Community engagement inspiration from ArtsEngageCanada
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Your community engagement inspiration: May 2019
ArtsEngageCanada is back with resources and stories to inspire your engagement with your community! This newsletter includes interview with Ruth Howard, Founding Artistic Director of Jumblies Theatre, new community engagement resources, and a recorded webinar.
We sat down with Ruth Howard to discuss her work at Jumblies Theatre, what community-engaged art means, and how arts presenters can bring community-engaged projects to their communities. Scroll down for more on Jumblies Theatre, or click here for the full interview.
In Conversation with...
Jumblies Theatre & Arts
For this feature, ArtsEngageCanada teammate Natalie sat down with Jumblies Theatre & Art's Founding Artistic Director, Ruth Howard. Drawing from her long history in community-engaged art, Ruth shared her thoughts on Jumblies' unique approach, what community-engaged art really means, and how we as an arts community can continue to work on the barriers to genuine engagement and inclusivity.

What is Jumblies?

Jumblies Theatre & Arts is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary and performing arts organization that places "participation and radical inclusion at the core of [their] projects." 

At Jumblies, people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities are invited to create various forms of art that tell stories on important, compelling or neglected themes.  The artwork is always guided by a professional artist, and the aims are for participants to develop relationships while creating high quality artwork that inspires them.
"We say 'Everyone is welcome!' and embrace the joys and challenges, social and aesthetic, of meaning or trying to mean it."

What is community-engaged art?

If there is one thing that clearly came out of this interview, it is that there is no one answer to this question! In the world of arts-based community engagement, there are a myriad of terms that people use to "try to describe what is happening." We don't yet have shared terminology, and shifting terms can sometimes cause confusion.

That being said, Ruth did set out some useful differences between audience outreach and development and community-engaged art. With outreach/development, the intention is to bring people in to see the main show. With community-engaged art, the process of working with community members, and the art work that is created as a result, is the intention. The journey is the destination.

Where to start?

Ruth and Natalie discussed the constant struggle between the kind of radical inclusion that Jumblies attempts to practice, and our economic realities (the need for paying bums in seats) faced by presenters and other organizations.

This is an ongoing challenge, but one that we want to discuss and address together. As Ruth stressed, the most important thing is the curiosity and desire to form relationships and work with your community. Sometimes you don't know how it will work out until you try.
"If you're more connected in your community, more rooted with the partners across sectors and people who live there, there's potential for different kinds of support that can compensate for what you might be losing in ticket sales."

As a presenter, if you are interested in bringing a community-engaged group like Jumblies to your venue, Ruth suggests that the most important thing is that you have rooted relationships with your community already in place. A community-engaged artist can't parachute in and form relationships in a short time. They can, however, use an arts process to build on your existing relationships.
Learn more about Jumblies Theatre
See the full interview on ArtsEngageCanada

Recorded Webinar

Community Engagement in Practice
April 9, 2019  Noon EST

In April, Ontario Presents welcomed community engagement consultant Annalee Adair and volunteer presenter Alyson Martin to talk about the process of executing a successful community engagement project. Annalee and Alyson will reflect on the steps, challenges, and rewards of their 2016 project Matters of the Heart. This pilot project aimed to improve wellbeing and relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.
View the Webinar Here
New in the Resource Centre

These recently-added resources explore the challenges and benefits of authentic community engagement.

Turning Engagement Patterns Upside Down

“It’s not somebody coming in to tell us we’re so uneducated we need to draw pictures!” and other lessons from the UK's Made in Corby project.

Trees Come with Unexpected Baggage

The honest truth is, a lot of non-profit organizations find the work they are doing has poor resonance with the communities they hope to serve."

Rethinking the Purpose of British Art Institutions

"How can theatres and other arts organizations fulfill a civic role, engage with their communities, and find different ways to be fully embedded in their locale?"
Explore the Resource Centre
Working on an engagement project?

We want to hear from you!
Whether you are just developing an idea, or have completed a full project, we would love to hear your community engagement stories. 

Let us know what you have going on, and feel free to ask questions. We want to share and learn from each other!
Contact the Arts Engage Canada team
Explore projects or share your story in the Idea Box
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Arts Engage Canada is a project of Ontario Presents. Our sincere thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for supporting the development of this project.

Ontario Presents gratefully acknowledges the following public funders:

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Contact Ontario Presents:  -  416 703 6709  -  125-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON, M5T 2C7

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