Community and Civic Engagement through the Arts

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  • Title: Community and Civic Engagement through the Arts
  • Author(s): Kevin Marshall
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review
  • Keywords: Community Engagement, Civic Engagement, Literacy Projects, Mental Health Issues, Environmental Concerns, Visual Arts Practices, Performing Arts Practices
  • Volume: 5
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2010
  • ISSN: 1833-1866 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2473-5809 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Marshall, Kevin. 2010. "Community and Civic Engagement through the Arts." The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review 5 (4): 165-172. doi:10.18848/1833-1866/CGP/v05i04/35871.
  • Extent: 8 pages


This paper focuses on three separate programs that engage the community in both civic projects as well as performing or visual arts events. One City-One Story is a program that uses books and dramatic presentations of the books to increase local community literacy efforts. During the past eight years the following books and plays were presented by the Hippodrome State Theatre: The Diary of Anne Frank, Romeo and Juliet, Nickel and Dimed, The War of the Worlds, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, The Chosen, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Libraries, schools and bookstores worked throughout the community to reach readers of all ages to read the books then attend performances of what they had just read to increase levels of community literacy. Another project we are planning is to present the Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next to Normal which tells, through dialogue and song, the struggles of a woman dealing with bi-polar disorder and the effects that this has on the family around her. We will combine this with a production of a new dance work by a guest artist that addresses and responds to shared and individual experiences with mental disorder, addiction,and the ensuing side effects and complications of those conditions. Organizations such as Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Gainesville Police Department, University of Florida Police Department,the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Shands at Vista, Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and Mental Health Courts Programs will be asked to take part in this endeavor. And finally, another exciting project in our community is the Superfund Art Project [SAP] which envisions citizens and government engaged with our arts community in healing and transforming the Koppers Superfund Site. The mission of this project is to use all forms of art to express the science and emotions associated with living next to a toxic Superfund site. Through exhibits and performances we will include, educate, and engage the broadest possible community in the healing process, the redevelopment and reclamation of the land and the permanent remembrance of the Koppers Superfund toxic waste site. A visual art exhibition and the use of improvisational theatre techniques will be used to encourage community engagement during this on going project to revitalize this important place in our community. Kevin Marshall, Director of the University of Florida’s Center for the Arts and Public Policy, the oldest such center in the United States is the author.