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...]

Community Engagement ≠ Charity


A couple of weeks ago my blogging buddy Trevor O'Donnell posted one of his parting essays, "Community Engagement is a Lousy Way to Sell Tickets." [Disclosure: we had been corresponding on the subject in the days ahead of that post.] In it he highlights the fact that community engagement does not generate much in the way of immediate ticket sales and to expect it to do so demonstrates a lack of understanding of the nature of the work. He also … [Read more...]

Go to the Gemba


Show of hands. Who knows what the title of this post means? As I've mentioned before, my son is a higher ed IT management consultant. From him I learn many fascinating things about what's going on in the world of management theory and practice. Recently he told me that one of his favorite approaches–Lean, derived from Toyota's management style in the 1980's (which was the heart of Japan's conquering the automobile industry)–incorporates the … [Read more...]

Benefits of the Arts Follow-Up

A commenter on Benefits of the Arts asked a great question: observing the similarities between the Rand Corporation’s Gifts of the Muse intrinsic/instrumental categories, wasn't my core/ancillary division simply a re-naming? (And Ian David Moss's later comment was in a similar vein.) Here was  my semi-immediate response: While the whole concept is still baking, I’d say no on two grounds. First, the rationale for the core/ancillary distinction is … [Read more...]

Benefits of the Arts


One of the best things about blogging (especially in the summer when so many of my colleagues in academia are paying less attention) is the opportunity to experiment with ideas that are, shall we say, not fully baked. Careful (and long-time) readers of this blog may recall that in my post Art for Art's Sake? There's No Such Thing, I expressed some discomfort with the notions of intrinsic and instrumental benefits of the arts. That construct … [Read more...]

Engagement Vocabulary in Action


In an effort to clarify the points from my last two posts (Engagement Vocabulary and Parsing Vocabulary), I'm going to try to describe the differences among audience development, audience engagement, and community engagement by using a specific work produced by an arts organization as an example. [But first, to re-repeat, here are the operating definitions I'm using: Audience Development is a marketing strategy designed for immediate … [Read more...]

Parsing Vocabulary

In Engagement Vocabulary I introduced work-in-progress definitions of audience development, audience engagement, and community engagement. [To repeat: Audience Development is a marketing strategy designed for immediate results (sales, donations, etc.). Audience Engagement is a marketing strategy designed for deepening relationships with current stakeholders and expanding reach over time. Community Engagement is a mission strategy … [Read more...]

Engagement Vocabulary

I have on a number of occasions this year (New Thought on Audience and Community Engagement, An Engagement Continuum, Outreach and Audience Engagement, Outreach ≠ Community Engagement) introduced the idea that we need to come to some consensus on the meaning of the words we use when discussing “engagement.” What follows is a summary of some of the thinking I’ve been doing and presenting in work around the country (and in … [Read more...]

Outreach ≠ Community Engagement

I  sometimes hear people equate outreach with community engagement. In my ongoing effort to clarify the language we use about these matters, I'd like to differentiate between these two terms. For me, the simplest distinction is that outreach is (at best) done "for," community engagement is done "with."  Outreach, as the word implies, keeps the "outreacher" at the center. The "targets" of the outreach are outsiders. The entire center of gravity as … [Read more...]