Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Creating Dangerously: My Week at VONA

Posted by Eric Nguyen On July - 9 - 2014
Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

On June 22nd I visited Berkeley to attend the Voices of Our Nation Arts (VONA) Writers’ Workshop. This workshop is a week-long conference for writers of color with workshops led by award-winning writers in a variety of genres, including fiction writer M. Evelina Galang, poet Patricia Smith, memorist Andrew X. Pham, and novelist Junot Diaz, among many others.

The organization was founded in 1999 by Junot Díaz, Elmaz Abinader, Victor Díaz, and Diem Jones. Each envisioned an arts organization that could change the landscape for writers of color by supporting individual writer growth, creating a platform for community engagement, and providing a workshop and mentor focus to expand writing opportunities. Fifteen years after its founding, it has become one of the most esteemed writers’ conferences in the US. Read the rest of this entry »

Honored to Serve as a SAA Commissioner

Posted by Jay Dick On July - 1 - 2014
Jay Dick

Jay Dick

Over the past 10 years as a staff member of Americans for the Arts, I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about how we as a nation support the arts and culture. I have the opportunity to work with hundreds of talented and innovative individuals across the nation. I have also learned a great deal from serving on two local boards, the Arts Council of Fairfax County and Arts for LA. Now, I have a new opportunity to help advance the arts in America.  Starting July 1st, I will begin a five year term as a Commissioner for the Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA). I am very grateful to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for presenting me with this opportunity.   Read the rest of this entry »

My Experience at Annual Convention and Resulting To-Do List!

Posted by Ella van Wyk On June - 27 - 2014
Ella Van Wyk

Ella Van Wyk

“There’s nowhere to go but on!” – Feist

Let this blog begin with my gratitude for the amazing experience I have had over these last few days. Receiving the Arthur Greenberg Memorial Scholarship Award is an event that has truly influenced my career, and will benefit my organization and my local arts community.  Thank you to Abe Flores, Rebecca Burrell, and Adam Fong for taking the time to have genuine conversations with me and truly contribute to the work I am doing.

Attending a conference is too passive a description for these last few days. I learned, sang, listened, laughed, digested, deliberated, rejected, reinforced, inquired, decompressed, and grew. I watched Robert L Lynch (CEO of Americans for the Arts) and Jonathan Katz (CEO National Assembly of State Arts Agencies) jam together. They spoke about leadership, their nonlinear careers, they read their own poetry, sang songs, enjoyed each other’s company, and celebrated each other’s achievements! I met fantastic people from across the country, Canada, and the UK who are all fighting for the same cause, attacking similar challenges and were open and willing to share ideas, brainstorm and listen. I sang with Ben Folds. I stayed up until midnight disseminating what I’d experienced that day making To-Do lists and resource wish-lists so that when I get home I can hit the ground running and implement all I have experienced here. I received wisdom, knowledge, empathy, and suggestions from leaders in the arts and experts with invaluable years of experience. Read the rest of this entry »

My Experience at Annual Convention

Posted by Emily Saunders On June - 24 - 2014
Emily Saunders

Emily Saunders

We are cultural ambassadors, arts advocates, civic engagers, and change agents connecting and collaborating to bring the arts into the everyday landscape. As one of many, my focus has been on how to make the arts more accessible to under-served communities. I serve Metro Arts Alliance of Des Moines as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Metro Arts of Des Moines helps make the arts more accessible through free jazz concerts preformed in city parks, and arts integration programs presented within the schools.

By engaging participants from within every neighborhood, we are able to connect the arts to all. In my work, I have seen how cultural engagement within nontraditional spaces has helped bring arts experiences to those across the spectrum. During my year of service I have coordinated 129 arts programs in 59 locations with 25 artists reaching 8,744 youth within Central Iowa. Read the rest of this entry »

Provocations and Basic Truths for Rethinking our Work at Home

Posted by Jim Clark On June - 23 - 2014
Jim Clark

Jim Clark

I always look forward to Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention for two very specific reasons: one is to be provoked by the audacity of others; the second is to be reminded of basic truths about our field.

