"In May 2004, Art in the Public Interest convened 27 longtime practitioners
of community-based arts to reflect on the current state of their field of
endeavor. In the context of that meeting, this paper will review changes in
the field since it was reviewed by Don Adams and Arlene Goldbard in 2001,
and make recommendations for field advancement.
In 2001, Adams and Goldbard had observed that the field was characterized
by the absence of infrastructure, by professional atomization, by
marginalization and by the lack of adequate resources. At this gathering,
participants recognized the remarkable effectiveness of many existing programs
as well as a significant evolution of field infrastructure, but also they
showed a frustration that many of the same problems identified in 2001
remain. The field, as it has developed to date, does not meet their needs.
These practitioners, among the best people doing this work, have
exhausted the available intellectual and fiscal resources inside the field
without achieving any real stability.
Based on past thinking, it is logical to assume that this work has progressed
to the point where it needs a professional service organization to
centralize resources and tend to the needs of the field. But these practitioners
resist founding such an organization, knowing from experience how
massive the task would be.
As the group struggled for ideas, we noticed an exciting energy that
focused not inward but outward, in other directions — and this energy may
be the leading edge of the work. In reflecting on this group conversation, we
feel that in asking about the state of the field we have been asking the wrong
questions. Practitioners are not focused on community-based arts as a field,
but on something else — on something new..."
To read more, please see attached report.