To activate newly renovated and rebuilt community spaces in three different neighborhoods across New Orleans, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) is delivering music experiences to communities of people in Lakeview (at Edward Hynes Charter School), Algiers (at L. B. Landry High School), and Central City (at Mahalia Jackson Early Education and Family Learning Center). Community leaders from each location choose artistic opportunities that best engage the members of their distinct community. Because music is an integral part of culture and community in New Orleans, regularly scheduled music programs funded by ArtPlace, including full Orchestra concerts, ensemble performances, and music workshops that engage various community partners will enable these sites to become vibrant centers of community life where people and community partners come together to experience cultural activities and community building.
ARTPLACE: Do you have partners on the project?
LPO: The LPO is working with partners at community sites throughout the New Orleans area: in Lakeview with Hynes Charter School and the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association; in Algiers with L.B. Landry High School, and the University of New Orleans Band Department; and in Central City with Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood and Family Learning Center, New Orleans Public Library, Harney Elementary School, New Hope Baptist Church, and the Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians. Through our work with ArtPlace, part of our mission has been to connect our specific partners at community sites with other organizations in their communities, utilizing their strengths to enable them to develop into centers for community life. The LPO has facilitated connections with additional community partners at the request of each site, leading to a broader community impact, stronger community building, and the inclusion of even more community members.
ARTPLACE: What is the toughest thing about collaboration?
LPO: One of the hardest things about collaboration has been coordinating the efforts of the community partners, especially when much of the scheduling of space and time at school facilities must revolve around pre-established schedules. Though the community leaders are ecstatic about the opportunity to collaborate with the LPO, many of them have needed guidance about how to best engage and involve community members through music. The free flow of ideas has been amazing, but we have had to streamline the specific projects and coordinate the calendars in order to effectively implement programs. Yet the end result of creating an inviting place for the community to feel welcome and truly making our partner sites centers for community life has been extremely rewarding.
ARTPLACE: What is the most rewarding thing about collaboration?
LPO: The most rewarding things about collaboration are the opportunities to work with diverse segments of the population, to bring unique arts experiences to people who might not otherwise participate in them, and to use music to contribute to the cultural and community vibrancy of New Orleans. Our work under ArtPlace has enabled our Orchestra musicians to connect with the people and communities we serve on a more personal level. They have found the experiences rewarding and have enjoyed reaching out to and connecting with additional audiences. Various groups within the neighborhood are excited about recognition by the partners, which validates the work being done individually and communally for the well-being of the neighborhood. Music has proven to be a very good connector for neighborhood institutions operating in relative isolation, but sharing common concerns and interests.
ARTPLACE: What advice would you give to those having trouble making a collaboration work?
LPO: Be patient. Effective creative placemaking can take many meetings and the coordination of many people and ideas. It can be helpful to establish goals that are understood by all partners so everyone can work toward the same desired result. Open conversations around music-making and learning have facilitated a new awareness about arts performance and community for all participants as well as a sense of belonging and unification under common goals for the residents of each neighborhood.