We’ve been a gone a while, but some pretty cool stuff has been happening in Musina.
Some quick updates:
We kicked off November with a few general community workshops focusing on the power of networking. We met with as many people from the Musina arts community as we could, all the while identifying key participants – those who kept showing up at the different workshops – as people to integrate into the planning and leadership process. At each workshop we would mostly see new faces, people who had only just heard about the project, which reinforced to us that there really isn’t an established communication network in Musina. News gets out there, but it seems to travel slowly. Each workshop since then has driven home the same idea – a network is necessary. All the artists in Musina have the same issues and face the same challenges – little information, little support and a desire to grow and perform on a professional level.
Demember marked our third trip to Musina. It’s about a six-hour drive from Joburg up to Musina. The roads are good the whole way, but you need to be quite alert north of Polokwane. You see the evidence of quite a few accidents. So we just take it slow and steady. This trip, we wanted to take the discussion of networking and make it come alive within the context of our own project. We did this by means of a practical workshop on t-shirt conceptualisation and printing. We branded all the t-shirts with the MADE IN MUSINA logo. We then incorporated the name and logo of each of the participating groups on their own series of t-shirts. This process both advertised the MADE IN MUSINA project and it also was an act of networking as it created a link amongst all the participating groups.
This workshop also offered the opportunity for groups to link up and talk about what they can offer and what they provide.
This exercise of identifying 1.) “what I need” and 2.) “what I can offer” was important for identifying what the strengths of the group were. It became clear to us that there is a lot of varied talent and that we ourselves were already resources for one another. The t-shirt printing workshop helped to foster a sense of community, while bringing everyone proudly under the banner of the MIM project. The t-shirts came out great and everyone was excited to walk away with some of the skills that go into making your own t-shirt.
The new year brought with it an important turning point for the project. After having worked for the past few months with large groups of artists, we finally found our “Action Committee”. The first Saturday that we were there we held an “online networking” workshop for the Musina arts community – showing people how to blog, how to use facebook, and looking at the various different resources for sponsorship and support that are available online. At the end of this meeting, we handed out a questionnaire, asking people if they would like to up their level of commitment in the project. We wanted to create an action group/committee – to find a committed group of artists who are eager to manage and run the network (blogging, planning events etc).
Ten people signed up to be a part of the Action Committee and we met the following day, Sunday to discuss the way forward. Creating this group immediately activated the project from the participant side. We decided that the first project of this action committee would be to plan and execute an arts festival in Musina at the beginning of April.
The festival is a major activity to learn about and execute ideas around networking. The Action Committee will be using the local radio station, Musina FM, and newsletters to promote the festival and the project in general. The festival is the first activity towards establishing and solidifying the network. It will also lay the foundation for partnerships with local businesses and NGOs, so that MIM may continue with its work. This festival will also create opportunities for artists to discuss synergies and exchange ideas on how to develop the network. Organising this festival puts into practice the skills that we are developing with the Action Committee in the ongoing workshops.
The Action Committee is also in the process of documenting all Musina’s arts organisations for an active database and getting them to be part of the festival and join the MIM facebook/blog.
Check out the MIM blog-in-the-making at madeinmusina.blogspot.com
The blog is run by webmaster and Action Committee chief organiser Pilot Biller.
And also join the facebook page.
Taking the project to the next stage, we are currently holding workshops with the Action Committee where members are learning how to write mission statements, profiles and plans of action. They are applying what they learn in these workshops to the MIM project in order to create a solid foundation for the organisation. Our long-term goal is to create a network that operates both online, and in the face-to-face world, which is sustained and managed by the Action Committee.
And lastly, for now…
What has been important and exciting for us as facilitators is that each of our networking workshops and activities has had real-life application. This had been crucial to the group’s learning and sense of accomplishment – which has in turn created a sense of commitment to “seeing it through”. The Musina municipality has pledged their support to the organisation, and there are also private companies interested in supporting the festival and the project in general.
Here’s the mission statement that the Action Committee wrote before our last meeting:
MADE IN MUSINA is a project to create a MUSINA ARTS NETWORK.
The MADE IN MUSINA Network is run by a small ACTION COMMITTEE who are working to create the network.
The NETWORK is YOU! ALL THE ARTISTS and ARTS ORGANISATIONS in MUSINA.
Our Vision is to show Musina’s vibrant artistic talent and to inspire and develop every artist.
Our Mission is to work as a unified voice, sharing our resources to make the dreams of Musina’s artists come true.
Our Goal is to create a Musina arts network that will:
- expose new talent
- show that art is a viable career
- operate as a unified voice
- provide access to arts industry information
- improve access to funding and sponsorships
- improve communication within the network and with other networks
- establish Musina’s first arts centre
- create opportunities for collaborations and exchange programmes
- use the arts to bridge race, age and gender gaps
- maximise community participation in festivals and events, workshops and relevant forums