Handbook for Artists Working in Community

In this day and age of continued disparities, injustices, pandemics and systemic racism, artists are critical agents of change in our communities. More than ever, we need artists to be catalysts and glue – to bring people together, to grapple with conflict, to weave paths for a new future.

To support artists doing this work, Springboard for the Arts is delighted to announce the launch of A Handbook for Artists Working in Community, a resource that draws on Springboard for the Arts’ decade-long experience in artist-led creative placemaking and community work. This resource is a 116 page, full color illustrated guide and is available for free download.

“This handbook is a practical manual for individual artists who would like to begin or deepen this kind of artistic practice – work in and work with community,” says Springboard Associate Director, Programs and lead author Jun-Li Wang. “We’re thrilled to be able to share insights, tools, and wisdom gathered from our work and from creative practitioners immersed in community in different ways.”

The Handbook is organized into five sections: Artist Groundwork, Community Groundwork, Project Formation, Project Implementation and Group Participation Tools. These sections prepare artists and their practice for community work, consider the relationships needed to succeed in community, and go through project steps and design. The first four sections include worksheets and exercises to use, followed by a fifth section of practitioners’ favorite exercises to help groups be and work together.

The Handbook was developed for artists anywhere on the journey – whether you are just beginning to think about extending your artistic practice to working with community, or whether you’ve been immersed in community and want to deepen your practice. You might be an artist who draws inspiration from a group of people and transforms that inspiration into a performance, a mural, or a meal. You might be an artist who co-creates and co-organizes with your community to address an injustice or an opportunity. Your work may look like what most people think of as “art” or your work may look very different. Your work may look like conversations, food, or taking a hike. You might work within your “own” communities, or you might be a guest in another community. Or you might just be starting to think about how your creative practice could impact the people and places you love.

Whatever form your creativity takes, whatever communities you find yourself working with and in, there are practices that can make your work more successful and satisfying – for you and the people you work with. The stories, tools, and wisdom shared here were gathered from creative practitioners who regularly do this work.

The Handbook features insight and exercises from artists across the country, including Springboard staff Jun-Li Wang, Michele Anderson, and Peter Haakon Thompson, and contributors D.A. Bullock, Benjamin Domask-Ruh, Haley Honeman, Jamie Horter, Heidi Jeub, Jodi Larson, Liz Lerman, Nikiko Masumoto, Michael O’Bryan, Chip Thomas (Jetsonorama), and Mark Valdez. Cori Lin designed and illustrated the Handbook.

We hope you find something that resonates with you and is useful in your work. Thank you for doing what you do.

A Handbook for Artists Working in Community was developed by Springboard for the Arts and made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts through the Our Town Knowledge Building grant.

Handbook for Artists Working in Community Cover

Handbook for Artists Working in Community Sample Page

Handbook for Artists Working in Community Sample Page