Author: Heidelberg, Brea M.
Publication Year: 2015
Excerpted from "Arts & America: Arts, Culture, and the Future of America’s Communities". This essay explores the changing definition of "community" and the role the arts could play to have a positive impact on that change over the next 10 to 15 years. The full book of essays can be purchased in Americans for the Arts online store.
This essay looks at how transformations in the definition of “community” are changing how and where communities find strength and cohesion, as well as the role that the arts may play in positively impacting those changes over the 10–15 years. In particular, this essay proposes the following trends and associated arts interventions:
- As the United States continues to diversify, people will continue to grapple with how to strengthen their geographically based communities while also maintaining and strengthening connections to their identity-based communities. The arts will continue a long tradition of providing ways for individuals to express the nuance and complexity of this identity.
- Recent and long-standing mistreatment and discrimination against non-dominant groups including African-American populations, women, and the LBGTQ community will continue to have damaging, dehumanizing impacts on how the members of those communities see themselves. The arts, in particular the writing arts, in conjunction with social media and other amplification tools, will allow for an increased control of the narrative and a corresponding re-humanization of those community members who have felt dehumanized.
- As minority communities band together to ward off external threats and, simultaneously, seek to normalize the way other more dominant communities view them by employing a “politics of respectability,” silenced voices inside a community can fester. The arts can work to combat this forced assimilation within communities by revealing and celebrating intra-community difference and development new narratives of understanding.
Arts & Intersections: Community Cohesion