We did not set out to revitalize the Western Addition/Fillmore District via the arts. It just happened. We only did what came naturally to us and before we knew it people would thank us for being there. And we had to thank them for allowing us to be there and for embracing us.
HB: What suggestions regarding networking would you give to those seeking to work promoting arts based projects in their city?
Melorra: I would say it is so important to come up with your own style of communicating with members of the community you are interested in investing your time and energy into. You also have to remember that we are all the same. We all want to feel respected, valued and treated with dignity. If you keep this in mind, you will be received well and the people you are trying to connect with can hear you and will want to help you be successful. I would also add that it is important to have a plan and a pretty good idea of what type of art you are promoting. You want the respect of the artists and the community. And be well prepared to make mistakes. Nothing and no one is perfect!
HB: What are the major challenges in your roles, specifically gathering the support of the community in your efforts, and what solutions have you deemed best to handle these challenges?
Melonie: The biggest challenge for us is time and balancing engagements so that we are most effective. There are times where we say ‘yes’ to way too many things at once. So we are still learning how to say ‘no’ or ‘next time.’ One of the things I’ve noticed in community work is that you have to remain consistent, honorable and clear about your needs and what you can offer. I say this because community work is cherished work. The work we do impacts the memories of our children and how they reflect on childhood activities for various holidays and cultural events. This work affects how encouraged our elders are about the legacy they leave behind. We know our responsibility and do our best to grow and learn as much as we can so that our work and services elevate with the times.
HB: What would you contribute your level of success to?
Melorra: We have so far to go, but I would say our level of success is attributed to the support and openness of the community, our genuine love of the arts and ability to push through the tough times.
HB: Do you have any advice for younger colleagues?
Melorra: To younger colleagues I say start NOW. I say do not wait for anyone to give you permission to be great because that’s already there. Your greatness comes when you open your eyes and the rest is for you to manifest with every action. I would advise her or him be intentional when working in the arts because it is a VERY powerful tool. If there is a desire to start a business, I would heavily advise my younger colleague to seek an internship in anything close to what the business will be. This gives you time to learn and make mistakes on someone else’s dime. I would also say research tirelessly. See what else is out there and what other people are doing so that you will know how you plan to stand out. There is no excuse for not researching with tools like Google, YouTube, etc.
Lastly, I say see you at the top because we are already there — just trying to find our seat. Many blessings!
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