Community engagement and its potential for enhancing the viability of arts organizations is too often poorly understood or just plain misunderstood. It is conflated with other tasks and minimized by people who cannot envision its potential.
I have become increasingly aware of the need for a (relatively) brief and simple overview of the essentials in order to see what community engagement is and can be and, importantly, what it is not. Over the last several months a variety of people who have been through the Community Engagement Training offered by ArtsEngaged have been helping me trim my nine page, single-spaced, overly academic treatise to a much more manageable four pager with more blank space and readable content.
The resulting document has the following outline:
- Definitions (Working definitions of community, audience development, audience engagement, and community engagement)
- Is It Community Engagement? (What effective community engagement looks like)
- Community Connections (The critical difference between “We Tell” and “We Listen”)
- The Engagement Process: Preparing, Planning, Partnering (An overview of effective approaches to community engagement)
- Can You Say This? (A statement of commitment to community engagement)
Some of the contents have appeared in Engaging Matters before, but having these things together in one, digestible place should be of benefit to the field. You can find the whole text here. And here is a link to download the pdf. Feel free to do so and share as much as you want.