Whose Engagement?
Audiences and Publics in Cultural Policy and Management

Guest Editor: Miriam Paeslack, Associate Professor of Arts Management, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Submission Deadline: 1 September 2023

The term “engagement” is deeply embedded into the contemporary language of arts management, philanthropy, education, and cultural policy. However, its actual meaning is contested and shifts and blurs when applied in different cultural, institutional, and political contexts. For this reason, this special issue sets out to scrutinize engagement from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives, in practice and theory. The endeavor is particularly timely as cultural workers need to rethink our understanding of engagement in the arts and institutional context as the pandemic has shaken community relations around the globe; as virtual technologies and artificial intelligence proliferate many aspects of society; and as the call for action against historically rooted systemic racial injustices in the United States and beyond is urging institutions to rethink their understanding of equity and inclusion.
Upon this backdrop, this special issue invites conceptual articles, essays, case studies, and meeting and conference reports that interrogate the complexities and multi-layered nature of engagement in arts management and policy. It asks where the notion of engagement and the meaning of the term originate; how communities, countries, disciplines, and institutions define, apply, and interpret it; and who actually determines its depth, validity and impact. Does engagement, practiced in various environments and contexts “engage” in the original sense of the term (a pledge; bound by promise or oath; something involving commitment); or is it a mere transactional, performative term? How does engagement relate to and distinguish itself from other, sometimes controversially discussed concepts in arts management, such as “participation” or “interaction”? How does engagement with “high” culture vs. “popular” culture make us rethink assumptions about the term? How does art and cultural funding of private foundations, corporations, and the state respectively shape and potentially distort the definition of the notion of engagement? Does the institutionalization and formalization of culture and art always constrict engagement? What are the potentials for acts and processes of engagement in cultural and institutional environments (structural, programmatic, spatial, etc.) as they increasingly promote and favor flattened hierarchies, pluriversal perspectives, and radical-democratic principles?
By asking questions about both the ontology, epistemology, and praxis of engagement, we hope to sensitize cultural managers to the urgent need to reflect critically on the language they use and to do the legwork of actual engagement: listen, question one’s own perspective, and dedicate time to and envision long-term relationships

Submission Deadline: 1 September 2023

Please see the Submission Guidelines

Submit to submissions(at)jcmcp(dot)org

Current Calls for Papers