What to Read?

Next spring, I will be teaching a short one-credit course for grad students “Readings in Arts Policy.”  The format is such that over the course of 7 ½ weeks we will read and discuss arts and cultural policy (in the U.S.) via some of the literature of the field.  My training in policy studies comes from the public administration tradition and my practical experience in the arts is in the trenches of the nonprofit theatre sector rather than as a policy actor.  Thus, I find myself pulled in several directions as I search for the center of this course; policy process, advocacy, economics, are but three of the possible foci. And so, I turn to you, dear readers, for suggestions.  Some of you are policy actors, some of your are artists, some of you are graduate students, some are faculty colleagues – most are probably some combination of two or more.  If you were to take or teach such a class, what would be on YOUR “must read” list.

I have some ideas, of course, but welcome you input. Please share your suggestions by posting a comment here. Thanks!

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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11 Responses to What to Read?

  1. Paul Bonin-Rodriguez says:

    Hi, Linda: Given that your students are also arts practitioners, consider selections from THE ARGUMENTATIVE TURN REVISITED: Public Policy as Communicative Practice (2012), in particular Fischer and Gottweis’s introduction, Mary Hawkesworth’s “From Policy Frames to Discursive Politics,” and Vivian Schmidt’s, “Discursive Institutionalism.” I found these to expand my thinking about how artists might read/think/express policy and contribute more actively to its making. Also, it’s out of print, but Peter Marris’s “Witnesses, Storytellers, and Engineers” (1997) also makes that leap from social sciences to storytelling. Finally, consider selections Grant Kester’s THE ONE AND THE MANY (2010); Kester is examining visual artists on an international scale whose works engage communities and contribute directly to policy. His intro also discusses how the traditionally modernist academic focus on deconstruction has worked against art makers considering what their works contribute to communities. Read alongside other placemaking arguments, it’s really insightful.

  2. Pingback: Reading List in Progress | Creative Infrastructure

  3. Margy Waller says:

    Anyone who wants to have an impact on policy should read the Topos Partnership research for ArtsWave on how to talk about the arts to build broad support. http://www.topospartnership.com/project/arts-and-community/

    Super fun bonus — some creative types turned the research into the world’s first game-sourced short film.


    (Full disclosure — this comment from the research manager at ArtsWave and Senior Fellow at Topos. 🙂

  4. Sounds like an interesting course, Linda — I wish I could take it! I wonder if the Animating Democracy initiative of Americans for the Arts would be pertinent to your discussion? There are a wealth of Case Studies (and other publications) available at their website: http://animatingdemocracy.org/publications/case-studies

    • lindaessig says:

      Thanks, Jonathan. I often use the Animating Democracy Social Impact Indicators when I discuss evaluation, but hadn’t thought about using the case studies themselves — good suggestion!

  5. Kato McNickle says:

    What Should I Do If Reverend Billy Is In My Store? might make for some interesting discussion in the class at some point.

  6. It’s old, but I made a syllabus for a course like this here: http://createquity.com/2009/06/public-policy-and-arts-syllabus-and.html

    Given the opportunity for an update, I might find a way to squeeze in Ann Markusen’s and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus’s “Creative Placemaking” white paper (and Gadwa Nicodemus’s “Creative Placemaking 2.0” article for this summer’s edition of the GIA Reader), Holly Sidford’s “Fusing Arts, Culture, and Social Change” report, and definitely “Gifts of the Muse.” And have them read Createquity, of course! 🙂

    • lindaessig says:

      Thanks, Ian. Given my interest in creative placemaking (which I know you share), these are already on my list! The tension I am feeling is between my own interests in the philosophies and economics of policy and what I believe to be the students’ interest in advocacy. Hopefully the class will give them some grounding across both, with views both historical and contemporary.

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