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Go Out and About

Community Events     

By going to new community gatherings or events in parts of your community you may not know well, you can gain some insights into your community and people that are not familiar to you. If you get a chance, introduce yourself to some of the volunteer organizers or workers and express your interest in community engagement. Get contact information and let him/her know you are interested in meeting to look at what your two organizations might be able to do together incorporating performing arts with their community’s interests or issues. 

Questions you might ask attending a community event to someone who is involved with the organization:

  • This is the first time I have attended.  Is this typical of the people who come to your events? How are you involved with this organization?
  • What programs does your organization run? 
  • Who are your primary clients/constituents?
  • What aspects of your organization are you most proud of?  
  • We (name of organization) are really interested in getting more involved in the community. Who do you think I should talk to about the possibilities of working together on a project of some kind?

Or

  • I really enjoyed learning about your organization, if you have time in the next couple of weeks, I would love to meet with you to talk more about our common interests.  

Community Meetings

Does your city council have open forums at their meetings where concerned individuals and community leaders can voice their opinion on outstanding issues before the council? If so, attending such meetings can be a way to learn more about what is going on outside your regular sphere of activity. 

Does your city/town council have open forums at their meetings where concerned individuals and community leaders can voice their opinion on outstanding issues before the council?  If so, attending such meetings can be a way to learn more about what is going on outside your regular sphere of activity.  Take note of individuals who are speaking out at these meetings and follow up with them afterwards to see if the arts has a role to play in their concern.

Meeting with your municipal councilor can also help you to identify others in your neighbourhood who are working with populations that may be less engaged in the public life of the community.  

Build Individual Relationships

Once you have a list of community groups who are involved with people in your community who are not served by your traditional presenting activity, you need to get to know them. Making a phone call or sending an email to set up a personal meeting is one way to get to know them better and to learn about how the arts might be able to play a role in serving their constituents. (Be sure to do your homework before you go to the meeting.  Research online: visit their website, seek out any articles that might have been in the media about them. Check out their social media presence. Ask members of your board and staff if anyone is familiar with the organization.)

Questions you might ask:

  • I have heard many positive things about what your organization does in your community. Tell me more about the programs that you offer.
  • Who are you primarily serving?  (e.g. Is it a specific demographic or ethnic group?) 
  • What are the key issues that your organization is concerned about? 
  • What are your dreams for your constituents? 
  • Could we brainstorm together to see if there is a way that the arts can assist you in achieving your goals?

Welcome Them In

Another way to learn more about your community organizations is to invite their community leaders into your world.  Consider inviting leaders and taste-makers from a number of community organizations to attend one of your shows as your guest.  Hold a brief pre-show reception (coffee and dessert would be fine) starting about 45 minutes to an hour before the show.  This will give you a chance to meet everyone in person, make a brief speech about your desire to see how the arts can serve the community and the potential partners’ constituencies in a deeper way.  Then, you can follow up with in-person meetings or telephone calls so you can learn more about what they do, who they serve and how the arts might have a role to play with issues that are important to them.

Don’t lose heart if the first time you invite people, only one or two respond to attend. 

Tell Your Constituents

Once you get started, reporting on a community engagement activity in your newsletters, house programs and website and inviting the readers to suggest other partners to you may open up some new doors.  Also, these are all places where you can write about your commitment to community engagement in general terms, briefly articulating your values and your interest in making new partnerships. Promoting your interest and encouraging your audience to think about it and tell you who might be served by such activity can help you to make new connections. 

Why?

North Yorkshire Youth Dance Connecting with local environments
1

Why?

Heritage Engagement
1

Why?

Julius Ebreo - Leader, Producer, Director

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