Lessons from Running a Community Art Project

I wrote a long post about my experiences running the Raksura Colony Tree project at Dublin 2019. Since this got very long, here’s the short version with just the lessons I’m taking away from this.

What worked well

  • Start early – for an ambitious project like this, six months to a year is good, for smaller things less would be fine.
  • Shout it from the rooftops – a fixed location like this blog is good, but even more important is using the convention’s social media channels – the social media team will be happy to do the shouting if provided with material. I also wrote an article for the convention blog and made sure the project got a mention in one of the progress reports and in a member newsletter.
  • Get sponsoring – even if it’s a long shot, just a little bit of help on the materials side can make things much easier. I didn’t really expect this to work out, but my efforts in this area were richly rewarded.
  • Plan the space – Think about what you need and communicate your needs clearly to whoever’s providing the space – workspace, storage space, display space.
  • Get out of the way – this is a hard one for me, but letting people just run with what I had prepared und not worrying whether the result matches my artistic vision made everything so much better, and I didn’t have to expend energy policing things.
  • Be available – this was what the planned workshops on programme were for, so people knew when they could expect me to be there.

What I’d do differently next time

  • Minimize shipping of bulky/heavy stuff – for anything bulky and/or heavy, I’d try much harder to get some local help. Mailing a huge parcel is a pain.
  • Have a partner in crime – sharing the responsibility and the need to be available. Members of the community we built stepped up for me in the end, but this wasn’t planned and therefore not something I could have counted on beforehand.
  • Think about move-out – having a clear plan for what happens with the project and the materials when the convention is over would have made move-out much smoother for me.

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