I was invited by my friend and colleague Brittany Campese, owner of Vision Driven Consulting to lead a conversation about launching your next project as part of her monthly workshop series for artists. It was a fantastic night, so I want to share a few tips from that discussion with you here.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a serial ‘project launcher’. As early as college I was bringing my ideas to life. At the University of Hartford, it was by way of a dance company called Catch us if you Can. I was a dancer, enjoyed dancing and wanted to create a space for myself and others to choreograph and perform.
In my late 20s I had the chance to start an after school program from scratch; just me, $75K, a desk in a closet at a public high school and a grant proposal that needed to be overhauled in order for us to really do the (right) work. Within that program, we launched new projects all the time and our site became a lab for OTHERS to launch their projects and organizations. Many of our projects were driven by young people who came to me with an idea. "Sure, I’d say…tell me what support you need from me and how will we know you’ve been successful?"
During that time, I started a t-shirt company out of my studio apartment in Brooklyn. It was a lot of fun, but hard to maintain by myself while also having a full-time, traditional job. I think about coming back to it all the time.
In my work as a small business owner with a focus on supporting organizations and adults who work with youth, I have the freedom to try new things. Here are some of the things I have envisioned, facilitated, hosted, or curated in the last five years:
A public photography exhibit of my photos from travels in Africa and Central America.
The Sandbox Collective, a monthly networking & professional development gathering for youth development professionals. Find out more here.
Hosting film screenings: Not your same old, same old professional development. Using film and other media as a strategy for creating engaging and meaningful professional development.
Hosting salons in my home which brings individuals together to support and provide exposure to friends and colleagues who have projects they are trying to launch
The Leadership Lab, a project I’ve co-created with super talented Michele Martin, owner of The Bamboo Project. You can sign up here for our summer series.
PopUpPlay a company I co-founded with two friends, Jen Brevoort & Folasshade Laud-Hammond. At PopUpPlay we use play as a strategy for developing leadership skills in youth and to transform communities.
This is what I’ve learned about launching new projects
It can be both scary & exhilarating! That said, I think to myself: what have I got to lose? (and then I go through the questions below)
I test new ideas with people I trust and who care about me first and then I share with people I know will give me a different kind of critical feedback.
I test ideas in phases. I dream BIG and consider how my project will have a global impact someday, and then I start with one small piece, knowing that launching this way gives me a chance to adjust, redirect, pause or even stop all together without loosing too much.
I like to create projects that also provide space for others to test their ideas, so I often look to partner, to host my events in spaces people may not typically have access to or consider. I try to make sure that my project doesn’t only benefit me.
These are some of the questions I ask myself:
What are my hopes/dreams for this project?
Is this how I want to spend my undivided time?
Is this project/idea a distraction from something else I should be/want to be doing?
How will it help me grow as an artist?
What do I hope to gain from bringing this project to life?
By when do I want to have this launched? Completed?
How can this project help contribute to the field?
(If success were guaranteed) what am I willing to risk to make this project happen?
What am I willing to lose to make this project happen?
Whose support do I need? (people/community, etc.)
Who else is (already) doing this kind of project?
Do I see them as competition? As collaborators? (while I may not see someone/thing as competition, who might see this project as such?)
Is there a chance to create new partnerships via this project?
What resources do I need (e.g., funding, space, marketing, etc.)?
What can I do right now with what I have?
Where can I find some of the resources I need?
In preparing for the workshop, I drew from a book by dancer/choreographer Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit. She offers several tips I found useful.
So, here are my questions for you:
What is preventing you from launching?
What is ONE thing you can do today?
If success were guaranteed, what bold step(s) would you take?
Let me know on Twitter (@rebeccafabiano) #newproject