Collaboration with the arts to communicate the messages of sustainable agriculture to a wider audience: Developing a model project with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in Clark County, Ohio.
Three photochoreographic presentations celebrating sustainable agriculture were created and performed by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra for children and adult concerts, November 18-20, 2005. The project involved collaboration of farmers, photographers, and organizations at local and state levels. Benefits of the concert include a heightened awareness of sustainable farming and farm life and a successful outreach initiative by the Symphony. A DVD portraying farm life is in production for use by field offices of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. As a pilot effort, lessons learned and recommendations will be shared with other communities.
Short term outcomes:
Advocates for agriculture and the arts in Clark County will have a new goal and objectives addressing sustainability issues as a community based coalition.
Community members, including farmers, will have a greater knowledge of local economic opportunities in agriculture, new appreciation for beauty in their landscape and people, and a new understanding of shared values consistent with a high quality of life and sustainable agriculture.
Leaders from Clark County agriculture and the SSO will collaborate to create a unique celebration of their community and sustainable agriculture.
Communities outside Clark County will engage the SSO in performance of this tribute to sustainable agriculture.
Communities outside Clark County will utilize the model developed and tested in Ohio to create their own concerts.
Farmers will create new direct market linkages with consumers in Clark County — yet to be developed.
Short term outcomes:
Ag arts collaboration
To fulfill the objectives of the project, a broad base of agricultural, arts, and other community organizations were recruited. In addition to the project partners (FB, SSO, and OSU Extension) these organizations and activities include:
Springfield Arts Council sponsored Bob Ford’s agricultural version of Arts in the Classroom and involved the Clark County Farm Bureau in the 2005 Festival in the Park.
The Clark State Performing Arts Center utilized components of this “Growing Together” concert for educational concerts on Friday, November 18.
The Heritage Center of Clark County hosted an exhibition of 40 photos contributed to the Agriculture and Arts program.
A photo/video/symphonic music multi-media demonstration was held during the Clark County Fair at the Exposition Center involving the Youth String Ensemble and Rod Hatfield, OH10.
Arts Interface and the Turner Foundation have been supporting this program behind the scenes with expertise in arts marketing.
The Springfield News Sun and the Ohio Country Journal provided photographers for the project and publicity for the program.
Clark County Commissioners Official Proclamation dedicated 2005-2006 as a year to celebrate “Agriculture and the Arts”.
The USDA Foreign Agriculture Service has assisted in the development of our DVD through a supplemental grant.
Major sponsors for the concerts included Ohio Arts Council, Sweet Manufacturing, Southwest Landmark, and Land O’Lakes Cooperative.
Public presentations: Springfield Rotary, AgroEcosystems Management Program, OSU Extension and OARDC Support Councils, OSU College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Development Board, and the Clark County Chamber of Commerce.
The success of the program has stimulated interest in continuing the positive thrust that has been set in motion. Next steps are already being considered by the following:
The SSO is now planning a future production in collaboration with local media specialists and have offered all those who attended the Agriculture and the Arts concerts tickets at reduced rates.
Springfield Arts Council suggested that the arts groups might do a survey of the farm community to see in what farm families are interested and design experiences of interest to the that population.
The Heritage Center is interested in collecting additional pictures that would document agriculture, including images from the 40’s and 50’s. They would support the creation of a “coffee table” book documenting the project and farming in Clark County.
The Clark County Fair would like to host a major music event involving the Symphony or Youth Symphony and possibly an arts show, in which they award prizes and auction the art works just as they do livestock.
Interest has been expressed by several arts and agricultural organizations in communities outside Clark County, Ohio for a similar initiative. We have heard from organizations in Michigan, Indiana, and several other communities in Ohio.
The DVD aspect of this project is creating a completely different set of future activities and markets for linking agriculture and the arts. Applications include things like audio/video background for exhibits at trade shows and agricultural meetings, as a feature element in arts museums, as an exhibit at fairs and festivals, etc. We anticipate the DVD being picked up by WOSU Public Television and possibly other markets across the Midwest.
New economic opportunities for supporting farmers and consumers through innovative rural enterprises that were featured in the concert.
New, more holistic understandings of the important work of farmers in their communities. Farm families are more aware of quality of life issues and beauty in their rural landscapes consistent with the theme of sustainable agriculture.
A unique celebration of Agriculture and the Arts–
Three new concert productions were created, Our Fields, Farms, and Families, a 4-H piece, and an FFA piece
Four Springfield Symphony Orchestra concerts:
Two children’s concerts on Nov 18
An adult subscription concert on Nov 19
Special matinee concert on Nov 20
Audience evaluations were very positive
Communities outside Clark County will engage the SSO in performance of this tribute to sustainable agriculture
A tour has been under discussion.
James Westwater has included the “Our Fields, Farms, and Families” performance in his repertoire and will hopefully be performed with other orchestras around the country.
Communities outside Clark County will utilize the model developed and tested in Ohio to create their own concerts–
The model will be developed. Plans are underway to present a report on the project and the model at the annual conference of the American Symphony Orchestra League. Members of the project staff will be available to serve as consultants to other communities and orchestras.
