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Benefits of Community Engagement

“True community partnerships require a new kind of dialogue, beginning with the assets both partners bring to the birth of new relevance, not just the assets that an arts organization offers to hopefully grateful recipients.” - Eric Booth

Some arts organizations crave new opportunities to deepen their relevance to their community.

As presenters, we know the arts make a difference to people’s lives. We know that exploring one’s own creativity can unleash a wide range of emotions and build empathy, promote a collaborative spirit and deepen our connection to the world around us.  And we know that the arts can be used to tell difficult stories, to explore controversial themes and simply to contribute to the well being and happiness of those in attendance. For today’s presenter, getting involved in community engagement helps enrich our communities and helps to bring the arts out from behind our closed doors into the mainstream of our community’s life.

Many presenters are seeing a decrease in audience participation or an aging audience. Some suggest participation in the arts by attending performances is not as central to the recreational interests of people as it once was. Finding new ways to connect our community to the artistic experience and to deepen our organization’s connection to the community at large can further enhance our role as custodians of artist/community interaction.

“We need to get everyone in our organization engaged in the process”

Practitioners of community engagement are quick to note that this process requires a wholesale change in our way of thinking. It is not about our organization reaching out, it is about opening our minds and figurative doors to see how art can serve our communities.  It is about recognizing that engagement with arts practices has a bigger role than the ticketed, admission based experiences we are so focussed on creating.

A community engagement approach shifts the emphasis from ‘teaching’ the public about art to ‘learning from’ the public.  Arts organizations used to base their outreach programs on the belief that art could make life better for everyone, now they need to move to an engagement approach based on the belief of shared learning – that if they can learn well together, they can make life better for a wider community and their organization as well.


North Yorkshire Youth Dance Connecting with local environments


The House Concert - Cultural Diversity


Hazel England - Community & Education Director. Engaging our local community in creative ways

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Submit your story about a successful community engagement project to the growing resource we are creating together.


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