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Full text of "Ideas into practice"

Ideas into Practice 



The genius thought 

Floating through molecules of time 

Until you 

The idea — a spark 

A reality to you 

A tool for others 

Grasp, latch on, harness 

Grind the wheels 

Make it real 




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MEDIA ASSOCIATES INC. 
/ WASHINGTON, D.C. 

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THE EXPANSION ARTS PROGRAM FOR THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS 







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Contents 



Introduction 
CHAPTER 1 



CHAPTER 2 



CHAPTER 3 



THE IDEA INTO PRACTICE: THE PEOPLE 
AND THE CONCEPTS 

Arts Programs: Examples 

GROWTH: STEPS, STUMBLES AND THE 
PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE 

Varying A Program: Expanding Or 
Shrinking May Be A Good Step For 
Your Project 

Allowing The Idea Space And Food 



1 
2 

11 
12 



For Growth 


14 


Take Time 


15 


THE GOAL AND CONCEPT: FUNDAMENTALS 




TO REMEMBER 


17 


Inquiries To Consider 


18 


Time And Steps: The Foundation 


18 


Training: Keeping Your Eye on 




Quality 


19 


Your Neighbors: Affiliating And 




Consorting With Them 


20 


Summing It Up 


21 


CONCLUSION 


22 



Introduction 



While the creative process is a startling one emanating from the 
individual artist, it has to touch others to gain its full realization. In 
attempting to define that touching, we must clearly observe the artists, 
their tools, their experiments and their impact upon the artistic 
continuum. The artists' new concepts and experimentation become the 
threads from which the cultural tapestry in society is woven. 

It is in the perspective of this creative process that we will 
examine some of the results and effects of the artistic movements 
which surfaced in the late 1950's, early 1960's, and formed foundations 
for new cultural structures. The social context of that period was one 
of change in all areas of American life, which, in turn, motivated many 
artists in the direction of smaller decentralized communities. 

The possibility of developing a way of life in the everyday 
setting of a local community was, and still remains, a challenge to the 
artist. The shape of such effort has taken many forms, such as public 
murals, street theatre, instruction and training units in all artistic 
disciplines and revivals of traditional folk arts. The new arts landscape, 
while inspiring, is not devoid of perplexing pragmatic and functional 
issues. The artists working in these settings are the impulse and the 
catalyst of many of the projects aided by the Expansion Arts Program 
of the National Endowment for the Arts. 

The purpose of Ideas Into Practice is to explore some concepts 
which have become practical applications of arts for all the people. This 
manual attempts to trace the progress of artists' dreams as they grow 
from an idea into a concrete realization. The examples, drawn from an 
inventory of Expansion Arts projects, are used to illustrate the common 
experiences and problems of the programs at the artistic and managerial 
levels. 

Ideas Into Practice is designed to be of value to your 
organization's board of directors, resource and funding agencies, 
related institutions and, of course, the artists and their associates 
operating the projects. You must remember that while the 
philosophical goals and objectives of all the programs may be shared, 
the specific intent and manifestations of each vary as much from 
program to program as do the individual artists, participants and 
communities. 



The examples in this publication represent a full range of 
artistic disciplines. The filmmaker, musician/composer, theatre artist, 
dancer/choreographer, craftsman, writer and the multi-disciplined artist 
are the guiding forces in the development of community-based arts 
centers. A brief review of the artists' background reveals a full spectrum 
of training experiences, ranging from traditional institutions and 
workshops to alternative methods of creative apprenticeship and study. 
The principal ingredients required in the creation of the programs 
include artistic professionalism matched with communication 
skills— which assist in implementing concepts in situations where no 
standard models exist. 

This publication is one in a series of four developed by the 
Expansion Arts Program to assist you in the development of your 
community-based program. Other topics in the series include basic 
management, institution building and dealing with space. 



CHAPTER 1 



The Idea 
Into Practice: 

the 

people 

and the 

concepts 






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Despite the presence of vigorous 
cultural traditions in disenfranchised and 
isolated groups, the people were not direct 
participants in, or shapers of, established 
institutions. The diverse lifestyles and 
regional heritages reflected in Black, 
Hispanic, American Indian, Asian 
American, rural and urban communities are 
major contributors to the lifelines of our 
culture. However, until recently, there have 
been few structures and institutions that 
gave forceful expression to these cultures. 

The projects under discussion in 
this publication have been charted in new 
settings, for new audiences and with new 
goals. We shall consider some of the results 
and attempt to find the pulse that oper- 
ates in the successful program, as well as 
the common areas of failure. Although 
there are no testing laboratories for the 
arts, we will attempt to formulate guide- 
lines for the future based upon the experi- 
ences of existing projects. 

Often, traditional molds must be 
broken and new ones formed to support 
artistic concepts, to maintain standards of 
artistic quality and to anticipate new forms 
and new objectives. Some of the flexible 
forms that have been generated over the 
past decades in the community arts field 
have taken the following shapes: 

1. Mobility schemes: travel units 
for performances and other presentations, 
street theatre and various caravan 
ensembles. 

2. Art for walls and street murals 
in urban and rural settings. 

3. Creative projects that explore 
and affirm cultural heritages and traditions 
and revivals of the customs of given 
regions. 

4. New training alternatives for 
insular communities— which bring new 
talent into the arts field. 

5. Utilization of technology and 
media for communications and design 
centers. 

6. Programming outdoor spaces 
such as waterways, parks, plazas, farm- 
lands, streets, etc. into creative environ- 
ments for visual and performing events. 



