Much research has been conducted in recent years in both Canada and the US in order to understand what kinds of experiences audiences and potential markets are seeking, what will bring them out. Gaining public engagement, involvement and support is challenging these days as there are so many options of activities and causes for people to become involved in. The arts are what will make the difference in getting people out to your event or becoming involved in your project.
Studies show that people are expecting more and more when they attend an event or activity. People want to be able to experience human diversity in a safe and non-threatening way. When they come out to a community or arts event they want to see and interact with people who are different than themselves, who live in different neighbourhoods and conditions, who come from different backgrounds and have different outlooks. They also want to have multiple sensory experiences in that if they are attending, for example, a dance event, they want to experience music or video at the same time. Some people love to witness innovation and have an interest in collaborative fusions of art forms, genres and cultural influences.
Not all artists or arts organizations have experience in collaborating with other artists or non-arts organizations. Simply, make no assumptions, check out the prospective artist’s interest in and past experience working on collaborative projects. If they have not had involvement in the past it might be useful to test out a collaboration on a small scale to assess mutual suitability. If that experience is positive then take on a bigger or longer-term project together.
Copyright and ownership of the creative products (including the documentation records) are major issues for artists and should be discussed well before the community engagement and resulting creative collaborative process get underway. Artists will vary in terms of what they are comfortable with. As part of the copyright and ownership discussion you also need to discuss future use (who gets it and who will decide) and future profits (for example: royalties). These issues are currently being discussed at both the grassroots and policy levels across the country.