As part of Engaging Matters’ 10th Anniversary, we are highlighting important and/or popular posts from the past. In reviewing such posts it became clear that many were grouped thematically. As a result, this Anniversary series will, for the most part, present the theme with links to relevant posts rather than simply re-posting individual items.
Early this year, looking/hoping for a light at the end of the COVID tunnel, I wrote a series of posts addressing the need to take the opportunity for a strategic re-set in the arts.
The Delta variant moved the light a good deal further down the tunnel but someday . . . . The lessons about getting things right will still apply whenever we are able to reconnect with the public in sustainable ways.
Here are some highlights from the posts:
- “[O]ur question should not be “How will post-pandemic life impact us and our work?” Our questions should be, first, ‘What are our communities feeling/ experiencing?’ and second, How can we help them?’”
- “Connecting with new communities begins with a sincere desire to do so. . . . “
- “[W]e all should be heavily invested in connecting more and more people with the art we love.”
- “People are not, today, predisposed to give the aloof artist or arts organization much benefit of the doubt. In a time when expanding reach is critical, the first tool that needs to be mastered is the skill of relationship building, and a vital ingredient for success in that is humility.”
- “The mindset that ‘We matter because we present great art.’ does not cut it. It is only things that people see as important to their lives that fill this bill.”
- “[W]ill arts organizations emerge in a post-pandemic environment seen in a positive light by enough people to be sustainable for the long term? Unless we significantly alter our relationships with the new communities that are vital for our survival, we may not be seen at all.
- “Commit to Community: We need new habits of mind that see our organizations as providers of resources that can and should address community interests.”
- “Commit to Equity: The national mood is such that if we are not seen as actively supporting the furtherance of justice we’ll be overwhelmed by a cultural tsunami.”
- “Commit to Participation: find ways to get people doing the arts. This will build solid relationships between them and the organizations that provide the opportunities. In some cases it may also, as I’ve seen people suggesting recently, provide (not insignificant) new revenue streams.”
It is still difficult for me to believe that Engaging Matters is over ten years old. Much has changed in that time and, I hope, the prospects for substantive community engagement in the nonprofit arts industry have improved at least a bit. This will be the final post reflecting on that journey. I hope there have been things here that have clarified matters or raised important questions for you.
The Holiday Season is upon us. There may be another post or two before year end . . . or there may not. Regardless, in the meantime, be safe, be healthy, and be good to yourselves.