LPONew Orleans, LA
By delivering site-specific programs to neighborhood residents in Orleans Parish at community (school) sites, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) contributes to the vibrancy of three diverse New Orleans communities: Algiers (L.B. Landry High School), Central City (Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood and Family Learning Center), and Lakeview (Edward Hynes Elementary Charter School). Neighborhood and school leaders are involved in identifying and selecting live, professional music and education experiences that best fit the needs of their neighborhoods.
When asked what have been your most effective strategies for attracting the attention of people who matter, LPO Managing Director Babs Mollere listed the following approaches.
Contact the decision maker at the top of the institution/facility and let them know you have the support necessary to engage in activities with them.
The LPO contacted a leading decision maker in each community and discussed working with community partners. Working with a leading decision maker from the beginning both expedited the process and allowed us to understand each community’s needs from the start. We found that approaching the decision makers and letting them know we have the support available to bring new musical and educational events that best fit their community needs worked well in the engagement phase. Institutions have to know what your resources are and the best way for institutions to learn about this is to contact a leading decision maker. Moreover, we found that once we had connected with decision makers, they in turn connected us to the community. For example, after connecting with principal Lee Green from L.B. Landry High School, we learned there was a high level of anxiety regarding a large standardized achievement test which concerned both adults and students. With that goal in mind we were able to offer programming suitable to their need while also celebrating their new professional theater space.
Have products that are seen as valuable to the community.
This is key. Institutions want to feel that what you are offering is valuable to their community. We presented each community with different performance product choices and leading decision makers worked with the LPO and others to choose what they wanted. This allowed us to tailor our event for each community’s individual needs and desires. Moreover, we were able to create performances unique to each location. At Hynes, we performed at their brand new school facility to allow community members to come, see Hynes students playing with the Orchestra and Hynes as host for an LPO performance open to the community. For many audience members, this was the first time they were able to hear a live professional orchestra performance.
Take responsibility for communication.
E-blasts, fliers, person-to-person conversations, and outreach are all integral components to keeping up strong communication with partners. Additionally, we created a collage signature of photographs from the events to attach to the end of all outgoing emails advertising which programs were coming up and where. We also found success in working with new community partners: for example, the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association , the largest neighborhood improvement group in Lakeview, for the Hynes performance; and New Hope Baptist Church in Central City. These partners were well known in their respective neighborhoods and helped with promotion of community programs. By taking a leadership role in communication, the LPO was able to cultivate consistent and positive exchanges between neighborhood partners and the orchestra members