7. New concepts in museum pro- 
gramming, as well as the development of 
environmental museum settings. 

8. Art as a teaching tool in the 
classroom— for the teacher, as well as the 
student. 

9. Arts in neglected communities- 
such as prisons, hospitals and other 
institutional settings. 

Making these possibilities become realities 
requires a creative application of manage- 
ment skills, fearlessness and a strong dose 
of pragmatism. As we examine the steps 
from the conceptual stage to the implemen- 
tation of project ideas we shall begin to 
understand the demands for creativity and 
discipline placed upon the artist. 

ARTS PROGRAMS: 
EXAMPLES 

In choosing examples of programs 
upon which to focus attention, we have 
taken into consideration the following 
characteristics to ensure that a rich 
sampling of experiences in art-related fields 
be represented: 

1. We have included multi- 
discipline, as well as single-discipline, 
projects. 

2. There are representative projects 
from all the categories funded by the 
Expansion Arts Program: instruction and 
training, arts exposure, special summer 
projects, neighborhood arts services, com- 
munity cultural centers, regional tour 
events and community arts consortia. 

3. Through field reports and on- 
site visits we have gathered data on many 
programs which have met rather high 
standards in their internal operations. The 
projects have a demonstrated impact upon 
the community, and the quality of the arts 
they generate is high. 

4. We have chosen projects whose 
stated objectives and capability for delivery 
are realistic and viable. 

5. The programs differ con- 
siderably and represent various regions of 
the United States, as well as different 



2 



national backgrounds and economic 
communities. 

6. The programs under discussion 
range from those with expenditures of 
under $50,000 a year to those with annual 
operating budgets of $200,000 or more. 
The programs in each bracket operate with 
success and offer high standards of quality. 

The idea originates with the artist. 
Very often, the first step in its realization 
involves the artist's initiating a dialogue 
with a person who is a creative thinker, a 
good administrator or an effective 
organizer. The success of the project often 
depends upon the strength of the relation- 
ship between the artist and the organizer. 
We have reviewed some cases of successful 
one-man projects which have worked due 
to the strength of their founders and the 
unique support they have been able to 
muster. We must bear in mind that the 
steps do not always occur in a sequential 
order. 

The program activity may begin 
and elicit a strong response from the com- 
munity before the artists and their 
associates have had time to plan for long- 
range effectiveness. However, if the original 
idea has vitality, urgency and high creative 
standards, it will touch the lives of people 
in a spontaneous, valid way. Through such 
impact, the organizers can begin to refine 
and shape an organization with potential 
for continuity and stability. A delicate 
balance is required in constructing an 
organizational structure; it must provide 
firm support for the art, while avoiding 
rigidity which obstructs the fluidity of 
creative experience. 



BEHIND THE WALL-The Prison Program 

The period of the 1960's caused 
many of us to realize that institutions 
needed to be changed. During this time 
artists conceived alternative ideas, and 
implemented innovative projects in such 
places as penal institutions, hospitals, 
schools, community groups and other 
institutions and agencies. 

Despite difficulties— and an initial 
reluctance on the part of city and state 



officials, prison wardens and other 
authorities— the artists began to make 
behind-the-wall contacts as volunteers as 
far back as 1960 and, in some instances, 
earlier. The successes of several programs 
confirmed that prison inmates could 
respond to the artistic experience in a posi- 
tive and receptive way. Although, many of 
the inmates approached such programs 
with skepticism at first, the development of 
art workshops came to be more significant 
than simple recreation or keep-busy activi- 
ties. In a relatively short time, inmates at 
various prisons began to respond with high 
interest and to participate in prison arts 
workshops. For the inmates it was an 
expressive experience on their own terms: a 
process of opening-up through writing a 
short story or play or participating in 
improvisational theatre pieces. 

These programs began to bridge the 
gap between the prison and the outside 
community. The one element common to 
all these situations was the establishment of 
a valid relationship between two normally 
estranged segments of society. 

Requirements for an artist going 
into a prison were: 

1 . A sensitivity to the local 
bureaucracy in order to win sufficient 
cooperation from the prison warden and 
other authorities for operating a program. 

2. A realistic and honest respon- 
siveness to the prisoners on the part of the 
artist. There was no instant or overnight 
acceptance. A performance or rap session 
usually served as the initial meeting, or a 
series of preworkshop meetings were held 
among the inmates and the artists. The 
artist would have to draw upon his sensi- 
bilities for communication during the early 
stages. 

3. The artist had to find ways to 
assist the inmate upon reentry into non- 
prison life, without making false or un- 
realistic promises. 

4. The project organizers were 
responsible for creating methods to circu- 
late and to make available the artistic 
products to other prison audiences and the 



3 



outside. Bringing visibility to the effort was 
extremely important in gaining public 
support and funds for the projects and in 
providing encouragement for the inmates. 

5. Encouraging and planning for 
inmates' take-over and leadership of their 
own programs was the final requisite. 

The successes encountered by the 
inmates began to represent alternative 
values, new awareness and motivation 
towards outside alternatives. However, 
these benefits had to be weighed against 
the reality that the arts seldom provide a 
viable way to earn a living and to support a 
family on the outside; therefore, some 
practical applications had to be thought 
out. The communications field presented 
many interesting training possibilities. 

At the outset, the artist and the 
inmate knew neither each other nor what 
the results would be. However, the artist 
and the inmate comprised a new force 
behind prison walls. Total human experi- 
ences were being examined through art, 
with results that the standard counseling 
and educational programs were not able to 
achieve. Writing workshops turned up 
talent not previously realized. Small theatre 
groups were developed, performing original 
material, as well as published plays from the 
outside. Professional performers began to 
appear before prison audiences and, in 
some cases, performing ensembles from 
within the prisons began to tour other 
penal institutions and the outside. Word 
got around to other prisons, and slowly, 
with determination, inmates began to 
request these programs and to take on 
organizing initiatives themselves. In order 
to establish validity in the inmate com- 
munity, the artists who organized prison 
arts programs could not project a do-good 
attitude— that would simply cause the pro- 
grams to fall apart. 

