May_BellSchoolCommunityEvent

In partnership with artists, politicians, neighborhood and philanthropic leaders, Artspace is working to convert the six-building, two-block Bell School campus in the heart of the historic Tremé neighborhood into a vibrant, multi-faceted arts facility. What today is vacant and dilapidated space will be re-animated by artists and creative people as a catalyzing community asset.

ArtPlace asked Artspace Project Manager Joe Butler to reflect on the past year of working on the Bell School Arts Campus project, and share advice with future ArtPlace grantees.

ARTPLACE: Now that you are coming to the end of your ArtPlace grant period take a moment to think over the past year. What advice would you give to the new grantees? How would you encourage new grantees to leverage their ArtPlace grants for maximum effect?

JOE: As we come to the end of our first year, one of the most important lessons we’ve learned is the value of time. I cannot overstate the importance of time in equity-based relationships that create the best leveraging opportunities—time to work through internal organizational dynamics, time to listen to community partners and time to create strategic partnerships. The time needed for vision-making within the context of equal participation is vital to a project’s sustainability.

When organizations and individuals partner, each brings different but complementing tool kits and resources. It takes time for the members to find their place in the relationship and to value the strength their differences can bring to the project.

I would advise new grantees to include in their strategic plan the time to build relationships with community members at all levels—artists, community residents, other arts- and revitalization-oriented initiatives, and city and government leaders—to gather and include their input into the project’s design. The value of spending time in various development and community building work is the most important tool to pair with capital resources.

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