The 2012/2013 LDI cohort explored ways in which presenters shape cultures of community engagement based upon the theme: Know and Connect with Community. Their inquiry addressed essential questions about relevance, commitment and community. The outcome of this work reflects the following belief: “Unless our arts organizations continually evaluate our missions and evolve our programming to reflect the communities in which we serve, we run the risk of becoming irrelevant and impotent as a force for social and cultural change.”
The sessions were facilitated by the Research Center for Leadership in Action (RCLA) at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. Each session was co-facilitated by Bethany Godsoe, RCLA executive director, and Theresa Holden, co-director, Holden and Arts Associates.
Over the course of 5 working sessions, cohort members addressed the importance of undertaking the work of building relationships in their communities and developed best practices around 5 key aspects of engaging community with and through the arts. The practices cluster in 5 zones of activity (links below lead to helpful tools, exercises and tactics for each practice area):
- Making the Case – Why is it important to know and connect with community?
- Building an Organizational Culture – Why is it important to integrate community engagement into a presenter’s mission/strategic plan?
- Connecting with Your Community – How should geographic, socioeconomic and political realities of the community inform an organization’s approach?
- Involving Artists – How should artists – who are key stakeholders in the arts ecology – be involved in connecting their work with communities?
- Evaluating Impact – How can evaluation serve internal learning and enhanced community engagement?