The participating inmates began to 
feel a new energy and self-awareness. Thus, 
when a prisoner was released, the question 
was raised: "How do I now pursue a rela- 
tionship with others on the outside so that 
I can continue to learn and grow as a 
creative person?" It became clear that there 
was a growing need for continued work by 
the same group of artists with the inmate 
during the reentry period. 



More effective stimulating program- 
ming by agencies— such as the Department 
of Criminal Justice, the Department of 
Labor, the Department of Health, Educa- 
tion and Welfare, the Law Enforcement 
Assistance Act, the Federal Bureau of 
Prisons and other service agencies— is now 
being advocated and studied. Experiences 
of artists who have worked with the incar- 
cerated have varied, yet the majority have 
been rewarding. Although prison programs 
have not been adopted into the penal 
system as ongoing programs, we now know 
that they can replace— at a lower cost- 
many of the services presently offered to 
inmates. 

The artist had succeeded if he or 
she did not water down the artistic process 
or overestimate its impact. The artist 
touched base in a community hidden away 
from society and, as a result, changed it in 
the process. Whenever possible, the artists 
developed program models which the in- 
mates could successfully adopt and put 
into operation. 

GRAFFITI-On Second Glance, Not 
Simply an Urban Disorder 

The creativity and ideas of a group 
of painters who came together after observ- 
ing and considering the intense amount of 
graffiti on outdoor walls, signs, public 
vehicles and virtually all other public 
structures brought about a beneficial 
project for the community and graffiti 
artists. It occurred to these artists that the 
energy at work in these creations was 
neither incidental nor isolated, but rather 
the expression of an overwhelming need for 
a visual expression by residents in neighbor- 
hoods which offered no support or respon- 
siveness to creative needs. The graffiti was a 
persistent, not a disappearing or lessen- 
ing, phenomenon. 

As a visual explosion, graffiti began 
to take on a more and more organized 
look. The gigantic cartoon fantasies created 
with spray materials often appeared to 
require a team effort for their realization. 
Destructive or not, this activity indicated 
that something was going on which might 
be redirected. Some of the artists who 
resided in the community began to 



4 



approach a few of the youths making it in 
graffiti. In a casual manner, almost one by 
one, the graffiti makers began coming into 
the studio the artists had organized. Early 
on, the youths saw slides of graffiti they 
had created. The graffiti slides were viewed 
along with works by professional artists. In 
this perspective, some of them were turned 
on by their very own visuals. Also, this 
method of comparison served to take them 
a step further in the creative process, 
beyond spontaneous graffiti. 

Rap sessions helped the graffiti 
makers and the local artists to establish a 
sense of rapport. This relationship resulted 
in the youths beginning a design for an 
outdoor wall mural in their community. 
Designing, scaling and planning for the 
project became a technical and creative 
experience which evoked the same feelings 
of excitement encountered in producing 
graffiti. However, this time permanent 
tools and creative alternatives were being 
developed; the interested response of the 
community, from both the adults and the 
young people in the area, added incentive 
to the project. 

Adapt programs to the 

communities' lifestyles, 
needs and heritage. 




From this initial project, a mural 
studio and a professional training program 
for small design groups has evolved. The 
studio produced high quality work and 
began to acquire design projects; as the 
program developed it turned on the other 
committed, graffiti-producing youth in the 
area. The fact that less graffiti appeared in 
the neighborhood was a side effect of the 
project; the original intent was to allow a 
creative experience to evolve from existing 
activities in the neighborhood. That very 
experience began to neutralize and reverse 
the other activity and presented an 
alternative which was not artsy, but 
creative. In this case, as in the prison situa- 
tion, the artists were not addressing them- 
selves to mere substitutions for the existing 
conditions, but providing meaningful 
choices in people's lives. The program pro- 
vided the youths with not only an 
opportunity to grow and express them- 
selves, but also with a chance to probe and 
expand their environment. 

Other wall mural and visual design 
groups have attracted numbers of young 
and developing artists within various 
neighborhoods. These programs have been 
commissioned to generate public arts 
projects— such as plazas and environmental 
projects in open spaces within the cities— 
and have often produced striking results. 
Although some of these programs earn 
income through contracted services, they 
do not usually become completely self- 
sustaining. 



THE RURAL COMMUNITY-A Large Part 
of America 

A high percentage of the United 
States population lives in rural communi- 
ties. A major portion of the United States 
land mass remains rural, especially in the 
northeastern, southeastern, midwestern and 
far western regions of the country. Repre- 
sentative rural populations— including 
American Indians, poorer Appalachian 
settlements, farm and mining communities, 
migrant camp communities populated by 
Black Americans, Chicanos, Native 
Americans and Americans of varied 
European ancestry— often reside in dire 
poverty within the affluent society. 



5 




The growing consciousness within 
these communities has attracted diversified 
services; moreover, it has inspired dedicated 
professionals from the regions, as well as 
others who had settled in them, with a 
commitment to make change happen. 
Counted among these specialists are 
sculptors, painters, craftsmen, theatre 
artists, writers and other artists. 

In the four-state Appalachian area- 
West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and 
Arkansas (Cumberland Gap)— there has 
been a history of economic devastation. 
The conditions resulting from strip mining 
and low employment have created a myriad 
of social, economic and health problems 
for rural families. Since the nineteenth 
century, however, coal mining struggles, 
colorful and powerful labor leaders and a 
self-sustaining folk culture constituted a 
rich history and heritage in this area. Tradi- 
tional crafts, folk songs and storytelling 
formed the traditions which have charac- 
terized this culture for many generations. 

