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New Creative Community
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About the Author

Arlene Goldbard is a writer, social activist, and consultant who works for justice, compassion, and honor in every sphere, from the interpersonal to the transnational.

Reviews


-It is an impressive feat that Goldbard achieves in this book, giving the reader such an appreciation and understanding of this concept that one is left wondering why community cultural development isn't something that is an essential part of all our lives. Goldbard equates it with with universal education and the provision of emergency health care. After reading the passionate and convincing arguments laid out by Goldbard, it is hard to disagree.-
--Leszek Apouchtine, re: place magazine
-Arlene Goldbard is one of those writers who not only writes about culture--she lives culture. She manages both to persuade us about her research but also convince us about the importance of community cultural development, which is why her latest book should be read not only by those interested in community cultural development but moreover by those who still need to learn and understand why is it so important.-
--Culturelink Network
-Goldbard gathers [remarkable stories] to show how arts projects can restore the spirit and animate the hopes of struggling communities. But more than just inspiring us, she offers a wealth of details about how this work is conceived and carried out, which is invaluable to anyone wanting to see something similar happen in their own town or neighborhood.-
--Jay Walljasper, PUBLIC ART REVIEW, VOL. 19 NO. 2, ISSUE 38
-At first glance, Alene Goldbard's book, New Creative Community--The Art of Cultural Development, seems tangential to mainstream community development, but that's far from the case as this work is based on strong values and principles... values and principles that are harmonious with community development.-
--Bernie Jones and Maryo Gard Ewell, Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society

In arts-rich Minneapolis, where I live, the artistic organization that draws the largest single crowd every year is the scrappy little In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater. Working out of a once-abandoned movie theatre in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, this unabashedly iconoclastic troupe lets people walk in off the street to help plan its annual May Day Parade and Festival, which draws upwards of 50,000 people to celebrate the political and spiritual undercurrents of the spring holiday.

This would come as no surprise to Arlene Goldbard, a long-time champion of community arts organizations. Her most recent book, New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development, is a comprehensive, well-written, and passionate chronicle of this overlooked sector of the art world.

Magisterial in her research and uplifting in her storytelling, Goldbard gives us a close look at where these feisty organizations have come from, what they have accomplished, and all the places they are now headed.

The book introduces us to Appalshop, a group located in the mountains of Kentucky that began as a film training program to give underprivileged kids a way out of poverty. Appalshop now boasts a radio station, a theater company, and many other means to express a vision of Appalachia that outsiders seldom see.

We also meet Lilly Yeh, an artist who stuck it out in tough North Philadelphia, encouraging neighborhood people to transform rubble-filled lots into community parks and gardens. These efforts flowered into the Village of Arts and Humanities, an ambitious collection of arts enterprises, youth programs, urban agriculture plots, and economic development plans. Yeh has now turned to Rwanda, where her Barefoot Artists project aims to help heal the horror of genocidal civil war.

This is just a sampling of the many remarkable stories Goldbard gathers to show how arts projects can restore the spirit and animate the hopes of struggling communities. But more than just inspiring us, she offers a wealth of details about how this work is conceived and carried out, which is invaluable to anyone wanting to see something similar happen in their own town or neighborhood.

--Jay Walljasper "PUBLIC ART REVIEW - VOL. 19 NO. 2 - ISSUE 38 "

Community cultural development may not be an everyday phrase, but it is an important force in fostering strong and lasting relationships with our neighbours and can result in many other far-reaching benefits for all involved. In New Creative Community Arlene Goldbard examines the history, current state and future needs of an often overlooked force in developing healthy communities.

By Arlene Goldbard (New Village Press, 2006)
Reviewed by Leszek Apouchtine, re: place magazine

The fact that many of us may be unfamiliar with the phrase 'community cultural development' is one thing that Arlene Goldbard hopes to change with the help of her book New Creative Community. There are large sections of the book that seek to simply define the term and all that it encompasses. And it encompasses a lot.

The end result of the practice of community cultural development will typically be in the form of art, often not just one medium but several, but to call this a book about community art would not do it justice. As Goldbard outlines in this book, community art is an aspect of community cultural development but does not provide a complete picture. At it's best, community cultural development includes not only art, but also social work and education.

In one chapter, Goldbard creates a fictitious project that illustrates this practice as it should ideally work. Basically, it entails artists working closely together with members of the community from all ethnicities, races, age groups and backgrounds to form a meaningful dialogue that will result in an art project that properly serves the community. The art can take several forms such as theatre, painting, sculpture, music, writing or computer-based multi-media. The key detail that would separate a project like this from something that we may otherwise label as community art or public art is that the process of engaging the general public and ensuring as many voices as possible are heard and incorporated in the finished project is just as important as the end result.

As Goldbard says: "What makes community cultural development different from clever advertising, do-it-yourself crafts kits, advanced art or inspiring protest songs is that its means and ends are one."

