The Americans for the Arts Emerging Leader Network works to identify and cultivate the next generation of arts leaders in America. It is an ideal way for new leaders to share their interests with others as they continue to develop their skills and their commitment to the arts. The Emerging Leader Network targets professionals who are either new to the field, with up to five years of experience, or are 35 years of age or younger. Visit AmericansForTheArts.org for more information on the Emerging Leader Network.
In a few weeks, many of us will descend upon Washington, D.C. as part of Arts Advocacy Day.
The agenda is simple and powerful; first, everyone learns the talking points, the compelling arguments, and statistics, and then practices on legislators and/or their staff. We return home knowing we’ve made a positive impression upon those who make decisions that can have significant and long-lasting impact upon the arts in America.
For some of us, that’s it! That’s our contribution to the future of the arts. We return home and pick up our work where we left off, seeing little connection to our day-to-day activities, managing our budgets, developing programs, expanding audiences, and raising money.
Realistically, I suspect most of us would say that we think of our national effort and our local effort as mutually exclusive events with the consequence of each seeing little, if any, relevance to the other.
The fact is that “advocacy” in its broadest sense, is the same as branding. Through whatever efforts and means we select, the goals are the same—to cause others to hold views and find values that are in line with our views and values.
Arts Advocacy Day is only one point along a continuum of efforts that will culminate in moving others toward our view of the world, and the strategies recommended should serve as a blueprint for what we do locally. Read the rest of this entry »
I have always thought of symphony orchestras, or any large musical ensemble, to function somewhat like clockwork.
As a musician, one quickly realizes that the success of the symphony (e.g. high-quality performance, beautiful tone, expressive phrasing, etc.) is dependent on the sum of its parts. The performance of every individual must be sensitively adjusted to compliment the rest of the ensemble in order to produce one cohesive musical story.
The internal intricacies, typically unseen by its admirers, must be functioning properly and working together in order for the larger system to operate properly.
In the case of a clock, even the grandest, most impressive-looking ones may cease to operate with broken or damaged parts. Similarly, symphony orchestra management can be most effective when all of its departments are working well and moving forward together.
What if we, as nonprofit leaders in the arts, took a systemic approach to orchestra management?
Rather than focusing on issues separately and only when we are forced to deal with them, one might adopt the mindset of always doing what is best to maintain the overall health of the organization in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »
Art. The arts. Fine arts. Performing arts. Visual arts. The lively arts. Arts & entertainment. Arts & culture. Culture. High culture. Pop culture.
The preceding phrases are all, on a very macro basis, variations on a theme. However, were you in a research study, and I showed you each of them, one at a time, I daresay they would provoke very distinct associations, very clear delineations of what each encompasses in your mind. Those responses would also likely change depending upon the order in which I showed these to you.
I could also take any two and combine them in a Venn diagram and the overlapping segment would be quite clear. But incorporate a third or fourth and you might find one of these categories the odd man out.
Why do I bring this up?
Because as the “arts community” fights its valiant, essential, and never-ending battle to convince the public at large of the value of “the arts,” I cannot help but wonder whether those on the receiving end of such messaging each hear very different things when these words are presented to them.
I’m prompted to these thoughts by a variety of “real world” examples and experiences, some quite personal. I’m hoping that perhaps someone will want to test my assumptions.
Visit the websites of a few newspapers. The New York Times “Arts” section is a big tent, where theatre, dance, and opera fit in alongside movies, TV, books, and pop music; only on Fridays in the New York edition do they distinguish between performing arts and fine arts, by dividing them into two printed sections. Read the rest of this entry »
Rambling ten-page resumes. Headshots submitted for management positions. Cover letters written in one big, messy paragraph in the body of an email. And one resume that was somehow, inexplicably, saved as a series of stream-of-consciousness bullet points in an .RTF file.
I coordinate the internship program at Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group (CTG), one of the largest—and most prestigious—theatres in the country. These are just a few of the bizarre, sad, and shockingly common application faux pas I saw in our last application cycle.
