Page 13 - Common Chords in Willmar: Final Report

The Willmar steering committee brought together people from many
different sectors of the community–school system, local government,
business leaders, arts and cultural leaders and volunteers active with
numerous civic organizations. The Willmar Common Chords week
helped boost local efforts including Music Matters, the Becker Farmers
Market, various professional service clubs and the Jazz n’ Java coffee
shop. Highlighting local businesses and community efforts is an
important aspect of the Minnesota Orchestra’s presence in a community.
2. Immigrant communities were most effectively reached through
the school system. Reaching adult audiences was more
challenging.
Willmar’s racial diversity is unique among smaller
communities in Minnesota. In the initial pre-survey, the Willmar steering
committee indicated a strong interest in reaching the Latino and Somali
communities, though several community members were concerned
about potential interest levels. Throughout the planning, the committee
worked to reach broadly into the community and to make events
accessible.
Ultimately, this succeeded most significantly in the school system, where
young members of the Somali and Latino communities were able to
attend the Young People’s Concert and participate in workshops with
school musical ensembles. Members of both of these communities did
participate in community events, but not to levels representative of
Willmar’s population. Both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Willmar
community continue to wrestle with questions of access and
engagement, recognizing that many complicated factors are at play. We
will take what we have learned and apply to other partnerships in the
Twin Cities and beyond.
3. The more engaged people are in the project, the greater their
satisfaction.
This theme held true across all categories surveyed–
Willmar residents, Minnesota Orchestra staff and musicians. Willmar
community members who served on the steering committee reported a
very high level of satisfaction with the week, a testament to their
considerable investment of energy and resources to make these events
happen. Musicians in the Minnesota Orchestra’s small ensembles who
spent time interacting with community members earlier in the week
reported very high levels of satisfaction, while musicians who participated
only in the full ensemble concerts were hungry for more interaction. We
think this bodes well for future Common Chords weeks, when more
individual musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra will have the
opportunity to participate in the community work.
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Photos: Dennis Benson
Photos: Dennis Benson
Photo: Mele Willis
Photo: Mele Willis