Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the United States
A "Why To" Book on Community Engagement
It is from community that the arts developed and it is in serving communities that the arts will thrive . . .
Communities do not exist to serve the arts; the arts exist to serve communities.
"A bold, unapologetic, argument for moving the arts from its Euro-Centric base and towards more involvement (and relevance) to the changing demographic communities across the country by being more involved in responding to community needs. . . .[It] makes for a very good starting point for the debates that will undoubtedly ensue."
Barry Hessenius (GIA Reader, Vol 23, No 3 (Fall 2012))
Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S., written and edited by Doug Borwick, holds that established arts organizations, for practical and moral reasons, need to be more deeply connected to their communities. It serves as an essential primer for any member of the arts community–artist, administrator, board member, patron, or friend–who is interested in the future of the arts. It also provides new ways of looking at the arts as a powerful force for building better communities and improving the lives of all.
Building Communities, Not Audiences identifies the factors that serve to isolate established arts organizations from their communities, points out the trends that loom as imminent threats to the long-term viability of the artistic status quo, and presents principles and mechanisms whereby arts organizations can significantly extend their reach into the community, supporting enhanced sustainability. Included are case studies and examples of successful community engagement work being conducted by arts organizations from around the U.S. Twenty-three contributors, representing chamber music, dance, museums, opera, orchestras, and theatre as well as an array of arts administration perspectives provide breadth of coverage.
The economic, social, and political environments out of which the infrastructure for Western ‘high arts’ grew have changed. Today’s major arts institutions, products of that legacy, no longer benefit from relatively inexpensive labor, a nominally homogeneous culture, or a polity openly managed by an elite class. Expenses are rising precipitously and competition for major donors is increasing; as a result, the survival of established arts organizations hinges on their ability to engage effectively with a far broader segment of the population than has been true to date.
From the Foreword by Rocco Landesman, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts:
“I think the days of the arts in ivory towers are behind us; the very best arts organizations are . . . connecting communities with artists . . . . Not only can the arts build communities, I think we must.”
From the Foreword by Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO, Americans for the Arts:
“Doug Borwick calls for substantive rather than superficial efforts, authentic and systemic changes. . . . The challenge is not whether to build communities or audiences but how to build communities and audiences together.”
Engage Now! A Guide To Making The Arts Indispensable
A "How To" Manual for Becoming Invaluable
Arts organizations cannot long survive without earning impassioned support from the communities they serve.
Communities cannot reach their full potential without the benefits the arts can provide.
"An eloquent and persuasive voice in a global conversation about the power of the arts to transform our society."
Simon Brault, author, No Culture, No Future Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts
Online Excerpts and Table of Contents (click for links to text)
For some, the arts as indispensable is a preposterous idea, yet nearly every stakeholder in the industry believes the arts’ value to be unquestionable. That gap accounts for most of the challenges arts organizations face. As long as the arts are seen as an amenity (at best), they will struggle in a world that only has time for that which is necessary. “Mere” relevance will not suffice. To compete in the marketplace of public value the required standard is indispensability. Engage Now! is a “how to” manual for the arts organization seeking to become invaluable.
Engage Now! is a “how to” manual for the arts organization seeking to become invaluable. It
- Presents basic principles and practices of effective community engagement,
- Provides guidance for achieving systemic focus on engagement, and
- Outlines a process for becoming a universally recognized community asset.
This book is intended for anyone with a vested interest in the arts. Since the arts are essential for healthy individuals and healthy communities, it is for everyone. However, far too few people are aware of their “vested interest.” That makes Engage Now! important for us all.