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Reporting from San Diego

Posted by Sally Gaskill On June - 17 - 2011

Sally Gaskill

Yesterday morning I happened to walk down the hall and saw a sign for a “Higher Education Peer Group” session. I am an arts administrator who works in higher education, so I hoped the session would be open to anyone, and I was in luck. I immediately recognized the person in charge: the bow-tied Ron Jones, newly appointed president of the Memphis College of Art.

In Ron’s previous position as Dean of the Arts at the University of South Florida, he had spoken out about the need for data on the people who graduate with arts degrees from our colleges and universities. He had, in fact, become a poster child for the research project I manage at Indiana University – the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project – and is quoted on the SNAAP brochure as follows:  “Accountability is our future, and SNAAP is providing data that heretofore we made up or assumed.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Convention = Learning + Colleague Inspiration

Posted by Graham Dunstan On June - 17 - 2011

Graham Dunstan

This is my 13th Americans for the Arts Annual Convention—that’s if you count me crashing the closing reception at the World of Coca Cola Museum in Atlanta in 1999 even though I wasn’t a registered attendee. (That took effort, so I count it).

I spent some time yesterday thinking about what Convention offers me and if I rely on it now for different things than I did earlier in my career. When I was working at the Fulton County Arts Council in Atlanta from 1999 to 2004, Convention for me was all about helping grow the fledgling emerging leaders program and gaining the tools I needed as a new arts administration professional.

And I’ll tell you, I looked forward to Convention all year long. When I arrived on site I’d absorb the information from the program book—circling sessions I wanted to attend and creating a complicated schedule with different colored highlighters so I best take advantage of every session and networking opportunity that interested me.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Two Years with Americans for the Arts

Posted by Rich Mintz On June - 16 - 2011

Rich Mintz

I’m in San Diego this week for the Americans for the Arts Convention, which kicked off at noon today with a welcome by president Bob Lynch and a keynote address by California social-activist legend Bobby Shriver.

This is my fourth Americans for the Arts event in two years. Heading for my first (the 2009 National Arts Marketing Project conference in Providence), I was afraid I’d feel out of place. If you know me, you know I’m not exactly shy, but I’ve always been a little scared of arts people. They tend to be so sure of themselves, and bubbling over with ideas, and I’m just, you know, a businessman—on the creative end of the spectrum for a businessman, to be sure, but nevertheless…But I had no reason to worry.

One thing about arts people is that they love talking about ideas. And the ideas that might help them get more people to experience and enjoy art, or advocate for arts funding and education, or donate to support the arts in their own communities—well, those are the ideas they love talking about most of all. And it just so happens that those are the kinds of ideas we at Blue State Digital trade in, so everything worked out fine.  Read the rest of this entry »

Join Us in San Diego (Virtually, at Least)

Posted by Tim Mikulski On June - 14 - 2011

It’s hard to believe, but another Americans for the Arts Annual Convention is about to begin.

A portion of our staff has been on the ground in San Diego for the past few days, while others (like me) will be heading out bright an early tomorrow morning. (Well, it’s not that bright at 6:00 a.m., but it will definitely be morning.)

While we still have another 1,000 or so attendees joining us at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront and the surrounding area from Wednesday through Saturday, you can still participate from your own offices and/or living rooms throughout the country (or even come down and register on site).

Here are just some of the many ways you can participate:

  • ARTSblog – We have a number of staff members, presenters, and attendees lined up to write posts during and after the Convention. They will be writing about sessions, meetings, networking events, and our host city. Read the rest of this entry »

New Coalition Moving Forward with Arts Education Standards

Posted by Tim Mikulski On June - 13 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

Editor’s Note: For the latest on the national arts education standards movement, read this post by Arts Education Council Member Lynne Kingsley published on 9/20/11!

Late last week, it was announced that a coalition of arts education groups will begin revising the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education, with a plan in place to have completed standards ready in 2012.

The process, which began in May 2010 with a two-day meeting that I attended here in D.C., will now continue under the governance of 8 organizations: American Alliance for Theatre and Education; Arts Education Partnership; Educational Theatre Association; The College Board; MENC-The National Association for Music Education; National Art Education Association; National Dance Education Organization; and State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education.

According to the press release, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS):

“will make the creation of the new arts standards an inclusive process, with input from a broad range of arts educators and decision-makers. The revised standards will be grounded in arts education best practice drawn from the United States and abroad, as well as a comprehensive review of developmental research. Read the rest of this entry »

Bringing Arts Education Home – San Diego Style

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders On June - 10 - 2011

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

Just as I’m preparing for a convention session about how attendees can create their own local arts education advocacy networks based on a model we’ve been using in San Diego and throughout California, I get word from a key district decision maker about their need for some information that may help them take some critical steps to avoid big cuts to the visual and performing arts department budget.

This is a milestone for our newly formed San Diego Alliance for Arts Education. We are being recognized by district decision makers for our ability to help them make more informed decisions to keep arts education in San Diego schools. While we’re not out of the woods yet, I certainly feel a victory for the role that the Alliance’s carefully planned advocacy is playing. Read the rest of this entry »

In 2006, Congress asked the IRS to keep better track of the nation’s 1.7 million nonprofit organizations. Yesterday, the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of 279,599 of them for not filing legally required documents for three consecutive years (2007-2009). Nearly 27,000 of them are nonprofit ARTS organizations.

The 26,875 arts groups represent 20 percent of all arts nonprofits—the largest percentage decrease among any of the charities. By contrast, only seven percent of religion-related organizations lost their exemptions. Cuts were noted in all arts categories, including 304 symphony orchestras, 702 museums, 395 arts councils, 2,533 theaters, 254 arts alliance/advocacy organizations, and 664 choirs.

