The Arts and Civic Engagement: A Field Guide for Practice, Research, and Policy
The Arts and Civic Engagement: A Field Guide for Practice, Research, and Policy presents a comprehensive strategy through which policymakers, researchers, and practitioners can collaborate to bring a fuller understanding of the arts’ civic impact to the general public.
First, this document references three theories of action that were expanded on in a preceding article Civic Engagement and the Arts: Issues of Conceptualization and Measurement. These theories of change: didactic (educational), discursive (discussion-based), and ecological (environment) provide a framework to understand the connection between culture and civic engagement. The field guide uses these theories to illuminate the challenges of identifying exact pathways that connect cultural engagement and its possible social or civic impact.
To this end, the field guide presents a multi-level data gathering effort that is characterized by three distinct approaches: organizational, regional, and initiative level. The guide begins by examining the organizational or practitioner level in which practitioners look to improve their knowledge of who is involved in their programs and how that involvement influences their attitudes and behavior. The field guide breaks down data-gathering strategies, both quantitative and qualitative, for practitioners, and notes that this step is an integral building block for further impact mapping on a regional scale. The following section identifies data collection strategies for a regional effort.
This source provides a unique take on how cooperation between distinct levels may be achieved. Outlining strategies within a multi-level approach helps to explain how investment in the arts and culture can pay dividends, not just for those who attend events, but also for society as a whole.
In 2008, SIAP collaborated with Animating Democracy on a review of the literature on civic engagement and the arts. This field guide is an adapted look at those findings. The 2008 survey of public participation in the arts conducted for the National Endowment for the Arts concluded that involvement in the arts by ordinary Americans has declined markedly since 2002. If this trend is to be reversed, clear evidence and ideas that explain the arts’ contribution is needed. This field guide is a modest contribution to this effort.