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 …

American Culture’s Unlikely Debt to a British Scientist

A Fortuitous Influx of Cash Launched the Smithsonian’s Earliest Art Collection

In 1835, through an unlikely turn of events, the young United States became the beneficiary of the estate of one James Smithson, a British scientist of considerable means who had …

Coyote as Clown, Cowboy, and Creator

Artist Harry Fonseca Transformed the Native American Folk Figure Into a Commentary on 20th Century Culture

In 2006, during the last few months of his life, the artist Harry Fonseca often spent Sundays in his Santa Fe studio with the curator Patsy Phillips. His ability to …

There’s No Law That Says Art Museums Have to Be Pretentious

If Curators Want Their Institutions to Survive and Thrive, Their Exhibitions Should Appeal to Primary Human Themes, Memories, and Desires

Three weeks ago, I was traipsing through London’s Victoria and Albert Museum with a friend of mine who has the attention span of a hummingbird. One minute we were admiring …