Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
As civic leaders of society, this article encourages arts managers to ask themselves what they are working towards that transcends their organization and position within it; as well as what will they do about it? Today a far more diverse community of people have the power to gather, distribute, and ultimately express their views on the arts as active civic participants. While arts organizations are mostly concerned with their own surviving and thriving, many organizations are finding themselves inhabiting areas where their placement makes a significant impact to the intercultural relations of such communities.
A prime case of this is the recent physical displacement of the performing arts organization CounterPulse; an organization striving to shatter audience assumptions of the arts and present socially relevant work to the community it serves in San Francisco. As the organization’s building lease comes to an end this year, they were forced to seek new residence in a city overrun by high profile tech companies. A situational opportunity presented itself to the organization to partner with The Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) and lease to own a building in an evolving part of town, the Tenderloin. With this move, the organization has gained a lot of recognition for entering a low income residential area and professedly contributing to the betterment of the community. While the organization is doing groundbreaking work to bridge intercultural differences and pursue meaningful civic engagement, it stands to inquire if these acts go beyond the practicality of appeasing funding prospects to support its own abiding goals. What are the ways in which arts managers can lead a socially active arts organization that supports more than its own survival in today’s civic world?