The provocations usually generate one of two possible self-reflections: “Why didn’t I think of that?” or, “We did something similar, but why doesn’t anyone know about it?” Regardless of how I am provoked, these moments during the conference become the “drivers” that propel me to rethink our work at home. The provocations challenge, inspire, and create a sense of professional restlessness that keeps things fresh.  Case in point, Penny Balkin Bach’s presentation on how the Association for Public Art in Philadelphia uses social media. It was challenging and inspiring because I realized my organization was not using the tools (most of which are free) that are at our finger tips to not only communicate to a larger audience but also to harness the tools of measurement that are embedded within them. Read the rest of this entry »

Innovators, Interventions, and Instruction

Posted by Malissa Feruzzi Shriver On June - 20 - 2014
Malissa Feruzzi Shriver

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver

Nashville is not for the faint of heart, and neither is an Americans for the Arts’ conference. There were scheduled sessions that ran until midnight, where some of the panelists broke into song, and early bird specials—eight AM, lights, camera, action.  Nashville has nothing on Americans for the Arts, and Americans for the Arts has something for everyone.  More than one thousand arts advocates enjoyed networking, performances, and fascinating panels, myself included.  Convention themes ran from arts and community to building core skills (does being on your feet for fourteen hours build core strength too?), embracing diversity, reinvention and sustainability, and supply and demand. This conference was definitely not short on supply, and judging from the attendance, demand was high.

I was impressed on so many levels. Four jam-packed days of sessions, exhibitors, meet and greets, and all the big organizations, big names and big ideas. I learned about public art and placemaking, leadership skill development, and how art can translate data, and was fascinated by topics like engaging the biases, values and privileges underneath your work. I am grateful that AFTA organizes these conferences to invest in our field, inform leaders, and stimulate dialogue about relevance and sustainability. Read the rest of this entry »

Reunion

Posted by Robert Bush On June - 18 - 2014
Robert Bush

Robert Bush

My first Americans for the Arts (AFTA) conference—at the time, the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies (NALAA)—was in 1984, in Charleston, S.C., and in the middle of Spoleto.  Selena Roberts Ottum was the chair of the NALAA Board.  I was in awe.

Being the executive director of a small county arts council in North Carolina seemed like a different world from all the arts leaders I heard speak over those few days.  But what I took home was inspiration to take our modest efforts to new levels of community engagement and excellence.  And I made it a priority to attend NALAA—and later AFTA—conventions and advocacy days and to get involved in the work of its interest areas and leadership groups as well.  It wasn’t always easy due to small budgets, but over the last 30 years, I’ve made it to most.  Why, you might ask? It’s because what I found in Charleston so many years ago was not just professional peers but family. Read the rest of this entry »

Cara Scharf

Cara Scharf

The following is an interview with Americans for the Arts’ Senior Director of Arts Policy Marete Wester. Conducted by Cara Scharf, it was originally published in ArtsLine, the Drexel Arts Administration quarterly newsletter focusing on the program, the arts and culture sector, and the students’ perspective.

Marete Wester’s professional journey started in the mid-80s with a Masters in Arts Administration from Drexel University and landed her at national arts service organization Americans for the Arts in 2006. As Senior Director of Arts Policy, Wester brings the voice of the arts field to policy discussions nationwide. This means cultivating partnerships and convening meetings with a diverse group of organizations to show how the arts play a role in quality-of-life issues such as the environment and education. One recent example of her work is the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military, which works to expand access to and research on the arts as effective tools in the care of service members. I spoke with Marete about her work and experience in Drexel’s program.

Read the rest of this entry »

Now You Can Build a Winning Website

Posted by Danielle Williams On June - 6 - 2014

5 Reasons You Should Launch a Website in “Beta”

Posted by Kimberly Hedges On June - 6 - 2014
Kim Hedges

Kim Hedges

The day we planned to launch the new AmericansForTheArts.org website, everyone on staff was ready for a party-a pizza party to be exact–to celebrate all our hard work and the debut of our beautiful new site.

