They Just Don’t Wanna?

SpoonOutOfPlace

Createquity's May 6 post Why Don't They Come? was a thoroughly researched piece on barriers to arts participation. It addressed the question of why: People with lower incomes and less education (low-SES) participate at lower rates [than others] in a huge range of activities, including not just classical music concerts and plays, but also less “elitist” forms of engagement like going to the movies, dancing socially, and even attending sporting … [Read more...]

“Community”

BirdsInCommunity

In April, Nina Simon furthered the conversation about the nature of community and the means of engagement. Her posts, How Do You Define "Community"? and Building Community: Who/How/Why? were invaluable additions to the field. As is often the case, I could be perfectly happy with providing those links and ending this post. However, I don't want to feel like a total slacker, so let me add a word or two regardless of whether or not there is a need … [Read more...]

Window Dressing?

WindowDisplay

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about how arts organizations can develop relationships with new communities. I went in to my pitch for first identifying potential "ambassadors" and then establishing advisory groups to carry some or, ideally, the bulk of the load. His response made my head spin. His initial comments, especially to the advisory board concept, were extremely negative. When I pressed him about that it became apparent … [Read more...]

Speak, Be Heard, Have Impact

I know I’ve already posted a couple of times on TCG’s Arts (R)Evolution Convening, but I’ve got to circle back and mention one more takeaway for me from the event. The speaker at the closing plenary was Ethan Zuckerman, author of the book Rewired and an expert in all things technological (at least from my perspective), particularly as they relate to the basics of citizen participation in a democracy. He provided a fascinating analysis of how … [Read more...]

Creative

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 12.49.36 PM

I recently returned from participating in a Colorado Creative Industries gathering in Ft. Collins. There were three separate events presented (a fact which dawned on me only shortly before I got on the plane to attend)–a Change Leaders Conference, a Colorado Creative Districts convening, and CCI’s annual Summit–and I was part of all three. A significant insight for me was the use of the word “creative” in much of the work in Colorado. CCI is one … [Read more...]

Can’t Buy Me Love

The_Beatles_(with_Jimmy_Nicol)_1964_001

In my last post I ended part-way through a rant about the widely perceived incompatibility of a "fundraising board" with true commitment to community engagement or, more broadly, diversity in general. Without repeating that post, the principal concern was the assumption that money was the only or by far the most important resource that board members can bring to an organization. If that is the conscious or even unconscious view of the board, … [Read more...]

Give or Get

Money

I was recently asked, yet again, how an organization can reconcile a fundraising board with the need for greater community representation. Rather than immediately entering "rant mode," I thought about it for a couple of days and realized that there was much more to rant about than I have acknowledged in the past. While this is not a question exclusive to the practice of community engagement, because nearly all arts organizations need to do major … [Read more...]

The Ethics of Engagement

Last week I had the privilege of participating in a conference presentation at TCG’s (Theatre Communications Group) Audience (R)Evolution Convening addressing the Ethics of Engagement. I was one member of a panel of four including Martha Lavey, Artistic Director, Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Seema Sueko, Associate Artistic Director, Pasadena Playhouse; and Shay Wafer, Executive Director, 651 Arts. Facilitator Michael Rohd, Founding Artistic … [Read more...]

Yep, We Do That-Sequel (Part II)

ThumbUp

Last time I mentioned that on several occasions recently I have been confronted by the disconnect that exists between arts organizations' self-perceptions with respect to community engagement and the reality of what they are (not) doing. In that post I gave my yes/no, multiple choice questions for assessing community engagement readiness. This time I'm sharing the essay questions. (You can take the professor out of the classroom, but . . . … [Read more...]

Yep, We Do That-Sequel (Part I)

ThumbUp

I have recently had several occasions to be confronted, once again, by the disconnect that exists between arts organizations' self-perceptions with respect to community engagement and the reality of what they are (not) doing. When community engagement is viewed as a good thing, there is a powerful incentive to believe that the things being done are community engagement. (My "glass half full" lies in the first part of that sentence. Some people … [Read more...]