Artists in the Community

Published in: GIA Newsletter, Vol 8, No 2 (Fall 1997)

Grady Hillman and Kathleen Gaffney

The book was published by Americans for the Arts' Institute for Community Development and the Arts. Copies may be ordered from the organization at 100 Vermont Avenue N.W., 12th floor, Washington, D.C. 20005.

More and more arts organizations are thinking about starting programs in community settings, but often they fail to understand the myriad issues involved in crafting a successful community partnership. It is the "challenges, problems, and solutions" involved in designing, conducting or hosting an arts program in a community setting that a new publication from Americans for the Arts addresses.

Artists in the Community, Training Artists to Work in Alternative Settings covers everything from recruiting artists to respecting cultural differences in a concise, easy-to-follow format. The fifty-two page book, as might be expected from its title, covers a range of topics involving artists, such as the skills artists need to succeed in unconventional programs and venues, the subjects that should be covered in orientation for both artists and community organization staff, and ways to handle ongoing training and assessment. The book also includes suggestions for working in a variety of venues, ranging from hospitals to public housing, and discusses concerns unique to each setting that may have an impact on planning and programming. The publication also includes case studies on several successful community-based programs, a guide to developing artist residencies, and a list of publications and other resources.

The handbook was written by Grady Hillman, who has worked as an artist in many different community settings. Kathleen Gaffney, who is involved with the professional development of artists and educators, assisted as a contributing writer.

review by Deena Epstein