Community connections are being eroded on multiple sides. There are growing divisions amongst Americans on how to deal with our social, economic, and political problems. Technology is making it possible to never physically interact with another human being and warping the way we relate to one another. Small towns and cities alike are losing their sense of identity and facing crises involving lack of affordable housing and declining social services.
Perhaps in reaction to this erosion of community ties, there’s been an increased interest in cultivating civic engagement, placemaking, and change at a local level.
There is a growing body of evidence and examples of how communities have utilized local assets in order to begin to address this problem. We assert that the arts and culture have always had a place in this work of creating a sense of place, strengthening civic participation, and bolstering positive social change.
For this Blog Salon, we’ve dared our bloggers to answer big questions, like:
- Where do you see breakthrough work at the intersection of art and community, civic, or social change? What makes it effective?
- Looking to the future, what will it take to move and sustain arts and culture into its most potent role in community development, civic engagement, and social change?
- What are the principles we have to hold onto and what are the shifts that need to occur?
Drawing from their respective areas of expertise, our bloggers have risen to the challenge:
- questioning the need for institutions that prevent neutrality;
- calling for more creative engagement in community planning;
- providing concrete examples of more inclusive, participatory art;
- exploring the in-between, shared spaces of a community; and
- looking back at the past as well as forward into the future.
We’d love your thoughts, questions, and comments on each post from the 18 artists, scholars, and administrators who will be providing readers with their experiences, knowledge, and insight.