Reading this book reminded me a lot of the last book I reviewed, from the same publisher, Karl Linn's Building Commons and Community. His focus is on constructing public spaces that the public will actually use and enjoy. The main part of his building process is also heavily reliant on input and involvement from the community that his space will serve. Both Linn and Goldbard appreciate the significant difference in working on a project with the community that it is meant to serve or represent, as opposed to a project where a handful of individuals who are in a privileged position decide how to construct a park or build an outdoor sculpture. An example of public art being installed without community involvement, and the anger that results, can be seen clearly in a recent posting on Frances Bula's blog, State of Vancouver. Opinion in the comments section is definitely divided, but if this was part of an ideal community cultural development project than those differing points of view would have come out in the process of choosing an appropriate art project to represent the community.

Goldbard expresses in detail how this process should ideally work and why it is increasingly difficult to do so. Although writing from the U.S., and using many American examples, her investigation into the state of this practice is still relevant in Canada and elsewhere. It is an incredibly in-depth look at how creative community development has changed over the years, the theories behind it, what it can achieve and what it needs to grow and thrive in the future. She puts forth a convincing case that this form of community involvement is vital for a population to truly understand one another and to resolve conflicts - whether small, personal squabbles or larger issues that we let divide us such as class or race.

There is also a clever look at the stumbling blocks that this practice faces and ways that this could be overcome. Funding, for example, is one huge obstacle. It appears that the complexity of this holistic approach to cultural development that makes it so worthwhile and important is also the thing that makes it a challenge when trying to get get grants or other funds. A project may provide several benefits to a community, but without something that produces results that can be analyzed on a spreadsheet, it is hard to get donors to part with cash.

Although this book covers so many aspects of community cultural development and also the importance of culture in general, it would have been beneficial to see more real-life examples in detail. Although projects are often referred to in the text, it is usually only in reference to one or two specific aspects. It probably would have been quite inspiring to examine a real-life community cultural development project from it's first inception through to a completed project and some affects that it had on the people it was meant to serve. Overall, though, New Creative Community does cover a lot of ground from theory to practice.

It is an impressive feat that Goldbard achieves in this book, giving the reader such an appreciation and understanding of this concept that one is left wondering why community cultural development isn't something that is an essential part of all our lives. Goldbard equates it with with universal education and the provision of emergency health care. After reading the passionate and convincing arguements laid out by Goldbard, it is hard to disagree.

***

Leszek Apouchtine is one of the founding editors at re: place. He is now working on a new website devoted to going out in Vancouver, which is planned to launch in September, 2009.

--Leszek Apouchtine"re: place magazine" (09/09/2009)

At first glance, Alene Goldbard's book, New Creative Community--The Art of Cultural Development, seems tangential to mainstream community development, but that's far from the case as this work is based on strong values and principles... values and principles that are harmonious with community development. Goldbard, along with her partner Don Adams, is among the most articulate spokespeople of the community cultural development (CCD) movement in the United States. Goldbard attempts to definte the field, account for its genesis, illustrate underling theory, describe the current state of the field, identify what the field needs to regain its momentum, and propose ways to attain that. Goldbard offers the following definition of community cultural development: "the work of artists-organizers and other community members collaborating to express identity, concerns and aspirations through the arts and communications media. It is a process that simultaneously builds individual mastery and collective cultural capacity while contributing to positive social change." Examples to illustrate this definition include Cornerstone Theater's mini-plays, performed on public buses, intended to engage low-income transit riders to improve bus service in their neighborhoods; the Liz Lerman Dance company's oral history, storytelling, and dance to engage dock workers and others in telling their story of Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and the Los Angeles Poverty Department--a theater company of homeless people building community on Skid Row.

--Bernie Jones and Maryo Gard Ewell "Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society "

"It is an impressive feat that Goldbard achieves in this book, giving the reader such an appreciation and understanding of this concept that one is left wondering why community cultural development isn't something that is an essential part of all our lives. Goldbard equates it with with universal education and the provision of emergency health care. After reading the passionate and convincing arguments laid out by Goldbard, it is hard to disagree."

--Leszek Apouchtine, re: place magazine "Arlene Goldbard is one of those writers who not only writes about culture--she lives culture. She manages both to persuade us about her research but also convince us about the importance of community cultural development, which is why her latest book should be read not only by those interested in community cultural development but moreover by those who still need to learn and understand why is it so important." --Culturelink Network "Goldbard gathers [remarkable stories] to show how arts projects can restore the spirit and animate the hopes of struggling communities. But more than just inspiring us, she offers a wealth of details about how this work is conceived and carried out, which is invaluable to anyone wanting to see something similar happen in their own town or neighborhood." --Jay Walljasper, PUBLIC ART REVIEW, VOL. 19 NO. 2, ISSUE 38 "At first glance, Alene Goldbard's book, New Creative Community--The Art of Cultural Development, seems tangential to mainstream community development, but that's far from the case as this work is based on strong values and principles... values and principles that are harmonious with community development." --Bernie Jones and Maryo Gard Ewell, Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society

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