Soulace, a Flow & Kinetic Art Space


Fair warning, I’m having a slow brain day and this might be a garbled mess by the time we’re through.

2019 has begun as an interesting re-set and -starting year for many people I know, myself included. Paul, the owner of Soulace, and I met by way of his wife, Jes. Jes, is a practitioner with 8fold and the owner of Liberated Elephant. Jes and I met at a weeklong Agile Bootcamp and became fast friends and later what Jes coined as business life partners.

With introductions served.

Soulace is located in Nashville, TN USA. It is tailored for kinetic and flow practices and arts; however, Jes has given her Agile Fundamentals course there, speaking to the versatility of the space. The space can speak for itself, or at least its mouthpiece, Paul (trying to keep this brief and to the point). The large room is amazing and the Soulace community did an amazing job in renovating it.

I’ve only been there a few times and each time I feel like I’ve grown or had some beneficial takeaway.

When I first moved to Nashville I bailed on an 8fold monthly meeting to attend a Soulace community meeting. When I walked in to the meeting there were only three of us in total.

Very informal. No suits — wrong space. No projectors — though the capability is there. Just an easel with some writing on it and the intimacy of sitting less than 10 feet from Paul giving the state of the union for Soulace.

One thing about not wearing stress on your sleeve is no one sees when you’re in trouble, this seemed to be the case with Paul. If nothing else, it’s definitely the case with me; so, maybe a bit of projection on my part. What I used to tell people is, “If I say I need help, it will come off lightly but it’s pretty serious if I’m asking. Bordering on emergency.”

There is an exceptional amount of humility, grace, and self-awareness that comes in saying, “Maybe it took a while to let go of my vision of what the space and community should be.” Or something along those lines.

As the meeting continued, every idea and suggestion we gave was captured — with fervor. He told us about finances, not doing as well as he or anyone else would like.

This actually isn’t surprising. Soulace is the fourth — yeah, I think fourth — creative arts space I’ve come in contact with where I knew at least one of the owners. Soulace is the only one with its doors still open.

During the meeting I told Paul, “I’m actually impressed you have a space. That’s still the step I haven’t taken. There are plans but I’ve never actually done it.”

He laughed and said, “Thank you.”

There have been lots of reasons the other spaces closed. Strained landlord relationships plagued one in Dayton, OH. The apparent artist predisposition to “give it away for free” hit another. Bad location hit another — I actually don’t remember where it was.

For Soulace there are two things straining it near as I know.

One is membership could be higher as it is the primary source of revenue for the space. You can even just sponsor Soulace for $10 a month, which qualifies you for one day pass a month; an approach I appreciate. So, if you just want to chip in, there you go. Or, if you know someone in or who will be in Nashville and needs a space to practice; talk to Paul, discuss what you’re needing, he’ll let you know how Soulace can help.

Second strain is clearing out some debt, which isn’t a lot, to be honest; so, follow the link and give to the campaign if you’re able, share if you’re unable, or both.

Back to reasons places close. I’ve seen lack of community plague similar spaces, which doesn’t seem the case with Soulace, it’s just a small community compared to the needs of the space.

Probably the biggest reason I’ve seen places close down is lack of business acumen of owners. Some owners, myself included, get attached to their vision of what and how things should work and run. So attached, in fact, that as the Titanic is sinking they’re not playing violins on the deck, nah, they’re asleep in their cabins because it’s dark outside.

That’s probably also the biggest thing that makes Soulace different for me. Paul doesn’t strike me as that type of person (and I know Jes isn’t).

The only evidence I have for Paul being different is he’s married to Jes and I think it would drive her nuts if he was that person. Further, I made a suggestion that night, which he quickly wrote down. A couple weeks later I was in the space to drop off flyers to help my business cards I left there; based on Paul’s feedback and recommendation. While there, I noticed my suggestion from the meeting, at least an interpretation of it, was on the wall.

It wasn’t what I had envisioned but, if nothing else, it was nice, presentable, and in the spirit. Besides, what I had in mind would’ve taken at least a bit to figure out and might have been expensive; therefore, the solution served the immediate need.

A step in the right direction.

It will be interesting to see how this progresses. With that said, even without a space, Soulace could survive as it feels like it may have crossed the threshold from dream, to reality, into being an idea — and, if V taught us anything, it’s that “you cannot kill an idea.”

Of course, I could be performing more hopeful projection. Paul is optimistic, determined, and holding pragmatism like a scalpel when justified.