Taking its theoretical orientation from Sherry Ortner's distinction between ‘power’ and ‘projects’, this article considers the relationship between local artistic projects and the cultures in which they participate. I focus on Pleasure Garden, a collaborative project that spans site-specific installations, concerts and an album. Exploring a wide range of issues at stake in the creative process, including collaboration, gender, aesthetics, colonialism, the work concept, and commodification, I trace how Pleasure Garden’s creators variously reproduced and reworked dominant conventions, while at the same time pursuing their own distinctive commitments. Through this, I argue that Pleasure Garden’s creators negotiated a space that was inside, yet sometimes out of alignment with what I call the ‘cultures of creativity’ associated with Western art music, the music industries, late capitalism, and neoliberalism. This highlights both the powerful forces affecting musicians today and the possibilities for making things otherwise.