This past Saturday, April 16, 2016 marked the first Youth March for Peace in Atlanta in 50 years. I’m glad to have been a part of such an historic event, advocating for the end of domestic abuse and violent crimes and for pursuing peace and unity instead.
Many thanks to the committee, to Chivon Ferguson of Pretty PR, to keynote speaker Congressman John Lewis, to Amber Nicole of Her Black Matter and to fellow artist Ayanna Mabry.
You always have a lot to learn no matter how long you’ve been in a career path, especially in this ever shifting global economy.
Working artists are no different, and I’ve got a couple takeaways for working with civic organizations:
1. Get everything in writing. Leave nothing to assumption.
Learn and verify who is in charge of what, who to go to for what, who is most accessible.
Do not agree to do anything without fully comprehending the scope of what you are responsible for. Do not agree to do anything without understanding how you will be compensated, if at all. Make sure you are on the same page with the party who asks for your labor, across the board. If you need/require payment for hours of labor, plus supplies (and you do), say so. No one knows or will assume what you need and desire if you do not ask. Which brings me to the next point:
2. Make your requests known. Be as specific as you can, right down to poster print costs of the price range for a 13 oz tube of medium. You’re the expert when it comes to the creative process; so act like it. Make it clear, and present as early as possible so those budget decisions include you.
3. Know the logistics of the event ahead of time. Attend all planning meetings so you can clarify your role, make suggestions as needed, and make certain all variables (time, supply runs, tech difficulties etc) are accommodated for.
Scope the venue in advance, if possible. Are you inside or outdoors? You don’t want to be unprepared if you may need lighting, extension cords, extra tables, water, etc.
3. Maintain a pleasant demeanor and a patient attitude. Think diplomatically. Someone is always watching how you deal with personal conflict and challenges. You don’t want to burn a bridge in the midst of an unprofessional rant (and exercise PR etiquette in social media).
4. Be prepared! If you look at an item the day of, throw it in your bag. Trust your intuition nudging you to bring it. And be ready to improvise!
5. Follow up. Follow through.
–Communicate, communicate with all levels of participants from a chairman to committee leader to team members, throughout the planning, implementing and the day of. People are counting on you; be reliable!
–Engage the people. You can make your process interactive; crack jokes; let children assist; be collaborative; be open.
–Make the connections, get the contacts, and send a quick email or message within 48 hours. Building community builds relationships. Stay involved and in touch.
6. Be grateful always.