Some things I found interesting in our initial survey responses from artists, arts organizations and non-arts organizations on their experiences working in, with, and for community:
Defining community as ‘co-creating your environment’ and ‘whoever you feel responsible to’ which pointed to intention and care perhaps transcending identity or geography.
A common challenge included ‘getting out of your comfort zone’ and ‘fear of getting it wrong’ as well as more expected things like funding, time needed to build relationships, and burnout/exhaustion.
The common thread in terms of the greatest impacts of community-engaged creative practice seemed to be real change in the participants: emotional uplift, growth in confidence, shift in perspectives, learning, increased trust and a sense of belonging.
This feels important for the field of community arts, as we know from Vancouver Foundation’s research among others that isolation and a fraying social fabric are far too common in our city. But there are many things we can do to build social capital: share a meal and conversation with elders, neighbors, and political opposites, join a choir or community dance class, share your painting or poetry with others.
Make your online networks a portal to connection in the living world. Soften your boundaries and your gaze to include what may at first seem Other, and welcome the inevitable discomfort as a sign of being alive and still growing. All relationships are uncomfortable at times…
We welcome the challenge of advancing these intangible and tangible elements of strengthening community through our own programming here at CACV. And we invite and challenge other organizations to join this work, especially in collaborations across sectors. All we really have is each other and our imaginations in facing a crux time in human history. Is there any more important work to do?