In an attempt to address some of 
the prevailing problems, federal govern- 
ment agencies generated programs which 
employed social workers, educators, com- 
munity planners, developers and organizers 
to work in the area. Community design 
centers began to function: projects to sup- 
port other creative activities began happen- 



ing, and portions of the local population 
were attracted to these activities. In the 
process, people were reinspired by their 
traditional lifestyles; they became involved 
in the projects, such as local craft fairs and 
folk festivals. Music of the area was 
recorded and performed in informal and 
organized settings„ A renaissance of 
Appalachian cultural expression began to 
constitute a force in the reconstruction of 
the area. Cultural advocacy was occurring 
in accord with social needs. 

Workshops which offered training 
in writing, theatre, dance, visual arts, barn 
murals and films were becoming real 
alternatives for many of the families living 
in remote areas. Many communities began 
to request such programs and to organize 
them whenever possible. This revitalization 
of a traditional culture brought the elders 
in the community together, because they 
were bearers of the traditional forms which 
were dying out; the interaction of old and 
young within the programs served to 
introduce these forms to the younger 
generation. The artists working in the 
region could not impose projects upon the 
people. In order to be successful they had 
to adapt their programs to the communi- 
ties' lifestyles, needs and heritage. 

The artists operated through a 
regional umbrella organization which 
supported satellite projects in the mountain 
communities. This original organization has 
accomplished its mission and does not 
function actively today. During its five 
years of operation, it spawned projects that 
are now rooted in various communities and 
are operated by the residents themselves, 
who define their shape and objectives. This 
is probably one of the best examples of the 
phasing out of a program that has realized 
its goal: in this case, to stimulate and to 
support a community towards creating its 
own cultural programs. 

MUSEUMS-Community, Storefront, 
Alternative Programs 

Most traditional American 
museums are based upon older European 
models; thus, they usually reflect the 
formal Grand Place home, housing art 
objects and treasures. As great resources. 



6 



museums are visited and used by large 
segments of our population. Nevertheless, 
they are not serving broad sections of the 
population. 

Many factors contribute to the 
limited patronage of museums— for 
example: lack of viewing hours to accommo- 
date working people; central, as opposed to 
decentralized, locations; and an awesome 
formality, rather than inviting atmosphere, 
to encourage a newcomer. The traditional 
style of museums has usually made them 
appear to be out of reach for artists and 
residents of small communities. Conse- 
quently, the establishment of museums 
was seldom considered a feasible under- 
taking at the local level. It is, however, 
clear that the museum is a significant force 
in the perpetuation of culture. 

. Within the past decade, groups 
from Black, Hispanic and other minority 
communities have begun to focus on ways 
to preserve the museum concept while 
making it more responsive to, and 
expressive of, diverse cultures. As people 
from various communities worked to deter- 
mine what forms these new cultural 



institutions should take, there was an 
urgency in their deliberations, stemming 
from the need and the desire to fulfill a 
special purpose for each community. 

In the course of deliberations on 
new forms for museums in the community, 
a number of new concepts and problems 
came into focus: 

1. There was a real need for 
museums that reflected both the con- 
temporary and historical culture of the 
immediate neighborhood. 

2. Community museums could and 
should provide neighboring schools with 
new resources for the classroom. 

3. Local neighborhoods must be 
explored to find accessible settings for 
these new institutions. 

4. Provision must be made for 
designing and adapting spaces to provide 
maximum flexibility for planning an in- 
stallation. 

5. Cultural objectives had to be 
defined, and programming undertaken, to 
provide neighborhood impact in line with 
these goals. 




7 



6. Development of professional 
staffing had to be instituted, including the 
development and training of minorities for 
museum operations. 

These were some of the issues addressed at 
the time. The creation of a community 
museum in many cases originated from 
individual ideas and then was implemented 
through a collective of interested people 
who brought with them local and regional 
expertise, interests and drives- 

Although current annual budgets of 
community museums may range from 
$100,000 to over a million dollars, some of 
the following activities were characteristic 
of these programs at early stages in their 
development. The examples cited are 
drawn from the periods when the programs 
were without substantial funds. 

1. The museums mounted traveling 
exhibitions, as well as mini-exhibitions, 
mobile units, which traveled to neighbor- 
hoods, schools and community groups. 

2. Museums provided studio space 
and equipment for selected local artists 
through a resident artists program. 

3. More recently, a museum 
allowed a local dance company to utilize 
museum space for rehearsals during evening 
hours. 

4. Poetry readings, film showings 
and other art exhibition forms have been 
encouraged in the museum setting. 

5. Another museum, having access 
to an adjacent commercial garage, 
converted the space into a working 330 
seat theatre and offered free and very low- 
cost performances of local and low-budget 
professional productions. 

Programs such as these have helped to de- 
fine the new roles museums can play in the 
community and have shown how museums 
can be responsive to their communities. 

As of this publication, there are 
approximately 50 community museums 
operating in the United States with the 
capability of long-range programming. 
Through exchange touring exhibitions, 
museum staff training programs, concept 
sharing for exhibitions and nonexhibition 



programs, these museums are relating to 
community residents and projecting them- 
selves as living resources— about life. Most 
of all, they are telling a generation of 
community people that there is a museum 
here, for and about you. 

Although a museum requires 
extensive and thorough planning and 
organization before it begins to operate, it 
must also undergo many changes and 
modifications so that it remains responsive 
to the local community. At the same time, 
it can grow to have a regional or national 
impact. The community museum requires 
the patronage of local residents and those 
from the surrounding areas. Within a well- 
organized structure, open-ended planning 
should exist in order to allow for new, 
unusual and relevant program schemes. 
Acquiring a permanent collection at 
inception may not be of principal 
importance. Rather, the museum's 
organizers should concentrate on providing 
exhibitions and programs of quality which 
reflect the lifestyle and cultures of the host 
community and other sister communities. 
Free or minimal cost services to the local 
institutions, schools and artists should be 
featured. Possibilities for earning income 
are maximized through the establishment 
of a small gift or craft shop, restaurant 
facilities, etc. Such innovations will also 
stimulate the older institutions to explore 
new and vital roles for their operations to 
play. 



