The Contributions of Small and Midsized Community-Based Arts Organizations (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Ms. Pam Korza, Jul 22, 2009 1 comment

At the recent Americans for the Arts annual convention, Animating Democracy debuted a newly published essay by Ron Chew, former director of the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle.  In “Community-based Arts Organizations: A New Center of Gravity,” Ron underscores the crucial contributions of small and mid-sized community-based arts organizations, often culturally specific, to the cultural ecosystem, to civic engagement, and toward achieving healthy communities and a healthy democracy.  He points out that these groups offer artistic excellence and innovation, astute leadership connected to community needs, and important institutional and engagement models for the arts field amid changing demographics, a new political climate, technological advances, and globalization.

We distributed the essay at several convention sessions, including two of the pre-conferences.  After only one day, we were amazed at how many people had already read it cover to cover (notable given jet lag, the convention’s juicy program, and Seattle’s enticing distractions) and gratified by the enthusiastic comments about the importance of what it has to say.

So we were equally pleased to get Susan Boskoff’s phone call when we returned home.  Unable to attend convention this year, a colleague had shared the essay with her.  As executive director of the Nevada Arts Council, Susan told us she wanted asap to get the essay in the hands of constituent groups and a network of technical assistance providers who are assessing how to apply stimulus funding for arts activity in their communities in the most meaningful and impactful ways.  She went on in a note to us to say: “We just completed a convening of local arts agencies and community delegations that we called “Arts at the Heart.” You can be sure that we’ll be recommending the essay as a perfect follow-up to all those in attendance. With grace, skill, intellect, common sense and vision, Ron Chew has captured the spirit of our nation’s community-based arts organizations and reminded us of their indelible impact on the lives of us all.”

We hope others—public and private sector funders, civic leaders, and others—similarly take the essay and message to heart and recognize and resource these types of organizations as a new leading edge.

Ron’s essay grew out of the Exemplar Program which funded 12 organizations from two initiatives supported by The Ford Foundation—Animating Democracy and the Working Capital Fund— from 2005 to 2007.  You can find Ron’s essay online and can find information about the Exemplar Program here.

Take a look and tell us what you think!

This article comes from Arts Watch, a weekly collection of news articles on topics such as cultural policy, arts education, and public investment in the arts.  If you would like to receive Arts Watch, please sign up.

1 responses for The Contributions of Small and Midsized Community-Based Arts Organizations (from Arts Watch)


July 22, 2009 at 5:47 pm
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