Arts Engaged
Engage Now


Engagement Process: Template


Preparing (see more...)

Hearts and Minds


  • Engagement Working Group

Where community engagement is not deeply ingrained in the organization, a small group will inevitably be the catalyst for change. The means of this group “finding” each other can be as varied as each organization. Some individuals are probably already aware of like-minded colleagues. Others can be identified by sharing short articles or examples and gauging the enthusiasm with which their peers respond. [See more . . . .]

  • Organizational Assessment

There is one, and only one, first principle in effective engagement with communities: believing engagement is a good thing—for the organization, for the community, and for art. Commitment must be unanimous (or nearly so). Otherwise external communities will sense the ambivalence and engagement efforts will be less than fully effective. [See more . . . .]

  • Engage the Core

With a clear understanding of the “state of engagement” in the organization, the working group can prepare plans to expand the base of support beyond its own membership. [See more . . . .]


  • Individuals

  • Organization

    • Statement [Link to sample]: A public commitment to engagement is a critical first step in developing trust among external communities that the organization is honestly pursuing relationships for mutual benefit.

    • Resources: Human, Financial, Organizational Structure

Training (after preliminary preparation)

  • Community Learning

  • Working with Communities

    • What You Don’t Know

    • The Pursuit of Equity

    • Necessary Skills


Means of Connecting

Determine Mix of Audience Development, Audience Engagement, and Community Engagement

Identify partner communit(y)(ies)

  • Minimize Degrees of Separation

  • Categories

    • Geography

    • Demography

    • Identity

    • Affinity

Create internal engagement structure

Identify guides

Identify ambassadors

Re-vision Functions: Keep It Simple
Programming (Via Content: Application of Means of Connecting)

  • Traditional Offerings: Engaged Promotion

  • Engaged Repertoire Selection

  • Eventually: Community input on themes, ideas


  • Process

    • Initially

      • Public-Oriented Marketing (as opposed to artcentric marketing)

      • Engaged Promotion of Typical Offerings

    • Eventually: Relationship-Based Marketing

  • Divisions

    • Communications, Sales, ResearchL Interactions redesigned to enhance relationships

    • Fundraising: Reimagine possibilities as a means of accessing broader pools of funding

Governance: Board members as resources for engaging communities

EvaluationEvaluating Community Engagement


Develop/enhance relationships
Current stakeholders [See more . . .]

  • [Meet]

  • Talk

    • Listen

    • Explain

    • Reassure

    • Inspire

  • Work: Partners in the Process

Ambassadors (key community members)

New Communit(y)(ies) [See more . . .]

  • Meet

  • Talk [Questions: Listening to Serve]

  • Work

Maintain relationships
The arts industry is event-oriented, if not event-obsessed. Our principal contribution to public life is in the presentation of events. On the very deepest level we are “do-ers.” There is an inbred impatience with anything that delays doing. This is why, when discussing the process of building relationships with communities, a common question is how to “exit” the relationship when the event is over. To be clear, the relationship building process that is the essence of community engagement should not be ended except in the most extreme of circumstances. [See more . . .]

It is every marketer's dream to create word-of-mouth enthusiasm for events they promote. There is even a relatively recent term, supported by social media, for describing the ideal–FOMO: fear of missing out. [See more . . .]

Relationships Checkup: Regular (at least annual) review of/checkin on engagement relationships.

Repeat Meet-Talk-Work