Community Engagement: A Habit of Mind

Habits

Perhaps the most important requirement for newcomers to community engagement is development of a new perspective, a new way of thinking that incorporates awareness of community into all their work. This is a frame of reference that places interests of the public high enough in unconscious thought processes that they influence creative choices. It is a perspective that grows out of belief, commitment, and practice. Belief and commitment are … [Read more...]

Let (Make) the Artists Do It (?)

CorpsDeBallet

There is an unfortunate tendency in discussions of community engagement for an organization’s first response to be that all (or most) of the work should be in the hands of its artists. I hear this presented as an assumption at many conferences, especially discipline-specific ones. This can stymie engagement efforts for two significant reasons. First, to be credible, engagement must reflect the will of the organization and be visible in all its … [Read more...]

Being Local

YouAreHerePlate

One (of many) ways artcentricity hinders community engagement is in its impact upon the relationship between the arts organization and its community as a whole. The “pursuit of excellence” as commonly understood often leads organizations to strive for a generic, rather than a location-specific, form of excellence. As one way of considering this, imagine a collection of season brochures or exhibition catalogs. In how many is it possible to tell … [Read more...]

Tapping FOMO

FOMO

Last summer I read a NY Times article about MoMA's  "Rain Room" installation. (Steamy Wait Before a Walk in a Museum’s Rain) The installation itself sounded interesting, a room that "rains" but knows where people are and doesn't rain on them. In other words, no one gets wet. Fascinating technology and an intriguing experience. However, what really struck me was the new concept I learned reading the article: FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. One … [Read more...]

In the Vineyards of Diversity

Vineyard

In July, Barry Hessenius posted an Interview with Aaron Dworkin, on Barry's Blog. Mr. Dworkin is founder and President of the Sphinx Organization, "the leading national arts organization that focuses on youth development and diversity in classical music." I was aware of Sphinx's work in identifying and supporting young people of color who aspire to careers in the classical music world. The desire to make our orchestras (in particular) less … [Read more...]

Engaging the Third Rail

ThirdRail

The art. Programming. The reason artists create and arts organizations exist.  The untouchable heart of the enterprise. (NB: In these 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 or even whether it is possible to do so without completely reinventing the organization.) When I began an outline of how … [Read more...]