Blog Posts for Community Engagement

Artists & Planners Partner in DC: Innovating Engagement & Instigating Systems Change

Posted by Joshua D. Silver , Sakina Khan, Jan 23, 2019 0 comments

A few years ago, the District of Columbia Office of Planning (DCOP) launched an ambitious local government creative placemaking initiative. DCOP designed a multi-year, multi-neighborhood effort that would build community in areas experiencing rapid change. Supported by the Kresge Foundation’s Arts and Culture Local Systems Program, “Crossing the Street: Building DC’s Inclusive Future through Creative Placemaking” used arts and culture to activate space, foster conversation, promote inclusive experiences, highlight neighborhood assets, and advance planning. What became apparent as we embarked on this journey with curators, artists, and communities was the impact that an artist-municipal framework could have: planners began to think like artists, and artists began to think like planners. We also had not fully accounted for the unique lens, approach, and connections that artists make when working in a community. There are many lessons learned from our Crossing the Street, but we will focus on two distinct areas: 1) a new way to engage community; and 2) systems change. Inherent to both areas was a single underlying facet: the role of artists-municipal partnerships.

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The 10 most read ARTSblog posts of 2018

Posted by Ms. Ann Marie Watson, Jan 22, 2019 0 comments

ARTSblog once again was a vibrant space for sharing and learning across all sectors of the arts field in 2018. All told, we published more than 215 blogs by authors working in public art, healthcare, government, marketing, local arts agencies, the private sector, and at Americans for the Arts, plus artists, arts educators, leaders at every stage of their careers, and many more. We hope you got your fill of your favorite topics and posts—but if you’re looking for a quick snapshot of the year that was, here are the 10 most viewed ARTSblog posts from 2018.

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Rehearsing for Civic Dialogue

Posted by Jessica A. Levy, Jan 03, 2019 0 comments

Few of us are taught how to do civic dialogue. How do we develop and improve our ability to facilitate groups made up of individuals with potentially vastly different life experiences, identities, vested interests, and communication styles? Here’s one answer: Theater. When we want to literally incorporate new skills in our work, we need a body-based practice that can allow us to explore the interplay of subject matter, emotional response, social identity, and physical bodies in a physical space. That is the theater of civic engagement. And the methods of theater are learning tools that can and should be central to the training of public officials and community leaders who shape our interactions in the public sphere. Drexel University is currently working to ensure that urban planners have the skill set to facilitate civic engagement, and its Masters of Science in Urban Strategy (MSUS) program has drawn on embodied and theater-based methods as a core training methodology.

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An Artist at the Table Means Hope for a Better World

Posted by Robert Lynch, Dec 20, 2018 0 comments

2018 was a year of some highs, but many lows. Controversy and anger and fear still seem to swirl around us in large supply, and more often I find myself sitting at my piano, my energy source and antidote for when I am feeling low. I imagine how all of us can better convey the power of the arts as a unifying force—as a solution for our country—during these difficult times. Our need for the arts is apparent. We have needed and sought the healing and teaching power of the arts for a long time. Robert Redford once said, “I’ve long believed we could move toward solving some of our biggest problems if there were an artist at every table.” Woven through the events of this year were artists who are making a tremendous difference in communities across the country, and their diverse voices are animating conversation and giving us hope for a kinder and more compassionate world.

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The Importance and Impact of Planning for Public Art

Posted by Ms. Patricia Walsh, Kimberly O’Keeffe, Dec 18, 2018 0 comments

There is a growing interest in public art from across the country. In the Public Art Programs Fiscal Year 2001 report, Americans for the Arts estimated 350 public art programs across the U.S. The 2017 Survey of Public Art Programs identified more than twice as many. With this growth it is important to understand the various ways public art is planned for and implemented in different communities. In this post, we provide an overview of three papers published by Americans for the Arts that speak to the diverse needs of public art programs across the country, and how local institutions are approaching the topic in innovative ways. With a focus on planning for public art from a municipal perspective, growing public art programs in small to mid-sized cities, and recognizing grassroots and folk art in rural communities, these papers show that successful public art values local context and the public art programs are as unique as each community.

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Crowdfunding in Public Art

Posted by Kimberly O’Keeffe, Dec 14, 2018 0 comments

In recent years, there has been an increase in smaller scale, temporary public art projects that encourage community participation and conversation. This is an exciting moment as community members are taking the initiative to create public art that fosters a sense of ownership and pride in their neighborhoods. As the interest in localized public art grows, the individual artists and communities who pioneer these projects are looking for new ways to fund their art. Crowdfunding, a grassroots method of funding a project through raising many small amounts of money from a larger number of people, typically via the Internet, has grown in prominence as a way to pool resources towards a project. In the recently published paper “Crowdfunding in Public Art,” I explored the ways crowdfunding has been used to implement public art, and I’ve been inspired by what I’ve seen.

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