Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
In planning our capital project at the theatre where I work, we are entering new territory. The variety of programs that we are planning, and the spaces in which we will be able to do them, will be multiplying by the time the project is finished.
As arts organizations, we are mission-driven to provide artistic and cultural experiences to our patrons, and often to the community at large, regardless of their age, income level or other factors. Chances are, unless you live in a very tiny town, there are other organizations that are obligated to better the lives of their community as well.
The great part about all of this enrichment and quality of life improvement is that it gives us many opportunities to collaborate. For example, some of the programs that we will be adding are music education and lessons, school programming, independent cinema, and a student theatrical program. Because this is our first foray, as administrators, into this territory, it could potentially be a mountain of work and coordination, and it might take us years to get it right.
Very fortunately for us, there are people in our community who already do these things on a smaller or piecemeal scale. A local teacher who schedules and gives piano lessons is working with us on our music education program. A group of teacher center directors is helping us to determine the best way to introduce programming into our schools. Another organization in our area who does a small amount of independent cinema wants to partner with us to promote their brand and serve a neighboring community. Our student theatrical program will be directed by a woman who has worked with various groups of young people in the areas of acting, creative movement and performance.
There is no need for us to reinvent the wheel, and learn from scratch skills and aptitudes that others have spent many years developing. Make a list of your ideas, and ask yourself who can help. If you are starting a new initiative, chances are that there is someone in your community that could lend advice, expertise or experience to your efforts. The time that you spend seeking them out will be a great investment in your future. Working together not only makes your projects more fundable, but it keeps you from duplicating services and splitting your audience with a more established program at another venue.
Have you had good experiences partnering with others in your community? Feel free to share them with us!