Most undergraduates aren’t introduced to career options in arts administration within an academic context. An internship can provide an excellent introduction to the field. Many of the applicants I see are undergraduate theatre or acting majors, curious about career options in the discipline they love.
And many of them are woefully unequipped to apply for any job.
It’s tempting to fault schools for this lack of preparation. However, nearly every two-year and four-year college or university has a career center with free services. I’m also a big fan of personal responsibility.
So hey, arts major. Here are five tips for applying to internships or entry-level jobs in arts management. Read the rest of this entry »
As stated in the introductory remarks, “philanthropist, activist, and style maven” Kerry Washington is the first African-American woman to serve in a leading role on a network t.v. drama in more than 35 years; however, it’s her tireless advocacy work that garnered our respect and admiration.
An Americans for the Arts Artists Committee member, Washington has been a vocal supporter of the arts and arts education. She has testified before Congress, was presented with our 2009 Leadership in the Arts Award for Artist-Citizen, served as co-chair of Arts Advocacy Day in 2011, and even helped us sell cupcakes in partnership with Sprinkles. But, that’s not all. She has also worked closely with V-Day to prevent violence against women and girls in addition to several other causes.
As she stated while accepting the award, “I consider it an honor to be an advocate for the arts and to serve on President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities because just as we must ensure that ‘we the people’ includes all Americans regardless of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, we must also work to insure that the stories we tell, the movies we make, the television we produce, the theater we stage, the novels we publish…are inclusive in all those same ways.” Read the rest of this entry »
Musician John Legend said it best while accepting his award last month for Citizen Artist: “Being a mayor is one of the toughest jobs in the country, and one of the most important ones as well. Mayors understand how important the arts are to our cities.”
Last month, I had the honor of presenting awards to Mayors David Coss of Santa Fe and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, as well as Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, for their outstanding leadership in the advancement of the arts.
Each has demonstrated immense dedication to the development of arts programming, and their extraordinary leadership and commitment to cultural initiatives and advancement of the arts showcases the key role the arts play in spurring economic growth while simultaneously enhancing quality of life. These awards are in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), with whom I have had the honor of collaborating for more than 20 years.
While these leaders are among the hundreds, if not thousands, of mayors and scores of governors who understand the economic and emotional value the arts bring to their communities, there are still those elected officials out there who do not understand what a crucial role the arts play in defining and sustaining the health and wealth of local and state economies. As such, we at Americans for the Arts continually work to educate elected officials at all levels as to why the arts matter. Read the rest of this entry »
Networking. It’s a word that excites some, but if you’re anything like me, then it’s a word that ignites nervous butterflies. Throughout my young career I have heard countless times phrases like “It’s all about who you know” or “You should really be doing more networking.”
Last fall, I had the opportunity to attend the Thelonious Monk Competition at the Kennedy Center here in Washington, D.C. There were tons of people from the jazz community (both musicians and presenters). As a jazz trombonist and an aspiring jazz presenter it was amazing to be there.
After the competition and concert, I received a ticket to the an “exclusive” after party. The person who gave me the ticket said, “Now you should really go to this; there will be lots of important people there for you to meet.”
Immediately I heard networking and the butterflies started. “How do I meet ‘important people’ who I’ve never met before with no introduction? What do I say?”
I still do not really know the answer to my questions and I still get nervous in networking situations, but what I learned so far is to: Read the rest of this entry »
When I was asked—strike that—begged, to sit on our in-house committee to renovate our offices, it was explained that someone was needed to bring my department’s voice to the designing table. And knowing to play to my vanity, I was told, “Your artistic eye is sorely needed.” Yet even so, I reluctantly agreed. “Besides,” it was confidentially promised, “the weekly meetings would only last for about six months.” That was 19 months ago…
Once on the committee, I was assigned to the subcommittee affectionately called, “Look & Feel.” Then, while on this subcommittee, I was volunteered to a yet smaller sub-subcommittee called simply, “Artwork.” Including myself, this sub-subcommittee numbered one! So I in turn volunteered two others to help me out.
