Blog Posts for Community Engagement

Expanding Community Participation

Posted by Ms. Libby Maynard, Dec 09, 2011 0 comments

Libby Maynard

Continuing the focus on community engagement and participation in arts and culture, I’d like to share with you how we at The Ink People in Humboldt County, CA, have been practicing these principles for the last 25 years.

Our DreamMaker Program invites community members who have a vision for an arts and culture project or see a need in their community that can be addressed through such a project, to partner with us.

Sometimes I think of us as the center of a broad web, supporting and nurturing community-initiated visions. We are not a fiscal receiver. The board of directors decides whether or not to adopt each project as a full-fledged part of The Ink People, with full nonprofit benefits and stakes our reputation on each one.

In addition to this, we give administrative support and intensive mentoring to each project, as well as offering a series of Mini Nonprofit “MBA” classes. The classes are designed only to give project leaders an idea of what they don’t know, so they can ask the right questions to have the best chance at success.

Generally, a project follows one of four paths. It may be short term, with limited and well defined goals and outcomes, such as the publication of a book about Japanese Senryu poetry by the artist’s grandmother, with illustrations by the artist, and a series of workshops on writing Senryu poetry.

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Partnering Under a Banner

Posted by Wayne Andrews, Dec 09, 2011 0 comments

Wayne Andrews

Competition is hard. In the business world market share, loss leaders, and incentives are used to drive product loyalty. This does not work in the creative economy.

You can’t coupon a radio listener into supporting your local songwriter’s organization, or celebrate that the ballet has gained market share over the orchestra.

The arts are one of the few business models where we don’t celebrate growth by one organization over another. Never have we heard the Opera Generation is involved in an art war with New Ballet.

There are a host of incentives and promotions arts groups utilize to entice people to try the ballet or opera. Every arts group has tried a “pay what you can night” or “free tickets promotions” hoping to expand their audience.

Still I don’t care that a prune is a dried plum because to many people it is still a prune. Just as opera is opera or modern art is confusing. Most products realize once the discounted price, coupon, or gimmick that lured the consumers to buy their brand of soap is gone, and so is the customer.

How will art groups build a new audience? By merging more than marketing efforts, but by merging their programs.

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It All Comes Down to Customer Service

Posted by Will Maitland Weiss, Dec 08, 2011 0 comments

Will Maitland Weiss

Anyone still reading this on a desktop computer?

Even you—along with the smart phone and smarter tablet readers—know that the tsunamic trend of digital communication will continue to roil how we deliver art (and get money to do so) in 2012.

You certainly aren’t reading this in one of the printed “newsletters” of my (distant) youth. Those, and brochures, and posters, and postcards, and print advertising—which used to take up so much of our time and of our paltry budgets--are going, going, gone.

We tell the stories of our art differently now. We sell our tickets differently; our tickets, which will soon be pieces of cardboard as often as our subway fares are paid in metal tokens.

C-R-M! C-R-M!

Variable pricing—which got a passing shout-out in a recent Sunday Times Magazine (page 11), kind of in the context of “Duh? Some people aren’t doing this?!

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Local Arts Agencies Are Like Snow Flakes

Posted by Marc Folk, Dec 08, 2011 0 comments

Marc Folk

No two are exactly alike. Each has its own strengths and challenges. Some are well funded Departments of Cultural Affairs. Some are small organizations with a shoe string budget. The rest fall somewhere in between.

We land into the category of being created in our city’s charter but stand as a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

What this means is we have to fundraise to deliver our programs and services and partner as often as possible. Both require patience, flexibility, and an innovative mindset to extend our reach into the community and get the arts to the people.

Partnership is often talked about like a simple and obvious solution; however, those that have taken it on know just what may lie in the details.

Partnerships in fundraising, especially cross sector, can prove even more challenging. But they CAN work.

As we enter into 2012, The Arts Commission will be heading into its second year fundraising partnership with ProMedica, a locally-owned nonprofit healthcare organization, and its subset the Toledo Children’s Hospital Foundation. This joint effort combines the agency’s efforts with the Autism Collaborative to centralize services for children with autism and their families and the Arts Commission’s mission.

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Active Engagement for More Excellence

Posted by Ms. Libby Maynard, Dec 08, 2011 0 comments

Libby Maynard

There is a movement afoot for which I’ve been waiting for a long time.

Here in California in the last several years, the James Irvine Foundation conducted several studies and issued reports about arts ecology in California and engagement in the arts by diverse audiences, including folk and traditional arts.

The data was so powerful that Irvine is refocusing its grantmaking efforts “to promote engagement in the arts for all Californians, the kind that embraces and advances the diverse ways that we experience the arts, and that strengthens our ability to thrive together in a dynamic and complex social environment.”

The most exciting report is Getting In On the Act: How Arts Groups are Creating Opportunities for Active Participation, by WolfBrown.

They are specifically talking about active engagement, not passive, such as attending a concert. By no means is the Irvine Foundation abandoning the concept of excellence in the arts, but recognizing that there is a broad range of accomplishment that is equally relevant, perhaps more so to community vitality.

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A New Umbrella for Denver's Cultural Assets

Posted by Jan Brennan, Dec 08, 2011 0 comments

Jan Brennan

The Denver Office of Cultural Affairs is no more. But don’t panic. In this case, it represents a positive development that helps ensure cultural programming and staffing remains strong in Denver.

This summer, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs and the City Division of Theatres and Arenas combined forces to form a new, merged agency called Arts & Venues Denver.

The merger brings cultural programs and venues into an umbrella agency that brings together all of the City of Denver arts and entertainment assets. Arts & Venues Denver has adopted a new mission: To enhance Denver’s quality of life and economic vitality through premier public venues, artwork, and entertainment opportunities.

The former Office of Cultural Affairs has moved over as a department of the new agency, joining Facilities and Event Services Departments, and served jointly by Communications & Marketing and Finance sections.

We retained all of our staff, programs and budget in the transition, continuing to oversee public art, community events, arts education and creative sector initiatives.

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