Deconstructing a Revelation

LightBulb

In my last post (Eureka), I shared an insight about the nature of not-for-profit arts organizations that was valuable to me. However, I have discovered that in my enthusiasm for the insight, I gave articulation of it short shrift. My friend and fellow blogger Diane Ragsdale, for whom I have the utmost respect, took that post to task for what she interpreted it to mean. If I had meant what she thought I meant, I would have done the same. One … [Read more...]

Eureka

LightBulb

In perusing videos from the ArtPlace Grantee Summit on Creative Placemaking, I saw Lyz Crane's intro to a session on "In(tention)s + Out(come)s of Placemaking." (Disclosure: Lyz is a friend and occasional co-conspirator on things "engagementy.") I have long opined about the disconnect between the not-for-profit arts establishment and the rest of the 501(c)(3) world. All of a sudden I put together some things I've been saying (separately) but had … [Read more...]

The Relevance Test

WillWorkForRelevance

I am currently working on "how to" processes for a book about establishing community engagement as a core function in arts organizations. Certainly, one of the first and most important steps is developing a cadre of engagement advocates. The arguments for engagement are many. However, I'm starting to believe that  the best place to begin may be with what I'm calling "the relevance test." Here is how I'm articulating it right now: The following … [Read more...]

And

Ampersand

Last fall, Francesca McKenzie of ArtsFwd posted about a pair of improvisational comedy schools/clubs (The New Movement) in Austin, TX and New Orleans: "Yes, and." Ms. McKenzie begins with an acknowledgment of a fundamental truth about the competition faced by the arts today: In order to sustain meaningful audience engagement, many arts organizations aim to market themselves as uniquely different, providing a service or experience that movies, … [Read more...]

UX Design

DosMacLogin

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...]

Dark Future?

TunnelOpening

In a recent post, Elizabeth Merritt, the founder of the American Association of Museum's Center for the Future of Museums, gave a good synopsis of impending threats to nonprofit status that the arts may well be facing in the near (or immediate) future. (Dark Futures: Nonprofit Fragmentation) The essence of the argument is that in a time of budgetary despair for government, there is great pressure to examine the legitimacy of the tax benefits … [Read more...]

Painful Insight

This is a post I did not want to write, about a thought I *really* do not want to have. I love Shakespeare. After a rocky beginning with what to me was then an incomprehensible text (Julius Caesar) in tenth grade English, my life was changed by performing in Macbeth my senior year. Yes, a high school production of "the Scottish play." Our drama instructor was a "sin boldly" kind of guy. I doubled as Banquo and the Doctor and got into stage … [Read more...]

Core Business

AppleCore

I continue to be thinking about basic issues for arts institutions. Here are some thoughts about core business. There is a story–that I have always assumed to be apocryphal–of the dance company manager, newly hired in November, who observed that his troupe sold thousands of ticket and made tens of thousands of dollars with their production of The Nutcracker. His conclusion was that his audience loved lavish ballets by Tchaikovsky. The next … [Read more...]

Enrich @#!*$@

EnrichNo

Rant du jour: the word "enrich" in mission statements. Yes, it is important to enrich people's lives–make them more enjoyable, more fulfilling, more meaningful. However, so often when the word is used in mission or vision statements, that's the only reference to interacting with the public. It is, of course, better than focusing on the art to the exclusion of the community, but stopping at "enrich" sells the arts short. If the arts are only … [Read more...]

Inside/Outside

MondaviWinery

This is yet another example of how it's nearly impossible for me to get away from things that tie in to the content of this blog. In September, during my trip to California to work with James Irvine Foundation grantees, I took some time to "play" in Napa Valley. One stop was at the Robert Mondavi Winery. We took an official tour led by one of Mondavi's wine chemists. This was a man whose passion and life work is great wine. He knows his stuff and … [Read more...]