Page 14 - Common Chords Grant Rapids Final Report

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achieving project goals & outcomes
page 14
The experience to interact with the community in non-performance situations impacted the Minnesota Orchestra
musicians as well:
“I was surprised how enthusiastic and interested the locals were about what we’re doing. And, most of all,
appreciative. When we would walk to a coffee shop, people would come and talk to us.”
“…how much the town embraced having us there from the signs on the restaurants to the many people who
said hi around the town.”
“This experience reminded me of why I went into music in the first place.”
Evaluator Christa Treichel reported the following after the Common Chords focus group:
“I heard a high level of engagement and enthusiasm from staff and musicians with the Common Chords
project. Many people were profoundly touched by the people in Grand Rapids and often mentioned how
‘warmly’ people received them. Most musicians want an opportunity to engage with the community in non-
traditional ways—ways that they were able to engage with people in Grand Rapids. Being able to be off the
stage, sharing more than just their musical skills, and interacting one-on-one with the public or in small
groups was meaningful for them.“
Goal III: To enhance a sense of local leadership, through new partnerships and an extensive period of
collaborative planning.
From the beginning, steering committee members in Grand Rapids worked together with the Minnesota Orchestra to
create a vision, plan the project and imagine how their community might be different when the project was over. They
were also asked to reflect on how the experience impacted them personally and to identify ways in which the project
might have been improved. Comments from members illustrate how their collaborative leadership coalesced, the pride
that was felt as a result of Grand Rapids being selected as a partner and their desire to capitalize on the residency
experiences for the benefit of the Grand Rapids community.
One member talked specifically about how the committee gained confidence from the project and how the work will
continue, in part through a planned “First Friday” arts event in downtown Grand Rapids:
“With the significant involvement of the Orchestra, the local committee learned that we can pull off a major
event. The proof of the pudding starts now. Can we locally build on this success and maintain an ongoing
legacy of interest and involvement in the participating communities. Can we keep 1
Friday going, growing
and successful? Can we find ways to bring continuing similar experiences to the participating groups? Can
we determine a way that allows the Orchestra, if they are able and willing, to in some way keep a local legacy
alive? We’re energized!”
Another steering committee member noted,
“In some ways, the process is almost as important for the community as the week of events. It was fun to
build something together as a community.”
Learning for Future Common Chords Projects
Each Common Chords community, steering committee and experience will—by design—pose unique challenges and
opportunities. That said, in reflecting on what was learned from the Grand Rapids experience to future projects, the
following themes emerged: