Arts and Civic Engagement at the 100th Arizona Town Hall
The following post is by Michelle Mac Lennan, Assistant Manager of the Chandler Center for the Artsin Chandler, AZ. She joined the Chandler Center for the Arts in 1999 as the Patron Services Coordinator, she was promoted to Programming & Event Director and to the Assistant Manager in 2005. She serves as the Vice-President of the Chandler Cultural Foundation. In addition to her duties at the center, Mrs. Mac Lennan serves as President for the Arizona Presenters Alliance and chair of the Programming & Cultural Participation committee for the the Holocaust Education Museum currently being built in Chandler, Arizona
I participated in the 100th Arizona Town Hall in April. This was my first time attending and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Arizona Town Hall, it brings together a wide cross-section of approximately 150 prominent Arizona citizens to consider and discuss a topic of major concern to Arizona’s future. The topic for the 100th town hall was Civic Engagement. Civic Engagement describes how an active citizen participates in the life of a community in order to improve conditions for others or to help shape the community’s future.
While I planned on being a voice of advocacy for the Arts, since that is my area of interest, I ended up discovering that the arts were simply my first access to civic engagement. It was the theatre program and Masque & Gavel club I participated in at Central High School where I first discovered how I could make a difference. Finally, a place where I felt like I belonged! I have a made a life long career in the Arts because of that initial experience. While I thought the Arts were everything to me I have discovered that Civic Engagement was the larger piece and the Arts were the access.
Throughout the discussion in Town Hall it was clear that the Arts have consistently created opportunities for citizens to engage and contribute.
The arts serve as a model for civic engagement. I encourage anyone who is interested in Arizona’s future to participate in the Arizona Town Hall.
For more information and the final report on Civic Engagement please visit: http://www.aztownhall.org/