On art.blogging.la there is a text about how to make art more accessible to the general public. I specifically like the great discussion below the post.
One issue is being sort of left out - and it shouldn't. The psychology of the art world. I think it could go as far back as the impressionists (so, the beginning of what some call "modernism"). It goes something along these lines: the artists create works that the general public refuses to accept. Since other artists create similar works, they encourage each other. What is being created is a "Us vs. Them" situation. We know the truth, we see it, and they are too short-sighted to understand it. This attitude translates to an even stronger rejection, and then a total ignoring, on the part of the public. As for the people supposed to make the connection between the art and the public - the critics, the owners, museums, they opt for one side. They either stick with the artists and justify them (some more, some less), or they agree with the non-specialized public, and move closer to "entertainment". In the latter case, they refuse to accept the "new", radical art, and demand "accessible" art. There is only scarce dialogue between the two camps: as ever so often, the negotiators are seen as traitors. And we're left with an art world where it's extremely difficult to justify a work of art in front of both milieus. It seems as if all the "elite" are afraid to be considered as traitors, entertainers, low artists. That's why a simple gesture like Banksy's can be seen with so much sympathy - it challenges this division. It says: look, I'm also an artist. Remember the Little People. Smile. Say a joke. Play with me. Stop being so goddamn high-fetched and isolated. Or you'll bore us all to death.
PS: How to engage the general public? How about: think about them. Don't think you're oh-so-good you only need to think about your work, your art, your idea. Make at least one work your parents would like. (Or your children. Or anyone that couldn't possibly make it.)