Today, we’re really excited to share with you a treasure trove of advice, encouragement, but also candid suggestions directly from grantees about what to do and, yes, what not to do if you want to engage new and diverse participants in the arts. Click here to see the advice from grantees.
As you may remember, last October, we re-launched our Exploring Engagement Fund, challenging arts organizations to find creative ideas for how to increase arts engagement for new and diverse participants. At that time, we also released a report called Emerging Lessons and Implications from the Exploring Engagement Funds. That report examined ways that grantees implemented the first rounds of grants made in 2012-2013.
We learned a lot from that study, which examined about half of the Exploring Engagement projects one year into implementation (most received two-year grants). For one thing, we learned that those organizations were putting their funding to great use – at the conclusion of their projects, grantees reported that more than half a million people participated in Exploring Engagement events across California, and that two-thirds of the events were attended by primarily diverse and/or low-income audiences and participants.
When we re-launched the fund, our goal was to build upon what we learned in the first rounds of funding. In July, we announced our newest Exploring Engagement Fund grants, to The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Townsend Opera in Modesto and Fresno Grand Opera, and San Jose Taiko. We have since made grants to several more arts nonprofits to experiment with innovative engagement projects.
But there’s much more to do. As part of our ongoing interest to support organizations that would like to expand arts engagement, we gathered feedback from grantees to learn how they are finding ways to engage new and diverse participants in the arts. Organizations are not only finding creative ways to connect with new audiences and participants, but they have been really eager to share what they’ve learned with others. The most amazing part is that they are not just trumpeting their successes, but they’ve been very candid about sharing what they would do differently.
Given all this rich information, we decided to create a tool to share highlights with the field in a way that’s helpful and engaging. We’ve created a section of our website that lets you sort the feedback and is full of information and advice about how arts organizations are expanding arts engagement for diverse audiences. Let us know what you think about it.
Just as we’ve all been learning from each other with this tool, we’d like to hear your advice for organizations seeking to engage new and diverse audiences and participants in the arts. Please feel free to use the comments section at the bottom of this blog or to share your tips on Twitter or Facebook using #EEFtip.
Finally, we want you to know that we are still accepting applications for Exploring Engagement Fund grants on a rolling basis until December 28. If you have innovative ways to expand engagement among diverse audiences and participants in your community, we want to hear from you. Please click here to learn more or download our revised application form.