Studio to School

Reflection #2, Part 2: Partnerships are more than a Do! Si! Do!

This reflection comes from the minds and notes of Christine Tell, project leader, and Niki Price, evaluation coordinator.

1) Share an example of how partnership has made a difference in doing this work. Who were you partnering with? How did the partnership help? What did you learn from this experience? What was it that made the partnership fruitful?

We have three examples, and what we learned from each:

Creating this art-music-environment experience required assistance from:
1) Salmon-Drift Creek Watershed Council — they offered the initial idea of commemorating CHSRA with a concert, and contributed the time of artist and environmental educator Graham Klag
2) Cascade Head Music Festival — donated the central fee for the Three Centuries Ensemble, helped us find the Three Centuries Ensemble
3) Sitka Center for Art & Ecology — connected us with a second artist, Scott Conary, and helped us publicize the events
4) Salishan Spa & Golf Resort — enthusiastically donated the lodging for the musicians
5) Five area restaurants — donated gift certificates for the visiting artists and sound/lighting volunteers
6) Three artists — donated their time, but not their works
7) And last but not least, the SBMF and Studio to Schools — who paid for the outreach concert itself

That’s not counting all the individuals within the schools who had to make the event work, including the art teacher who made room for the SONSOA work in his curriculum, and all the other teachers who spared their classes for the event (and whose lesson plans must always be considered when taking kids out of their classes).

This outreach could have been much simpler, with a chamber music concert at Taft 7-12 in the morning and another at the LCCC in the evening. But we chose to try something complicated, with a lot of moving parts and people to coordinate. In fact, the event coordinator (Niki Price) felt out of her depth, most of the time — her quote in the November meeting was, “Every time I talk about it, I expect someone to call ‘baloney.'” Except she did not say baloney.

But in the end, it was clear that all this collaboration gave layers of meaning to the concert, offering hundreds of people a new way to experience music. And, each partner organization brought its own supporters to the evening event, which made it more financially viable. What made it most fruitful, perhaps, was that each partner was asked to do what they do best, and no-one was asked to carry the whole load.

Lesson learned: collaboration is great, but a single leader is still required for success. That person does not need to be an artist or a musician or a teacher, although he or she does need to appreciate those things. He/she also needs to be a great communicator.

This project involved fewer partners:

1) The band teacher at Taft 7-12, Andy Hordichok — Andy designed the new sound and light systems, and did most of the installation.
2) Lincoln County School District — they supported this project with gear (like the all-important scissor lift Andy used) and other upgrades (like the new stage apron added in February.
3) Roby’s Furniture Store — this local business supplied the paint needed to turn the stage interior from beige to black, ready for a new theatrical experience with a greater sense of expectation, and importance.
4) Students and volunteers — helped provide the labor.

Lesson learned: A project may be very well planned, but it’s not always possible to know everything that a transformation will require. Then, you must nurture new partnerships from longstanding relationships. In this case, the project needed something that was beyond the scope of the S2S project (the black paint), and an ad-hoc partnership with a local business brought the whole project together.

Our partnership with the Lincoln City Cultural Center (LCCC) has made a critical difference in the success of this project. On many levels, the LCCC provides the hub for the visual and performing arts in our community. The Siletz Bay Music Festival’s office is located in the LCCC. During the first week of the Festival – all of our rehearsals and performances occur on the LCCC stage.

Our co-location and mutual mission and goals help make the SBMF/LCCC partnership a strong one – both in our complementary functions and in the eyes of the community. We have learned that in order for our Studio to School project to have an impact on the economic and cultural vitality of the North Lincoln County community – it is vital that our partnership fulfill a core need for Lincoln City residents. In our case, both LCCC and the Festival provide access to high quality experiences in the arts for children and families and music programs for our schools while attracting visitors to related events, e.g.Kite Festival as well as hotels, restaurants and businesses in our community.

Lesson learned: Proximity can make for great partners.

2) What have you learned about the value and challenges of collaborating with others through the project so far?

Three major lessons come to mind regarding collaboration:

The collaboration must be mutually beneficial for those involved. For example, through STS, Taft 7-12 school gains a performance area for their students that also provides a common area for community gatherings.

In order to achieve success, collaborators should be working together toward realizing a common goal or dream. For example, through STS, 6th grade band returned to the schools after a 10 year absence! A standing room only crowd watched their performance on December 11th with tears in their eyes and wildly applauded their children. Those community members are now confirmed supporters of the arts in their schools and they also support the SBMF and LCCC – the organizations that provided the catalyst for returning music to the schools. Future elections and ballot measures should also reflect that growing community support.

The collaboration should include business as well as education and local artists and arts organizations. We have presented an introduction as well as update on our OCF/STS project to Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce in the Fall and again within the last few weeks. Every quarter, each resident of Lincoln County receives the LC School District’s publication that has an article on the progress of students in our STS programs. Business owners realize that strong schools attract more residents and business to our community. Arts programs that are accessible to all students provide added incentive for parents to consider local public schools.

3) Have you discovered a need for additional partners? For deeper collaboration with existing partners? If so, why? How are you adjusting?

We must have a deeper relationship and collaboration with major employers in our community – in our case the Salishan Resort and the Chinook Winds Resort and Casino. These businesses rely on bringing in outside groups and events as well as local residents. The resorts have been generous in their sponsorship, donations and in-kind contributions. Many of their employees are parents who send their students to public schools and increasingly benefit from the music programs that are coming through STS.

4) What lessons would you share with others who want to form similar partnerships to work on arts education?

See above.

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