RSS Feed

Collaboration and the Creative Arts

by Karen LaShelle, Executive and Artistic Director

Reposted from Leadership Austin Blog Essential
by 2010 graduate and Engage attendee Karen LaShelle.

 

Tuesday morning I had the pleasure of attending Leadership Austin’s Engage breakfast discussing the capacity of the creative arts in Austin. As the director of a local nonprofit arts organization, Theatre Action Project, and someone who has been involved with a number of initiatives to research and plan for the sustainability and growth of the creative sector, it was a truly fascinating discussion. And, I was pleased to see such a packed house at 7:30 am!

The conversation began with a great question by moderator Leslie Rhode to kickoff the discussion: “Does the arts community have the support it needs to grow as Austin grows?” Panelists discussed the various and typical barriers to growth for local arts organizations, such as low attendance and weak philanthropy. It seems we artistic folks discuss these predicaments at every gathering when brainstorming how to save the arts… yet, it doesn’t seem like these problems are going away any time soon. But then a new idea emerged that seemed to offer tangible possibilities for sustaining the arts in Austin: focus on collaboration.

What are the untapped opportunities for creating partnerships between the arts and the business sector? The truth is that the arts community and the business sector NEED each other, and perhaps neither legion locally has quite realized this yet. Arts organizations need funding and patrons, and arts leaders could benefit from the help of savvy business professionals. Businesses need Austin to maintain its cultural life and to produce an innovative, critically-thinking workforce… plus, they need venues to market their brand!

The arts are undeniably a critical part of what makes Austin alluring to young talent from across the country, and the arts and arts education are foundational to fueling innovation, creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit. If this potentially symbiotic – and mostly untapped – relationship between these two sectors can be fully articulated and carried out by arts and business leaders, the arts community can grow and thrive AND business will prosper, too. Long Center ED Jamie Grant offered, “we need to think of these as business to business relationships that are about marketing opportunities, not philanthropy,” which seems like the heart of it. Arts orgs can’t ask for money just because we know the arts are important. We need to help businesses see how we can help them, too.

Refocusing some (we won’t give up on expanding the audience and donor base, too!) of our efforts towards collaborations seems like a critical step in sustainability. I know that this was certainly an “A-Ha” moment for me. I plan to spend time thinking about the mutually beneficial goals Theatre Action Project can discover with local businesses. As we reach youth and families in seven school districts every week with our dynamic arts programs, we might just have something to offer businesses who want to reach a new audience.

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

Talk to Us

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: