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To encourage commercial and cultural revitalization along a pivotal corridor in New Orleans, St. Claude Main Street, Inc.’s Arts District & Parkette Program will unify and support the corridor’s creative endeavors and promote its activities through innovative marketing, visual identify and community engagement programs.

ArtPlace sat down with Michael T. Martin, Manager of St. Claude Main Street, to discuss their initiatives and the importance of partnerships.

ARTPLACE: Who outside your organization has been key to your ability to move your initiative forward?

MARTIN: Our initiative would not be possible without people outside of our organization helping us through the varying processes and programs we are developing. The basic foundation of St. Claude Main Street’s charter is to facilitate the community and economic development of the St. Claude Avenue corridor; with that in mind, most of our programming initiatives (ArtPlace and otherwise) leverage the existing resources nationally, in New Orleans, and those that our local partnerships offer.

However, I want to call specific attention to the neighborhood associations that represent the neighborhoods adjacent to St. Claude Avenue as being key to our ability in moving our initiatives forward. As an organization administering a grant that is so tied to supporting local community capital, St. Claude Main Street requires the knowledge that those neighborhood leaders offer. Without their insight into the needs and desires of their constituents, we would be very limited in reaching the diversity of people that live and work in the St. Claude-area communities.

ARTPLACE: Are there secrets to good partnerships?

MARTIN: There are secrets, though I won’t claim a monopoly on knowing all of them. In my experience, the foremost secrets in a good partnership are 1) forming partnerships where each partner’s “competitive advantage” dovetails with the other and 2) being in regular communication so as to stay on the same page. For instance, St. Claude Main Street’s partnerships with our neighborhood associations are strong because the associations identify neighborhood issues while we provide programming that addresses the identified needs in those communities. Additionally, the delivery of programs is a process that requires not only coordination but also regular communication. Any program that we develop, we want it to be responsive to the most prescient issues in the St. Claude-area; the direct lines of communication with the various stakeholders allows for holistic, community-based programming, which we consider the essence of our work.

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