Rationales

Why?

As I've mentioned before, I'm in the process of developing training options for arts organizations seeking a unified approach to community engagement–systemic, mainstreamed, and involving every facet of the work. Part of that, a relatively simple one to be sure, has been drafting descriptions of it. Several early comments suggested the need for including the rationale for community engagement. A first pass yielded the … [Read more...]

Develop Allies

ClownHuddle

In Engagement Working Group, I discussed an early step in the process of bolstering an organization's commitment to engagement. Once members of this core group–those who already have an understanding of and firm commitment to this work–have discovered each other and begun talking and planning, it is time to expand the base. Developing allies means turning the non-enthusiastic into supporters or at least convincing them not to be … [Read more...]

First, Believe

Halo-Reflection

There is one, and only one, first principle in effective engagement with communities. That is believing engagement is a good thing–for the organization, for the community, and for art. Pragmatic rationales (e.g., "The funder made me do it." or "We need to sell more tickets.") are not unimportant, but in the end they do not move the mission focus of the organization away from internally focused artcentricity. Effective engagement demands that … [Read more...]

Listening to Serve

In AftA Thoughts (2013): II, I suggested a question that can aid the transition to a community-oriented approach to the work of the arts: "How can we help?" In the aftermath of the June's Americans for the Arts conference in Pittsburgh and the One State Together conference in Moline, another "way of thinking" phrase that has potential for guiding us toward greater relevance has been crystallizing in my mind. In my Mainstreaming Engagement … [Read more...]

Engaged Mission: III

I’d like to take a different approach to consideration of mission in this post from the previous two. This one is less directly about the relationship between mission and community engagement (although two of the examples deal, very explicitly, with that). What I’m interested in here is the power that can come from factoring market realities into adopting a mission. Identifying a valuable market niche and staking your mission there can yield … [Read more...]

Engaged Mission: II

In Engaged Mission: I, I suggested that service to people is/ought to be a fundamental element of the understanding of our mission, whether or not it is formally articulated in a mission statement. I think that is probably not too controversial. It’s the extent of the service and the way we carry it out that could be a little more challenging for us. In the simplistic graphic I presented last time, I tried to show that art as only service … [Read more...]

Engaged Mission: I

MissionContinuum

When I first outlined my series of posts on mainstreaming community engagement I had not intended to address mission. I did not want to (nor did I think it necessary) to “take on” the definition of our core principles in addressing modes of mainstreaming engagement. However, as the posts and associated workshops have developed, I have come to the realization that, while I don’t necessarily advocate for rewriting “mission statements,” there is a … [Read more...]

Engaged Fundraising: II

When last we met, I talked about community engaged fundraising providing the option of gaining us access to more diverse funding sources. [Engaged Fundraising: I (More Pies)] Here, I am revisiting the "math" of a former post (Arts 2.0: 40k x $25=$1M) in which I waxed rhapsodic about the potential of crowdsourced fundraising. (NB: As yet another reminder, in these mainstreaming engagement posts I am addressing only those individuals or … [Read more...]

Engaged Fundraising: I (More Pies)

Pies

There is probably no element of the nonprofit arts management structure that better understands the importance of relationships than the development department. Fundraisers spend their life initiating, fostering, and maintaining relationships with individual donors, corporate sponsors, and foundations. Especially with respect to individual donors, they have great clarity about the fact that effective relationship building takes time, often … [Read more...]

Engaged Marketing: Sales

I am in the process of considering marketing as part of my ongoing series on mainstreaming community engagement–figuring out how to be engaged without adding a lot of new "stuff" to do. Here, I want to discuss how the sales process can be "engaging." (NB: In posts on mainstreaming engagement, I am addressing only those individuals or organizations that want broader and deeper relationships with their communities but are uncertain how to begin … [Read more...]