Arts Participation and Community Engagement

Arts and cultural participation is a key part of community life and vital element of community building.

By recognizing the full range of ways in which people actually participate in artistic expression — as creators, educators, consumers, and advocates — we can better understand how big a part the arts actually plays in our lives and in our community.

An example of community building occurred recently when the OuterEdge Stage hosted a new and innovative arts event — the first of its kind in the Fox Cities. The Artery Urban Market took over the venue with a wide variety of local artists, a DJ, food and brunch cocktails. Patrons mingled with the artists, listened to good music, shared in some tasty treats and many left as proud new owners of some fine art.

The Artery Urban Market is the brainchild of Adrienne Palm, director of leadership at the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, and Pulse, the young professional’s network.

Recognizing a trend in alternative market space emerging in Milwaukee, Palm realized there was an opportunity to fill a need in the Fox Cities. She began networking with local artists, designers and crafters to gauge their interest in this type of event. Their enthusiasm was tremendous. There was definitely a need and Palm was ready to launch the area’s first urban arts market.

Nearly 600 people attended this inaugural event, many more than Palm had anticipated. Beyond those who showed up, the community involvement and the connectedness is what really thrilled Palm.

“This was a community collaboration,” she said. “It was different people, from different backgrounds, coming together to create something beautiful. They supported each other, helping to create something new and exciting.”

At the heart of this endeavor lies cooperation between the arts, business and the community. This event would not have been realized without the sponsorships provided by the City of Appleton, Outagamie County Regional Airport and Appleton Downtown Inc. The participation of Rye Restaurant, SAP Brunch, Brown Bag & Bakery and Seth’s Coffee & Bake Shop was also important. An event like this would not be possible without the many volunteers who helped with the heavy lifting. Rounding out this group effort were the artists who showed their art, and family, friends and neighbors who attended the event.

This particular event highlights the various ways in which people engage in arts and cultural activities and goes to improving our understanding of community dynamics — specifically, how nonprofit and commercial organizations, individual artists, volunteer involvement and charitable giving can be involved in support of the arts, creative expression and arts education.

The Artery Urban Market is already planning its next event and Palm is looking forward to new collaborations and partnerships.

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