Engagement Research: Talk to Them


This is the third in a series of posts dealing with the ways we in the arts unconsciously distance ourselves from the public. This time I want to expand a bit on the potential of market research to separate us from communities as well as its significant potential for supporting engagement. To that  end, let me being with a story I've used several times in my speaking engagements: Twenty years ago, my sister-in-law was the harried mother of two … [Read more...]

Self-Made Barriers


In my last post I reflected on the potential damage to relationships (or damage to the capacity to form relationships) with those outside the inner world of the arts that the word "outreach" can inflict. (Outreach) I mentioned that there were other such words or concepts that have the effect of creating or supporting distance between our organizations and those with whom we would like to build meaningful relationships. There are, in our field, … [Read more...]



I've just returned from speaking at the first ever Central Oregon Arts Summit in Bend, OR. It was a great (and quick) trip to a place that appears to be reaping the benefits of over twenty years of active work cultivating a public policy climate favorable to the arts. As one demonstration, the voters of Bend recently approved a hotel tax dedicated to supporting the arts and culture. Travel and speaking with peers from around the country always … [Read more...]

UX Design


I recently learned a new concept: User Experience Design. (Thanks Devon Smith and Barry Hessenius–Barry's Blog Interview with Devon Smith.) Once again I find that a product development/management concept from the information technology world resonates with community engagement work. (I mentioned the idea of "community manager" in How to Engage.) The essence of UX Design is fairly self-explanatory. How can the experience of the end user of the … [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...]

Engaged Marketing: Research

In my ongoing effort to imagine arts management structures/practices/programs in a community engagement context (what I call mainstreaming engagement), I'm in the midst of several posts attempting to do that with marketing. In the beginning (Engaged Marketing: Introduction), I discussed (with myself) what marketing is–a task not without its own difficulties. (My conclusions, grossly oversimplified, were that 1) Marketing included but was not … [Read more...]

Engaged Marketing: Introduction


Talk about "where angels fear to tread." OK, I'm going to start a series of posts dealing with marketing from a community engagement perspective. I simply ask for a little forbearance. I believe my difficulty is that people have in their heads so many different ideas about what marketing is. I began some of my early comments in this blog with what I now acknowledge to be a somewhat narrow (though largely unconscious) understanding that … [Read more...]

Brilliant Advice

I recently returned from the National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Charlotte where I led a roundtable on mainstreaming engagement (pursuing all organizational systems from a community engagement perspective) and had a book signing. I had been concerned that I might feel like a fish out of water. (A pre-conference session was entitled "Monetizing Engagement" for heaven's sake!) On the whole I felt it was a worthwhile trip for me and I … [Read more...]



When I was a kid, I adored Camelot. There, I've said it out loud. (Well, to be more accurate, publicly.) There were many moments I loved. I'm only going to mention one here. When Lancelot is introduced he goes on at great length about how perfect he is for the Round Table. A knight of the Table Round should be invincible,/Succeed where a less fantastic man would fail./Climb a wall no one else can climb,/Cleave a dragon in record time,/Swim a … [Read more...]

How to Engage

I have been spending time of late trying to figure out the best path to engagement on the part of arts organizations. I am a firm believer that systemic engagement (mainstreamed engagement) is at heart the only way that will bear much fruit. Add-on activities won't get done. Seriously, where are the resources to do more? Or they will be marginalized internally and externally. Internal stakeholders will not see it as important; the community will … [Read more...]