Source: Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics, 2011.










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Grand Rapids Fights Back…With Music

Posted by Theresa Cameron On June - 9 - 2011

Theresa Cameron

“I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore” was a famous line from the 1976 movie Network, but it could also be the theme for the folks in Grand Rapids, MI.

Newsweek’s website published an article declaring Grand Rapids a dying city on January 21, 2011 (along withfellow Michigan cities Flint, Detroit, and 7 others).

The mayor, citizens, and most importantly an artist decided to fight back.

Artist Rob Bliss (a college-aged musician, social media expert, and event planner) and a friend, raised nearly $40,000 to make a LipDub video of DonMcLean’s classic “American Pie” as a way to demonstrate the vibrant community that GrandRapids is.  Read the rest of this entry »

Add “Art Lover” to Your Resume

Posted by Amy Senia On June - 8 - 2011

The Internet boom has made global communication and sharing information easier than ever before. Thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and technologies like Skype and the iPhone 4’s FaceTime, people in every corner of the world can contact each other with a simple click of a mouse.

This ease in communication has permanently changed global interactions and made the world seem a whole lot smaller. In the domestic and global market, companies have found themselves communicating with various cultures more than ever before, even companies that don’t work on the global scale.

Businesses are now searching for employees with more than just intellect, impressive references, and a charming personality. So what do they want?

Good news, art lovers! You’re already ahead of the curve. Read the rest of this entry »

Kansas Makes a Fashion Statement

Posted by Harlan Brownlee On June - 7 - 2011

Harlan Brownlee

Once again, Kansas has distinguished itself as a “trendsetter.”

Yes, those are the words of Kansas Governor Brownback when he refers to his action to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission and put in place a private foundation to fund the arts in Kansas.

Sorry to break the news governor, but those of us who live and breathe the arts on a daily basis, those of us who are in the trenches and have witnessed firsthand the economic and community building benefits of the arts, particularly in rural Kansas, think your approach is misguided.

Both the Kansas House and Senate understood why your plan was not in the best interest of Kansas citizens. In fact, both unilaterally approved funding for the arts and a Republican-led effort in the Senate overrode your executive order to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission. Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts Create Extraordinary Shared Experiences

Posted by Margy Waller On June - 7 - 2011

Margy Waller

We love the stuff that brings people together to experience special and fun things that can only happen here.

On Tuesday, May 3, legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed with the Cincinnati Symphony for almost 3,500 people, filling every seat in our beautiful, historic Music Hall.

The performance was so highly-anticipated that it was sold-out for months in advance, leaving hundreds of fans without tickets.

So, our community leaders came together to fashion a creative response to this dilemma — making sure that people all around could share the music. Read the rest of this entry »

Mary Kennedy McCabe

For those of us who call Kansas home we have one more opportunity to suffer Thomas Frank’s oft-quoted book, What’s the Matter with Kansas?.

Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA), my organization, has been struggling for months with how to handle the elimination of the Kansas Arts Commission (KAC) since this situation is unprecedented in the 47-year history of state arts agencies in America. We are an alliance of six states (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas), serving a part of the country with tremendous arts participation but minimal political capital for the arts.

We are deeply concerned for the artists, arts organizations, arts educators, and arts participants and audiences, who will undoubtedly be affected by the loss of the KAC support and leadership. There is no doubt that individuals will lose their jobs and organizations will go out of business as a result of Governor Brownback’s action. Read the rest of this entry »

Emily Peck

Emily Peck

At last fall’s Independent Sector Conference, more than 900 leaders from the foundation world, corporate philanthropy programs, and nonprofit organizations were moved by the arts…literally, as choreographer Liz Lerman had conference attendees out of their seats reenacting conference highlights through dance (Check out the video below!).

Inviting Ms. Lerman to bring her magic to the conference was just one of the ways that Americans with the Arts partnered with Independent Sector to infuse the event with the arts.

Americans for the Arts President & CEO Bob Lynch explained why Americans for the Arts was ensuring that the arts were woven throughout the conference in his presentation at the opening plenary sessionRead the rest of this entry »

Kansas: To the Stars Through Difficulties

Posted by Kathy Smith On June - 3 - 2011

Kathy Smith

The recent events in the Kansas state government were like “déjà vu all over again” for those of us in Topeka. In 2005, our city council decided that our local arts council would no longer receive funding from the general budget, or any budget for that matter.

In response, the Topeka Community Foundation moved ahead with plans to create a privately funded entity, ARTSConnect, which would be a part of the United Arts Fund network.

This was a welcome concept among those in the arts community – a stable, sustainable plan for general operating funds, plus an organization who would help to provide that umbrella for all organizations and individuals who are passionate about the arts and our community.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kansas: Unexpected Attempt at Veto Override Unsuccessful

Posted by Tim Mikulski On June - 2 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

Yesterday, members of the Kansas House of Representatives unexpectedly attempted to override Gov. Brownback’s line item veto of funding for the Kansas Arts Commission, but the body fell short of the needed votes to do so.

Here are more details from the Associated Press:

“The vote in the House was 50-44. But legislators who wanted to override the veto needed a two-thirds majority, or 84 of 125 votes. Thirty-one House members were absent. That’s not unusual for the day the Legislature sets aside for its adjournment ceremony, because typically no substantial business is conducted...Of the 92 Republicans, 23 voted “yes,” 44 voted “no,” and 25 did not vote. Of the 33 Democrats, 27 voted “yes” and six did not vote.”

The article also lists the vote tally by legislator name. Read the rest of this entry »

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.