Documenting Civic Engagement: A Plan for the Tucson Pima Arts Council
Grounded in a recent strategic plan, the Tucson Pima Arts Council is moving to advance civic engagement in the city and county through its programming, funding, and partnerships. As part of Animating Democracy’s Art & Civic Engagement Impact Initiative, and in addition to the qualitative focus reflected in the evaluation inquiry with Maribel Alvarez, TPAC wanted to know what concrete measures are reasonable to use to understand the civic engagement effects of its work as an agency. The objective of the collaborative inquiry with Mark Stern and Susan Seifert of the Social Impact of the Arts Project was to develop a plan for systematically collecting and analyzing data on civic engagement. The report begins with a review of the policy context in which the collaboration was undertaken, including the findings of the TPAC strategic plan. This is followed by a discussion of the proposed strategy and specific recommendations for documenting civic engagement. Specifically, Stern and Seifert propose five strategies: improving organizational data gathering, telling stories, documenting artists and the informal cultural sector, identifying institutional networks, and using geographic information systems to integrate data for analysis. These recommendations provide a plan for documenting civic engagement and the arts. However, given the fiscal and social realities, the third section of the report outlines an implementation plan that would allow for staging these elements depending on the resources available.