CSA&C Stories


The majority of our work is guided by one or more threshold questions that are framed in concert with the clients we partner with.


Here are some examples in the areas of  Training, Research & Evaluation, Planning, and Facilitation





Partner:  Intermedia Arts Minneapolis, MN - Creative Community Leadership Institute (CCLI)


Story: From 2001 to 2017 the Center was intimately involved in the design and delivery of Intermedia Arts’ nationally recognized Creative Community Leadership Institute (CCLI). This 6-month intensive cross-sector community arts training program had two major aims: 1. Significantly strengthen the standards, skills, and effectiveness of community arts practitioners and 2. Build a network of creative leaders whose work together demonstrably contributes to the development of healthy, capable equitable communities. Of the nearly 300 CCLI participants to date, over half have been professionals from non-arts community sectors such as; human services, education, community development, public safety, health, and the environmental movement. These diverse learning communities have, in turn, generated a proliferation of innovative arts-based community development partnerships throughout the Twin Cities, Fargo-Morehead, and Duluth-Superior regions













Partner: St. Louis Regional Arts Commission: The Community Arts Training Institute: (CAT)


Story: For the past 20 years the Center and RAC have worked together to establish the CAT Institute as one of country's leading community arts professional development programs. Through CAT we recognized an opportunity to create a curriculum that combined what we had been learning about best practices with local context and accountability. This meant that the Institute would need to be both ongoing and involve professionals from other community interest areas as full participants. The resulting five-month graduate level course has utilized a cross-sector faculty and a curriculum that is designed specifically with and for local communities and their citizens. Now in its twentieth year, our continuing work with CAT has produced a permanent cadre of over 350 arts, human service, and community development collaborators who are using the arts to help build healthy communities in the St. Louis area.













Partner: Pillsbury House +Theater - Facilitating Comprehensive Cultural Community Development


Story: Over the past eight years, The Center has worked with Pillsbury House in a variety of ways to develop a new model for nonprofit human service work that recognizes the power of the arts and culture to stimulate community participation, investment and ownership. This means that human and health services are becoming a primary gateway through which individuals access the arts, and the arts will be a catalyst that creates opportunities for healing personal advancement and community development. One aspect of this initiative was a Pillsbury Institute for learning and exchange among staff. The Center also helped with the creation of a comprehensive, creative community development program to strengthen and build “creative clusters” as a way to help fulfill community-building goals in the Powderhorn-Central neighborhood



Research & Evaluation













Partner: Grantmakers in the Arts Seattle WA - GIA Evaluation 2010-2012


Story: In 2010 Grantmakers in the Arts asked the Center for assistance with a two year-long organizational evaluation. The Center’s research focused on three principal areas of inquiry: The effectiveness of GIA’s programs and services, GIA’s role in a changing cultural landscape, and defining the organization’s future success, Completed in the summer of 2013, the evaluation provided GIA with feedback from over half of GIA’s membership and 20 national cultural leaders who shared their opinions and ideas about both the state of the arts philanthropy in North America and GIA’s performance in this context.

















Partner: Art in the Public Interest (API), Saxapahaw, NC  - Making Exact Change:


Story: In the summer of 2004 API and the Rockefeller Foundation felt it was time to take a deeper look at the ecology of effectiveness and sustainability for the arts-based community development field. There was a strong feeling that the field could not advance without a deeper investigation of the best practices and strategies used by those who have succeeded in these difficult and complex environments. API engaged the Center to do a broad scan of the field which led to an depth study of ten arts-based programs that have made a significant and sustained impact on their communities. The full report, Making Exact Change was published in 2005.











Partner: McKnight Foundation, MN  - What Artists Say


Story: In 2011, the McKnight Foundation asked the Center to help them in their efforts to learn more about the structure and dynamics of Minnesota’s artist ecosystem. As a part of this initiative, the Foundation and the Center jointly developed a six-question narrative survey designed to give artists an opportunity to reflect on the environment, conditions, and motivations that affect their work. The resulting report entitled What Artist's Say informed the development of the Foundation Arts Program’s new focus on supporting “working artists to create and contribute to vibrant communities.”  During the study’s first phase we also solicited résumés from 120 McKnight Artists Fellows to learn more about how their professional histories unfolded over time. The Foundation, working with data visualization consultants at Pitch Interactive created a beautiful and informative interactive website called Visualizing Artists' Careers that graphically explores these artists’ work lives. 