While the web team was humbled by staff’s faith in us and their palpable joy about the new site they helped create, we were a little less ready to celebrate.

Yes, technically, we just needed to make one DNS update on that day to point traffic from our old site to the new one and viola, a new site is launched.

But, it’s actually not that simple.

Yes, we had spent weeks testing the site and getting everything in order, but the traffic of 10 people testing a site just doesn’t match the traffic of your daily visitors. When you open your site to that increased traffic, they stretch it in different ways, interact with it differently, and a new level of testing begins.

And that’s the testing that really matters-whether you acknowledge it or not. Read the rest of this entry »

Kick Your Content Up a Notch with Multimedia

Posted by Raheem Dawodu On June - 5 - 2014
Raheem Dawodu

Raheem Dawodu

Caitlin Holland

Caitlin Holland

Earlier in this blog salon, we discussed the ten ways you could improve the website you already have, as well as the ways you could  create engaging content for your website.

In both of those posts, we briefly highlighted the use of multimedia – graphics, video, animation, audio – as a way to make your content more interactive.

But, what is multimedia? And what is the best way to use it to tell your organization’s story? Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Website Lingo on the Fly

Posted by Joshua Jenkins On June - 5 - 2014
Joshua Jenkins

Joshua Jenkins

Working on a website redesign or refresh can become easily overwhelming, especially if you don’t consider yourself well-versed in the lingo, countless acronyms, and big concepts that get tossed around throughout the process.

Learning a few of these more “techy” concepts, how they function, and why they are important will make navigating through the design and development process a lot easier.

Here’s a rundown of some important concepts to grasp:

Information Architecture

When you are setting out to redesign your website, the concept of information architecture is paramount and one to consider in the early stages. The Information Architecture (IA) structures your website’s content in the way you’d like the user to experience it. Read the rest of this entry »

The Design Process: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Posted by Elizabeth Van Fleet On June - 5 - 2014
Elizabeth Van Fleet

Elizabeth Van Fleet

Stop. Before you start thinking about the pretty wrapping paper you’re going to use for this awesome new website you’re about to give your audience, make sure you’ve done your research, organization, and started working with staff on content.

Why do you have to do that first?

Because to get good design you have to answer the hard questions; you have to know WHO you’re designing it for and WHAT message you want your design to send to your audience.

As Manager of Publications and Communication at Americans for the Arts, part of my job is to manage the design process for many of our printed and online materials. I work with a variety of vendors on a regular basis, and I was part of the team that decided on the design direction for our new website. Read the rest of this entry »

Raheem Dawodu

Raheem Dawodu

The time has come. You’ve done your research to find out your audiences, figured out how to create great content to meet their needs, and you’ve convinced your organization’s staff and leadership that it’s time to build a new website.

Now it’s time to involve your staff in the process – since they are the issue experts that should work with you to create or revise your website’s content. At Americans for the Arts, though everyone on staff has an interest in the success of the website, only some of the people on our 70-person staff are what we call “content creators” – the ones who write the content. Read the rest of this entry »

5 Documents You Need for a Successful Website Redesign

Posted by Danielle Williams On June - 4 - 2014
Danielle Williams

Danielle Williams

We’ve already talked about how important it is to do your due diligence when taking on a website redesign – figuring out your audiences, securing buy-in from your leadership, selecting good partners and vendors, the importance of quality content for your website – and we’ll be diving in deeper later in this blog salon about working with staff to create and revise quality content.

As you continue to bring together all these great resources, it will be helpful to compile them in a format that will be useful to your team and your vendors. During our website redesign, we ended up creating a number of documents that helped us fully scrutinize and contemplate all of our options. No stone was left unturned, which helped our stakeholders feel more comfortable with some of the drastic changes we were suggesting. Read the rest of this entry »