Take a detour to this prolific resource for the Arts in Community development. This area of endeavor is a parallel field to the creative art therapies, but more often than not does not involve professionals from the creative arts fields. Many artists, and/or other helping professionals use the art in activism, community building, as aids to dialogue and to prevent exclusion of various groups in the wider community. The following text is an excerpt to an article mapping the Community Arts field. It provides an overview of arts-based community development; history, theory and personal perspective by the director of the Center for the Study of Art and Community William Cleveland (2002).

Mapping the Field: Arts-Based Community Development

By William Cleveland

………Defining the Field

When my colleagues and I established the Center for the Study of Art and Community these experiences informed both the philosophy and focus of our work.[3] Our intention was to help the field learn from itself. As our work has evolved, we have developed a dictionary of sorts to help communicate with colleagues in and out of the arts. Building a common vocabulary has also been a critical aspect of our training efforts. The increasingly cross-sector nature of ABCD has demanded an increased clarity of focus and intent. In the mix, principals and definitions from other fields have been adopted and a lot of common ground has been discovered. Especially with the areas of asset-based and sustainable community development. Here are some of the basic definitions and core concepts that have found a place in our dictionary.

The arts: Pertaining to the performing, visual, literary or media arts.

Artist: A person who by virtue of imagination and talent or skill is able create works of aesthetic and/or cultural value in one or more arts discipline.

Community: Our definition of community is derived from the one used by Alternate ROOTS:[4] groups of people with common interests defined by place, tradition, intention or spirit.

Community-based: Activities created and produced by and with community members that combine significant elements of community access, ownership, authorship, participation and accountability.[5]

Arts-based community development (ABCD): Arts-centered activity that contributes to the sustained advancement of human dignity, health and/or productivity within a community. These include:

Activities that EDUCATE and INFORM us about ourselves and the world
Activities that INSPIRE and MOBILIZE individuals or groups.
Activities that NURTURE and HEAL people and/or communities
Activities that BUILD and IMPROVE community capacity and/or infrastructure. [6]
Historically we see ABCD as a modern iteration of perhaps the oldest “field” with a lineage that stretches back to prehistoric shamanism.

Sustainable development: We define sustainable development as locally generated economic, social and cultural development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. [7]

Asset-based community development: The word “sustainable” has roots in the Latin subtenir, meaning “to hold up” or “to support from below.” We concur with many in the community-development field who feel that a thriving community must be supported primarily from withinóby its members, resources and capacities, for the present and future. [8]

Complete article here.

If you want to pursue your research in community arts go to this Resources for Citizen Artists resource page to find links to many well documented web sites.

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