Nicole Glotzer

Nicole Glotzer

As part of Americans for the Arts’ Internship Program, my fellow interns and staff recently took an office field trip to see a unique public dance performance entitled Yolk by dance company Third Rail Projects. The performance was part of a series of events presented this spring at locations throughout Manhattan by Arts Brookfield, the cultural arm of Brookfield Office Properties. Yolk ran from April 8-10 at the plaza of the Grace Building, a Brookfield property located in Midtown Manhattan.

The piece featured two performers, one dressed in silver, the other in gold, dancing in and around large open eggshells accompanied by electronic music. Third Rail Projects is a multi-disciplinary performance company, and Yolk showcased Third Rail Projects’ explorations fusing dance, installation art, and performance in the public sphere. I watched as a crowd, made up of passersby and employees from nearby businesses (particularly the Grace Building), gathered to view the performance during their lunch hour and was able to see, firsthand, how such a performance could engage employees of the Grace Building and surrounding businesses. It was then that I realized that the performance was less about two girls dancing in fiberglass eggs, but rather the experience it was creating for those in attendance. Read the rest of this entry »

Talia Gibas

Talia Gibas

Working in K-12 arts education is like trying to choreograph a dance during a slow, rolling earthquake. You’re determined to take your next step, but spend a lot of time and energy fighting to stay upright. As the ground shifts beneath your feet, you never know when something unwieldy – a new set of standards, a reduced funding stream – may tumble in your direction.

Working in this environment requires you have a resource in your community to keep an eye on changing policies and boil them down to what you need to know. The better your understanding of the “big picture” of education and how it affects the arts, the easier it is to keep enough balance to dance amidst the chaos.

Recent changes to California’s education funding, and the arts education community’s response, provides a case study of how this works. Last June, Governor Jerry Brown signed a state budget that included a sweeping overhaul of school funding.  The new formula, called Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), replaced California’s prior categorical line items for education. These line items included the Art and Music Block grant that for years had been the state’s dedicated source of arts education funding. Read the rest of this entry »

Jay Dick

Jay Dick

In another example of arts and culture growing clout nationally, Americans for the Arts was invited to speak before the Las Vegas City Council’s Strategic Planning Session, which is used to help determine the future programs and priories of the city.  I had the pleasure of being one of 12 speakers and the only one whose topic was not on transportation or from the traditional business sector.

Attending this session was Mayor Carolyn Goodman, the six City Council Members, and all the department heads of Las Vegas City Government – including Nancy Deaner, the Director of the Las Vegas City Arts Commission.

I began my talk by stating that it was my goal to make them think about the arts and culture in a new way. I began with a quick over-view of the economic impact of the arts and culture. Specifically, I distributed our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV calculator and profiled the Neon Museum.  I am certain the attendees had no idea that the museum has an economic footprint of over $4 million, supported over 150 jobs, and returned over $200,000 in local tax dollars.  Once I had their attention with that, I moved onto how the arts could be transformational. How a child’s education that included the arts could help them to be a more productive member of the local community.  How the arts can be used to help make people, especially minority populations, feel at home in Las Vegas. How the arts provide a sense of place and belonging. I believe I was successful in what I set out to do – shed new light on the value of arts and culture to a city and the people who live there. Read the rest of this entry »

A Day Without Art

Posted by Stephanie Milling On April - 25 - 20143 COMMENTS
Stephanie Milling

Stephanie Milling

In thinking about this week’s blog post, I am inspired by the act of advocacy. At National Arts Advocacy Day  last month, arts advocates from all over the nation poured onto Capitol Hill to describe how the arts benefits the economy, culture, education, and healthcare. In an effort to procure support for the upcoming fiscal year, our carefully crafted message communicated how the arts not only enrich but exist as a necessity within the lives of Americans.

While arming ourselves with facts and figures provided by Americans for the Arts to state our case, a colleague of mine who works for the City of Mauldin Cultural Center  proposed that we describe a day without the arts to adequately articulate the essential role of the arts in our lives. While he was not seriously considering this approach in our appointments on Capitol Hill, he was serious about how the gravity of the message could help illustrate—well not illustrate because the arts would not exist—how the arts are present all around us. Read the rest of this entry »

Jaclyn Johnson Tidwell

Jaclyn Johnson Tidwell

My April calendar is filling up nicely with runway shows, play openings, art crawls, and artist workshops. This really shouldn’t surprise me. After all, Nashville has stepped into the spotlight in the last few years as one of the nation’s new “it” cities according to New York Times writer Kim Severson. GQ calls this burgeoning southern city “Nowville” noting that “it’s the most electric spot in the South, thanks to a cast of transplanted designers, architects, chefs, and rock ‘n’ rollers.”

