"Community arts are rooted in anti-Romantic thinking about the arts: against the notion of the artist as working for the approval and reward of a disembodied marketplace of the elite; and in favor of the idea of the artist as an integral part of community life, working with and for ordinary people and rewarded, as other workers hope to be, with a decent living and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. " - - Arlene Goldbard
A great deal can be said about community arts, since they encompasse a huge diversity of medium, method, and subject. But for our purposes, two things suffice.
The first essential point of definition is that community arts practice is based on the belief that cultural meaning, expression and creativity reside within a community, that the community artist's task is to assist people in freeing their imaginations and giving form to their creativity.
The second essential point of definition is that collaboration between artists and others is central and necessary to the practice of community arts.
We are interested in investing in initiatives that contribute to one or more of the following outcomes:
- The creation of arts-based community development programs of high artistic quality and sustained community impact.
- The development of a sustained support system or infrastructure for the creation and delivery of arts-based community development programs.
- Increased awareness of and support for arts-based community development programs as a valuable community resource.
- Increased investment in the creation and delivery of arts-based community development programs.
Here are some of the basic definitions and core concepts that have found a place in our dictionary.
The arts: Pertaining to the performing, visual, literary or media arts.
Artist: A person who by virtue of imagination and talent or skill is able create works of aesthetic and/or cultural value in one or more arts discipline.
Community: Our definition of community is derived from the one used by Alternate ROOTS: groups of people with common interests defined by place, tradition, intention or spirit.
Community-based: Activities created and produced by and with community members that combine significant elements of community access, ownership, authorship, participation and accountability.Arts-based community development (ABCD): Arts-centered activity that contributes to the sustained advancement of human dignity, health and/or productivity within a community. These include:
* Activities that EDUCATE and INFORM us about ourselves and the world
* Activities that INSPIRE and MOBILIZE individuals or groups.
* Activities that NURTURE and HEAL people and/or communities
* Activities that BUILD and IMPROVE community capacity and/or infrastructure.
Sustainable development: We define sustainable development as locally generated economic, social and cultural development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Asset-based community development: The word "sustainable" has roots in the Latin subtenir, meaning "to hold up" or "to support from below." We agree with many in the community-development field who feel that a thriving community must be supported primarily from within—by its members, resources and capacities, for the present and future.
Cross-sector: Many people feel sustained community development requires collaborative effort that emphasizes a holistic, systems approach. This is because many community issues are diffuse, multidisciplinary, multiagency, multistakeholder and multisector in nature. In this context, "cross sector" refers to community development activities among and between often separately defined areas of influence and expertise such as education, public safety, human services and the arts.
(taken from Mapping the Field: Arts-Based Community Development by William Cleveland)