: rich in a poor world. I had built up my surroundings to be beautiful: a lovely home to live in, the world’s most handsome cat, a partner who I love deeply, a job that pays for the basics, and a gorgeous, steadily growing organization. But my family life was struggling more than ever. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. One of my sisters was caught up in a bad crowd and it was starting to really damage her life. My father had a major stroke. My grandmother died.

I asked myself, why should I care about distracting people with art once a month when life is so unjust? I was/am pissed that the structures in place don’t support the people who need it. I did everything in my power to make life easier for my family. My phone was like a family therapy line. I took my sister in for a short time, even though she was very mean to me. It was hard on our relationship but I felt like she needed me, so I let myself be a punching bag until she could move on to the next phase. I tried my best to support my family from afar. I’d visit as often as I could, but I felt pretty useless. I couldn’t be there for the day-to-day struggles. Phone calls would take a lot out of me, but I was lucky to have coping mechanisms already in place. I’d go to therapy every Friday and really work out what I could let myself feel bad about and what I shouldn’t spend my energy on.

Life goes on. Nothing has gone away but things have drastically improved. All the trouble made me realize that I have to do what I’m doing. I have to create this space for people to momentarily escape the same things that are happening in THEIR lives. I need to validate the artist in each person of my community, just as much as I need to validate the artist that I am.

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
Art Time Presents in an organization grown out of a community of artists in Los Angeles who showed up. It has grown very naturally through friendship connections and a genuine desire to find an authentic, accessible art space.

It’s through the support within our network that we became a fiscally sponsored project by Fulcrum Arts this year. We rent a space as Resident Artists at Thymele Arts in Hollywood. We have been able to move a lot of supplies out of our house and into our office. It’s amazing to have more S P A C E to work with. Still, we love to hold events out of our home once in a while; there’s something really special about making art in a comfortable, cute house.

We looked at our community and set about on a mission to develop and create original endeavors by women, non-binary, and trans/gender non-conforming artists. All are still welcome, but we hope to raise up those voices first whenever possible. We host monthly art-making and sharing events to foster our community, and aim to create at least one staged production of any kind per year. These will all be collaborative efforts.

As an organization, we’re most proud of our effort to treat our artists/community well. We want to support them in any way that we can. We love to partner with artists who want to partner with us! We have been able to pull off some pretty amazing collaborations this way and make so many connections that have influenced our artistic careers in a big way. I am also honored to be part of the most accepting community I’ve ever known. The amount of judgement in our bubble of a world is minimal. You can bring pretty much anything to Art Time Presents and get constructive feedback, support, and quality positive energy. It’s the safest place to take a risk that I know!

What do you like the most about LA? What do you like the least?
The best thing about LA is that there is always something happening. There are so many creative and interesting people here. We’re surrounded by unimaginable talent all the time. Inspiration is everywhere if you’re looking.

The hardest part about LA is that it can get pretty expensive to go out and experience something. This is why Art Time Presents always asks for a Suggested Donation of only $5-10 for each event. We don’t want to turn anyone away due to lack of funds!

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Image Credit:
Narek Petrosyan, Hunter Bermudez, Allison DeJulius, Zachary Rich

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