Best Practices

BestPracitces?

There is a concept that has become extremely popular in management circles over the last decade or so: best practices. By that people mean the set of structures or programs that are most effective in achieving a particular desired end. Generally, these will be approaches that have resulted in success in numerous different situations in a number of different places. It is a popular concept because it prevents people from having to "reinvent the … [Read more...]

Lessons from a Grocery Chain

BrownsSuperStore

It's amazing where one can find inspiration. In May NPR did a feature on a Southwest Philadelphia grocery store that I immediately tweeted. Then as I read it in more detail I discovered I simply had to write about it. The story concerns opening a grocery store in what was considered to be a "food desert"–an urban area that ostensibly will not support a traditional grocery store with fresh produce and associated "middle class" staples. When Jeff … [Read more...]

“Of” the Community

Carolina Blues Festival 2015

In May I had occasion to attend two music festivals of very different kinds. One was a country music event titled HoustonFest held in Galax, VA. The other was Greensboro, NC's 29th Annual Carolina Blues Festival. I went to the former largely for family reasons. The blues festival was one I've been wanting to take in for a long time. The back-to-back juxtaposition of two such focused celebrations inevitably led to a number of comparisons and an … [Read more...]

Engage Now!

It has been some time since I first hinted that another book was coming out. And I am happy, nay ecstatic, to say, it's here. Engage Now! A Guide to Making the Arts Indispensable is now available in paperback. The ebook version will be out very soon. It's wonderful to have this completed. Two years in the making is a pretty long gestation period. Regular readers of Engaging Matters have seen a good deal of it in draft form in this location. I'm … [Read more...]

Call for Mini Stories

Gard Foundation logo

In April I posted the Robert E. Gard Foundation's call for stories about the arts and community engagement. Many have been received. We are working on editing them and others for inclusion on our website. However, this work is important and examples are one of the best ways of explaining the concepts. So, in the interest of expanding the pool of examples, we are seeking responses to a new call for "mini stories." These are even shorter examples, … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

Inside Out in Illinois

Illinois

Inside Out: Arts and Community, was the biennial One State Together in the Arts conference presented by Arts Alliance Illinois and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Held June 24-25 in Moline, I was privileged to have been invited to speak and present a mini-workshop. OK. Imagine me at a statewide conference devoted exclusively to the arts and community engagement. Got the picture? Yep. Hog heaven. But as an indication of how much I've been on … [Read more...]

Rural Communities, Urban Neighborhoods

Rural-Urban

(Note: I'm just back from a fascinating trip to Beijing, speaking to arts management educators from around China at the China Conservatory of Music. I'll have some to say about what I learned in the future. For now, I was struck, once again, by how the concern for community engagement in the arts is by no means limited to the U.S.) -------------------- Last time (Lessons from the Road) I gave an overview of the lessons of my last four months of … [Read more...]