Announcing Community Innovation Labs

Community Innovation Labs offer the opportunity for the cultural sector to play a vital role in community change, using artistic practices to build a shared vision, explore new possibilities, and advance adaptive solutions.

Background and Context

We’ve spent the last 10 years designing and implementing Innovation Labs, in which we work alongside cultural organizations as they take on their most complex challenges. Our programs have served over 250 organizations and create “a uniquely visceral experience” for participants, as one evaluator put it.

Now, with lead support from the Kresge Foundation, we’re expanding our work to address shared complex challenges at the community level.

In 2015, EmcArts will pilot a new action-research project in three US communities to address tough social challenges by deeply integrating artists, artistic experiences, and cultural organizations into rigorously designed and facilitated change processes.

These pilot Labs, which we’re calling Community Innovation Labs, are co-created with community members and will bring together a diverse, cross-sector group of stakeholders in each location. These groups will convene city agencies, community organizers, business leaders, artists, cultural organizations, and nonprofit service providers to tackle a specific and urgent local challenge in civic and cultural life.

Why are we embarking on this now? In this time of rapid change, the country faces deep divisions and unprecedented cultural challenges that demand unconventional approaches. These Labs will bring multiple viewpoints together, drawing those who have historically been empowered and those who have been disempowered into new relationships in order to imagine new ways forward.

These new EmcArts Labs offer the opportunity for the cultural sector to play a vital role in community change, using artistic practices to build a shared vision, explore new possibilities, and advance adaptive solutions.

More information

Download this Information Packet about the Community Innovation Labs for more details about the program.

You can also download the slides from our recent webinar on Thursday March 5, 2015 from 2-3pm ET. Below is a recording of the webinar.

Inquires

We’ll be accepting inquiries through March 31, 2015  If you’d like to submit an inquiry, you can send your thoughts on these three questions by email to kmangu-ward@emcarts.org or through this form http://bit.ly/1MfGgQb:

  • What problematic situation(s) in your community would be a good fit to explore in a pilot Lab?
  • In what ways might a pilot Lab build on existing momentum, networks, and efforts?
  • What group of community stakeholders from a range of sectors and backgrounds might be champions of this effort?  Who is already committed?

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Karina Mangu-Ward at kmangu-ward@emcarts.org.

About
Richard Evans is the President of EmcArts, where he directs program design, research, and strategic partnerships that place a particular emphasis on innovation, adaptive organization change, and effective ways that the arts and culture field can respond to the demands of a new era.