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Major Forum on Audience for the Arts

6 September 2010

(Courtesy The Post-Standard) A line snakes around the Everson Museum of Art as people wait to get a glimpse of the widely popular "Turner to Cezanne" exhibit. What makes some exhibitions in Syracuse a hit while others fall flat? What events grab your attention? Which ones fail to interest you, and why? These questions are crucial as Syracuse works to create a vibrant, sustainable arts and entertainment scene. Help explore these issues with your fellow citizens at the CNYSpeaks' Forum on the Arts, starting at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at the OnCenter.


4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, at the SU Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette St.: In conjunction with Imagining America, this forum will start with a talk by the Urban Institute’s Maria Rosario Jackson and will focus on urban design and programming that inspires creativity. Doors open at 4:30. Event starts promptly at 5. Free and open to all, with free parking in the Warehouse East Lot. Light refreshments. Walk ins welcome, but pre-registration appreciated. Contact Greg Munno at or 315.730.4621 or visit the Facebook event page.

1:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at the OnCenter Ballroom: This forum is a significant part of a major study on building audience for arts, culture and entertainment institutions in Syracuse and Onondaga County. Participants will work at small tables with fellow citizens to explore the impetus for — and barriers against — arts participation. Registration starts at 1:30. Forum starts promptly at 2. Free and open to all. Free parking in the open lot at State and Harrison Streets. Light refreshments. Call 315.435,2154, email or visiting the Facebook event page to pre-register. You may also contact Greg Munno with questions at or 315.730.4621.

CNYSpeaks and the Cultural Resources Council (CRC) are teaming up to host a public forum on behalf of the IDEAS Collaborative from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26th, in the OnCenter Ballroom.

The forum, which is free and open to all, is part of a groundbreaking study by the IDEAS Collaborative that is exploring:

* What motivates people to attend arts, cultural, heritage and entertainment activities;
* What prevents them from doing so; and,
* Strategies for overcoming those obstacles and increasing participation.

Advanced registration for the forum is appreciated. To register, call 315-435-2154, email or visit the Facebook event page. The event is free and open to all. Free parking is available in the open lot on the corner of State and Harrison Streets.

Led by national arts research consultant Surale Phillips, The IDEAS Collaborative (Initiative to Develop and Engage Audiences in Syracuse) is a cooperative venture that uses research and engagement strategies to increase participation, identify and grow sustainable audiences, develop targeted marketing strategies and uncover opportunities for cooperative activity and resource sharing. Her work in other parts of the country has strengthened arts and cultural institutions and their relationship with their communities, in turn leading to more robust local economies and a richer cultural fabric.

The Sept. 26th OnCenter event hosted by CNYSpeaks and the CRC, along with several smaller conversations hosted by the IDEAS Collaborative throughout September in Onondaga County, represent important parts of the study. The eight smaller conversations will take place at libraries and community centers from September 25 through September 29 — in the four quadrants of both the city and county. These are approximately 1.5 hours long, and reservations are not required. A list of these meetings is attached and can be found at

The OnCenter event will allow participants to simultaneously experience the energy of a large forum while ensuring that everyone gets a chance to participate in the conversation through the small-table work that is the hallmark of a CNYSpeaks event.

“By utilizing the CNYSpeaks corps of trained facilitators and its small-table deliberative process, the OnCenter event gives people a chance to really discuss the issues behind arts participation,” said Tina Nabatchi, CNYSpeaks co-director and assistant professor of Public Administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship. “Area residents represent the current, future and potential audience for arts organizations. As such, their perspective is crucial.”

Phillips said that a key to the OnCenter event is for people outside of the arts community to participate.

“It’s very important that people who are interested in creativity, the arts and entertainment come – even if they don’t consider themselves to be very active in the larger organizations and institutions. Since we are exploring barriers to participation, it is also crucial that people who do not currently patronize the arts — for whatever reason — come to this event,” Phillips said. “I want to personally invite those who may not feel that a forum on the arts is for them. We very much want to hear from you and highly value your participation.”

CRC Executive Director Steve Butler said that the type of collaboration needed for the IDEAS study has transformative potential.

“The results of this project will provide crucial information for the growth and vitality of our communities and will benefit all of its participants — the arts and culture groups, government, the foundations, academics, and the general public,” Butler said. “IDEAS is an excellent example of the kinds of collaborations that are needed to help sustain and enhance our local economy and quality of life — now more than ever. We look forward to the Forum and learning from what everyone has to share.”

The IDEAS Collaborative is made up of 43 local arts, culture and entertainment organizations, five local funders, and the community at large.

The Cultural Resources Council of Syracuse and Onondaga County works to enhance the arts and cultural environment of the region through support and service to individual artist, grass root arts & cultural groups and our established cultural institutions.

CNYSpeaks is a program of the Campbell Institute and the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration, both at the Maxwell School, and is directed by Nabatchi and Professor Grant Reeher, chair of the Campbell Institute.

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