Optimism with a realistic view of the work ahead
After the recent Arts and Culture Summit, we surveyed participants to learn a bit about what people think may be the path forward. The Summit’s theme was arts infrastructure north of the Columbia, with a focus on downtown Vancouver in particular because of its potential as a catalyst for investment that could have ripple effects across Clark County and southwest Washington.
With 130 people in attendance, we had 44 survey responses, a 34% response rate which is within the expected range for an audience already engaged with the topic. Overall people were very positive about their experience at the summit, giving it an average score of 4.3 out of 5. People on the whole seemed to enjoy the event. The panelists, speakers and the substance being addressed was connected and resonated with the crowd.
Here are a few notable quotes:
To be able to speak with other artists and art supporters in my community was invaluable for me. It left me with a feeling of communal energy for change and growth in my community.
— Nicole Schmidt
Uplifting, connecting, dreaming, creating. A good day.
— Amberlynn Lane
So inspired. Great ideas. Hope.
— Stacey Graham
Our small sample of 44, we think, represents a fairly good cross section of the people who are actively thinking about the future of arts and culture in our community. The active arts community in Vancouver and Clark County, does tend to skew older, female and Caucasian.
We believe this is changing and should change. Also, we know our community has a much more diverse population of both audiences and artists/performers than reflected by attendees at the summit. Younger people and people of color may not necessarily engage with older-model arts organizations. Recognition of this issue at the summit led one of the several breakout groups to focus solely on how we can encourage greater diversity and inclusion in the arts.
Our survey sample ranked the various topics discussed by the panelists, revealing both how they would prioritize arts infrastructure needs and what they might consider low-hanging fruit. These thoughts are reflected in the bar chart below and in the profuse comments submitted in the survey. Below are a few selected responses.
What do you see as the most immediate opportunity for the development of arts infrastructure in Southwest Washington and Vancouver?
Developing and supporting a strategic framework for the City of Vancouver, through the work of BDS. Once that plan/report is written the community must step up to understand it, embrace it, and put it to use.
— Kris Tucker