Over the past couple of months, I have spoken with many rehearsal and studio space owners and Chasten Harmon from Space on White is a clear standout. In addition to being a Tisch graduate and an accomplished Broadway actor, Chasten is an entrepreneur with a passion for creating opportunities for performing artists.
After Tisch, Chasten got an offer to join the cast of Mamma Mia in Las Vegas, but decided that it was better to stay in New York early in her acting career. However, like most performers, she needed to make money to support herself in the big city. At the same time, she didn’t want to continue working as a hostess in a restaurant. She started thinking of how she could make a living while contributing to the arts.
Chasten Harmon at "Space on White"
Chasten wanted to “support artists by creating a community where they can make sustainable work on their own. I wanted to create a space where performing artists could feel comfortable creating new work.” And …. Space on White was born!
Space on White has four unique spaces, plus a lower and upper lobby level. As Chasten says, “Space on White is a blank canvas where performing and visual artists can express their work.” From rehearsals to performances to auditions to silent auctions to trunk shows to pop-up galleries, Space on White accommodates a variety of uses. The users include actors, dancers, musicians, artists, teachers, yoga and pilates teachers, non-profit theatre companies, and production companies.
While Space on White was initially focused on the performing arts, Chasten has seen quite a pick-up in the visual arts. Harmon says, “I believe performing arts is merging with visual arts and I see a lot of growth in this area.”
For Chasten, running Space on White is “basically like a hands-on MBA program. The current goal is for Space on White to be self-sustainable. The studio is just three years old so more awareness will be the main factor in achieving this goal. The next step would be to create more shows and events that can give people jobs and other opportunities in the performing arts.”
The Studios at "Space on White"
When asked about the basic needs of performers, she says that paying rent and having healthcare are two of the most important. Chasten went on to say, “as an actor, the goal is to figure out how to be independent. Conservative actors rely on having a job. Liberal actors will always be doing something to survive. Actors are starting to get a lot more creative and are marketing themselves much more effectively. I would like to provide more resources for actors.”
Currently, Chasten is starring as Eponine in a production of Les Misérables at the Paper Mill Playhouse. The original producer, Cameron Mackintosh, is staging Les Misérables with an entirely different look and feel. Chasten says “The production has really come together. There is a cast of about 30 people with a British production company managing the production. It’s edgy, real, and dark with a lot of really interesting personalities.”
At the end of our interview, I asked Chasten if she had a dream role on Broadway. I know it’s a lame question, but I figured I would ask it anyway. To give you an idea of Chasten’s character and what she stands for, she said “I don’t have a dream role per say but I want to have whatever role I play NOT be identified by my race.” I am excited for Chasten’s next role as an actor AND as an entrepreneur!