For many of our local arts leaders, the national attention brings opportunity and trepidation. Our city is awake and moving towards its future as the world watches. Severson describes the threat saying that “the ingredients for Nashville’s rise are as much economic as they are cultural and, critics worry, could be as fleeting as its fame.” Currently, artists innovate outside of traditional funding opportunities. Our first artist housing development fills immediately with no new opportunities in sight, work-space prices continue to climb pushing artists to the city’s edges, and divisions still exist between genres and organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

Maura Koehler-Hanlon

Maura Koehler-Hanlon

The following is an article originally posted on VolunteerMatch, written by vice president of Client Services Maura Koehler-Hanlon, in which she describes how she recently challenged the existing system of employee volunteer programs, and argued for an overhaul of the field. Visit VolunteerMatch for more articles about volunteering and corporate social responsibility.

Earlier this month I hit the road with Vicky Hush, VolunteerMatch’s VP of Engagement & Strategic Partnerships. We headed up to Portland to present to Hands On Greater Portland’s Corporate Volunteer Council to share our expertise with employee volunteer managers about how to keep your employee volunteer program (EVP) fresh and exciting. Leading up to the presentation, we had a tough internal conversation which amounted to this: how controversial did we want to be? What would happen if we just came out and said that we think EVPs should be doing more? We decided to go for it – those Portlanders are a tough bunch with all that fresh air! And it worked: when we asked the room of EVP managers “how many of you feel like your employee volunteer program is as strong as it can be?” we (not surprisingly) didn’t see a single hand. Read the rest of this entry »

Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

In March 2014, the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) published its annual State of the Nonprofit Sector.  While there are several reports published annually about the nonprofit arts sector—such as our own National Arts Index—this report offers the added appeal of showing how the arts stack-up to the rest of the nonprofit sector.  With a smidge over 5,000 survey responses, the arts made its presence felt with 919 responses. (Nationally, there are about 1.5 million nonprofit organizations, 95,000 of which are arts organizations.) It’s good to see arts leaders contributing to knowledge of the field by participating in such sector-wide research.

Financial Performance Indicators 

While I wasn’t one of those kids who read the last chapter of an adventure novel first, I will confess to jumping right to certain financial performance indicators in these reports. I am always curious about whether organizations are finishing the year with a deficit or surplus, or if they are breaking even. Read the rest of this entry »

Abe Flores

Abe Flores

The future of art administration is in good, capable, and innovative hands. This week’s Emerging Leaders Blog salon demonstrated a commitment to art as a public good, as a solution to a myriad of social problems, and as an intrinsic piece to the full development of the self and community. The blog salon also gave us a peak into the future, introduced us to new models for the arts, and a new visions for arts leaders & their development. Most importantly the blog salon introduced us to exciting leaders – new, young, emerging, experienced, mid-career, seasoned (marinated?), established, and/or just plain awesome. Read the rest of this entry »

Nicholas Dragga

Nicholas Dragga

Among other issues, I hear emerging leaders wanting a larger voice in their organization – a chance to use their knowledge and skills. From the “established leaders” in my area, I hear not knowing exactly how to use, or maybe engage, emerging leaders (ELs) and their ideas. Senior leaders are sometimes unsure or afraid of how to fit these new ideas into the organization’s structure or culture since there are reasons things are done they way they are, and sometimes (often) organizations are big ships to turn.Of course, finding a voice in your organization is a huge issue with lots of nuances, and this issue could certainly be articulated better or maybe even more correctly, but I think we all get that we all want a vibrant and relevant organization that is regenerative in its thinking and programing. There are systems in place that have grown and sustained the organizations to what they are today, and new ideas like [insert your brilliant idea here] in the pipeline that are exciting, engaging, and even revolutionary will keep organizations relevant. So, how do we bring out great ideas and engage leaders at all stages, all the while maybe even having some fun? Yes, this is a lofty goal. Further, is this lofty goal, or unicorn, possible without a huge culture shift or organizational overhaul? Read the rest of this entry »

Todd Eric Hawkins

Todd Eric Hawkins

When I think about the future, both my own personal future and that of the arts, my mind immediately recalls a quote by Wayne Gretzky. The quote came to me via Ben Cameron, Program Director for the Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. During his keynote at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University, Mr. Cameron recited the following:

“I skate to where the puck will be, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretzky

