What is the place of cultural institutions within their communities?
NAS produces publications, videos and other management tools to inspire those working in the field to take a fresh look at their work and the challenges they face. Over the last few years we have amassed quite a large catalog of content. We’ve sent NAS staff members into the archives to pick their favorites and share them here. This week Taylor Craig and Josh Miller share their reactions to one of their favorite videos.
Place Becomes Identity
By Taylor Craig
Tisa Ho, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival opens this video by saying, “The city gives us our name so, our identity is part of our home, where we are.” Ho continues to inspire me when she states that not just the festival office, but the audience and artists in her community hire her. The first time I watched this video and listened to these words, it provided an opportunity to reflect on all the arts and culture organizations I have come into contact with that bear (or share) the name of a place. There are so many. Almost every city has a museum, orchestra, zoo or festival bearing its name. It’s often something I take for granted. It’s just the way things are. I do not question why, when I visit Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston may possess that name. Other than the obvious observation that the organization exists in this specific city, I often do not think about why they may share the name of the place in which they exist. How is this shared identity reflected in the community? Do the people living in these communities take the same view of the organization or institution? Does sharing this piece of identity increase the pressure for these organizations to connect on a much deeper level with the people of their local communities?
The Fluid Argument
By Josh Miller
It’s official. I’m in love with Tisa Ho. I’m speaking rhetorically, of course. For me, she perfectly articulates what the role of arts and cultural institutions in their communities should be. Whenever listening to a conversation or debate about the purpose of arts and cultural institutions, it’s been my experience that most or all of the arguments are quite concrete: “Cultural institutions must do this” or “The purpose of the arts is to serve etc.” Ho’s argument is much more fluid and malleable. For Ho, as long as there is a strong relationship between arts and culture institutions and the people, place and purpose they serve, it is inherently for and by the community. Subsequently, their relevancy will never come into question.
After watching Ho describe the ways in which the Hong Kong Arts Festival understands its community, what was your reaction? What is the place of cultural institutions within their communities? The definition of community takes many forms. What does community mean to your organization and how do you understand your organization's place in it?