Audience Engagement Is Not Community Engagement. We Need More of the Latter.

Arts Organizations Should Build Relationships That Aim for Mutual Benefit

Engagement is an important word in the nonprofit arts industry, often paired (at a minimum) with arts, audience, and community. Over the last decade, “engagement” has very nearly become worn out. Not too long ago, when “community engagement” was the hot topic in the industry, it was used to mean almost anything anyone thought was a good idea. I once saw an arts organization donate a percentage of ticket sales to a homeless shelter and describe it as “community engagement.”

The dilution of meaning of engagement (and other important arts management …