Greetings. Very long time, no post. And I’m going to address that.
Ten years ago I began focusing full time on issues related to the arts and community engagement. My work has involved authoring two books–Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S. and Engage Now! A Guide to Making the Arts Indispensable–and authoring/editing this blog, Engaging Matters. Through my company, ArtsEngaged, I have provided advocacy, training, and consulting for community engagement; and, via the Community Engagement Network I have sought to create a forum for the sharing of information and resources and to provide community engagement practitioners an opportunity to grow and give each other support.
In these last ten years I have sensed (although I don’t have documentation for this) that there has been an increase in awareness in our industry of the need for community engagement and, to a somewhat lesser extent, real growth in understanding the nature of effective community engagement. In addition, there seems to be a sizable group of people working in our field (many of them young and enthusiastic) that possess a passion for making significant change to enable arts organizations to connect with communities in ways that yield true mutual benefit.
This summer I turned 70. I don’t view that as “old” nor do I feel in any way “decrepit.” However, the inevitable reflection associated with a milestone birthday has led me to conclude that it is time for me to step back and pass the torch to others. I will continue to support the field in whatever ways I can, continuing to speak, write, and provide counsel as opportunities and inspiration arise.
As I downsize, the Community Engagement Network is considering its future. (For those of you interested, you can keep up with it through the Facebook group Become Indispensable or by joining here.) In addition, followers of this blog might have already noticed a significant curtailment here, although I presume many or most of you are not invested enough to have noticed. Like a number of my blogging colleagues, I have reached a point where the “pressure to post” has become a burden I’m not interested in bearing. I imagine I will continue to have some things to say. (To be honest, I’ve got a list of topics that I’ve not addressed to this point.) But I will not beat myself up for significant lapses in doing so. And, whenever I do decide to permanently throw in the towel, I’ll let it be known here. (FWIW, I know I’m not the only one taking a step like this this month. Best wishes to Drew McManus at Adaptistration.)
For now, I beg of you all to keep up the good work of connecting communities with the arts that they need and the arts organizations with the communities without which they cannot long endure. In other words,