Friday, February 24, 2012

Profits for Preservation

Too many artists but not enough performance space in your city?

Heritage sites going underfinanced and underutilized in your town?

Phildalephia's preservation community has a clever solution: invite local artists to make themselves at home in the city's landmark buildings at affordable rates.

Dance, opera, classical music, lectures and exhibits are a surprising natural fit for the unique spaces in most cities.



New Century Trust in Philadelphia, for example, makes its Victorian parlors available to the public for rehearsals, lectures, recitals and more for as little as $40 per hour. Old churches and synagogues are beginning to open their doors to dance, theater and music performances.

Recently, nationally-recognized Heritage Consultant,  Donna Ann Harris, led a discussion with Philadelphia's cultural entrepreneurs that centered on the ifs and hows of partnering successfully with heritage sites. She recommended that groups approach heritage sites respectfully, with an awareness of each location's mission and history.



"It's relationship, not transaction." Ms. Harris said.

She advised all to come "bearing gifts" when meeting with heritage site directors and volunteers. Not just fees but the following:

Knowledge - When pitching an idea for an event to a heritage site show how your organization is linked to the story of the place. The more your group's history and mission match the site's the better are your chances of establishing rapport.

Awareness - Show you value the space and its treasures. Emphazise the measures you will take to ensure the site will remain undamaged. Plan to invite a curator to oversee the moving of objects and furniture when necessary.
Timing - Propose an event for a time that is unlikely to conflict with a site's calendar or schedule.

Enthusiasm - The ultimate gift is your own appreciation for the heritage site, its value and its potential to serve the community in new ways.

Inspiration - Not every heritage site director will immediately see the benefits of opening the door to new use. Inspire them to see their surroundings as versatile and full of untapped potential. Your event can bring in a new stream of funding for the building plus be a resource of new audiences for the site.


The message is clear. With mutual respect and a collaborative spirit, artists and preservationists can benefit together. Profits for Preservation!







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