What were your major obstacles?
Despite a tiny budget and spread-thin staff ArtsUnion is rich with programming. In 2010 it presented 7 festivals, 6 themed markets, and a series of cultural and historic walking tours. How do we do so much with a shoe-string staff?
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
With a “Call to Producers” model ArtsUnion is able to diversify offerings, develop emerging leaders, and save precious cash. Producers bring their own audiences, increasing attendance and economic impact. The “Call to Producers” model allows us to better engage under-represented communities and connect with area businesses. For example, “Utsav! A Festival of Punjabi Culture” brought in the formal project partner of Somerville Community Access TV (SCAT) and the Sikh community at the Somerville Gurudwara while an evening exploring filmmaking in Haiti was produced in partnership with the Haitian Coalition. Ginger Explosion celebrated the food of 5 area restaurants, while our Ethnic Food Market tours highlight area markets and immigrant business owners. Area businesses draw in visitors with beverages or menu items in keeping with the theme of various events.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Other communities would likely want to replicate our “Call to Producers” model to more effectively leverage local resources, diversify participation and engage new partners. Also, other communities may wish to follow our lead in ongoing data collection and research to adjust programming (e.g. poor sales at morning craft markets made way for strong sales for afternoon themed market), uncover new opportunities (density of designers with home offices leading to creation of the Design Annex) and to make the case for arts as an effective tool for neighborhood revitalization.