Farmers will create new direct market linkages with consumers in Clark County–
Yet to be developed.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
This agriculture and the arts project demonstrated impact in three areas. They are; a) creating social capital through collaboration, b) communicating sustainable agriculture to non-farm audiences, and c) modeling a novel approach to promote sustainability among farm families.
New Social Capital through Collaboration-
Evidence that the agricultural and arts communities have gained new capacity as a result of this novel collaboration comes from the effectiveness of the concert as determined by end of event evaluations and post concert interviews with community leaders. A total of 493 evaluations were collected after the Saturday and Sunday concerts. One of the evaluation items asked individuals to respond to the following statement, “This Growing Together concert was an effective celebration of Agriculture and the Arts”. Responses ranged from Strongly Agree (4 points) to Strongly Disagree (1 point). A mean score of 3.62 of a 4 point scale was calculated from 486 respondents. A total of 96.7% of the respondents indicated that they agreed or strongly agreed to this statement. In addition, several individuals provided comments supportive of this claim…
Great idea; very moving – pictures and music; wonderful collaboration; beautiful representation of this vital part of the country.
Collaborating in a unique venture bringing attention to agriculture and the arts; a meld of worlds. Both agriculture and the arts are not well understood by the masses, (this program) enables both to gain understanding and support by taxpayers. This event could open doors. Will help mutual understanding, good widespread appeal. Makes me proud of my grandfather who spent his life in farming.
Some surveys included the following statements: creative; inspiring; great idea; innovative concept; shows lifestyles; vivid celebration of lifestyle; stunning; gratifying to the senses; do it again.
Evidence that the collaboration yielded more than just a concert is found in interviews with key participants of the program. Collaboration among community organizations was considered outstanding. Continued participation of these organizations verifies the impact that the Agriculture and the Arts program has had on the local community. The following are evidence of this claim:
The Heritage Center sponsored and mounted an exhibit of photographs from the project. In addition, they will be the recipients of the photographic file assembled by the project. This file will be maintained as an archive of contemporary farm life in Clark County and made available for appropriate utilization, including research.
Arts Interface collaborated with the Heritage Center on the photographic exhibit and played a very important role in publicity.
The Turner Foundation assisted with the exhibit and provided major funding for the children’s concerts. The Foundation also supported a related program in collaboration with the Clark County Exposition Center and Clark County Fair featuring media specialist Rod Hatfield and members of the string groups from the Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestra program.
The collaborative program was extremely well received and Fair and Exposition leaders would like to repeat the program in years to come. Allen Hess, Director of the Clark County Fair, observed: “Any time that we can educate the community about agriculture, it is a positive move. We very much need people to understand agriculture. We have been trying to get people from other parts of the community to the fairgrounds.”
Chris Moore, Director of the Springfield Arts Council, observed that the recognition of the Clark County 4-H and FFA in the concert was very important to the program. “Sharing the 4-H Pledge and the FFA Creed set the tone for what is important to the farm community- values. The pledge and creed remind us that we need to know something bigger than ourselves…I was very touched by people standing up and taking the 4-H Pledge and the FFA Creed.”
The project and concert were considered by the orchestra to be a great investment in time, but worth every bit of effort. Maestro Peter Stafford Wilson noted without hesitation that, “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Relationships with local and statewide organizations were essential to the life of the project. Collaborations of this type added value to the program and augmented statewide support and esteem. Such collaborations include:
The Clark County Farm Bureau undertook to coordinate the essential, major process of soliciting and receiving photographs from the farm families and participating volunteer photographers. The Farm Bureau also provided an essential link to the farming community and directly supported a number of activities including the VIP reception held before the Sunday concert.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation provided direct personnel support to the project as well as lending its prestige to the process and providing significant statewide publicity.
The Springfield Arts Council sponsored several activities, including Bob Ford, a folklorist who developed and performed a program for the schools that focused on Agriculture and the Arts. This well received program was a great success and has been added to his repertoire.
The Springfield Arts Council also put an agricultural emphasis on its annual summer festival program for children.
OSU Extension in Clark County and in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Science at The Ohio State University provided much leadership and coordination for the project.
Communicating Sustainable Agriculture to Non-Farm Audiences-
A major goal of the Agriculture and the Arts project was to engage non-farm audiences in the notion of sustainable agriculture. A way that this objective was evaluated was with post concert evaluations completed by non-farm attendees to the Agriculture and the Arts Concerts. One of the items referred to the three primary themes of the concert. It read “Our Fields, Farms, and Families has three primary themes. To what degree to you feel we were effective in communication these themes: farmers at work; farm family way of life; beauty of the land” Responses ranged from Excellent (4 points) to Poor (1 point). Below are the statistics for each evaluation item from non-farm respondents:
Farmers at work: A mean score of 3.66 of a 4 point scale was determined. A total of 77.1% gave an “excellent” response and 22.4% a “good” response, for a total of 99.5% agreeing that the program was either Excellent or Good at communicating farmers at work.
Farm family way of life: A mean score of 3.61 of a 4 point scale was determined. A total of 70.0% said the program was “excellent” and 28.6% said “good” for a total of 98.6% positive responses for communicating the farm family way of life.
