Dartmouth College: Lessons Learned

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  • Students viewing work from Dartmouth's Class Divide project

    Students viewing work from Dartmouth's Class Divide project

    The Hop learned how to be more explicit with communication strategies, both with the visiting artists and with their public messaging about the initiative.

  • During the Hop’s mid-point assessment, partners encouraged them to be bolder about the programmatic connections within Class Divide. Once the Hop explained their rationale behind the involvement of certain artists and guests, it became clearer to participants that there was intentionality behind all facets of the project. It was noted that the Class Divide logo was an important signifier for many partners as well. Moving forward from the midpoint assessments, the Hop made a concerted effort to have a more visible Class Divide presence in their own spaces through lobby displays and collateral materials. They also piloted a series of advertisements in non-traditional publications (such as local “It’s Classified” newspapers) promoting their free family series.
  • Additionally, communication with Class Divide artists was heightened to bring their own awareness of the project to the forefront. A good example was the initial residency overview meeting held with Sweet Honey in the Rock shortly after their arrival. Before the musicians set foot in a classroom, they were briefed on the initiative’s progress and informed of our expectations for the coming residency events. With this information in mind and their interests piqued, subsequent discussions took on a much deeper resonance.
  • The Hop learned how to manage sheer volume of communication required by a cross-campus/community project.
  • While the Hop felt like it was constantly updating all partners, the list of partnerships and collaborations grew week by week, making constant communication a challenge. The Hop was at times surprised that certain partners didn’t know all that had been going on in other areas. By the same token, they were pleasantly surprised at how effectively periodically updating the entire Hop staff worked to help them understand the importance and scope of the project’s activities. Staff valued the project in this way, and because of the topic, their feedback was important at all times, making the buy-in critical.
  • The Hop learned the importance of sustained, multi-year planning and collaborations, and of providing context through multiple staff, partner, and community workshops with the experts in the field. Starting the with project’s earliest planning phase, the workshops with Class Action were valuable to both frame the topic and provide a shared vocabulary enabling artists and all participants to talk about socioeconomic class.
  • Experimenting with surprising events brought new audiences to Class Divide programs. In addition to artists and events obviously aligned with the theme of class divide, the Hop targeted concerts in classical music and jazz to bring the thematic exploration before audiences who might not anticipate this.
  • Creating many varied and intimate points of engagement around the topic of class divide—rather than a single monolithic event—enabled the Hop to employ many different artistic genres, from performance, film, visual art, photography, to poetry and craft. This demonstrated how creativity serves as an important space in which to both develop ideas about difficult topics, and express the personal. Rather than dictating how the topic of class divide needed to be conveyed, the Hop allowed artists and many different participants, including the Dartmouth student interns, to express what was true for them. The breadth and importance of the topic also allowed for rich engagement with students, faculty, administrators and community members.
  • The project changed the way the Hop undertakes partnerships: the Hop pioneered several important multiple-year relationships, including those with Anne Galjour and with Class Action; the Hop now envisions projects as spanning more than just one year. On campus the Hop’s partnerships also developed long-term relationships.
  • Conducting formal mid-point and final evaluations with all partners was a new working model for the Hop, something they will now incorporate into other projects. The Hop felt that they extracted deeply thoughtful insights and feedback from this formative assessment, which led to new programs and changes in how the Hop was communicating with others about Class Divide.

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