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.
One of our great American leaders, Congressman John Lewis, has been celebrated in the news quite a bit recently. It is the 48th anniversary of the civil rights march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, AL. The march was led by a young John Lewis—his skull was fractured, and for that sacrifice an enormous gain for civil rights and for voting rights was realized.
Congressman John Lewis is also a great arts leader. For years he has personally led the fight for fair tax treatment of artists. Many times over the last several decades, he has brought his powerful story of how the arts and the Civil Rights Movement were invaluable allies to Americans for the Arts gatherings.
He has pointed out that the arts—from folk or gospel or classical music performed in jails or the streets or in concert halls, to the visual arts in portrayals of the struggle through posters and placards—were a key to motivation and hope as the Civil Rights Movement progressed. We all honored him last week as he, Vice President Joe Biden, and others reenacted that famous bridge crossing.
During the State of the Union Address, President Obama highlighted the civil rights of the broad face of America when he honored the battles and sacrifice at Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall. And during this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, First Lady Michelle Obama honored the transformative power of the arts and arts education for everyone when she said, “[The arts] are especially important for young people. Every day they engage in the arts, they learn to open their imaginations and dream just a little bigger and to strive everyday to reach those dreams.” Read the rest of this entry »
Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC is less than a month away and with the recent sequester cuts and still-looming budget battle to come, it is vitally important that members of Congress hear how important the arts are to you and your community in person.
Even the staunchest supporters of a tight fiscal policy believe in the value of arts education. In this new video, Senior Director of Federal Affairs and Arts Education Narric Rome provides a quick snapshot of the importance of federal arts education advocacy:
Arts Advocacy Day will take place April 8—9 at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park and the Cannon House Office Building on Capital Hill.
In addition, the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy will be an inspiring speech and performance by Grammy Award®-winning musician Yo-Yo Ma at The Kennedy Center at 6:30 p.m. on April 8. Tickets are included for Arts Advocacy Day participants and are still available to the public.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to add your voice to the chorus of those asking Congress to support the arts and arts education!
The expansion of marketplaces from local to global is rapid. As technology continues to evolve and the world ‘shrinks’, cross-cultural exchange and appreciation are vital to the success of an individual in any field. It is especially significant in the field of the arts, where so often culture finds its voice.
In a field where planning is already a difficult task, it is significant to discuss this expansion of perspective. The international aspects of audience, cooperation, cultural differences, and philanthropy add an extra piece or pieces to the organizational puzzle. This new challenge has not gone unnoticed by the arts management community.
Here at American University, a new Certificate in International Arts Management has been recently unveiled. Nearby, the Kennedy Center has been working with and training international arts managers since 2008.
Programs across the country are beginning take notice, and if entire degrees aren’t dedicated to the topic, many classes will be. While this field is as young as the technology that is accelerating its development, there is little doubt that it will soon be an integral part of any arts management training. Read the rest of this entry »
Regardless of the organizations mission, values, programs, etc., what is the ONE common factor that is needed to execute an organization’s purpose?
As much as we dislike connecting our important work to the dollar, the simple fact is that without it, we cannot pay our staffs, purchase materials, and pay the electric bills…and thus provide our services.
So there we have it, we must have funds to fulfill our missions. However, unless you are the lucky few, earned income doesn’t even come close to covering your budget. So to take the statement even further; we must have CONTRIBUTED funds to fulfill our missions.
Now with the sequestration set to go into effect, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) budget will be cut by 5%, or $7.3 million, and grants will decrease. (But let’s be honest, NEA funds have really just become a stamp of approval…and important stamp, that is…rather than actual difference-making funds).
Foundations are changing the focus of how and what they fund. And corporate philanthropy, while rebounding, will not cover the balance. So, lets take that earlier statement even deeper. We must have INDIVIDUAL contributed funds to fulfill our missions.
This can be a problem, though, because this all important aspect of nonprofit management is most likely the most uncomfortable aspect of nonprofit management. It is just human nature to avoid asking for money, even from people you know. Read the rest of this entry »
Every organization needs a brand—it’s your core identity—the nucleus of the cell. Everything revolves and functions around it. But there’s more to it than just a design-savvy logo, and as arts marketers, we need to keep this in mind when thinking about branding.
In the National Arts Marketing Project’s most recent e-book, Turn Branding OOPS into Branding WHOOP WHOOPS, we look to the different aspects that make up a brand; focusing on ones that are have been successful with their branding efforts and others, well, that have lacked the “whoop whoop” factor when trying to reach the top.
Although we may think that we have what it takes when it comes to knowing our arts patrons, when it comes to brand management there are some key pitfalls that if overlooked can be harmful or even detrimental in the long run.
So how does one know what is behind that well-designed logo? Or, when undergoing a major re-branding effort or even starting from scratch, how can we ensure that we are taking the right steps to success?
Here are 6 points to make sure your brand doesn’t fall into the OOPS category:
1) Switching Gears. Re-branding can make for a sticky situation. Why? Because when you’re making a major change to something that your long-time fans care about, your consumers are quick to notice (especially in the digital age). Make sure to have a strategy that stays true to not only your brand, but your audience as well. Read the rest of this entry »
We recently launched a new series on ARTSblog that spotlights the staff at Americans for the Arts that I call “Ten Questions with…”, in which I will ask everyone the same questions and see where it takes us.
1. Describe your role at Americans for the Arts in 10 words or less.
Writing; editing; calendaring; herding; travel booking; prepping; printing; note taking; pinch hitting
2. What do the arts mean to you?
There has been no time when I wasn’t involved in the arts. There are pictures of me before I can remember next to and posing as Degas sculptures.
I was in my first play at seven, playing a dwarf in The Hobbit, and was in no fewer than six shows per year up until college. This includes Barnum, which led me to my great secret talent: balloon animals. Yes, I still make them. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »