EmcArts Community and Artist Change Workshop Update!

In 2018 and 2019, EmcArts has been proud to partner with eight communities across the United States to offer two new workshop series. The Community Innovation Workshops and Artists as Change Agents within Complexity, underwritten by both a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation and local community sponsors, are designed to help both artists and community organizations make effective use of the arts in grappling with complex community challenges.

 The Community Innovation Workshops have allowed EmcArts to explore complex community change with cohorts in four different locations– Waterville, Maine and a consortium of grantees of the New California Arts Fund in 2018, and Mount Clemens, Michigan and Whitinsville, Massachusetts in 2019. Artists as Change Agents within Complexity saw locally-based artists connect their artistic practice to complex community change in Chattanooga and Charlotte in 2018, with Pittsburgh and Louisville participating in 2019.

Community Innovation Workshops are designed as six half-day interactive workshops over 3 to 6 months, for teams from up to 15 community agencies and arts organizations who want to strengthen their ability to work adaptively and address complex community challenges through the arts.  Participants identify the complex challenges they face in their community work, and explore responses that move away from traditional linear planning and implementation toward emergent practices that can be discovered and developed through small experiments, rapid learning, and repeated prototyping.  Participants take home practical tools and frameworks, learn from each other, and build invaluable networks to support lasting community change.

In 2018, this series took place in Waterville, ME, sponsored by Waterville Creates!, and in California, sponsored by a consortium of grantees of the New California Arts Fund. In 2019, the Anton Arts Center sponsored a series in Mount Clemens, MI, while an upcoming series in Whitinsville, MA has been sponsored by Open Sky Community Services.

Artists as Change Agents within Complexity brings up to 10 locally-based artists together for four whole-day sessions over 2 to 4 months, with a goal ofdeveloping their artistic practice as a central methodology for complex change in their local community.  The workshops orient artists to five capabilities needed for complex change, and explore the use they can make of them in a community context.  Our aim is to facilitate an exchange and dialogue with local artists in order to find and develop the meeting points between their existing practices and these capabilities.

In 2018, this series took place in Charlotte,

NC, sponsored by the Arts & Science Council, and in Chattanooga, TN, sponsored by The Chattery and Chattanooga WorkSpace. In2019, Union Project will sponsor Artists as Change Agents within Complexity in Pittsburgh, PA, while Fund for the Arts will sponsor a series in Louisville, KY.





With the majority of each program’s costs underwritten by a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation, the cost to local partners ranges from just $25,000 to $30,000.  The workshops are led by EmcArts facilitators and guest teaching artists.  Each uses a variety of artistic and experiential processes to embody learning and engage the whole person, rather than relying on information transfer.


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