Handbook for Artists Working in Community

We developed this handbook for artists anywhere on the journey – whether you are just beginning to think about extending your artistic practice to working with community, or whether you’ve been immersed in community and want to deepen your practice. You might be an artist who draws inspiration from a group of people and transforms that inspiration into a performance, a mural, or a meal. You might be an artist who co-creates and co-organizes with your community to address an injustice or an opportunity. Your work may look like what most people think of as “art” or your work may look very different. Your work may look like conversations, food, or taking a hike. You might work within your “own” communities, or you might be a guest in another community. Or you might just be starting to think about how your creative practice could impact the people and places you love.

Whatever form your creativity takes, whatever communities you find yourself working with and in, there are practices that can make your work more successful and satisfying – for you and the people you work with. This handbook is a compilation of insights, practices, and tools from our collective experiences as artists, as an organization working with hundreds of artists in communities, and from a few of the artist practitioners whom we admire.

This handbook is a practical manual for individual artists who would like to begin or deepen this kind of artistic practice – work in and work with community. The stories, tools, and wisdom shared here were gathered from creative practitioners who regularly do this work: Springboard staff Jun-Li Wang, Michele Anderson, and Peter Haakon Thompson, with artists and creative practitioners deeply rooted in community.

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