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For this week’s What’s in Store, we decided to stay local, so we headed to downtown Atlanta to meet up with Monica Campana, co-founder of Living Walls, and her trusty sidekick (actual title: executive assistant), Kristen Consuegra. These 2 boss ladies were generous enough to give up their morning to hang out with me, chat about the business, and visit some of murals created through their non-profit organization, Living Walls.
Living Walls is a project that seeks to promote, educate, and bring to life neglected public spaces via street art. As we talked, Monica recalled how the street art scene impacted Atlanta nearly a decade ago, when the idea for Living Walls was born. “Public art is quite a powerful art form that is constantly evolving as cities grow and develop,” she says. “Our art was affecting people, it was affecting spaces, it was activating something that didn’t exist before.”
But for Monica, this project was more than just an artistic outlet: “Living Walls was my way to tell my community that we could make our voice count in our city, and also it was my way to connect to this place I call home now.”
A key element of the Living Walls strategy is forging successful partnerships with communities throughout Atlanta. As Monica puts it, “Without our community partners, we would not be where we are right now. They are not just supporters but also huge influencers of the work we do.” Living Walls works with a variety of partners including neighborhood associations, community organizations, art organizations, and more.
With so many prospective partners to choose from, how does Living Walls choose who to work with? Here’s their step-by-step process for selecting and making the most of their strategic partnerships.
“When choosing a partner, it all depends on the specific project and what will work best for it,” Monica says. Taking the time to create a vision and goal for each project helps the team narrow focus and bring clarity to what they should be searching for in a partnership. Whether it’s brand awareness or a community ally, once Living Walls has an understanding of what they are hoping to gain through partnering with another organization, they’re able to find the perfect fit.
Engaging in partnerships that are mutually beneficial is another key to the success of Living Walls. For organizations like Eyedrum, the Goat Farm and more, partnering with Living Walls not only provides an opportunity to be recognized as a proud supporter of the local art community, but also allows them to reach new audiences by tapping into the Living Walls network—and vice versa.
This year, Living Walls formed a partnership with We Love BuHi, an organization created to strengthen the unique multicultural fabric of Atlanta’s famed Buford Highway Corridor (or BuHi, for short). “The goal is to elevate and celebrate the voices of the immigrant community that make Buford Highway, so our communications team is focusing on allowing for the community of BuHi to tell their own stories,” Monica explains.
Since each of these community partners brings a unique perspective and audience to the conference, it allows for a wide array of cross-promotional opportunities. Living Walls works with their partners to cross-promote through a variety of press, social, and digital opportunities. Monica and her team work with each respective partner to sync their promotional schedules in an effort to make more of an impact. This means that they typically launch marketing campaigns and subsequent promotions on the same days, and continuously drive traffic to one another’s websites.
As Monica reflects on her life’s work, she admits, “I still don’t fully get how an immigrant girl from Peru who never graduated college was able to create and sustain an organization that has helped put over 100 pieces of public art in this city. I guess I could call that a success, but the biggest one, I would say, is to have been able to forge long lasting friendships and partnerships in this city. I honestly have never met people like people from here, who, just like me, wanted to do something meaningful for this city and supported us since day one to build Living Walls.”