This report by Partners for Livable Communities, funded by the MetLife Foundation, examines how local communities can sustain social health by including its two fastest growing demographic populations – older people and immigrants – into local arts programs. Utilizing six cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Phoenix, Tampa) as case studies of how to integrate those groups effectively, the report also puts forward ten recommendations for communities that can be implemented immediately.
Current efforts in the arts focus on engaging the young (page 17). Participation by people of color in traditional cultural arts expressions (jazz, ballet, opera, musical theater, classical music, and visual arts) are in decline (page 14). Community arts centers are increasingly focused on marketing and funding efforts because they are in decline, but are not rethinking approaches to engaging the community. Yet, as exemplified in the case studies, by considering fresh approaches to the way the arts engages the community, all demographics within a community can come together and community arts can thrive.
Other report highlights include:
- The ten recommendations are particularly helpful for local governments and community leaders. For example, the first is to develop an “asset-based model.” This model begins by determining a given local arts organization’s core asset and then leveraging that asset to meet the needs of the community. Examples are provided of how different assets can be leveraged, and how key assets of the immigrant demographic (for instance, strong social ties), and older demographics (time and advocacy), can create a win/win proposition for the community. The other nine recommendations come with helpful examples as well.
- Each of the six case studies includes a description of those cultural arts programs that are engaging the community (particularly through the older and immigrant demographics) effectively. The descriptions of programs are followed by Best Practices sections and Key Lessons sections. These create a practical “how to” guide for local leaders and organizations to emulate.
How to Use
Social connectivity and community health have tremendous implications on local economies and the creation of livable communities. Knowing how to utilize the arts as a method of advancing, connecting and sustaining communities requires a fresh approach. This report provides community planners with the guidelines, case studies and action steps to implement that change locally.