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Lackawanna County Arts & Culture roundtable series produces Art for Community Progress report

Lackawanna County Arts & Culture roundtable series produces Art for Community Progress report
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From a press release:

Today, the Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Department and the Scranton Area Community Foundation jointly released Art for Community Progress, a report generated from a series of Art for Social Change roundtables sponsored by the two organizations and conducted in mid/late 2016 in Scranton.

The report provides a series of recommendations that arose from the conversations of over 150 individuals, representing a variety of organizations. The goal of the series was to share ideas, discuss challenges, and offer resources to improve the local community.

The four forums focused on the impact the arts have on various sectors of the community and explored opportunities for utilizing the arts to continue to enhance the quality of life in Lackawanna County.

For both Lackawanna County and the Scranton Area Community Foundation, collaboration among organizations, service providers, and funders is critical to initiating change and fostering progress. The roundtables focused on arts and the economy, health and wellness, the environment, and transportation. The programs offered the opportunity for quality dialogue between people and organizations who would not normally have an opportunity to interact.

The participants had the opportunity to brainstorm ideas and share their knowledge and insights. Participation at each roundtables varied between 25-45 people, representing different sectors of the community. Electric City Television videotaped the sessions and aired them on Comcast Channel 19.

The initial session, entitled Art for Social Change: Focus on Health & Wellness, was held on June 21, 2016 and looked at how art and cultural activities could be interjected to help various challenges facing children, youth, veterans, families, and other societal sectors.

The second roundtable, Art for Social Change: A Focus on the Economy, took place on July 21, 2016 and examined how the arts can play a key role in the process of economic revitalization.

The third forum on Aug. 18, 2016 was Art for Social Change: Focus on the Environment, which focused on environmental challenges in the region and opportunities for art to offer creative solutions.

Art for Social Change: Focus on Transportation was the final forum held on Nov. 4, 2016. The transportation challenges raised at all of the sessions were discussed more in-depth during this workshop.

Though many ideas were discussed, five key areas of focus emerged, which could have measurable impact on Lackawanna County’s future. They were:

1. the creation of an arts and culture asset map

2. the establishment of a community ambassadors program

3. the development of a cross sector collaborative to design a large-scale community project

4. the implementation of a comprehensive multi-sector advisory Council focused on equitable transportation strategies

5. the design of leadership and capacity building programs for the arts and culture community

Some actions have already taken place towards addressing some of these goals. The Scranton Area Community Foundation, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, has implemented an Equitable Transportation Council comprised of over 80 regional participants with the goal of making transportation more accessible.

In addition, Lackawanna County has formed an ARTS Engage! Task Force aiming to expand arts and culture programming in county services and to develop a large-scale community project. This group is also looking at working on creating an inventory of arts and culture opportunities and better ways to market events.

Both Lackawanna County and the Scranton Area Community Foundation have had preliminary discussions on creating a Leadership in the Arts seminar to help cultivate leadership within arts and culture groups and to provide guidelines for sustaining their organizations, developing collaboration skills, and enhancing financial and fundraising skills.

The full Art for Community Progress report can be downloaded for free here. For further information, contact the Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Department at 570-963-6590, ext. 102, or e-mail arts-culture@lackawannacounty.org.