ArtsEngaged understands that community engagement can be challenging for arts organizations. This website contains resources that may be of use. In particular, the toolkit presented here, contains specific ideas, suggestions, samples, and templates that may be of use.
If you don’t know where to begin, examine the Engagement Process Template. It is, for now, mostly an outline of the process containing a few specific tips and links. Over the next few months it (and the entire toolkit) will be expanded to include more detail and more topics. Your feedback, to firstname.lastname@example.org, will be invaluable to assist us in that process.
Means of Connecting
Identify partner communit(y)(ies)
Create internal engagement structure
Provide training [See Community Learning]
A public commitment to engagement is a vital early step in engaging communities. When new communities meet representatives of arts organizations they often assume the intent of the latter is to get them to buy tickets or make donations. That’s many people’s experience with the arts. Successful community engagement needs to be based on mutual benefit. An official statement of the organization's reasons for engaging and a dedication to mutuality can be a starting point for building trust.
What follows is an early draft of such a statement.
XYZ Arts Organization’s Commitment to Our Communities
XYZ Arts, in living out its mission commitment to “[portion of mission statement that supports community engagement],” sees itself as a resource for improving lives in and strengthening the civic fabric of [city/geographic region]. [Art form we support] is, of course, valuable in and of itself; yet we also recognize its power as a tool for human betterment. Insofar as our resources permit, we seek to develop mutually beneficial relationships with individuals and organizations to help us further the public good. We will approach these relationships as learners, understanding that our expertise lies in [art form we support] and that our partners are the authorities in their fields of interest. Out of these relationships we will develop experiences in which [art form we support] supports community goals. We aspire to be a contributor to all things of importance to [city/geographic region] and to be recognized as a reliable and flexible collaborator on projects that make [city/geographic region] a better place to live
Board of Directors
A statement like this coming from the governing body of an arts organization committing to the things included here would demonstrate a seriousness of purpose that could be significant in building trust with new communities. As we receive feedback for improvements, we will amend the sample statement.