Arts Access Plenary 2.12.18

Executive Summary

Arts Alive!’s current strategic plan identifies a goal of increasing access to arts & culture in the Monadnock region to promote well-being. Numerous studies have shown that engaging in arts and culture enhances community well-being in various ways, from increases in health care efficacy to helping students achieve in school to building social capital, a key asset in success for social service projects.

This strategic goal focuses on building community awareness of Arts & Culture assets in the Monadnock region, and for Arts Alive! to become the heart of Arts & Culture information in the Monadnock region. To that end, Arts Alive! gathered arts leaders, audience members, funders, and community leaders at the Historical Society of Cheshire County on Monday February 12th for 2 hours to discuss access to the arts in the Monadnock region. The conversation was structured to address audience development and community-building.

When discussing the meaning of access, the group focused the conversation in a few areas: audience diversity, programming for non-experts, economic impact on downtowns, and social exchange around the arts.

While the Monadnock region has not been known for its diversity, trends visible in school populations, as well as in new organizations serving culturally diverse demographics are beginning to appear across the region. In a time of polarizing discourse, options for connection, understanding, expression, and engagement are vital, and arts can serve that purpose. A recent study from Americans for the Arts shows 73% of attendees come to arts events to socialize and 64% come to learn. (Read More). While we know arts have an intrinsic value for human connection, they also have an economic value and any activity that brings people into a downtown contributes to that downtown’s vitality.

To serve the Monadnock region community, and engage audiences, the arts community will need to have a better understanding of these trends and look more deeply into the social aspect of programming.

Strengths that were identified included the economic impact of cultural activities as well as the intimate scale of cultural experiences particular to the Monadnock region.

The recent Arts & Economic Prosperity study conducted by Arts Alive! showed that audience members of nonprofit arts businesses spend an average of $21.32 in local businesses when they attend an arts event. (Read More). This economic impact fuels local businesses including restaurants, retail, and lodging establishment, and provides income to the local and state governments.

The intimate scale of events provides excellent opportunity for addressing the needs of arts audience members seeking social connection and cultural learning. Quality of art produced in the region is high, and several institutions of higher learning help contribute to that, as well as having a rich traditional arts community that has a strong focus of sustaining traditional arts through social education.

There is room to leverage the strengths identified in our discussion to support programming and messaging that serves the community’s needs.

In the large group discussion, partnerships, collaboration, and space were all identified as challenges that need more attention or improvement for success at arts access. There are individual organizations and groups working particularly on the issue of space, including the Monadnock Art X Tech makerspace in Peterborough and individuals who are looking for space for an art gallery in Keene. Monadnock Area Artists association and Keene ArtWalk collaborate with local businesses to connect artists with space in Keene - though none is a dedicated art gallery or fine art gallery. Arts Alive! also hosts a list of venues for performing artists to utilize, which is somewhat outdated. However, increased collaboration is a highly desirable outcome of any activity Arts Alive! initiates, and past collaborative work has proven valuable to move the greater community toward a perspective of regionalism. Work stemming from this plenary will aim to connect organizations to each other and to those interested in participatory arts.

In Breakout groups, participants took the ideas from the large group discussion and dissected the ideas, seeking to land on specific and meaningful action steps that could be taken. GROUP 1 focused their discussion on building partnerships and systems for collaboration and awareness-building for the arts. GROUP 2 focused their discussion on streamlining current systems of audience development and reaching new audiences.

When the breakout groups reconvened, the group was able to identify three areas of interest to pursue. These next steps will be initiated by bringing together a larger community meeting that would break into groups to begin work on the following action items:

Arts Alive!’s next step is to host this follow-up meeting, ensuring a wide variety of stakeholders is in attendance to represent the region.

To see further notes and details of the event discussions, please refer to the Table of Contents below.


