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.