FESTIVALS-An Ancient and 
Contemporary Ritual 

Festivals represent a very old idea, 
known through history and across cultures. 
Their contemporary manifestations infuse a 
new vitality and coming together in the 
prevailing surroundings. Festivals have 
impact on large numbers of people and 
offer an intrinsic and spontaneous 
experience of contact, participation and 
collective celebration. They require careful 
planning, hard work, lots of help, materials, 
freely donated and equipment begged or 
borrowed. 

The theme or core idea around 
which a festival is organized is important. It 



8 




A successfyl festival pro- 
wlciftt fiin ©p«riln«i far 
artists to create ongoing 
projects in an area. 

may highlight a concept related to the local 
heritage, community issues or regional 
differences. Uncovering what really lies just 
below the surface of people's lives in this 
area is what determines a thematic 
presence. 

The artists are important in putting 
festivals together and in bringing an artistic 
format and creative flow to the festival. 
However, such events require interest and 
participation from the community. The 
people are the living representatives of the 
community and have molded the local 
traditions. They offer spiritual leadership, 
as well as knowledge of the traditions and 
history of the community— often in the 
form of old family stories passed from 
generation to generation. The community's 
support and participation will make a 
festival happen and will make it real. The 
given community may be one or several 
groups within a city, a state or a region. 
The groups may be of varied nationalities, 
varied interests, etc. In a city, it may take 
one or many neighborhoods to design a 
festival; the impulses are different, but the 
reality of people is the same. 



The wonderful thing about festivals 
is that they are a gathering of people and 
cultural or social expressions. They provide 
an environmental stage for traditional and 
contemporary arts, of all disciplines, 
happening simultaneously for one day, two 
days or a long holiday weekend. They 
attract people and bring them together; 
almost everyone can participate in, and add 
something to, them. 

The Expansion Arts Tour Report 
had some of the following things to say 
about festivals: 

"Festivals give us a sense of smell, 
touch, sight, sounds, and taste . . . The 
poetry, music, and dance in a festival can 
transform a straight formality into a 
moving experience. . . A ceremony is a 
symbolic theatre, providing moments in a 
festival day where people may focus 
together on a gesture having meaning to 
them." 

These quotes capture the essence of the 
best festivals we have seen. 

The impact of festivals'is extremely 
important. A successful festival provides an 
opening for artists to create ongoing 
nrojects in an area. After the festival event, 
make good use of the receptivity that was 
gained. 



9 




10 




Growth: 

steps, 

stumbles 
and the 

pursuit 
of excellence 



1 1 



achievements. The field now has many 
excellent models. We have to find ways of 
channeling the training gained from 
previous experiences into the current 
effort. 



Expansion does not 
necessarily make a 
better program. 



The example of building a com- 
munity museum raised many questions- 
questions which are equally applicable to 
other programs. Essentially, the issues 
which were discussed dealt with the areas 
of space, the recruitment and training of 
expert staff, developing ties with local 
institutions and program planning. 

Separately or together, these 
problems are demanding ones which often 
must be resolved over a relatively short 
period of time. It is important, however, to 
remember that many community-based 
programs are in their fifth to tenth year of 
operation and have taken that long to 
stabilize; others have been reorganized, 
taking on a new shape; and some have 
ceased to exist— a fact which should not be 
considered alarming. We have learned much 
over the last decade, gaining experience and 
knowledge through errors, as well as 



VARYING A 
PROGRAM: 
EXPANDING OR 
SHRINKING MAY BE 
A GOOD STEP FOR 
YOUR PROJECT 

Expanded or added activity often 
becomes confused with making a program 
better or more attractive. Expansion does 
not necessarily make a better program. Nor 
should expansion be seen as program 
development and variation. These are 
separate, totally different issues which 
require effective planning and implementa- 
tion. While being aware of the need for 
long-term planning to expand or curtail a 
program, the program director should give 
close attention to the demands of program 
development and variations. The following 
examples further illustrate how expansion 
or trimming may affect the arts program. 

The first example is a children's 
community visual arts workshop which 
offered a variety of experiences in visual art 
forms to several age groups. During school 
hours local teachers brought classes to the 
site; in the afternoons and on Saturdays, 
older children came on their own or with 
parents. In a short time, because of the 
creative excitement happening with the 
children and adults in this rather inspiring 
setting, it was found that the parents 
tended to stop by more often and to volun- 
teer for chores and fund-raising projects. In 
addition to a very dedicated parents' com- 
mittee, a core of parents became interested 
in starting a workshop for themselves. As 
participants in the workshops, they created 
saleable objects which produced an income 
for the school. 

Over a period of three years, several 
vital developments began to take place. 



12 



There was an active parents' and neighbor- 
hood friends' committee which systemat- 
ically took on fund-raising and promotional 
projects on a community- and city-wide 
level. Also, an after-school workshop for 
teachers in the community was established. 
Eventually, the program began to contract 
with child and youth service agencies for 
studies and other projects on a selective 
basis. The latter provided income and insti- 
tutional credibility for the program, as well 
as broadening its fund-raising base. 

The second example is a visual arts 
program which succeeded in realizing its 
original purpose. The neighborhood itself 
had no previous programs of this type, yet 
the project was able to involve the local 
families and schools. Initially, the project 
was dependent upon resources and funds 
from nonneighborhood institutions which 
were willing to support an outreach pro- 
gram within the community. Over a period 
of several years the program became less of 
an outreach program planned and 
implemented by others. Instead, it began to 
define its own character and to take over 
its fund-raising objectives; finally, the 
program was successful in purchasing and 
renovating a small building to house its 
activities. It did not expand or create new 
discipline areas. It did, however, vary and 
redevelop its programs to full capacity, 
realizing its objectives. 