We were asked to, “Put some art on the walls…” The request was later improved upon: “Some original art work…Not too expensive.”
I knew enough to ask the obvious question, “What’s the budget?” The answer: “Present us with some figures.” Okay, I could do that.
In fact, I was surprised with how many artists and gallery owners I knew. Pieces started in the low hundreds and went into the six figures. I felt pleased my work was completed so early and speedily. Little would I realize that when I turned these figures over to the larger committee, you would hear crickets in the room. I was thanked for my efforts and invited to try again. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week we launched a new regular series on ARTSblog that spotlights the staff here at Americans for the Arts. While Kristen Engebretsen happened to give an excellent podcast interview, not everyone has those opportunities; but, it got me thinking about coming up with a fun/interesting way for you to learn about the people behind the organization.
And that brainstorming led me to “Ten Questions with…” in which I will ask everyone the same questions and see where it takes us.
Of course, I then realized I have to start with me since it will encourage the rest of the staff to share. With all that in mind, here is the debut of “Ten Questions with…” as I have interviewed myself:
1. Describe your role at Americans for the Arts in 10 words or less.
ARTSblog editor; writer; part communications/part web team member; internal reporter.
2. What do the arts mean to you?
As I often say, I used to have musical talent—until my voice changed. I also acted a bit in middle school, high school, and one brief appearance in college. But, I have to admit that in addition to being something I enjoy attending or wish I had more talent or courage enough to try, the arts were a refuge for me as a kid. While struggling with your identity during that critical time period everyone reacts differently. For me, I had the whole The Tears of a Clown thing going on—I seemed happy on the surface, but felt very isolated on the inside. The arts, in this case mostly music and television, made me feel less alone. That’s one of the big reasons why I feel passionate about the arts and arts education. Read the rest of this entry »
Imagine this scene: there is a band playing as you walk in. As the musicians wrap up their piece and take their seats, a large choir pops up, featuring top-notch a cappella performers. This performance segues into rousing solo performances from vocalists backed up by beautiful orchestrations. Great writers are celebrated. Poetry is recited. And the whole celebration is capped off with—what else?—dancing.
If you were in Washington D.C. last week, or anywhere near a television, you might recognize this event, not as an arts festival, a cabaret, or a musical, but as our Presidential Inauguration. It’s probably not the first thing most people noticed as they watched the pomp and circumstance of a centuries-old tradition play out, but it is certainly what struck me most: at our most essentially American moments, when we want to celebrate most fully and most impressively, we inevitably employ the arts.
What I saw was:
- The presentation of our National Colors through military music and choreography.
- The spectacular Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
- Myrlie Evers-Williams reciting the words to a great, moving spiritual at the center of her comments.
- The story of the Dome of the Capital—of architecture, art and fine craft—completed in the middle of the Civil War as an artistic symbol of our Union. And the story of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome—a piece of art cast, assembled and put in place by slaves in 1863.
- Musicians James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, and the Marine Band each singing our national treasures: the great patriotic songs of our country.
- Poet Richard Blanco reading “One Today”; references again and again to a movie, “Lincoln;” handcrafted crystal vases gifted to the president and vice president at lunch; the gifts given to all members of Congress, a portfolio of essays related to the Statue of Freedom—in the words of Nancy Pelosi: “Freedom stands on the Dome of the Capitol.”
- And so many more examples, from the arts and music performances in the parade and balls, to Speaker John Boehner’s story of a team of mother and daughter seamstresses who made the huge flag that hung over Ft. McHenry and inspired our national anthem. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s election season in the City of Los Angeles. Eleven candidates are vying for the mayoral seat and a whopping 40 are vying for eight city council seats. Because of these changes in representation, the political landscape in Los Angeles will shift significantly.
We—as artists, as creative entrepreneurs, as arts administrators, curators, audience members, parents, and students—have the opportunity to leverage our collective voice to help chose who will represent our values.
