Over the last three years, working as a community artist in Baltimore, it has become increasingly clear to me that one of the most important components of a successful community arts project is support. Going beyond the obvious need for monetary support, one must also have the investment of the partnering organizations, members of the community, and volunteers. I have learned the hard way how to recognize when this support may or may not be present. I now realize in hindsight that there were telltale signs in projects that failed because I did not have allies or "buy in". Often times I must explain what I do and illustrate what community arts is to people, this is not a deal breaker in forming partnerships and proposing projects. What is, is having an organization tell me I can do whatever I want without asking questions as to how I am going to do it or what they can do to help. I think the freedom of being able to do whatever I wanted attracted me to several positions and projects that ended up being painful learning experiences because there was no structure to how I would work with the organization or community involved.

I have been lucky (or not) to have had several incredibly useful learning experiences where I saw how lack of support effects projects. It often times leaves all involved feeling alienated, there is no way to make what one implements sustainable (especially if only hired temporarily or on a project basis), and the experience is also stressful and frustrating. I now work with two incredibly supportive organizations, The Youth Dreamers and Baltimore Clayworks. At both places I feel my work is valued, the people I work with ask necessary questions of me and how I intend to complete my ideas, and I have been able to accomplish a great deal.

Without support we cannot achieve our potential. It is important to make sure that in forming partnerships all parties have the capacity to support each other and the project. This provides a solid foundation for success.