Why Should Arts Organizations Focus on Social Bridging?

Teachers and Docents connect at the Portland Art Museum
Teachers and Docents connect at the Portland Art Museum

This post is an excerpt from Karina’s guest blog from this week’s Emerging Leaders Blog Salon on the Americans for the Arts ARTSblog, which explores the question, “What would make where you live a better place or bring it to the next level?”

I live in New York City, a place with seemingly endless cultural opportunities. The problem is that the majority of these cultural experiences are designed to bring me closer to people I showed up with—an activity sociologists call “social bonding.”

That’s all well and good for me, but it’s not going to make my city more livable, more humane, and more just.

Inspired by Nina Simon’s TED Talk, I would argue that what my community needs, and what communities across this divided country need, is more opportunities to connect with people across difference—what sociologists call “social bridging.”

Moreover, I would argue that arts and culture organizations are uniquely poised to become a platform for social bridging in our communities, and that it’s essential that they do so or risk irrelevancy.

Read the full post here.

Below is Nina’s Simon’s inspiring TED Talk.

Karina Mangu-Ward is the former Director of Strategic Initiatives at EmcArts.