Partner: St. Louis Regional Arts Commission - Artists Count


Story: In 2012 CSA&C conducted a comprehensive artist census for the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission. The study, called Artist Count, documented the professional, economic and social networks of over 3000 artists living and working in the St. Louis region. of the significant growth of arts based cross-sector community development nitiatives in the St. Louis region. Note: This has been stimulated by an 18 -year investment in training and infrastructure support for community artists and their cross-sector partners. http://www.art-stl.com/artistscount/index.php/grants/












Partner: San Diego Community Foundation - The San Diego Gathering Place Project


Story: In the fall of 2013 CSA&C began a study of a one-year pilot program aimed at integrating citizen design/build strategies into community place making initiatives. In San Diego these projects involved hundreds of community members in the design and construction of two local gathering places (or pocket parks). One aspect of this project is mapping the structure and dynamics of the indigenous creative networks that have emerged from the design/build process.















Partner: The Kresge Foundation - Planning Assistance for the Kresge Foundation’s Art and Culture in Community Building Program


Story: In 2011, the Kresge Foundation responded to major shifts in America’s social, economic, and cultural landscape by establishing a new focus for its Arts and Culture Program.  The resulting strategic framework expanded the Foundation’s definition of cultural infrastructure significantly in three new areas: improving capitalization practices among arts organizations, improving artists business and community engagement skills, and strengthening the role of arts and culture in community building. Shortly thereafter, the Foundation  asked the Center assist with the planning and design of the community building aspects of the new program. The resulting report and recommendations helped to guide the development of what has become one of the country’s largest and most influential creative placemaking support programs.












Partner: Mississippi Arts Commission/ Communities in Schools Greenwood-Laflore - Core Arts


Story: CSA&C is proud to have been involved with the CoreArts program from its inception as it has grown to become a statewide force for arts-based youth development and healing. Over the past 18 years, as a planner, trainer, and evaluator we have witnessed the program bring the power of the creative process into the lives of young people struggling to make sense and meaning to their chaotic lives.  Our comprehensive evaluation, CoreArts 1999-2007, describes the program’s evolution from a Mississippi Arts Commission sponsored pilot program to a 25 site statewide initiative with 2500 participants. It also shows a direct and positive correlation between CoreArts participation and student behavior, school attendance, academic performance and graduation rates.














Partner: Greek Ministry of Education: The Melina Project


Story: In 2002 CSA&C was part of an international advisory group convened by the Greek Ministry of Education that supported the development of Greek teachers as creative leaders, in their classrooms as mentors in their communities as partners and resources for the long-term development of the community. The project also advanced the role of the arts as a way of teaching, as a way of working, as a way of solving problems and developing new ideas.









Partner: Amazon.com, Seattle, WA -  Up The River:


Story: From 2006 to 2008 CSA&C facilitated Amazon’s annual Up the River planning retreat. These three-day off site events were organized for 125-150 Amazon engineers and executives using Open Space Technology along with a particularly provocative framing question: What is your most dangerous idea for Amazon? Over the course of the three retreats, participants convened more than 120 discussion, planning and design sessions and published nearly 300 pages of session documentation. A number of Amazon’s most successful business strategies and product lines were incubated during these gatherings. 











Partner: Art for Humanity & Durban Institute of Technology - Durban South Africa - Dialogue Among Civilizations


Story: Mr. Cleveland was involved in the planning and facilitation of an international conference that produced a set of resolutions about the role of the arts in effecting social change, cultural development and equity in South Africa. In line with the hosting institution’s commitment to applied research, the conference papers also explored practical avenues to for generating credible evaluation of public art and art projects directed at advocacy. This dual approach was intended to bridge a crucial gap dividing scholars and practitioners in community-based arts.













Partner: Perpich Center for Arts Education - MN: The Minnesota Artist-Educator Institute: 


Story: From 1997 to 2001, the Center undertook the design and facilitation of the Minnesota Artist/Educator Institute. The Institute was an annual 5-day training and professional development retreat that used Open Space Technology to facilitate learning and leadership development institute for 100-150 professional artists, teachers, and educational administrators from across Minnesota. The Institute was sponsored by the Perpich Center and the Minnesota State Arts Board.


How can leaders in the arts and community development sectors work together to build caring, capable and sustainable communities?  


How can we create a permanent cross-sector community arts partnership network for the St. Louis Region? 

IHow can co-workers in the arts and human services join with community members to help build healthy and equitable neighborhoods?

How have the programs and services of Grantmakers in the Arts affected its constituent funders?

How have U.S. arts-based programs made a significant and sustained impact on their communities?

What do Minnesota’s artists need to thrive?

What are the structure, dynamics, and condition of the artist ecosystem in the St. Louis region?

How can we establish creative community design/build processes as a prominent placemaking strategy in the San Diego region?


What program funding strategies will advance the goals of the Kresge Foundation’s Art and Community Building Program?












How has Mississippi’s Core Arts program improved the lives of the state’s adjudicated youth?

How can local schools and teachers become leaders in the creative development of Greek communities?


What is your most dangerous idea for Amazon?

How can we build and sustain a network for sharing and learning for Minnesota’s arts education community?

How can artists contribute the successful growth of a new democracy? 





Grantmakers in the Arts

Supporting a Creative America

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