Thank you for joining us at Maryland Arts Day and the National Arts Action Summit! Despite the president’s proposed budget reductions, I am confident our strong show of support for increased funding in the arts and humanities sector was heard in the Maryland statehouse and by our Congressional leaders. While I am hopeful that we will see increases from both, your continued support and advocacy will be vital to ensure we as a community can continue working towards expanding access to cultural expression for all residents living in Montgomery County.
Recent studies illustrate that four of the top ten ethnically diverse cities in the United States are located here in the county and as such, AHCMC remains committed to supporting a vibrant cultural landscape county-wide. To improve our process of facilitating a dynamic cultural community, AHCMC will begin to collectively consider engagement and empowerment strategies and will be reaching out to learn more about the community engagement tactics you find effective. Your feedback will be very important as we adapt our policies and procedures to align with the county’s intentions of providing services through the lens of equity.
According to Reframing the Relationship: Community, Arts, and Engagement, an Americans for the Arts blog, the National Guild for Arts Education defines community engagement as more than an initiative or program, but something that is part of organizational culture. From this perspective, community engagement becomes less of a service and more of a process of inclusion. Often, in our efforts to expand access to cultural expression, we forget to engage directly with the community. By consulting those we wish to serve, we begin a two-way conversation that goes a long way towards building trust, enhancing partnerships and developing impactful relationships. It is through these opportunities that we can discover and develop unconventional ways of operating, providing programming, communicating with the community, and cultivating new audiences.
Inviting the community to become part of how an institution operates is a daunting idea, but not impossible. Several of you have already begun having these conversations and are working through non-traditional methods. Below are some resources that I believe will be helpful as together, we create new pathways to improve the quality of life for all Montgomery County residents.
Let us continue to move the needle forward, challenge the norm, and provide equity with intention.