Perspectives on the concept, craft and currency of community engagement

Forward-thinking performing arts organisations are embracing community engagement in new and expansive ways.
Cessalee Stovall delivers a Stage A Change workshop at Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Photo: Amylia Harris. Stovall stands on the right hand side, speaking to a group of people who are sitting around tables. She is a woman with black curly hair tied up in a bun, brown skin, wearing a pink cardigan.

While the concept of community engagement is hardly new, forward-thinking performing arts organisations are embracing and formalising the concept in new and expansive ways.

Increasingly, public breakdowns in trust and communication between artists and arts organisations are illustrating the importance of creating a workplace culture that is genuinely inclusive, safe and communicative. In an industry where development and ticket sales are predicated on connection, reputation and community, internal and external community engagement should be recognised as business critical work – and treated as such. The cost of hiring a community engagement consultant on a production or development, and setting them up to succeed with adequate time, access and remuneration, is not a dispensable budget line.

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Madeleine is an arts manager and independent producer with a background in law and policy. She has worked on major commercial musicals and is the co-founder of LGBTQIA+ theatre company Fruit Box Theatre in Eora, Sydney. Madeleine has previously written for Reuters, the International Press Institute and the European Journalism Centre.