Walker Art Center

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Art and Civic Engagement

Mapping the Connections

In 2003, with the support of the Bush Foundation, the Walker began exploring ways that links between contemporary art and issues of concern to the community can be made more apparent. We know that artists deal with contemporary issues in their work, but how can these connections become part of public life? How can a contemporary art center become a forum for civic engagement?

This knowledge map incorporates national field research about art and civic engagement, conversations with artists and colleagues, and insights drawn from interviews with 30 Twin Cities community activists and leaders. It attempts to bridge two complex ideas—the town square and civic engagement—and to better define what potential these concepts hold for Walker programmers and audiences.

The map proposes four major roles that art, artists, and cultural programs can play in the creating a Walker town square experience and a spectrum of activities that allow for genuine civic involvement by participants. The intent is to invite curators and programmers to consider open-ended questions that will lead the Walker into a more socially conscious approach to planning events, exhibitions, and hands-on learning experiences.

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