Beauty of the land: A mean score of 3.79 of a 4 point scale was determined. 84.3% of respondents believed the program was “excellent” and 14.3% said “good” for a total of 98.6% concurring that the program was either “excellent” or “good” in communicating the beauty of the land.
In addition, several non-farm background respondents gave comments paralleling this claim:
“Loved seeing many parts of the production agriculture world captured!! This is a great opportunity to highlight farm life. Of course…agriculture does go well beyond the farm.”
“Great idea to draw the audience in with local photos and a great way to learn about and appreciate our community”
“This is a wonderful collaboration and such a unique program. I was very impressed with the beautiful representation of a vital part of Clark County.”
“How great to see a realistic and utterly relatable view of America. Please consider sharing with other countries.”
Other surveys included the following statements: “Loved it, what a great idea. A wonderful concert, thanks! Very well done. Excellent program. Very moving, great music and pictures! The combination of music and images was powerful.”
Sustainable agriculture was also communicated to the public through other avenues, including news media as well as organizational and governmental promotion. The following were effective in communicating the notion of sustainable agriculture to new audiences:
“Our Ohio,” a weekly television program sponsored by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, featured a segment covering the Agriculture and the Arts concerts.
“U.S. Farm Report,” a national farm program sponsored by Farm Journal Media, sent a media crew to Springfield for interview and video coverage of the concert. The coverage was featured on its weekly program.
The Springfield News Sun provided valuable local publicity and contributed the services of a staff photographer, Marshall Gorby.
The President of the American Symphony Orchestra League was present at the Sunday concert, and has proposed a seminar session on community outreach featuring the Springfield project to be held at the upcoming national ASOL convention.
In addition, the Springfield County Commissioners issued a proclamation for 2005 to be a year of celebration of Agriculture and the Arts in Clark County.
Modeling a Novel Approach to Promote Sustainability Among Farm Families-
A major goal of the Agriculture and the Arts project was to promote sustainable agriculture to the farm community. A way that this objective was evaluated was with post concert evaluations completed by farm attendees to the Agriculture and the Arts Concerts. One of the items referred to the three primary themes of the concert. It read “Our Fields, Farms, and Families has three primary themes. To what degree to you feel we were effective in communication these themes: farmers at work; farm family way of life; beauty of the land” Responses ranged from Excellent (4 points) to Poor (1 point). Below are the statistics for each evaluation item from farm respondents:
Farmers at work: A total of 62.2% gave an “excellent” response and 33.9% a “good” response, for a total of 96.1% agreeing that the program was either Excellent or Good at communicating farmers at work.
Farm family way of life: A total of 63.2% said the program was “excellent” and 29.0% said “good” for a total of 92.2% positive responses for communicating the farm family way of life.
Beauty of the land: 79.9% of respondents believed the program was “excellent” and 18.1% said “good” for a total of 97.8% concurring that the program was either “excellent” or “good” in communicating the beauty of the land.
In addition, several respondents that lived or were raised on a farm gave comments supporting the positive statistics indicating an increased appreciation for agriculture. The comments are as follows:
“I thought that it very artfully displayed the wonders of agriculture in out community.”
“The effects of the music/atmosphere remained with me. I awakened the next morning with a great feeling of contentment and beauty. I knew it had come to me from the concert.”
“Thanks for recognizing the farming community! Having been born and farm raised and returning to my family farm- this presentation brings back many fond memories of life on a farm in Clark County.”
“For us earthlings, culture and agriculture are inseparable. When one realizes that the one rests on the other, a person gains true understanding of what is involved in the human community. It is so easy nowadays to forget this basic truth.”
“A true celebration for a way of life caught vividly in music and photography.”
“Both agriculture and the arts are not well understood by the masses of today’s society. To enable both to gain understanding and support by taxpayers, this event could open doors.”
“Enjoyed the ‘picture show’ of our livelihood…working the dirt! Let’s do it again with a similar flavor: flowers, landscape, horticulture…”
Other comments include: “Beautiful. Moving. Wonderful…Go 4-H and FFA! Great! Captivating.”
In addition to promoting the acknowledgment of sustainable agriculture to current agriculturalists, another objective of the Agriculture and the Arts project was to create a new avenue to do this. A model of the Agriculture and the Arts project is being developed to include the process used and suggestions for improvements in funding, publicity, the concert program, and working with community participants and creative artists. Several communities have shown interest in carrying out similar celebrations of agriculture and the arts tailored to fit their own communities.
The current model includes the production of a standalone DVD that can be used as an education tool. The DVD includes real life accounts and interviews of Clark County farmers, as well as a slideshow containing the images presented in the “Our Field, Farms, and Families” piece. Requests for this DVD have exceeded our expectations, with foreign countries wanting to buy copies to reveal true American family farming.
Organizational Director, Clark County Farm Bureau
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
821 North Belmont Ave.
Springfield, OH 45503
Office Phone: 8004518908
78 Pumphrey Terrace
Delaware, OH 43015
Office Phone: 7403698270