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Entering Cultural Communities

Diversity and Change in the Nonprofit Arts

Edited by Diane Grams and Betty Farrell

Publication Year: 2008

Arts organizations once sought patrons primarily from among the wealthy and well educated, but for many decades now they have revised their goals as they seek to broaden their audiences. Today, museums, orchestras, dance companies, theaters, and community cultural centers try to involve a variety of people in the arts. They strive to attract a more racially and ethnically diverse group of people, those from a broader range of economic backgrounds, new immigrants, families, and youth.The chapters in this book draw on interviews with leaders, staff, volunteers, and audience members from eighty-five nonprofit cultural organizations to explore how they are trying to increase participation and the extent to which they have been successful. The insiders' accounts point to the opportunities and challenges involved in such efforts, from the reinvention of programs and creation of new activities, to the addition of new departments and staff dynamics, to partnerships with new groups. The authors differentiate between "relational" and "transactional" practices, the former term describing efforts to build connections with local communities and the latter describing efforts to create new consumer markets for cultural products. In both cases, arts leaders report that, although positive results are difficult to measure conclusively, long-term efforts bring better outcomes than short-term activities.The organizations discussed include large, medium, and small nonprofits located in urban, suburban, and rural areasùfrom large institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the San Francisco Symphony to many cultural organizations that are smaller, but often known nationally for their innovative work, such as AS220, The Loft Literary Center, Armory Center for the Arts, Appalshop, and the Western Folklife Center.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Rutgers Series - The Public Life of the


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pp. vii-viii

Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiii

Th is book would not have been possible without the support and involvement of the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago and the ongoing support of the Center by the Irving Harris Foundation. As a joint initiative of the Irving B. Harris...

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pp. 1-12

It takes more than a building, good art, or an interesting program to attract people to the arts. In fact, the adage “if you build it they will come” might make a good storyline for a movie, but it doesn’t describe how people are drawn to participate in the arts. It takes much more than the awesome sight of a majestic...

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Chapter 1: Building Arts Participation through Transactions, Relationships, or Both

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pp. 13-37

Arts organizations today find themselves in a dilemma. The artistic mission essentially involves a long-term proposition: that is, to make an important and lasting contribution to the creation and preservation of culture. Yet participation-building...

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Chapter 2: Changing Culture and Practices Inside Organizations

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pp. 38-63

All organizations that are launching efforts to develop new customer/ audience relationships and new levels of participation—whether by deepening the experience of current audiences or by expanding the organization’s reach to...

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Chapter 3: Leaders Bridging the Culture Gap

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pp. 64-90

As arts organizations large and small seek to increase the size and diversity of their audiences, they discover not only gaps in their rosters of enlisted supporters but something much more substantial: a culture gap. This is the difference between...

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Chapter 4: Partnering with Purpose

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pp. 91-113

Like most businesses large and small operating in today’s global economy, arts organizations are increasingly seeking to engage in arrangements that include alliances and joint ventures, formal partnerships, and informal collaborations....

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Chapter 5: Building Youth Participation

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pp. 114-142

“It’s modern, unpredictable, fun, eclectic.” If this describes your cultural organization, you may already have a sizable audience of youthful participants. For many, however, attracting teenagers or families with young children or even..

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Chapter 6: Diversifying the Arts: Bringing in Race and Ethnic Perspectives

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pp. 143-170

It is not only the young who are the new audience members for the future, but a more racially and ethnically diverse range of adults who have not been significantly visible in the audiences for mainstream arts. For most of U.S. history, the...

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Chapter 7: High-Tech Transactions and Cyber-Communities

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pp. 171-193

Many nonprofit arts organizations have entered the information age by doing what they do best: experimenting. However, they may not anticipate that their efforts to use new technology as tools to build participation have the potential to...

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Chapter 8: Creative Reinvention: From “One Book” to “Animals on Parade”--How Good Ideas Spread Like Wildfire

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pp. 194-220

New efforts to build relationships among organizations have led to the creation of an organizational context that encourages program sharing and reinvention. Reinvention is a programming concept that seeks to stimulate exponential expansion of participation outside of a single organizational boundary through...

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Chapter 9: Achieving Success

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pp. 221-247

Success comes in many, many ways. Success is when our publications become text books in art history classes. Or success is when exhibitions we organize travel around the world, so that something like 3.3 million people [outside of Minnesota] have seen Walker exhibitions...

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pp. 248-254

Leading nonprofit arts organizations throughout the United States are creatively finding ways to involve a broader range of participants, consumers, and partners from their local communities. These leaders are strategically reaching...


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pp. 255-263


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pp. 265-270

List of Interviews Cited

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pp. 271-277

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 279-280


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pp. 281-297

E-ISBN-13: 9780813544953
E-ISBN-10: 0813544955
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813542164
Print-ISBN-10: 0813542162

Page Count: 292
Illustrations: 23 illustrations
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Rutgers Series - The Public Life of the
Series Editor Byline: Ruth Ann Stewart, Margaret Wyszominski, Joni Maya Cherbo See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 276270114
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Entering Cultural Communities

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Nonprofit organizations -- United States -- Management.
  • Arts and society -- United States.
  • Marginality, Social -- United States.
  • Community arts projects -- United States.
  • Social participation -- United States.
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