Museums Connecting with Our Communities

Written by Callie Montalvo

Toward the end of our Issues in Museums class, my project, as some of you have already read about, was a community engagement plan for the Fabric Workshop and Museum to connect further with an audience of adults. They primarily focus on adult artists as their primary target and my research indicated there still seemed to be the underlying issue that many in the local community were unaware of the galleries, the art work or the art education programming that the Fabric Workshop had to offer. What I proposed for the Fabric Workshop was the program the Art Movement, which intends to bring a fun spin to the audience that it already has and create an outlet for the Fabric Workshop to collaborate and make stronger connections within the local community. 

View of art organizations on Culture Blocks

Before I give you my spiel about the program I created, I took into consideration the time that it would take in order for the Fabric Workshop to go out into the community and connect with different arts organizations and businesses. For researching the areas that they could target, I did focus on Queen Village, the neighborhood of Fabric Row. When you look at some of the maps I generated through Policy Map and Culture Blocks, it showed a large amount of art organizations located around and between the neighborhoods Chinatown (Convention Center) and Queen Village. This inspired the idea of the Fabric Workshop collaborating with some of these businesses and organizations for my program, including local art schools in the area. Policy Map and Culture Blocks have been great tools, ones that can help any organization in their audience research so they can gather information about their public. Below is the timeline, a concept frame for the process of relationship building with arts organizations and developing the program, Art Movement.

Art Movement is conceived as a three-day event, a competition where 10 local artists are chosen to create a piece, based off of a theme given by jury of well known artists in the area. It is similar to the Bravo TV reality show, Work of Art, where artists get to spend approximately $200 each on supplies to create their piece. In this case, sponsored donations would come from Jack B. Fabrics, Adler Fabrics, and Utrecht. The 10 artists will also receive help from some of the Fabric Workshop’s working apprentices from the existing apprentice program. The last day, the final show, after the winner is announced, all of the artists still get a chance to display their work in the 7th floor gallery and the winner will receive a cash prize from one of the program sponsors. The exhibit of all the artists’ work will be on display for some weeks after the event. 

My hope for this project is that the idea of connecting with more that just other galleries from New York and Pittsburgh isn’t the only way to grab an audience. For some museums, this is an issue. They are not looking to their local communities and embracing them and better sharing the resources the location has to offer. Getting a chance to use Policy Map and Culture Blocks and be able to develop a plan informed by research was a great way to see how, as future museum professionals, we can access tools for developing audience engagement strategies and programs and offer more opportunities to our communities.