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Handbook for Artists Working in Community

“Everyone who works at Springboard for the Arts is an artist. Like you, we make meaning from materials, interactions, words, movement, and conversation. We aim to make the world better by inspiring others to think, express, dream, love, laugh, weep, and wonder. And like you, we see value in practicing our creativity in and with community.

In this day and age of continued disparities, injustices, pandemics and systemic racism, artists are critical agents of change in our communities. More than ever, we need artists to be catalysts and glue – to bring people together, to grapple with conflict, to weave paths for a new future.

We developed this handbook for artists anywhere on the journey – whether you are just beginning to think about extending your artistic practice to working with community, or whether you’ve been immersed in community and want to deepen your practice. You might be an artist who draws inspiration from a group of people and transforms that inspiration into a performance, a mural, or a meal. You might be an artist who co-creates and co-organizes with your community to address an injustice or an opportunity. Your work may look like what most people think of as “art” or your work may look very different. Your work may look like conversations, food, or taking a hike. You might work within your “own” communities, or you might be a guest in another community. Or you might just be starting to think about how your creative practice could impact the people and places you love.

Whatever form your creativity takes, whatever communities you find yourself working with and in, there are practices that can make your work more successful and satisfying – for you and the people you work with. This handbook is a compilation of insights, practices, and tools from our collective experiences as artists, as an organization working with hundreds of artists in communities, and from a few of the artist practitioners whom we admire.

This handbook is a practical manual for individual artists who would like to begin or deepen this kind of artistic practice – work in and work with community. The stories, tools, and wisdom shared here were gathered from creative practitioners who regularly do this work: Springboard staff Jun-Li Wang, Michele Anderson, and Peter Haakon Thompson, with artists and creative practitioners deeply rooted in community.

We hope you find something that resonates with you and is useful in your work. Thank you for doing what you do.”

NEC NEWSLETTER

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