Special thanks to Abria Smith, Associate Director for Community Engagement in the Office of Community and Government Relations at Berklee, for sharing your insights at this month’s Forum.
Community Engagement: Gaining Local Support for Your Program
Key Relationships within the Community:
- City offices
- Other community nonprofits
- Neighborhood associations
Fostering these key relationships can offer a variety of benefits, such as:
- Gain support for your organization and its mission
- Grow your local network
- Learn about joint funding opportunities and collaborations
- Contribute to the culture of the neighborhood (can help with fundraising)
- Help legitimize your programming
Leveraging Your Brand
The goal is to be approached by others for performance opportunities. So how can you make it known in your community that your students are available, reliable, and professional?
Start by creating an authentic brand. At Berklee, the strength and reputability of our brand opens recognition makes it easier for Berklee to find opportunities. As a member of the City Music Network, your program can leverage its affiliation with Berklee when establishing your brand within your community. (For more information regarding the City Music Network Branding Toolkit, contact Jean Connaughton.)
You can introduce your program to the local community by hosting a public event, like an annual showcase, showing people first-hand how talented your students are. You can even connect it to a charitable cause!
Paid vs. Free Performances
Paid gigs are great, but free performances can also benefit your program. When approached about a volunteer or free performance opportunity consider how the relationship serves your organization, mission, or cause. If the organization is a non-profit, are they paying for everything else, other musicians or special guests?
Recruiting Top Talent for an Event
When engaging celebrities, artists, and local talent to support your program, a little research can help you leverage your appeal.
- What other organizations they support and does it align with what you do?
- Would partnering with another nonprofit for a particular event make the ask more relevant?
- Share what you do, acknowledge their value and don’t be afraid to ask them to donate their time
- Consider asking for them to speak instead of perform — they might be more willing to donate time for that
- Foster an ongoing relationship instead of a one-time ask
About the Network Forum
Each month, members from around the Berklee City Music Network® gather to discuss topics and best practices helping you to leverage City Music resources in support of your local program. To inquire about participating in next month’s Network Forum, email firstname.lastname@example.org.