Patricia by Patricia

Patricia by Patricia
Patricia by Patricia

Monday, November 21, 2011

Audience Engagement

I was glad to see the James Irvine Foundation publication Getting in on the Act as they made a very good case for the value of the policies at SDVAN. They reported that building support for the arts in the future depends on encouraging more participation from our audiences.

The study identifies three main types of involvement; curatorial where the public makes decision about the content or direction of the project; public co-producing with the collaboration of professional artists; and finally when the public is asked to create their own works of art.

We have found that SD audiences want to meet the artists and love to sit down for a meal with them and even share in the process of making the work. We know that art gives people a way to identify their community, take pride in it and thus protect and improve it.

SDVAN continues in its efforts to gain more and more participation from our community. During the Art Meets Fashion 2011 public launch in April of this year, we invited the public to strut their stuff on our catwalk with fashions made by them or their friends. This popular part of the program helped to build the number who attended this event to 1000 and it was one of the most well attended events of the NTC Liberty Station complex.

Hats Off to Life is a project where we will be going into retirement communities and basing hat constructions on the life of some of the residents. We hope to hold a hat making workshop for them as well. We will strive to introduce participatory components into the DNA of Creativity project in the next two years.

However, having spent 6 weeks looking at art in London with very little personal participation, I can testify that this was an immensely satisfying experience. Not all art needs to be displayed with a participation element although a little education is never amiss for those who might want it. The new show at the SDMA, Mexican Modern Painting from The Andrés Blaisten Collection (through Feb 19, 2012), is wonderful to see just for the varied styles and high quality of the work on display. There are two educational rooms within the show space. One has a time line with four ways to listen and interact with the information presented. The other has specially commissioned drawing benches with a chance to create right there.

For SDVAN, not having our own brick and mortar venue has become one of our strongest strategies. We do not consider this a disadvantage or even something to strive for in our future plans. As we work alternatively online, in loaned spaces and even work to get into people homes, we see this as a cost effective and innovative way to go forward.

Today’s artists are collaborating, remixing and repurposing not just with their materials but with their cultural views. At SDVAN we encourage that and try hard to do it internally within the organization. We are a 100% volunteer organization with no salaries or building cost to cover. All our donations go into the funding of projects for the community. This is an alternative way of running a non-profit and one which has grown out of the needs of those we serve.

I was astounded when I first came to SD to see the hundreds of art association that exist here. Although they have not perhaps been very proactive in creating an art market, they have certainly been responsible for supporting the many cultural resources of our neighborhoods. The SD region has this incredibly rich pool of amateur and part time artists and their impact is underestimated, I believe. It is heartening to learn that a total of 33% of all adults create and attend art events. Add to that 17% who attend and 12% who make art but don’t attend and you get a whooping 62% of American engaged in creative processes.

Here are a few examples of visual arts project mentioned in the study that I thought you might enjoy:

  • The Art Gallery of Ontario’s In Your Face was an open-submission art exhibit featuring 17,000 portraits collected from the public
  • The Davis Art Center’s Junk2Genius program celebrates the community’s commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle. This annual competition features 15 teams of community members competing in a timed sculpt-off using recycled materials
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