I was discussing the local arts scene in the Lehigh Valley with a former colleague yesterday, and I continue to find interesting how many individuals and small organizations are doing great things in the arts. Yet, it is often the case that these folks have a hard time bringing widespread recognition to their efforts.
Perhaps the lack of advertising dollars or powerful, influential allies is the root cause of the issue. Even so, there are more voices to be heard and layers to be experienced in the Valley’s music and arts scene. Plenty of folks have great, original ideas that they are trying to bring to fruition. But can the “little guy” stand out without the resources – time, personnel, and capital – and have his voice heard in the current musical landscape?
When you look at an organization like ArtsQuest, you see a long-established and well-oiled marketing machine, with the resources and popularity to draw top talent and have a louder voice than all the rest. There is no doubt that the organization has brought great programming to our community over the years, thanks to a combination of vision and community support.
Perhaps this is the blueprint for individuals and smaller arts organizations to follow in their own endeavors. Whatever your idea is – whether you’d like to add another powerful, long-lasting voice to the arts conversation, stage a one-off benefit concert, or begin an indie music blog hell-bent on world domination… *cough* – you have to know where you’re going in order to get there. Develop a clear vision that includes a consistent brand image, a mapped-out timeline with realistic goals, and a plan to gather resources.
Of those resources, money is the trickiest – and typically the most important – to acquire. I can share a related horror story in a future Sunday Thought. Trust me when I tell you, it’s a long story meant for another day.
In the meantime, don’t underestimate the value of another very important resource: manpower. There are so many like-minded people in the Valley, who all have platforms and a shared goal of helping our arts scene grow and evolve. The problem is that many of these folks believe that they exist on an island. I know that, because I was one of them before launching Lehigh Valley Underground and finding the many great, like-minded contributors to the scene we’re currently working with.
All across the region, there are people with great ideas and similar desires to yours but, like you, they may feel that they are having trouble getting over the hump. Whether they are starting from scratch, or are missing just one or two pieces of the puzzle, it is important to go in search of these like-minded people. Once you’ve found them, and once you know that they are as dedicated to our scene’s health as you are, share ideas and efforts to make your collective voice stronger, and to make tomorrow even better for arts in the Lehigh Valley.
It takes a scene to build a scene. Together, we can make sure we continue #BuildingBetter.