Many of us tend to view working class families as too busy with jobs & families to engage in artistic opportunities in their community. The truth is that community art programs can offer direct benefits almost tailor-made for residents of working-class communities.
Artistic expression helps unite people through shared struggles and personal accomplishments. Art education, for both children and adults, is crucial to fostering this type of expression. Programs that incorporate visual arts or performing arts like music, dance, or storytelling are amazing at helping folks connect and engage.
An art exhibition or festival is one of a number of uniquely effective community engagement strategies. An event in a park, at a library or in a recreation center can help forge new relationships or revive old ones while invoking a sense of pride in one’s own community. The communal celebration of art can imbue citizens with more confident and positive feelings about their community while opening doors to creative expression.
Community leaders have numerous options through which to leverage art to increase citizen investment in communities. One method is having artists creatively map the community. In 2008, the Baltimore non-profit, Art on Purpose, conducted a symposium where artists and neighborhood representatives used paint and GPS technology to create maps of affordable grocery stores, convenient transportation hubs, government service locations, and places in need of improvement.
Storytelling events hosted by the Nauck Community Heritage Project in Arlington County, Virginia, are a shining testament to how the arts impact communities. The use of storytelling at these events helps bridge the gap between community planners and community members. Residents feel like their perspectives are heard and considered in major civil decisions, and urban planners feel they better understand how residents currently see their surroundings and how they would like them improved.
Art has a unique and indelible ability to unleash the most important, deeply-held feelings and sentiments of both the individual and the community. Art can forge relationships like nothing else can, and cultural events that incorporate art are bound to deliver a fuller understanding of the community’s feelings and aspirations.
Probably most importantly, creative outlets provide community members with inspiration for new solutions! By nurturing creative problem solving through artistic practice, we invest in the future as well as the present.
This is why arts education in schools and regular public art events are fundamental to the health of any community. And if your school, library, park, or youth center would like an art exhibition courtesy of IPaintMyMind, you can learn more about how to become involved!
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