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Types of Community Engagement Initiatives

Community arts projects, issues driven initiatives, arts-centered projects – there are many different types of community engagement initiatives presenters can consider: 

Arts-Centred Projects

Arts-centred projects are often developed by an artist or arts organization taking an existing work and using it as the centerpiece of a community engagement project.  Examples would include Green Thumb Theatre's production of Still Falling which opens the door for engagement work around self-esteem and mental health. Sometimes the artistic entity will specifically engage an artist for a commission that in itself may not be primarily “about” an issue but in the context of its presentation can address it.  

Community Arts Projects

Arts based programming that is designed around a specific community issue is usually referred to as community arts.  An example would be Ontario’s sheatre company production of Far From the Heart which is about bullying and tours to communities and schools.

Issues Driven Initiatives

In these examples, a specific community group will work with a teaching artist to create and perform a work that highlights a particular issue a community is facing such as the closure of a production plant or an immigrant community facing cultural disruption.  Or, they may work with a particular constituent group on a specific issue for that group such as working with youth exploring issues like gender identity or bullying. Or, it may involve broader societal issues like social justice or poverty or homelessness.  Some may also be a community based performance of an existing work that illuminates the issue. 

Grass Roots Projects

More often found in the visual arts than the performing arts,  grassroots projects use art created by community members with or without the leadership of a professional artist or teaching artist and instead led by a social service worker. Examples include creating murals on the fences of abandoned buildings, creating community gardens or play spaces on abandoned lots.

Community Healing projects

Arts engagement projects can bring different citizen groups together after a disruptive event such as a natural disaster or other major disruption in community life.  For example, in Tucson, Arizona after the brutal shooting of Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords that resulted in serious injury or death to more than 20 people, several organizations came together to put on a concert of healing featuring both local and national artists with all funds going to a memorial of the event.  This was but one of several community arts engagement projects that took place over the next year and on subsequent anniversaries. 

Community Celebrations 

Your community may celebrate its day of incorporation or may have a community based event that takes place in conjunction with a major holiday like Victoria Day. Collaborate with the community groups that organize such celebrations by including arts engagement activities as part of the day.  

Casual Arts encounters

From casual concerts in the park on a summer’s night presented in collaboration with the local business association, to a mini concert in the shopping mall, to a dance performance on a city bus route, creating casual arts encounters around your community bring a sense of surprise and wonder for those who encounter them.  

Why?

The Move Collective
1

Why?

Megan English - Community Engagement with dance

Why?

Ronnie Brown - Oakville Centre

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