This research focuses on the prioritizing of community engagement in arts and culture policy and production, specifically within Vancouver’s independent theatre sector. It concerns itself equally with how artists and policy makers define community engagement, how it is operationalized in art making and what impact the policy is having on the funding, creation and consumption of art in the urban environment. Using document analysis, interviews with a senior executive at the British Columbia Arts Council and case studies of three Vancouver based independent theatre organizations, I identify operational gaps in how community engagement policy was implemented and administered, continued uncertainty in how community engagement is defined by artists, a resulting financial precarity for some, but not all, individuals and organizations operating in the sector and some of the ways community engagement has impacted aesthetic choices. This study hopes to add to our understanding of how policy and creative practice intersect.
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