Table of Contents

Purpose of Meeting        1

Agenda        1

Large Group Questions        2

What does access mean?        2

What do we do well in the Mondanock Region        2

Resources        2

Marketing the region as an arts destination        3

How to represent ourselves as an arts community        3

Other questions / Ideas that arose in discussion        3

Summary of Large Group Discussion        3

Breakout Discussions        4

Who is our Audience        4

GROUP 1        4

Group 2        4

How to strengthen awareness in the arts        4

GROUP 1        4

GROUP 2        5

What are we missing        5

GROUP 2        5

Breakout Summaries        5

Closing conversation        5

Needs Identified        5

Recommended Action Steps        6


Purpose of Meeting

Arts Alive! gathered arts leaders, audience members, and business leaders at the Historical Society of Cheshire County on Monday February 12th for 2 hours to discuss access to the arts in the Monadnock region. The conversation was structured to address audience development and community-building.

Agenda

  1.  Welcome
  2. Agenda review
  3. Large Group Questions
  1. What does access to the arts mean to you?
  2. How might we want to represent ourselves as a regional arts community?
  1. 5-10 minute break
  2. Breakout Session

Goal: Each group brainstorms on each question, comes up with goals or potential action items

  1. How can we strengthen local awareness of the arts in our region?
  2. Who is our audience (considering both folks who are currently invested and the audience we want to reach and cultivate)
  3. Can we focus on marketing the region as an arts destination – do we have capacity and resources?
  4.  (IF TIME)  What do we as an arts and cultural community do well?
  5. (IF TIME) – What are we missing?
  1. Reconvene & Group Sharing
  1. Each group shares top actions & goals
  2. Group identifies potential priority action items
  3. Next steps

Large Group Questions

What does access mean?

Space

Fun

Participation

Affordability

Community

Welcoming

Education

ADA Compliant

Findable

Inspiring

Equality

Diversity

Variety

Network

Multi-Disciplinary

Collaborative

Supportive

Passionate

Democratic

Not Elite

De-Mystified

Experiential

What do we do well in the Mondanock Region

Support in downtown areas

Creative economy

Arts are supporting downtowns

Resources

Does the City have the resources

Incorporate Arts & Culture in City Planning

Desire for a campaign related to engagement of all sectors

Need systems to capture current audience members and make them return or check out other organizations/programs

Calendars exist, but there are so many

MEDC

Marketing the region as an arts destination

Need to work regionally or collaborate to get out of silos

Monadnock region arts app

Cultivating downtown culture

Capacity? Can’t we build it? An affordable place. Sytems are in place that make it difficult for folks to come in (ie Gallery Space)

Give artist break/discount rent

In peterborough lodging is needed / is an issue

Coordinating package deals and trips - could a consortium help figure it out?

How to represent ourselves as an arts community

Vibrant

Creative

Intimate community & experiences

Collaborative & regional

Economic place

Makers

Building community & creating space for people/projects to thrive

Defining that we HAVE an arts community

branding/ differentiating ourselves

Being known around the world - national & international reputation

Attracting tourism for the arts

Other questions / Ideas that arose in discussion

Why did students choose to come to Keene State College

Need better lines of communication/collaboration

Need a compelling story & need others preaching it outside the choir

Summary of Large Group Discussion

When discussing the meaning of access, the group focused the conversation in a few areas: audience diversity, programming to for non-experts, and social exchange around the arts. Strengths that were identified included the economic impact of cultural activities as well as the intimate scale of cultural experiences. Partnerships, collaboration, and space were all identified as things that need more attention or improvement for success at arts access.

Breakout Discussions

Who is our Audience

GROUP 1

Group 2

Not our audience (yet)

How to strengthen awareness in the arts

GROUP 1

Partnering with:

Utilizing successful tools to collaborate

GROUP 2

What are we missing

GROUP 2

Tying arts to nature

An annual Monadnock arts tradition

Galleries in Keene

Transportation to access events

Visibility & signage

National/New England presence

Regional approach

Political reps at the table

Breakout Summaries

GROUP 1 focused their discussion on building partnerships and systems for collaboration and awareness-building for the arts. GROUP 2 focused their discussion on streamlining current systems of audience development and reaching new audiences.

Closing conversation

Needs Identified

Recommended Action Steps

The group identified three areas they were interested in pursuing action. This would be accomplished by bringing together a larger community meeting that would break into groups to begin work on the following action items: