Working with Artists to Deepen Impact

Community development practitioners who have little to no experience working with artists can learn from the three-year journeys of the six organizations that participated in ArtPlace America’s Community Development Investments program — from identifying partners and formalizing relationships, to uncovering the hidden assets and talents of staff. These experiences also provide lessons for community development corporations, nonprofit housing developers, park associations, health services providers, and economic development agencies on leveraging small-scale arts and culture work into larger, more ambitious projects, and addressing challenges, accepting critique, and learning from mistakes.

In May 2019, PolicyLink published Working with Artists to Deepen Impact, the first in a series of briefs exploring the theme of collaborative practice, or how these community-based organizations cultivated working relationships with artists, and how they have significantly changed the approaches through which community preservation and revitalization can take place. Specifically, the brief provides insights on:

  • how the community development organizations matched community development priorities with the expertise and artistic practice of potential collaborators;
  • identifying arts partners and building relationships through cultural asset mapping, calls for artists, collaboration with intermediaries, the compilation of artist rosters and directories, and the formation of arts advisory committees;
  • lessons learned from the process of creating guidelines for this new work, structuring relationships, and establishing roles and responsibilities;
  • overcoming challenges — specifically, how these experiences improved their community development work — and learning to be more transparent, nimble, and reflective; and
  • continuing the work after the program ended.