It is very important to keep in mind 
projects of this kind. However well planned 
and well funded at initiation, they must 
continue to define their program roles and 
purposes so that within the structure there 
are fluid and open-ended areas for develop- 
ment and community responsiveness. At 
the same time, projects have to be receptive 
to new program potentials or adaptations 
for enrichment and effectiveness. 

For example, a parents' workshop 
that takes on a creative project may pay for 
itself with minimal fees and also generate a 
creative product which the parents can sell 
and distribute. In the example cited, the 
parents' participation was an extension that 
did not drain program staff and funds, but 
instead produced a small income. Also it 
created a better program and parent-staff- 
child rapport. Similarly, the contracted 



There is a time to expand 
a program and a time to 
allow activity shrinkage. 



services provided earned income and 
carried their own weight. 

There is a time to expand a 
program and a time to allow activity 
shrinkage. Neither represents overwhelming 
signs of success or failure. They do, how- 
ever, require objectives, planning and 
resources. 

The third example is a community- 
based theatre. After about seven years of 
operating the program, the project 
organizers launched efforts to cut back on 
what had previously been multi-workshop 
activities; they hoped to create a single- 
discipline theatre program and to present 
three or four plays per season. The program 
had originally attracted the young people 
in the neighborhood; it sponsored writing, 
technical production and various acting 
workshops. In its early years the program 
had generated a number of fresh, vital and 
original productions under the leadership 
of the director. 

Over a period of five years a core of 
the remaining workshop participants found 
themselves older and more experienced. 
While maintaining other means of employ- 
ment, they continued theatre training. 
What became clear was that the project 
could absorb new, younger workshop 
applicants, develop a junior and advanced 
performing company and continue the 
various workshops. However, the surround- 
ing community had other relatively 
successful training programs operating in 
other nearby theatre facilities— despite the 
fact that funds for all of these programs 
were less available than previously. 



13 



The director began to make some 
clear and purposeful decisions over a two- 
year period: 

1. He began to concentrate upon a 
performing unit utilizing the most 
advanced talent developed by the program 
as apprentices. This included technical and 
artistic talent. 

2. He began to organize and budget 
for showcase productions which allowed 
more experienced and professional actors 
to be cast in a production with the 
apprentice actors. 

3. He also began to define a 
creative philosophy by presenting particu- 
lar groupings of plays which best and most 
consistently expressed his approach to 
theatre. The plays were satirical, popular 
and vibrant, appealing to community 
audiences, as well as experienced 
theatregoers from all parts of the citv. 

With the commitment to producing 
a four-play season of high quality for the 
community and to maintaining the theatre, 
the other projects were becoming secon- 
dary and could not receive the attention 
they required. Finally, a decision had to be 
made. Shortage of funds was a clear reality, 
and the demand for the delivery of quality 
productions was increasing. The director 
decided in favor of reducing the training 
components and developing a theatre 
production program at professional and 
near-professional standards for the com- 
munity. His reorganization also offered the 
older workshop apprentices professional 
theatre experience in a community-based 
program. Minimal fees based upon the box 
receipts were paid to the actors. 

The decision was made to collapse 
most of the workshop programs and to 
disperse students and new applicants to 
similar programs in the neighborhood. The 
operation of the theatre program was 
tightened up managerially. The theatre pro- 
ductions now attract full houses of varied 
audiences— both from the surrounding 
community and across the city. The theatre 
is economically stable, operating on an 
annual budget of less than $75,000. It has 
improved its relationship with the other 
local theatre projects by recommending 
training applicants to the other programs. 



Additionally, the theatre now coordinates 
its promotional efforts with the other 
theatre programs in the community. The 
activity cutback was a decision which 
increased the program's effectiveness and 
quality. 

The decision to modify or shrink 
aspects of your program is one which all 
directors must face at some point. It is 
advantageous to clearly observe your 
organization and make the choices which 
will heighten its purpose and life. 



ALLOWING THE 
IDEA SPACE AND 
FOOD FOR GROWTH 

Very special conditions are needed 
to generate the conceptual process: it re- 
quires time and thought. Oftentimes it is 
best not to implement an idea immediately, 
but to go back and examine it and to talk it 
out with others. Create other concepts 
around it; let it remain as fluid as possible; 
tap your inner source of creativity. 




14 



Whether a program has just begun 
or has been operating for a long time, this 
process is a vital part of the leadership 
function. Creative thoughts must be 
explored over and over, so that the pro- 
gram concepts do not stagnate or become 
appendages to administrative structure and 
organization; the opposite should be the 
operating mode. Structure and organization 
should result from the idea and concept, 
since their role is to provide support. 

A clear choice has to be made in 
favor of art, or a creative drying up begins 
to happen. Therefore, this process should 
be built into the program— just as are 
monthly sessions with a bookkeeper or 
accountant, regular staff meetings and the 
board of directors meetings. The director— 
either with his or her associates or some- 
times alone— must schedule several hours 
each month or two as a retreat to explore 
the creative element of the program. 



TAKE TIME! 

The effort involved in the con- 
ceptual process will help your operation in 
a qualitative way. It provides the 
philosophical and artistic leadership the 
program requires. 

It is also important to have input 
from others who can contribute to the 
process. Creative dialogue is necessary in 
arriving at an aesthetic identity for the 
program. You and your colleagues must be 
responsible for the program's growth. 

These sessions may range from 
exploration of pure forms to the specific 
creative ideas. Constructing a means for 
implementing the idea follows the discus- 
sion. Insights for methodology can be 
shared from your experiences and from the 
experiences of others. We all require these 
insights. 




