Community Engagement is a State of Being, Or, Why We're Changing Again
- Posted by Terry Rock on January 27th, 2011
It’s been far too long since I’ve used this channel to talk about what Calgary Arts Development is up to. As a result, I’ve got a whole bunch of news to share. Some big news. Some not so big. Some observations. Some requests. Mostly, I hope you consider this series of blog posts an invitation to join us as we step forward into new, exciting and uncharted waters for the arts in Calgary!
Community Engagement is a State of Being
About a week ago, I sent a tweet that read “community engagement is a state of being, not an event.” This is a quote from a presentation I made at a conference in Ottawa in 2008 regarding the processes we used to create our Art Spaces Strategy and Capital Plan. The tweet was widely circulated, well outside my usual network. When that happened, I knew I had to put my money where my tweeter is: is Calgary Arts Development actually “engaged with the community?” Do we really understand the top priorities of the arts and culture sector in Calgary? Do we really understand the unique value of the Calgary arts scene to the lives of Calgarians? Are we really set up to deliver on those priorities? Answers: Pretty sure. Pretty sure. Not yet.
The best way to test whether we really know our stuff is to tell you about our latest strategic plan and the team we’re building to deliver on that plan. In doing so, I’ll try to throw in some observations about why we’re moving in the directions we’ve chosen. I’ll also tell you how you can get involved in refining those directions through some new initiatives that I think will ensure that Calgary Arts Development remains “engaged with the community” in deeper and more meaningful ways going forward.
As a quick preview, there are three main changes you’ll notice in what we do:
- A strong move into advocacy: we will use our platforms and perspective to tell a compelling story of the impact of the arts on life in Calgary, and on the impact of our investments on the capacity of the arts sector to perform at ever increasing levels of excellence. You’ll see research initiatives, policy development, white papers, events and compelling writing about the arts in Calgary. All of that will be open to your participation.
- Proactive art space development: In 2010, we hired Reid Henry to head up our Art Space Initiatives portfolio, and by the end of the year, had opened Seafood Market Studios in partnership with CMLC. In 2011, Reid’s team will grow, along with our capacity to ensure that there are more affordable multi-tenant facilities for small organizations and individual artists. Artist-focused housing will also be a new part of our thinking, including our support for policy change that makes housing for artists more affordable.
- Proactive resource development: During the past 4 years, as we’ve seen our granting portfolio grow from $2.3M to $4.4M, we’ve come to realize that our primary value is in developing new sources of resources that can then be invested into the arts sector. It is time to up the ante on this work, and so Karen Ball, our former Director of Community Investment, is now our Director of Resource Development. Karen's key roles will be to improve the positioning of our programs to City Council, and to provide leadership to encourage more people and more corporations to invest in the arts.
Those are the things I think you’ll notice right away. Of course, we’re always aiming to refine and improve what we already do. And there’s a really exciting set of strategic goals that provoked these changes. I’ll start sharing those in future posts. Meanwhile... check out the new job postings that we're releasing today!