Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the United States

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ArtsEngaged, 2012 - Artists and community - 369 pages

Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S, written and edited by Doug Borwick, holds that established arts organizations, for practical and moral reasons, need to be more deeply connected to their communities. It serves as an essential primer for any member of the arts community-artist, administrator, board member, patron, or friend-who is interested in the future of the arts in the U.S. It also provides new ways of looking at the arts as a powerful force for building better communities and improving lives. [For the companion "how to" book, see Engage Now! A Guide to Making the Arts Indispensable]

It is from community that the arts developed and it is in serving communities that the arts will thrive . . . Communities do not exist to serve the arts; the arts exist to serve communities.

Building Communities, Not Audiences identifies the factors that serve to isolate established arts organizations from their communities, points out the trends that loom as imminent threats to the long-term viability of the artistic status quo, and presents principles and mechanisms whereby arts organizations can significantly extend their reach into the community, supporting enhanced sustainability. Included are case studies and examples of successful community engagement work being conducted by arts organizations from around the U.S.

Twenty-three contributors, representing chamber music, dance, museums, opera, orchestras, and theatre as well as an array of arts administration perspectives provide breadth of coverage.

The economic, social, and political environments out of which the infrastructure for Western 'high arts' grew have changed. Today's major arts institutions, products of that legacy, no longer benefit from relatively inexpensive labor, a nominally homogeneous culture, or a polity openly managed by an elite class. Expenses are rising precipitously and competition for major donors is increasing; as a result, the survival of established arts organizations hinges on their ability to engage effectively with a far broader segment of the population than has been true to date.

From the Foreword by Rocco Landesman, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts: I think the days of the arts in ivory towers are behind us; the very best arts organizations are . . . connecting communities with artists . . . . Not only can the arts build communities, I think we must.

From the Foreword by Robert L. Lynch, President & CEO, Americans for the Arts: Doug Borwick calls for substantive rather than superficial efforts, authentic and systemic changes. . . . The challenge is not whether to build communities or audiences but how to build communities and audiences together.

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About the author (2012)

Doug Borwick is a leading advocate for community engagement in the arts. He is author of Engaging Matters, a blog for ArtsJournal. In addition, he is CEO of ArtsEngaged, offering training and consultation services to artists and arts organizations seeking to engage with their communities more effectively as well as CEO of Outfitters4, Inc., providing management services for nonprofit organizations. Dr. Borwick is an educator, having served for nearly thirty years as Director of the Arts Management and Not-for-Profit Management Programs at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. (He was named Salem Distinguished Professor in 1997.) He recently served as President of the Board of the Association of Arts Administration Educators, an international organization of higher education programs in the field. And Dr. Borwick is an artist. He holds the Ph.D. in Music Composition from the Eastman School of Music and is an award-winning member of ASCAP. He gained experience as an arts administrator and producer working with the Arts Council of Rochester (NY) and through founding and leading the NC Composers Alliance in the mid-1980's.

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