Established in 1994, Bloomington, Indiana’s Lotus World Music and Arts Festival celebrated its twentieth season in 2013. Its longevity—and that of its parent nonprofit, the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation—is the result of diverse elements, including strong relationships with an array of community partners resulting in high-quality multicultural arts programming for a wide audience.
“Community engagement”: the phrase itself signals nonprofits’ potential as community builders. The fact is that Lotus, like other small nonprofits, arts or otherwise, must continually establish and sustain relationships in its community in order to thrive and remain relevant while delivering effective and economical programming. Connecting with partners whose missions, priorities, and organizational calendars mesh with Lotus has been central to the growth and sustainability of the organization and its networks of engagement.
The two pieces in this double issue explore ways in which relationships enable community engagement across two thematic areas: fit with community partners and fostering robust volunteers. Across the two pieces, the authors underscore interconnections between organization mission, values, and relationships by exploring how these attributes manifest in the dynamic environment of the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival.
John Fenn, Assistant Professor, Arts and Administration, University of Oregon
Top Photo: Lotus Festival 2013 by Daniel Axler