15 




16 



The Goal 
and Concept 

fundamentals 
to remember 




CHAPTER 3 



INQUIRIES TO 
CONSIDER 

Some of the questions every 
program director should review periodically 
are: 

1 . What contribution does the 
program make? 

2. What is the target group to be 
reached? 

3. Are there several sub-program 
goals and various stages of program 
development in your operation to be 
reached in the process of achieving ultimate 
objectives? 

4. Does your program fill a need 
that is not fulfilled at present? 

These are some of the questions to spend 
time considering both at the formative and 
the operative stages of your program. 

Observing other programs within or 
outside of your vicinity is also helpful in 
coming to conclusions about some of these 
questions. If you discover that your 
program is not in relative alignment with its 
concepts or goals, do not panic. The 
reasons which explain the disparity may 
contribute some healthy questions that can 
help the development of your program. 

Changes or conflicts within a 
program may reflect a new phase toward 
which your program could redirect itself— a 
fulfillment of goals initially unarticulated. 



You may discover that a certain need that 
was appropriate five years ago is no longer 
there in its original form. Pack up and go 
home? No! Not necessarily at all ! Usually 
not so! This situation may mean that you 
have been successful. Others in the region 
may have duplicated your project; the 
impact of the project may have created a 
basic arts exposure in the surrounding 
community so that you may require a new 
component which addresses itself to a 
growing and somewhat more arts-aware 
community. Or perhaps you should 
continue to operate the project on the 
same idea premise, but the artistic quality 
has to be upgraded and, perhaps, the 
numbers served lessened, given your 
resources. 

These revelations and others may 
require some soul searching about your 
project, your surrounding community and 
the field in general. Part of your initial and 
ongoing success was achieved because you 
brought initiative and organizing qualities 
to your work. Trust your sensitivity and 
perception even when you think you will 
have to withdraw or dissolve portions of 
the program from the general operation. 
Allow these possibilities and use your 
ability to perceive the need for change and 
to make change happen. Be dynamic in 
your program choices and be objective as a 
planner. You are accountable for the 
project. In addition to developing the 
concept idea and the creative goals, your 
ability to modify, adapt or reorganize is 
essential for a good program. 



TIME AND STEPS: 
THE FOUNDATION 

The painting, the novel or the 
dance does not simply spring forth. It must 
be carefully developed through initial 
drafts and revised stages before it arrives at 
its final realization. The artist brings a set 
of experiences and creative forces to the 
work. While the art work has been shaped 
by the artist, it has also fed back new 
experiences and perspectives to the artist. 
The creative process, therefore, ususally 
requires time to evolve and proceeds 
through various stages of refinement. 



18 



A program requires a similar 
process for its formation. Allow time for it 
to happen, allow flexible areas for regroup- 
ing and change. Your planning and organi- 
zation should be structured to support the 
growing process. 

In defining goals and activity, you 
must also be prepared for unpredictable, 
spontaneous possibilities. Plans should be 
flexible enough to allow for postponing or 
substituting a project. Do not force an 
activity upon the program if it will strangle 
it, drain off its healthier off-spring or 
precipitate a crisis. Leave it for another 
year without feeling you have failed. Quite 
to the contrary, you have been ineffective 
if you do allow over-activity or spread your 
program too thin. Programs require 
administrative and creative nourishment 
and must be stabilized in each stage of 
growth. Breathing space, instead of tight 
panic circles, will make the program a 
healthy one. 



Be dynamic in your pro- 
gram choices; be objec- 
tive as a planner. 



TRAINING: KEEPING 
YOUR EYE ON 
QUALITY 

You are training dancers with the 
intension of putting together a perfor- 
mance ensemble of high standards. Over a 
five-year period you plan to reach a level of 
professionalism which permits touring, 
contracted performances and a regional 
reputation of excellence. This will take 
time; it will require varied training, some- 
times by guest instructors. The basic 
instruction in dance will have to be 
augmented with workshops in theatre 
techniques, mime and other disciplines. 
The vigorous pursuit of body discipline is a 
continuous one requiring a lengthy period 
of time for the development of the 
necessary skills. Exposure to others in the 
field, live performances, lecture demon- 
stration and film are necessarily part of 
your training process. Do not shortchange 
the participants by diluting the training 
program; it will show. If necessary, intensi- 
fy the training; diversify areas of it; and 
plan to readjust your training schedules to 
accommodate the time actually required to 
gain the skills, especially if you have to 
spend more time than you originally 
estimated. 




19 



Do not schedule that first concert if 
you are not ready. Substitute a lecture 
demonstration if the dancers cannot sustain 
a full performance. It is important for your 
dancers and your audiences to know that 
you are setting high standards which you 
will not compromise. 

Do not ignore the importance of 
quality presentations even in a workshop 
dance program. Visibility is important for 
gaining added support and developing a 
good reputation; there are, however, no 
excuses for premature performances, 
unpreparedness or incompleteness— 
especially when an additional six months 
could have made a difference. The yard- 
stick that you, the artist, use in your own 
work is one that you should use in the 
program. 

The prerequisites for a quality 
training program in music, literature, 
plastic arts or theatre are the same. Train- 
ing is vigorous and demanding, as well as 
more intensive than the trainees visualize 
during the early part of their studies. As 
the program director you must demon- 
strate that the acquiring of technique 
requires long hours and concentration. 
Moreover, a supportive study atmosphere 
has to be maintained and the participants 
must be handled like future artists. You 
must, of necessity, be selective about 
moving students to advanced levels. As 
director or administrator of an instruction 
program you are providing training for 
future composers, choreographers, film- 
makers, writers and other artists. You have 
taken on a formidable responsibility. 
Examining instruction capabilities, 
exposure to other methods of training, 
guest resident artists and local resources in 
the field has to be continuous. 

