Working Together

Working together — It sounds a lot easier than it really is – or is it?

Arts communities as a whole find it difficult to work together for many reasons. Some personal and some predictable. More times than not the antagonistic approach is due to finances or competition or a combination of the two.

I am very blessed to be in a real time discussion of the collaboration of arts organizations who have been challenged to work together to create a new tomorrow. Buzzwords like “creative spacemaking” are being bandied about and there are some incredibly accomplished, intelligent people engaged willing to make it work. But before they begin, they need to get on the same page. Easier said than done.

If you follow along, you know that I’m the marketing director for a non-profit that works with young people in the arts. We are based in a community which has been down-trodden for longer than it should’ve been, but now is being rejuvenated in one of the largest urban redevelopment projects of its size in the nation. This provides me with a unique perspective to see how the confluence of private and public leadership is coming together to build a new future for the third largest city in Pennsylvania.

In a recent meeting, the ‘gauntlet’ was thrown down by the developers and funders in the city to create a living, vibrant community that incorporates and embraces the arts. For months I’ve been asking myself and others, what is this city known for – and the answers come back “not much.” I see this engagement of the arts community as a time to call on everyone together to create something remarkable. Something memorable. Something that will not only bring the residents of the city but of the entire region together to say a collective, “WOW!”

Of course, we all know you can’t flip a switch and create art. Just like designs from the architect or the laying the foundation for a building, great things take time and talent. You cannot legislate or mandate creativity no matter how much you try.

However, from the viewpoint of the arts community, artists (and the administrators that love them)  must be flexible and be ready to move on what may seem like a moment’s notice.

As I’m entrenched in the business side of the arts and not the creative programmatic world, I want to go after every opportunity as soon and fast as possible. I have to realize that sometime  that can not be possible. Its in my nature to  never w say ‘no.’  I want to make remarkable experiences – whether they are artistic or merely transactional, if the audience can come away with a positive memory, we’ve done our job.

There is an interesting balance developing in our home town around this project. The act of incorporating the arts at a level that makes a real impression on visitors and creates an experience, while accomplishing that goal within the budget and timelines that everyone can live with.

True compromise is when everyone wins (or loses) depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist.

I see a very interesting time before us where there will be individuals forced to do some things they don’t want to and exploring ways to do things creatively that were thought could never be achieved. But I have hope and belief that the outcomes will be amazing beyond words.

About

Sean King has been consulting with small businesses and non-profit organizations for 25 years. Currently, Sean is a principal in the Aspire Consulting Group providing solutions and training for arts, events and non-profit marketing professionals and their organizations. Clients include Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) and a growing list of satisfied organizations. Sean speaks regularly throughout the U.S. including at the IFEA Annual Conference, Arts Reach Conference, AFP, 92Y, CiviCRM User Summit, PA Council on the Arts, Michigan Festivals & Event Annual Conference. Sean serves as the Marketing Chairperson for the Hamilton District Main Street, a program of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce in Allentown and is a Co-Chair of the Arts & Culture Committee for the Upside Allentown initiative. You can follow Sean on Twitter @skingaspire or email him anytime at sking.aspire@gmail.com

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Posted in Creative Placemaking, Marketing, Redevelopment

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About Sean King
Sean King has been consulting with small businesses and non-profit organizations for 25 years.  Currently, Sean is a principle in the Aspire Consulting Group providing solutions and training for arts, events and non-profit marketing professionals and their organizations. Clients include Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) and a growing list of satisfied organizations. Sean speaks regularly throughout the United States including at the IFEA Annual Conference, Arts Reach Conference, AFP, 92Y, CiviCRM User Summit, PA Council on the Arts, Michigan Festivals & Event Annual Conference.  Sean serves as the Marketing Chairperson for the Hamilton District Main Street program in Allentown and is a Co-Chair of the Arts & Culture Committee for the Upside Allentown initiative. He also blogs a artsmarketingblog.org.  You can follow Sean on Twitter @skingaspire. Sean resides with his wife Natalie and son Haydn in the global crossroads of Fogelsville, Pa.