Documenting Civic Engagement

In 2009, the Tucson Pima Arts Council and Mark Stern and Susan Seifert of the University of Pennsylvania agreed to collaborate in an effort to document TPAC’s impact on civic engagement in Tucson and Pima County. The project grew out of the Americans for the Arts’ Animating Democracy initiative in which both TPAC and the Penn researchers participated.

The goal of the project was to develop a plan through which TPAC could develop a system for collectin and analyzing data on civic engagement. Toward this end, Roberto Bedoya, TPAC executive director, and Leia Maahs, TPAC grants manager, had a series of phone conversations with Stern and Seifert between November 2008 and April 2009 about the scope and strategy for the project. In May 2009, Stern traveled to Tucson for a three-day site visit. The Penn team then developed the strategy and implementation plan included in the final plan.

The report begins with a review of policy context in which the project was undertaken, including the findings of the Pima Cultural Plan. This is followed by a discussion of the proposed strategy and specific recommendations for documenting civic engagement. Specifically, there are five recommendations:

  1. Improve organizational data gathering
  2. Tell stories
  3. Document artists and the informal cultural sector
  4. Identify institutional networks
  5. Use geographic information systems to integrate data for analysis
The third section of the report takes into account the fiscal and social realities and outlines an implementation plan that would allow for staging these elements depending on the resources available. View the final report from June 2009: TPAC Social Impact of the Arts Project

Finding Voice students, Christian Ledezma (left) shares his digital photo with Abdikadir Omar during a photography workshop at Catalina Magnet HS. Photo by Josh Schacter.