Within arts mid-large scale arts organizations, departments of education have demonstrated that the arts and culture field have the organizational capacity, the structural models and the artists to impact students and learning environments around the nation.
The idea of the Civic Practice Lab is an exploration, in these same institutions, of departments of civic practice as an effort to re-conceive how engagement, audience development and artistic practice can function in relation to diverse constituencies who are and are not currently stakeholders in the institutions.
From June of 2013 through June 2016, the current pilot project’s home is at the Lookingglass Theater Company in Chicago, IL. Lookingglass, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, is working with CPCP and its Executive Director Michael Rohd. The Lab brings a Lookingglass affiliated artist—either an ensemble member or a teaching artist—into close co-design and practice with a non-arts community partner. Ideally, at the end of the three years, the Civic Practice Lab will have developed new arts-based community models, built organizational and individual capacity at Lookingglass, and can be looked at as a template for a small department within arts institutions.
Our hypothesis for this work is that placing the creative assets of theater artists and organizations in service to the needs of non-arts partners awakens appetite for the skills and creativity theater artists can bring to non-arts settings; builds healthier communities; offers significant opportunities for artists to invest in his/her community; and expands the pool of stakeholders who can clearly and passionately articulate the value the specific arts organization offers its region.