Recipe for Success
After 28 years of developing and delivering communiy arts projects, there are a few ingredients that are essential for a successful project.
1. IDENTIFIED NEED
So you have a project idea. Now you need to test it. One thing I always say - never make assumptions. We can think we have a solution, but are we really identifying a need and fullfilling it? Have we actually asked the people the project is meant to be engaging with if it is what they want to do? "Not about me without me"is a saying that has been popularised and I think it is a great way of thinking in relation to projects.
For example, I see this happen quite often with young people. Decisions can be made about "what they need" by older adults without engaging young people themselves in the development of the idea or the project model to ensure it meets their needs on their terms.
Define exactly who the participants are. These are the people that will be hands on involved in the project in some way - the people you are targeting to engage in the project. Get to know who they are, what makes them tick, what their true needs are - and do that through genuine conversations. Profiling the participants is something you will need to promote the project to the right people and get them involved.
Sometimes the best way to get to know participants is to build a healthy partnership with organisations that service those participants. A healthy partnership involved both parties making gains from the relationship within the project. What is in it for the potential partner? Think about that before you approach them and then be flexible about what that partnership could bring to the table - without compromising your values or the project of course.
A partner might bring money to the project in return for something that benefits them, like promotion to their target audiences or corporate profiling. Sometimes it is their knowledge or in-kind resources that can be contributed to the project bringing value sometimes beyond what money can provide.
I always recommend formalising partnerships in writing to ensure both parties know what their commitment is.
Audiences are the ones that attend the project to witness the outcome - the performance, the exhibition, the artwork. It is important to define who the potential audiences are. "General community" doesn't help you with your marketing strategies.
Work out everything you need to make it happen from the people to the finer details like seating at the performance. You need to define all of these to build your project budget and work out how you are paying for it or supporting that expense through a partner. Do you need to apply for funding? What ticket prices or other form of earned income can you access?
Don't forget to include resourcing to document and evaluate your project. To leverage support in the future you need to demonstrate that you can achieve the outcomes you set for the project. I always have a budget for a photographer at a minimum. Add in a videographer if your budget allows. All of this material is great for social media and promoting the outcomes. Do you need to conduct surveys? If so, of who and when? This will allow you to provide a report to funding bodies and partners which is essential at the end of the project.
I recommend not doing any of these things on your own. Trashing out the details is always done best as a team. There will always be a detail someone else will highlight for you.
To start your planning, detail out how you think you can best achieve the project and the steps you will need to take. Then apply that to a timeline and the resources that you need. This becomes your methodology - your project plan. Vital for funding applications, bringing partners on board and to assist you to stay on track with the project.
Some of this won't be news to you. Some of it might provide a bit of a refresher.
If you need support in these processes, you can contact me about a mentoring session!
All the best with your projects for 2023!