What is the most important or valuable thing that you learned at the August rendezvous about community engagement? How is it impacting how you think about community engagement for your project?
Our team learned that community engagement is absolutely necessary for sustainability of the arts and art education in a community. Sisters is a great example of this. Community members know that they have a stake in the arts. They support high quality art education in the schools. They support and are energized by festivals and performances that are unique to their community.
As we in Coos Bay think about community engagement for our project this coming year, we know that we need to start highlighting the art that is being created in our program, by getting it into public eye. This year students will have a chance to have their work shown at the Coos Art Museum, and some of their cigar box guitars will be featured in a show later this year at the museum. But, we also want to highlight their work in other public spaces in order to draw more attention to the project. We hope to get more parent and community volunteer involvement. We are beginning to plan a major project for the spring that we hope will excite the community and generate their involvement.
Who are the most important community members that your project needs to engage in order to build a culture of arts appreciation?
Because our program relies heavily on volunteers, we feel that artist and service groups are the most important community members to engage. We have seen interest in our program increase as our volunteers talk to others in the community about the program. As we move forward, we believe that we need to increase our exposure in other ways, but our volunteers and the excitement they generate will always be one of our best advocates.
Who is not “at the table” for your project and needs to be included? How will you include those community members this year?
Parents, school administrators, and small business owners need to be included in our project. We will be more intentional in reaching out to these people throughout the year. We feel that as we are able to bring the student’s work into public spaces, interest from these community members should increase. We will also invite these community members to events that we have planned for the coming year.
How will you know that your community is engaged in arts education, and whether you are making progress towards building engagement in the coming year?
By the end of year two, we hope to see student art hanging in public spaces, involve parent volunteers, expand communication with the public, and find community sponsors for sustainability. We will demonstrate progress in these areas by documenting dates of student art work in public spaces, track parent involvement, document media and community communication.
Kathy Sizemore, with contributions from Kathleen Zappelli, Rebecca Peters, Nick Krissie