Artistic Reflection Kit
An important element of artistic vibrancy is being relevant to communities beyond your existing audience. Reflecting on community relevance involves reviewing your understanding of your community, your connection with the community and your work’s relevance to this community.
We encourage arts organisations to explore community relevance in the context of your own situation. You should develop an approach to community relevance that reflects your organisation’s unique circumstances and goals.
Your approach should broadly follow these steps:
- Step 1 – Review your understanding of who your community is. Create a map of the community around you. This could be defined by geography (e.g. the region in which it operates), ethnicity or background (e.g. the Sudanese refugee community), by demography (e.g. young people), or in terms of an interest (e.g. local history), issue (e.g. the environment) or need (e.g. people affected by the Global Financial Crisis).
- Step 2 – Develop a deeper understanding of these communities. This could involve analysing available information or having conversations with members of these communities. Either target individual groups and have detailed discussions with them or have initial discussions with a wide range of groups. Refer to the tools section for methods to use to better understand your community.
- Step 3 – Explore how your organisation could use this information. After step 2, review what you have learned so far. Have you identified any opportunities? How does your program, venue, and cast reflect the culture of these communities? What could you do to be more relevant to these communities? Could these communities become your audience in the future?
What are the benefits?
Reflecting on community relevance may have a wide range of benefits for your organisation and your community. Strengthening community relevance has the potential to improve audience experiences, staff engagement, and stakeholder relations. It may also assist your organisation to develop new audiences in the long term.
Further research planned for 2011-12
The Australia Council is actively looking into ways that will make it easier for organisations to reflect on community relevance. In 2011-12, the council will complete a pilot with two performing arts companies, testing practical ways to explore the question “how relevant are we to our community?” For more information click here.
To find out how relevant your organisation is to your community or groups within your community, you will need to ask them:
- Community – includes people in target communities beyond your current audience
- Informal discussions with community leaders or representatives
- Analysis of population statistics
- General public and community open days