Although forbidden by IRS regulations to endorse specific candidates, nonprofits can initiate a public dialogue about the role arts and culture play in building healthy, vibrant, and prosperous communities. And, for the past seven years, Arts for LA has been doing just that.
Our nonpartisan candidate survey is a way for prospective leaders to map out their vision for our city. Just four questions—and the 100 word responses from each candidate—have provided a window into what those running for office in the City of Los Angeles would do to invest in creativity:
- What was a meaningful arts and cultural experience you had growing up?
- What do you believe the role the City should play in the development and support of the region’s cultural infrastructure?
- How would you champion modifications to, or expansion of the City’s current funding stream for local arts and culture?
- What three things would you do to deepen the City’s investment in its creative economy (cultural tourism, in-direct and direct jobs, nonprofit, and for profit)? Read the rest of this entry »
Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS) is an annual meeting for young professionals who work in the arts—organized, executed, and run by American University (Washington, DC) Arts Management students. It is an opportunity to discuss the issues, unique or universal, that affect all arts organizations.
One of the goals of the 6th Annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium is to address what is on the horizon for arts organizations and arts professionals.
With that in mind, we at EALS are very proud to announce that the opening plenary speaker for the event this year is Karen Brooks Hopkins!
Karen Brooks Hopkins is the president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), where she has worked since 1979. As President, Hopkins oversees the institution’s 179 full-time employees and facilities, including the 2100-seat BAM Howard Gilman Opera House and 874-seat BAM Harvey Theater, the four-theater BAM Rose Cinemas, the BAMcafé, and the BAM Fisher–opening in fall 2012.
Since taking over as president of BAM in 1999, Hopkins has led the organization with stunning competency, riding the waves of financial and philanthropic ups and downs. The annual attendance has exploded, the budget has over doubled, and the organization’s endowment has almost tripled to over $80 million. Read the rest of this entry »
There seems to be a major disconnect between how creativity is valued in society and the career advice we give our children. We all know that the arts are a valuable means of expression, a means to share stories across cultures and an uplifting and moving source of entertainment.
We revere our cultural icons, whether they are movie stars, literary authors or artists, but we seem to limit the possibility of careers in the arts to only a talented few.
How many of us arts professionals have heard from family and friends, “When are you going to get a real job?”
So, why do we put our cultural icons on a pedestal but undervalue arts education? I think one of the reasons is that as a society we are preoccupied with the idea that the arts are reserved only for those with talent. However, in the reality of today’s job market, we need to change this idea.
There is a significant gap between what children are told is important for their future career success and what business leaders actually want from the emerging workforce. Creative individuals are actually in demand. Not just for arts careers, but for careers in business as well.
For example, Disney and Apple are two of the most successful companies of our time, largely because of the creativity, innovation, and the leadership they have demonstrated in their respective industries.
In an era when businesses are constantly struggling to find creative ways to stay at the top of their market, arts education can be a powerful tool to nurture the creative abilities of our young people, ensuring they are ready for the skills that are in demand. Read the rest of this entry »
On the steps of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall earlier today, I joined Academy Award nominated actress Rosie Perez and New York City Councilman Robert Jackson for a rally to call attention to the fact that Time Warner Cable eliminated Ovation from their cable television line-up on December 31.
As a national organization representing more than 250,000 arts advocates and local and state arts agencies in every city and state across the country, we’re very concerned about this action since Ovation is currently the only dedicated arts channel in the United States.
The mission of Americans for the Arts is to increase the American public’s access to high-quality arts in our communities, schools, and homes. Ovation has been an incredible partner in helping us advance our mission thus far, but we also need Ovation to remain strong and accessible on the television airwaves. There’s nothing that will fill the void created by Time Warner Cable’s decision.
As your first week of 2013 gets closer to an end, Americans for the Arts wants to be sure to wish you a Happy New Year! Cue music, lights, photos!