As emerging leaders we have an opportunity to change the way current arts organizations operate, or create new ones while exploring new ideas, new values, and new models. We, as the next generation of arts leaders, will navigate through the largest generational shifts in decades. Who will our audiences be in twenty years and how will we serve them? Read the rest of this entry »

Jerome Socolof

Jerome Socolof

“It’s a bunch of people in horns singing in languages I don’t understand for longer than I want to listen.” Whose brilliant summation of opera is this? Why, that would be mine, circa 2003. It was, admittedly, an ill-informed viewpoint, one underpinned by the misperceptions of elitism and grandiosity in opera that many people hold, but I was only 17 at the time. After becoming a music major, and thanks largely to the tireless work of a few professors, I was soon sliding down the slippery slope to being in love with opera. After realizing that I lacked the voice and single-minded dedication to be a professional performer of opera, I knew that I had to be an administrator so that I could stay involved. 10 years, three college degrees, and a few shifts in the cultural landscape later, I still feel the same way. Read the rest of this entry »

Lindsay So

Lindsay So

There were times when I would mention that I was starting a new job with the City of Philadelphia and the most frequent response was a remark about the “Good Government Job”—somewhere I could stay for a long time with the implication that I could never be fired. Sure, this comment might have been a joke but even so, I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Sure, having health benefits for the first time would be a major plus for me, an arts manager early in my career, but what motivated me most was the opportunity to learn about and directly impact the arts and culture community of a major city. Citywide programs, grant making, creative development opportunities, policy changes—I pictured myself having a hand in making Philadelphia a city where artists could thrive and residents could enjoy a diverse range of arts and culture experiences. I now believe this difference in perspective is generational: my peers in City Hall share my ambition and passion to affect change and make an impact with our work. Read the rest of this entry »

USE US

Posted by George Patrick McLeer On April - 18 - 2014No comments yet
George Patrick McLeer

George Patrick McLeer

As we sat down with our Congressmen this past March during National Arts Advocacy Day, one message kept coming out of my mouth, “In my community, we don’t just ‘fund’ the arts, we use the arts.” I didn’t arrive in Washington with that phrase in my mind. I didn’t even think about it until after our “advocacy sessions,” the day before we visited Capitol Hill.

What alarms me the most about our annual trek to Capitol Hill is that our ask never seems to change— “We would like our Representative/Senator to support funding the NEA/Arts Education at this specific level.” We mention the ability to leverage the arts for economic impact, improve education, and make our lives more fulfilling, but at the end of the day we ask for money—either from the federal government or private citizens via tax policy shifts.

We need to stop asking for money and instead ask for a new vantage point. Read the rest of this entry »

Maria Fumai Dietrich

Maria Fumai Dietrich

As a university advisory to about 50 student performing and visual arts groups, I see firsthand the impact extra-curricular programs and elective coursework in the arts make on student’s professional and personal development.  The majority of the hundreds of students served through Platt Student Performing Arts House at The University of Pennsylvania will not pursue careers in the arts sector.  However, it is this population of arts appreciators who will support local theater, participate in book clubs, donate to after school arts programs, and so forth after graduation.  As a sector, we need to creatively engage the extra-curricular art lovers while they are young so as to ensure strong audiences in the future.

Institutions of higher education, arts and culture organizations, and all levels of government share the responsibility of engaging extra-curricular art lovers.  Within the last year alone, Philadelphia has seen strong development in the quantity of organizations taking this responsibility seriously with quality programming. This recent uptick in engaging programming is a sign that organizations recognize the long-lasting value of building relationships between arts and culture communities and college students (regardless of whether or not their academic pursuits are arts-related). Read the rest of this entry »

SarahBerry headshot

Sarah Berry

Artwork IS work. That is the credo many artists inherit. Artists learn not to give away their art or services, and good art lovers should know not to ask. Yet all artists have been approached to donate to a charity auction or volunteer to photograph an event, usually with the promise of great exposure and a free meal. But even an emerging, hungry, do-gooder artist like me knows the “I give it away for free” brand of exposure can be a slippery slope. A few rounds of generosity could gain me the reputation as an “artist philanthropist” and the requests for handouts—and the fear of decreased artwork values—that follow.

Even among artists, there is an expectation that certain art should be free (or at least on certain nights of the week, for students, seniors, practicing artists, friends of arts administrators, or library card holders.) Free events often come under the auspices of increasing arts access, though unfortunately busy and broke people with limited access to art (and transportation) may not have “Free Nights” on their radar, may feel uncomfortable attending, or may not be able to get there. The arts aren’t happening where they are, so making art free may not change the equation. Read the rest of this entry »