The Eightfold Path to Community Engagement
(Respectfully, but tongue somewhat in cheek)
1. Belief: know and trust that engagement is good for the arts and good for the community
No work in this field can be successful in the long term unless those involved truly believe it should be done. This cannot be entered into as “window dressing.” It must be and seem real.
2. Commitment: provide, ungrudgingly, the time and money that engagement requires
The early stages of relationship building should not immediately yield big projects. Be patient. Persevere.
3. Fidelity: become a valued partner by listening/helping
Respect your partner. Establish dialogue. Listen. Be at the table willing to learn. Do small things together to build trust and avoid the ennui of “all talk.” As in successful personal relationships, avoid hidden agendas; acknowledge the value of establishing a relationship for its own sake.
4. Knowledge: learn what is important to the other
As but two examples, discover what issues are important to the partner and in what things the partner has a sense of pride?
5. Insight: discover areas of mutual interest
What arts activities touching on things important to the other are possible? Determining this can only be done after a relationship has been established. Only then is it possible to be aware of what might have meaning to those with whom no previous relationship has existed.
6. Collaboration: develop and implement mutually beneficial project(s)
Create and carry out an arts program or activity that is the contribution the organization can make to its community.
7. Assessment: gather feedback and performance data, determine successes and areas for improvement
Articulate the values driving the process, review the outcomes sought, collate the results, consider resources used and results attained, celebrate accomplishments, identify elements to improve or abandon.
8. Reformation: continually improve the quality of the relationship and of collaborative activities–build on successes, improve where needed
Make the changes suggested by assessment: build on successes, improve where needed.
Dharma Wheel by Viniciuscb at en.wikipedia [Public domain]
from Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dharma_wheel.svg