Local Cultural Councils have the unique ability to serve as a community catalyst for projects and collaborations that may address unmet cultural needs or recognize a potential opportunity. Councils can also act as a place for local organizations and artists to go to for information about the resources available to their community. This page discusses the different roles that councils can hold in their community, beyond granting.
Organizing Events and Programming
Through the hard work of their members and other volunteers, some councils choose to manage their own events or initiatives. These may include festivals, exhibits, public art and school programs. Councils can:
- Start a council-initiated program using a portion of your council’s allocation.
- Use locally raised money to fund events and programming.
- Collaborate with other individuals, LCCs, or organizations to jointly develop a project that would pool resources to ensure its success.
Take time to consider why the council wants to do a certain project and determine if the council is the best, or even the only, sponsor able to carry it out. Some councils find that collaborating with others to implement projects has many positive results:
- The work to plan and implement the program is shared among more people.
- The council benefits from the expertise and resources that others bring to the project.
- More people involved in planning often mean better attendance or community support for the program or project.
- Collaborators often have access to other funds; a joint program can be more elaborate or extensive than a council can support on its own.
- Establishing a relationship with groups or individuals that represent underserved populations can involve people who don't ordinarily have access to cultural programs. Use the community input process to establish support and identify local interest in a potential project. The process may also help to identify potential partners, volunteers and untapped resources.
Council programming and increasing council visibility go hand in hand. Read more about visibility and collaboration strategies for ideas about ways to build community while simultaneously informing the public about the council's work.
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Serving as a Resource
Councils can help support the community by connecting cultural organizations and artists to information and services designed to help draw attention to their work. Some of these resources already exist statewide; others, councils can develop on their own. For example:
- Encourage performing and teaching artists who are looking for work in the community to create a profile on CreativeGround.
- Find/List affordable, alternative and available creative spaces on SpaceFinder Mass.
- Sponsor workshops on grant writing, program development or marketing and exhibiting the arts.
- Co-sponsor an information booth, brochure or calendar with the local tourism agency or chamber of commerce.
- Encourage artists and other community members looking for cultural employment to search for everything from internship opportunities to full and part time jobs on Hire Culture.
Create a Cultural Directory: Gathering and sharing information about the cultural resources of the community is a valuable way to increase access to cultural programs and services. Using an inventory-style survey, a council can collect information that will help members and others in the community initiate appropriate projects.
To create an inventory, the council will need to survey the cultural assets within the community. Resources to survey may include:
- Facilities (both traditional and nontraditional: art gallery, school auditorium, library meeting room)
- Artists, humanists, interpretive scientists (professional and vocational, by discipline) and cultural organizations and groups
- Service organizations with cultural components (i.e., social service agency with an after-school nature or arts camp)
- Education workshops, programs, curriculum materials, in-school and afterschool programs that are culturally based (in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences)
- CreativeGround.org (New England's online cultural database)
Working with others within the community can yield more results and make the effort more manageable. Local Cultural Councils could:
- Collaborate with the local newspaper to print a cultural interest survey. Consider a joint survey with the city/town hall or the recreation department to include questions they might ask about future program planning.
- Collaborate with other cultural groups to gather information that will be mutually beneficial. The tasks of coordinating, conducting and completing the survey can also be shared among more people.
Once the council has collected information, organize the information into a simple computerized database program and share it with others in the community. A cultural inventory will help to identify needs and assets and will help council members make difficult granting decisions. Even when a council cannot help an individual or organization by providing funds, a council will be able to help people make connections, and through collaboration, exciting cultural projects may still be able to take place.
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