Blog Posts for community engagement

Spark a Creative Conversation During National Arts & Humanities Month

Posted by Cristyn Johnson, Oct 04, 2018 0 comments

Happy National Arts and Humanities Month! Each October, millions of people across the country celebrate the transformative power of the arts in their communities. National Arts and Humanities Month is a “coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America,” with the goals of: FOCUSING on the arts at local, state, and national levels; ENCOURAGING individuals and organizations to participate in the arts; ALLOWING governments and businesses to show their support of the arts; and RAISING public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives. During National Arts and Humanities Month, some truly amazing celebrations of arts and culture take place across the country. One of the big initiatives for the month is Creative Conversations, which gather community leaders to “discuss local arts, culture, and creativity to generate partnerships and increased energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the arts in America.” 

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Five Reasons Why Public Art Matters

Posted by Ms. Patricia Walsh, Aug 30, 2018 1 comment

Public art matters to me because I see it as a platform for civic dialogue and as the most democratic of art forms. When done well, a public artwork engages citizens in conversation that can vary from understanding historical and cultural backgrounds, to driving attachment to place and social cohesion. In a world struggling with new ways to connect, public art can make public spaces more approachable. In June of this year, Americans for the Arts worked in collaboration with the 2018 Public Art Network (PAN) Advisory Council to launch “Why Public Art Matters” to provide the field with a tool to help educate community members, local decision makers, and other stakeholders on the value that public art can bring to cities and towns. The resource document provides talking points, reasons, data, and examples of how public art can positively impact a community in five specific areas.

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“How” is Just as Important as “What”: Bringing Audiences Together Through Uncommon and Engaging Experiences

Posted by Matthew VanBesien, Aug 24, 2018 0 comments

It’s that time once again. Many of us across the performing arts realm are hanging on to the last remnants of summer, while also turning our attention to (and girding our loins for!) the new season ahead. For the University Musical Society, this officially begins on Sept. 21, a couple of weeks after the University of Michigan commences its fall semester. One of the things I value most about UMS and my new role here is the great care and attention we give to not just WHAT we present, but HOW we present it. This is an important lesson for all of us, each and every day, as we endeavor to grow the energy, focus, and evolution of our institutions. I’m proud to say we’re digging deep to answer many fundamental questions about who we are and what we want to be in the future.

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Minneapolis: At the Corner of Arts and Justice

Posted by Katherine Peinhardt, Aug 15, 2018 0 comments

It is true what people say, that art can heal. But what if art can do more than that? Above and beyond that old maxim, a platform for the arts can bring a whole community to the table. The Hennepin Theatre Trust is exploring the intersection of public space, social justice, and local creativity as it works to improve the historic Hennepin Theatre District. Surpassing even the most ambitious examples of creative placemaking, the Hennepin Theatre Trust made a journey from “talking the talk” to truly “walking the walk” of community-building through the arts. Making Hennepin Avenue safer and livelier was not only a question of engaging theatre-goers; it was a matter of actively including the voices of local people experiencing homelessness who rely on Hennepin Avenue to be a safe haven. Through this project, HTT began to lift the curtain on who uses public spaces in West Downtown Minneapolis, and why.

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Have Your Heard the Buzz About Creative Conversations?

Posted by Cristyn Johnson, Aug 07, 2018 0 comments

Creative Conversations were launched in 2004 in response to feedback for a need for dialogue from the Emerging Leaders Network. Since then, they have been used as a catalyst in communities across the nation to unify groups of people engaged in arts and culture by sparking dialogue, spurring advocacy efforts, and creating networking opportunities for participants. Most Creative Conversations take place in October as part of National Arts and Humanities Month; however, now they are popping up more frequently at other times of the year. Interested in learning more about these community engagement events, or hosting one in your area? Read on for information and inspiration to help get you started!

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Passion Works

Posted by Patty Mitchell, Jul 12, 2018 0 comments

This story is about what happens when the talents and interests of people with developmental differences are followed. In 1998 I was invited to set up an experimental art studio within a sheltered workshop in Athens, Ohio. A sheltered workshop is a day program for people with developmental disabilities that offers assembly line-like work options (capping pens, stuffing envelopes, bagging items). The work is repetitive with a clear expectation of the end product. In the back of the old factory was a 15’ x 25’ room where I was invited to set up a studio space through a grant from the Ohio Arts Council. When people were done with their work quotas they could come back to the art studio and explore. The enthusiasm and excitement that unfolded ignited something in me and I found my passion. This group was magical. They had talent, imagination, fearlessness, cooperation—everything needed to feed the creative process within a collaborative community making experience.

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