"Dancing While the Rug is Being pulled Out From Under You"-Adventures in the Political Sector While Strengthening the Arts in the Community

Lewiston/Auburn, ME

Contact Name
Odelle Bowman
Project Dates
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2013
Personal reflections/experiences of how arts leaders, artists and ground level advocates deal with the shifting political scenarios in their communities and foster positive relationships and change.
First hand examples and strategies of how to move forward as experienced in a classic New England Mill Town community - Lewiston/Auburn, Maine, a community at a positive tipping point.
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
To open lines of communication, foster collaboration and trust,promote the arts and culture of our community promoting economic growth, developing future audiences for arts and culture(developing community interest in the arts), change the perception of our community outside our community
Have they changed over time?
Through the process we have deepened these goals, learned many lessons (sometimes painful and others reaffirming) and through this work developed Arts and Culture Lewiston/Auburn to bring the arts and culture sector together to strengthen the sector at its core.It has taken 150 cups of coffee and 3 glasses of wine.
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
The community of Lewiston/Auburn.
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
L/A Arts has outreached to every city official (across sectors on both sides of the river)and
met with most community leaders individually or in group settings,invested in increasing our visibility within the community, has said yes more than no when asked for technical support or to collaborate,remains a positive voice within the community no matter what challenges we have faced.
Have they been refined over time?
We have matured in dealing with the community sector, taking the high road at all times and working to be the positive example while not shying away from advocacy for the need for support for arts and culture within our community.
What were your major obstacles?
Trust, time and resources to do the requisite work necessary.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
L/A Arts has continued to state that we need to work together, that we may be two cities but we are one community. "One River" "One Community". As cities and arts and cultural organizations we are not in competition with one another, if one of us is successful then we are all successful. We ahev worked to be the example of the change we wish to see.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
To have patience,lead by example, and be inclusive and transparent.
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
It has begun to establish a level of trust within the political and community sector, fostering positive initiatives for the future.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
Through open and focused dialogue over an extended period of time there is a willingness to tackle difficult subjects and foster collaborations and initiatives that are positive for the community as a whole.
Were there unexpected impacts?
The arts and culture sector is beginning to work together as a group on marketing and audience development. Some city officials are beginning to change their minds about the importance and need for support of the arts in our community of Lewiston/Auburn.
CCX Workshop Handout

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