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What To Expect At TACA Perforum: Meeting Community Needs In The Arts 17

The annual TACA Perforum tackles an important topic in the arts community. Once again, Art&Seek is partnering with TACA to livestream the discussion. We’ll also post insights from the panelists in the days leading up to the event. First up, SMU Professor and Director of the National Center for Arts Research Zannie Voss. She’ll lead the discussion on Oct. 29, and here, explains what the Perforum is, and what this year’s panelists will talk about. 

Every fall since 2009, TACA has hosted “TACA Perforum: A Conversation to Advance Arts & Culture.” Perforum is an annual, community-wide arts symposium designed to advance a collective vision for what a thriving arts and cultural community can look like for Dallas and North Texas. Through a conversation facilitated by expert panelists and roundtable discussions, we seek an infusion of ideas to consider debate, explore, and possibly adapt and develop for implementation locally.

TACA Perforum has also served as a forum to both identify and address needs in the North Texas arts community. The New Works Fund (2012), the TRG Arts Community Network: North Texas (2013), the Artist Residency Fund (2015) and the TACA Perforum: Amplifier Workshops (2015) are programs that have been launched by TACA to meet needs identified through Perforum.

TACA Perforum: Meeting Community Needs is Monday Oct. 29. You can watch a livestream of the discussion here at Art&Seek starting at 9:30 a.m.

The 2017 Perforum was an invigorating discussion about cross-sector collaboration between arts organizations and the broader arts ecology.  Attendees brought to the forefront many important issues in response to the discussion, but the two, related topics that stood out for the Perforum Committee were a desire to explore how arts organizations can increase their relevance to more people in their communities and how we can better understand cultural consumption.

Zannie Voss. Photo: TACA

We’ve titled this year’s Perforum Meeting Community Needs.  Across the country, arts organizations are actively seeking to broaden their relevance, appeal and reflection of America’s changing demographics.  As the population continues to shift around us and we seek out ways to become and stay engaged in our community, it begs the question, “How are we meeting the needs of our community?”

This year’s TACA Perforum will explore this question and the idea that when we better understand and take into account the attitudes, behaviors and needs of those in our community, we do a better job with the content and delivery of our programs. In doing so, we create offerings that better meet people’s needs and interests and increase our relevance in the community.  It’s a simple and practical idea that resonates when we think of our own lives as consumers.  We all have needs and preferences, and when an offering doesn’t meet them we go elsewhere.  Meeting needs combines a concerted effort to listen with a willingness to change what we do in ways big and small in response to what we hear.  It doesn’t mean changing the organization’s mission, but it does mean an openness to rethinking how mission can be delivered so that it resonates even more with those whom we seek to serve.

There are already great examples across Dallas of organizations that are deeply responsive to their community’s needs.  The intent of the panel is to spur even more ideas for future initiatives that fuel success and relevance of the arts in North Texas.  We will spend time together on a Monday morning hearing about approaches taken in other cities to go the extra mile in meeting community needs, contemplating why they are important, considering which models work best, and taking it from there.

We have invited four individuals with varying vantage points to share with us their experience.

  • Carlos Contreras, Poet and Director of Marketing and Innovation for the City of Albuquerque. Contreras is a published author, and National Champion performance poet, working to create space for artists in Albuquerque, in ways that don’t exist.
  • Jon Hinojosa, Artistic/Executive Director of SAY Sí, a national award winning, creative youth development program for urban students. Jon is a trustee with the National Guild for Community Arts Education and a speaker on the value, tangible evidence, and transformative power of the arts on urban youth.
  • Elizabeth Merritt, Vice President of Strategic Foresight & Founding Director of the Center for the Future of Museums at American Alliance of Museums. She writes and speaks prolifically on the trends shaping the future of nonprofit organizations.
  • Ken Tabachnick, Executive Director at Merce Cunningham Trust and a Clyde Fitch Report contributor, whose writings on his Periodic Arts blog focus on changes in arts participation.  He is an arts manager, educator, reformed intellectual property attorney and intermittently practicing artist.

Arts organizations’ can strengthen their ties and relevance by understanding and responding to the needs of their community.  This year’s Perforum is intended to open the door to a wider conversation.  I hope you’ll join us and take part in the discussion.