Our arts engagement work is generating new awareness, research, models, and examples of nonprofits realizing greater public benefit through arts engagement.
We are partnering with 15 nonprofits through the New California Arts Fund — a cohort reflecting a wide range of arts disciplines and operating budgets. These organizations are working to strengthen and sustain the ability to keep arts engagement central to their work with diverse and low-income communities.
Through the Exploring Engagement Fund, we have seeded over 100 experiments in arts engagement, helping arts nonprofits of all sizes take risks and engage new participants. Together, these organizations have connected with more diverse and/or low-income populations in their communities through events that have involved more than 800,000 people. A final grant round took place in 2016.
We are capturing lessons from these initiatives — and complementing them with research and resources to help develop a strong field of leaders and organizations that work together to expand arts engagement with diverse and low-income Californians.
While our work with arts engagement and the New California Arts Fund continues with full commitment and enthusiasm over the next several years, the Foundation has completed its transition away from funding in separate program areas. In alignment with our new framework, we are now exploring ways that creative expression can give voice and visibility to the millions of Californians who are cut off from economic and political opportunity. We encourage you to read more in this blog post.
To stay relevant to changing communities, many arts organizations have been developing engagement programs — that is, programming designed to reach more and different people and involve them more actively in how art is made and experienced. While engagement efforts are often episodic or separate from an art organization’s core programming, in late 2013 a group of 10 arts nonprofits across California set out to make engagement central to their identities as part of the New California Arts Fund. To do this, they pursued transformations in their programmatic, organizational, and business models. This evaluation documents their achievements and challenges, and provides considerations for arts organizations and funders interested in reaching ethnically diverse and/or low-income communities.Download the Report
This study of existing research gathers compelling evidence that people who participate in the arts are more likely to be active in their communities and to be making a difference in the lives of others. Further, it shows how arts nonprofits may have natural advantages in helping people achieve new levels of understanding, empathy, and adaptation — critical capacities for civic engagement as well as acceptance and connection across class, race, heritage, or immigration status.Download Full Report
This study explores the prospects for a field of nonprofits focused on “arts engagement” — the term used at Irvine to describe multiple, overlapping strategies that focus on expanding arts participation to diverse and/or low-income communities. Based on information gathered from arts leaders, researchers, funders, and others, the report takes stock of a nascent field through a five-part framework, and suggests new courses of action that could accelerate the building of a strong network of arts engagement practitioners.Download the Report
In our blog series on Medium.com, New Faces | New Spaces, our New California Arts Fund grantee-partners provide inspiring stories and practical advice about embedding art in our communities and community in our organizations.