You’ve probably heard that if Brooklyn were its own city, we’d be the fourth largest in the United States. With a land mass of 73 square miles, 2 and half million people and 67 neighborhoods, you can imagine what a challenge it is to manage a borough-wide project like GO. Each one of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are different—constituencies are unique, the urban fabric varies widely—simply put, what works in one area may not work in another, so a big part of what makes GO work is a distributed network of local neighborhood coordinators; our 22 coordinators are working locally within their neighborhoods to reach artists and their communities.
When interviewing applicants for these positions, we were looking for individuals who had a deep understanding of their neighborhoods, an enthusiasm for the project, and a good handle on outreach methods they thought would work for their areas. For all the social media out there, Brooklyn is still very much a bulletin-board-borough and more often than not these candidates came in with a healthy dose of reality when it came to how far online communications could go; most of them talked about the need for on the ground communication, cafe-to-cafe flyering and person-to-person outreach. We were seeking those individuals who had a spark and if we found we were inspired by what they had to say, we wanted them working on GO.
As it turns out, many of the coordinators are artist themselves who, because they are working on GO, cannot open their own studios during our open studio weekend; all of them felt the project was so important that they wanted to support other artists by working on it rather than showing in it. Sharon and I have been blown away by this commitment to their local communities.
The neighborhood coordinators are at the very heart of this project. They know their local landscape extremely well and we are learning from them as we move forward. They will be helping us spread the word to artists during this month’s registration process and, later, will help to rally their community around the artists who have decided to open their studio doors. You may see them in your area talking about GO, putting up a flyer or running meet points during the open studio weekend, so say hello. In the meantime, I’ve been introducing everyone on our Tumblr feed, so please meet these great people who are helping us GO…
Shelley Bernstein is the former Vice Director of Digital Engagement & Technology at the Brooklyn Museum where she spearheaded digital projects with public participation at their center. In the most recent example—ASK Brooklyn Museum—visitors ask questions using their mobile devices and experts answer in real time. She organized three award-winning projects—Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition, Split Second: Indian Paintings, GO: a community-curated open studio project—which enabled the public to participate in the exhibition process.
Shelley was named one of the 40 Under 40 in Crain's New York Business and her work on the Museum's digital strategy has been featured in the New York Times.
In 2016, Shelley joined the staff at the Barnes Foundation as the Deputy Director of Digital Initiatives and Chief Experience Officer.