by Colleen Cook
One of my favorite elements of working with the Renaissance has been the amount of people, organizations, and businesses I’ve been connected with as a result of this work. I’ve heard people in Mansfield say that collaboration doesn’t work here, and I admit that sometimes people don’t play well together, but more often than not I’ve been able to witness Mansfield at its very best when creative collaboration is allowed to happen. Each person, each organization, brings its best to the table and the results are exponentially more than if the collaboration hadn’t existed.
A few examples of these creative collaborations come to mind right away. In 2015, the Renaissance partnered with Little Buckeye Children’s Museum to address a problem at the museum that I had witnessed first-hand with my children. The stage exhibit at the museum had a hard, wooden painted panel functioning as a curtain. More than a few parents slammed their heads against it as they exited the stage, and the exhibit was underutilized because it was missing some of the critical elements that make a theatre so magical.
Our staff and board got involved and within a few months, we built a new theatre exhibit, “The Little Ren” with a functional curtain, a video monitor, a tech booth, actual theatre seating, a box office window, and a concessions window. Opening this space for our young families gave us a place in the community outside of our own building to foster relationships early on with our region’s youngest arts lovers, and a chance to showcase the many careers in the arts available to our area youth. Today, it remains one of the most popular exhibits in the museum!
Another creative collaboration has been with Richland Source, our area’s online news organization. One of the core values of Richland Source is to proportionally cover the great things happening in Richland County alongside the negative stories, and their unique business model affords them that opportunity. Their team, in particular reporter Brittany Schock, has regularly brainstormed with us ways to think outside the box and partner creatively on projects that benefit the community through playing on the strengths of our two organizations.
This partnership has included creative journalistic pieces like live interviews broadcast on Facebook, a documentary following a young performer from auditions through to performance, and most recently the creation of a new journalistic tool, the Listening Post. A listening post is a microphone stand attached to a digital recorder partnered with a question for individuals to answer without the intimidation that might go along with a news interview.
Richland Source approached the Renaissance to help build this post, since the Renaissance’s brilliant tech team regularly solves carpentry and audio challenges such as this in show production, they were able to create a sleek and functional design in time to launch it at the Community Baby Shower hosted by Richland Source on September 9th. On its inaugural use, the Listening Post received 110 interviews from expectant and experienced moms.
(Warning: If you’re anything like me, this will probably make you cry.)
Here at the Renaissance, we’re particularly excited to place the Listening Post in our lobby for certain events to give our audience voice in a different way than we ever have before, and we’re equally excited to see how it will be used throughout the community by Richland Source and other area businesses.
We could talk about other creative collaborations endlessly, because we’re better when we’re working together. For now, though, stay tuned for some other exciting collaborations coming soon.