If your program is unable to offer 
the full compliment of training in all areas, 
be the first to recognize this fact. You may 
add the necessary ingredients without 
increasing your deficit. Some suggestions 
for augmenting instuction and training are: 

1. Identify cooperating institutions 
in the field which can offer teachers for 
conducting general or specialized training. 



2. Explore the need for varied, 
related disciplines and specialized programs 
for your students who indicate these needs. 
Make the outlets possible. 

3. Create training exchanges with 
other programs for the swapping of 
teachers, workshop space and training in 
related areas or techniques— e.g., acting for 
dancers and vice versa. 

4. Be certain to build in a strong 
exposure to other artists and professional 
examples of their work, even if it means 
traveling to other areas within your region. 



YOUR NEIGHBORS: 
AFFILIATING 
AND CONSORTING 
WITH THEM 

Many artists are faced with a great 
deal to do and shrinking funds with which 
to do it. Very often— unless they are 
located within major urban centers- 
available resources and talented people are 
limited for neighborhood arts programs. 

Given the limitations under which 
individual artists work, each artist has to 
ask himself how he can find mutual assis- 
tance from others. In asking that question, 
you should make a mental list of opera- 
tions similar to yours and of recent dis- 
cussions which attempted to find some 
remedies to common problems. 

During the past few years service 
and communications organizations geared 
to serve specific disciplines, regions or areas 
of need have appeared; they have grown 
from the recognition that by joining forces 
arts groups can help each other to over- 
come common problems. These new service 
organizations or arts consortia have taken 
some of the following forms: 

1. Common equipment pools. 

2. Theatre or dance consortia that 
work together as one company during a 
portion of a season. 

3. Sharing of artistic and technical 
know-how for mounting productions. 



20 



4. Artistic and technical exchanges 
within a region. 

5. One administration and manage- 
ment operation for several groups through 
a central office. 

6. United fund-raising techniques. 

7. Centralized promotional efforts 
by hiring one or two experienced publicists 
or press agents. 

8. Combining as a group for lower 
advertising rates. 

9. Central graphics pool for design 
and printing of promotional materials. 

10. Establishing touring networks. 



Work Wrl- ^f;§^Wf: w!m% 



These are some of the solutions 
central, groups or consortia have generated 
in order to reduce expenses and to 
strengthen the quality of the product. 
Some of the solutions work immediately; 
others require periodic adaptation and 
adjustment in order to make the relation- 
ship profitable to all of the participants 
affiliating in the plan. 



SUMMING 
IT UP 

The experiences and ideas 
presented here explored: 1) the internal 
planning required to make ideas into viable 
programs and 2) the quality and value of 
projects. In summarizing the material 
presented, the following questions should 
be underlined as food-for-thought for all of 
us. They fall into four categories. 

The Importance and Originality of the 
Creative Idea in Relation to Its Practice and 
Application 

1. What is the force and what does 
it offer to those around us? 

2. To whom is it applicable and 
where? 

3. Are you organizing program 
parameters for it? Which ones? When? 



4. Does the concept stand alone 
and offer a totally new experience to the 
community, or is it related to other similar 
efforts? 

5. Does the project lend itself to 
consolidation with others? 

6. Does this project require phases 
as steps towards some final qualitative 
goal? 

7. Have you planned for them and 
do they all add up to the final projected 
goals? 

The Artist: Your Sensibilities in New 
Settings 

1. Have you examined what things 
you do not know about operating a pro- 
gram? How do you plan to overcome this 
lack of expertise? 

2. Do you work well with others 
who have the expertise you lack? . 

3. How do you rate and utilize 
your intuitions about a program? 

4. Can you take no for an answer? 

5. What happens when you have 
encountered new ideas and responsibilities 
that were not previously foreseen in the 
plan? 



21 



The Artist: As Administrator, Leader, 
Everything to Everyone 

1. Are your administrative skills 
good? Have they developed? How have you 
complemented these skills or lack of them? 

2. Is it difficult for you to delegate 
responsibility? 

3. Who is on your Board? What can 
the Board do to support the objectives and 
purposes of your program? 

Some General Questions 

1. How do you feel about similar 
projects now operating in your 
neighborhood? 

2. With whom are you sharing your 
program and creative ideas these days? Is it 
helpful? 

3. Would you give up or eliminate 
any of your program components for any 
reason? 

4. Have you recently looked to see 
if there has been a point of saturation 
which tends to make your program either 
obsolete or ineffective? 

5. Is someone doing your job 
better than you are? Can you learn by 
observing his or her methods? 

6. Is your project a stimulator and 
fertilizer for others— perhaps, a service for 
others in the field? 

These are provocative questions 
which those in the field face constantly. 
You may feel that you, alone, must deal 
with these issues. Successful programs have 
the same problems but are able to solve 
them in a manner which betters the pro- 
gram. Questions and problems should be 
brought to the surface, then, shared with 
others who can assist you in resolving 
them. Periodic review, evaluation and 
change will benefit your organization and 
guarantee its longevity. 



CONCLUSION 

This publication has discussed a 
cross-section of community programs with 
the aim of providing assistance to you in 
realizing your project ideas. Although 
detailed solutions to particular problems 
have not been described, we hope that the 
information opens areas of discussion and 
suggests possible approaches for you and 
your organization. 



Periodic review, evaiua 
tion and change will 
benefit your organiza- 
tion. 



22 



PHOTO CREDITS 
Page Number Photographer 

Inside Front Cover ValValsan 

6 GaryTenen 

9 Carleton Sarver 

12 Hiram Maristany 

Graphic design by Portfolio Associates, Inc., Philadelphia, Pa. 
Lisa Werchow, Art Director