Qualities of Artistic Leaders (Cont.)

Basic Knowledge of Community Development

Artists or organizers should have some knowledge of or experience in community development. Community art projects work on a different set of foundations than the traditional art scene. Behaviours that would be encouraged or expected at a private gallery or performance would be out of place or insulting in a community setting. This includes:

  • Focusing on one particular artist
  • An artist from outside of the community speaking for the community
  • Selling community members’ artwork (unless previously discussed)

In general, the most successful collaborations happen in the communities where the artist is already living or working. The second best collaborations happen in communities who decide they would like to work with an artist, but do not have one. An artistic collaboration is not about an artist producing work in an unknown community. That’s called a presentation. An artistic collaboration with a community ultimately helps the community help itself through the process of art- making.

According to the Saskatoon District Health Community Development Team and Dr. Ron Labonte, 1999, there are seven values that are important in any community development work:

  1. Positive Experience: Respecting and valuing the inherent worth, dignity and abilities of all members helps to ensure positive and productive relationships.
  2. Equity: Treating all individuals with fairness and ensure justice will help to create an equitable environment.
  3. Participation: Participation by all members is the only way to ensure the outcomes truly reflect the needs and wants of the community.
  4. Power sharing: Power imbalances exist within all communities, and working to eliminate them will empower the community and ensure sustainable programming.
  5. Meaningful process: The road to the goal is just as important as the final outcome. In order for a community to be empowered, all members must have been a part of the whole process. This could be one of the most important aspects of community development.
  6. Integrity: The community developer needs to be held accountable to the community.
  7. Hope: Community development brings the hope of change and progress to the concerns of a community.

4. Organizational and Administrative Skills

The ability to initiate meetings, complete a project plan, manage multiple schedules, keep on top of grant deadlines, manage budgets, organize staff and volunteers, and provide general project guidance is necessary for successful community projects. While having a community-minded artist working in a community has benefits, if the art remains unfinished, groups will disperse and the project will be forgotten. The area of artistic and community collaboration demands leaders to be organized and have administrative skills. This includes creating a system that can:

  • Keep accurate records – Be on top of grant deadlines, budgets, attendance
  • Manage others – Ability to recruit, inspire, guide and monitor staff and volunteers
  • Manage project timelines – Ability to predict timelines and meet deadlines
  • Promote the project to the community and community at large – Ability to suc- cessfully document and explain the work to be made
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