Call for Stories

Gard Foundation logo

In advocating for community engagement work, one of the most important elements is identifying and sharing stories of examples of what works (and of projects that could have been improved). For years, the Community Arts Network (CAN) was a great source of such stories. Unfortunately they had to close up shop. Fortunately, the good work they did is still accessible in an online archive sponsored by Indiana University. (This is not just stories but … [Read more...]

40 Years Engaged

KronosQuartet

Sunday's New York Times article on the Kronos Quartet reminded me of one early step on the beginning of my pilgrimage as a community engagement advocate. (Kronos Quartet's 40-Year Adventure) Over 35 years ago, I had coffee with David Harrington in a small café across the street from the Eastman Theatre. I was a doctoral student at Eastman and the Quartet was doing a residency at the school. I had been blown away by a concert of theirs (some … [Read more...]

Irrigate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oePXcW6axk Springboard for the Arts has been developing buzz in the creative placemaking world of late. I've heard presentations about their work at several conferences this year. At the Americans for the Arts conference in Pittsburgh in June I got to meet Laura Zabel, Springboard's extremely energetic ED. Springboard began life as a resource center for individual artists. It has expanded its work to find … [Read more...]

Heard NY

Some time ago I commented [Engaged Mission: I], in response to a NY Times article, that social practice art–art with an explicit social service intent, while admirable, is not the only way to approach community engagement. It's a good and valuable way to engage, but it is not the sole means to do so. When I discuss community engagement I talk about the "issue" being addressed by a project, but an issue need not be a problem or something in need … [Read more...]

The Arts Benefit from Engagement

VietVetMemorial

This blog is all about the arts and community engagement. Last time (More on Artists and Engagement) I began a discussion about the role of the artist in this mix. Here, I want to consider yet again the fact that community-focused or community-aware art does not in any way imply inferior art. Contrary to assumptions some make, community engagement does not even remotely mean churning out Lion King sequels. The assumption that it does suggests … [Read more...]

Engagement Vocabulary in Action

Dictionary

In an effort to clarify the points from my last two posts (Engagement Vocabulary and Parsing Vocabulary), I'm going to try to describe the differences among audience development, audience engagement, and community engagement by using a specific work produced by an arts organization as an example. [But first, to re-repeat, here are the operating definitions I'm using: Audience Development is a marketing strategy designed for immediate … [Read more...]

Can You Feel the Love?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=R0Fpl67p5qk A while ago I ran into this video clip. (Forgive me, I can't remember where. Facebook I imagine.) In the midst of some fairly heavy-duty posts, I thought now might be a good time to share it. The original source for me was http://twentytwowords.com/2013/01/11/choir-of-old-men-break-out-in-song-while-hanging-out-at-tim-hortons/, where we are told: After practice on Mondays, … [Read more...]

The Trash Project

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6ZBlYdyoeQ One of the joys of all the traveling and speaking I am undertaking is the opportunity to find out about cool examples of engagement work going on around the country. I am going to Austin for the Texas Commission on the Arts & Texans for the Arts conference, Strategies for Success. As part of the preparation, I asked the organizers to send me examples of interesting projects. The subject of this … [Read more...]

Holiday Gift

Engaging Matters   Holiday Gift

Few people are really spending time investigating professional reading at this pre-New Year moment. However, for anyone who stumbles across this, here's a Holiday gift. In November I had the opportunity to hear Nina Simon's keynote address at the NAMP conference in Charlotte. While several others (notably Ian David Moss in Createquity) have already pointed to her presentation about the transformation of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and … [Read more...]

Small Enough to Succeed

Ants

I have, for most of my life, been suspicious of the “growth is good” assumption that we often make in this country or did as I was growing up. (Sometimes when I replay in my mind the famous Gordon Gecko speech from Wall Street, it’s not greed I hear him praise but growth.) At the risk of appearing to trivialize something that is incredibly serious, cancer is a demonstration (an extreme one to be sure) that not all growth is beneficial. Less … [Read more...]