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Intersections Summit Keynote Address

Keynote Address featuring Carmen Morgan at the Intersections Summit at Milwaukee Repertory Theater


In late March 2018, hundreds of theatre leaders from across the U.S. gathered at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater for the inaugural Intersections Summit. The summit brought community engagement practitioners together to reflect, address important questions, and engage in dialogue about this evolving practice.

Keynote speaker Carmen Morgan addressed a particuarly provocative topic - do we really need community engagement?

"For some communities, engagement has led to genocide and enslavement... I'm wondering if it is not so much community engagement we need but community justice. We can't really have community, let alone engagement, unless all of us are seen and treated as human."

Ms. Morgan also stressed the essential feature of community engagement; that community members are not invited to take part in existing programming, but that arts organizations engage in genuine efforte to build relationships with community members for their own sake. Once relationships are built and power is shared, meaningful artistic engagement can flourish:

"I'm asking you to make sure that the work that you're doing around community engagemnet is not transactional. That you're not inviting people into your spaces trying to connect them to the things that you are doing, but instead centring them, and their lives, and their needs, and their issues at the core. I'm asking you to not invite them to centre and sit around and talk about your plays, but to share power with them, access, and resources."

Listen to Ms. Morgan's full remarks above (beginning at the 26:50 mark).



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Doug Borwick is a US-based artist, arts administrator, and leading advocate for community engagement in the arts.

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