Valerie Beaman

It’s National Volunteer Week and time to celebrate all those volunteers who help keep the doors open and the wheels turning in nonprofit arts organizations across the country.

With funding cutbacks and staff layoffs, volunteers are more important than ever.

Pro bono volunteers are filling in the gaps providing CEO coaching, marketing, financial services, and legal services among others.

On-call volunteers are ushering, painting sets, making costumes, helping with mailings, copying scripts, and sweeping stages.

And let’s not forget our board members who volunteer their expertise, funds, and influence in the community. Read the rest of this entry »

For those of you that aren’t aware, one of Americans for the Arts’ original incarnations was as the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, and as the Director of Local Arts Agency Relations, it’s my job to keep tabs on our members who fall into that core constituency of the organization.

Yesterday I decided to check in with our members in Fargo, ND, because I wanted to find out how the arts community was preparing for the pending flooding in that area.

If you remember, Fargo sits on the Red River and in 2009 it reached 40.82 feet and the town sustained massive damage because of it.

So this time around, the citizens have been working to fill three million sandbags so they can be ready for the flooding.

However, instead of the typical burlap or mesh sandbags, there is an artistic spin to the program. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Robbins

In 1976, when I was 17 years old, I received a check for 50 dollars from the National Endowment for the Arts.

I was a member of a touring theater company that performed free shows in low-income neighborhoods throughout New York City. We rehearsed for five weeks and performed for eight so my per hour income was paltry if not pathetic but I remember a great sense of pride when I cashed that check.

I was being paid by my government for entertaining people. I was proud to live in a country where that could happen. It also gave me great confidence in my talent. I continued to pursue this profession.

Within ten years the investment by my government of fifty dollars in 1976 was returning hundreds of thousands of dollars back to them in taxes.

Within the next decade the government received an even sweeter bounty on their fifty-dollar investment. And I was proud to pay these taxes. As I have been proud to invest back into the arts with The Actors’ Gang, a 30-year-old organization that provides free educational programs to public school children and at risk teens and offers affordable and accessible theatrical and musical events to the citizens of Los Angeles.    Read the rest of this entry »

Stephanie Evans

Stephanie Evans

On Sunday, April 3, I was excited to participate in the 4th Annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium hosted by American University.

This event is timed each year to correspond with Arts Advocacy Day, and it’s a fantastic way for emerging arts leaders across the country to come together, network, and participate in professional development prior to the advocacy activities taking place.

This year, I spoke on the What Makes a Good Arts Leader panel, along with Ian David Moss (Fractured Atlas and, Jamie Bennett (National Endowment for the Arts), and Michael Bobbitt (Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, MD), and moderated by Michael Wilkerson (American University).

As a 2008 graduate of American University’s Arts Management program, and the staff liaison at Americans for the Arts to the national Emerging Leaders Network and Council, I was excited to be part of this conversation.

At the beginning of the panel, I spoke very briefly on what I’ve learned about leadership since I graduated from American University, and I wanted to expand a bit on those ideas in this blog post.   Read the rest of this entry »

During the Arts Advocacy Day Congressional Arts Kick Off, a flash mob broke out into song singing “America the Beautiful”. It’s safe to say that this was the first chorus flash mob that Capitol Hill has ever seen!

Crystal Wallis

Today, on one of the most gorgeous days of the year in DC, hundreds of arts advocates converged on the Omni Shoreham to get “fired up and ready to go!”

It was really great to see so many people from all across the country that are so pasionate about advocating for the arts to their representatives. We all know it’s going to be difficult, but we believe that this is the right thing to do, and that our cause is a worthy one,and that gives us hope.

The staff of Americans for the Arts has done a great job in bringing in experts to talk to us about the issues.

There is so much to take in, but they try to break it down for us. Jay Dick did a good job this morning giving us basic tips on “lobbying 101″, and Americans for the Arts brought in a congressional staffer to give us “dos” and “don’ts”. One thing she said that really resonated with my background in development was to make sure that you make the ask!     Read the rest of this entry »

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Back on February 11th, I posted a “Call to Bloggers” as a way to drum up discussion around the topics being discussed at the 4th Annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS) at American University.  Every week since then, we have heard from unique and varied perspectives on issues concerning leadership in the arts, global arts management, and how exactly one bridges the gap between academia and the “real world” of arts management.

Throughout this series of posts we learned quite a few things.  Brieahn DeMeo pointed out that U.S. arts managers don’t always have all the answers, and reminded us of the importance of being open to learning from other culture’s styles of management.  Laura Patterson explored the challenges of presenting foreign artists and foreign cultures in a globalized world.  Michael Wilkerson asked the question, “What is Leadership?”, and gave an insightful explanation reminding us that leadership is not something that simply blooms forth out of someone, as a butterfly would from a cocoon, but is something that everyone must continually learn it as they go.  Read the rest of this entry »

For almost a decade, I smelled bad. After years in the food service industry, there was no amount of scrubbing that could erase the stench of grease and questionable meat product from my clothing. Maybe it was the fear that I’d die stinky and alone that led me to seek employment elsewhere.  The problem was, I had a college degree and the passion to be creative in my profession, but no practical knowledge in the big-girl office world. How could I trick an arts organization into employing an expert burger flipper?

Let me let you in on a little secret. There’s no secret knock for getting into arts management. It’s as simple as this: All industries, especially the arts, are downright thirsty – nay, parched – for the right kind of employee. If you’re considering an occupation shift into the arts, the first step is discarding the belief that the “right” kind of employee necessarily means someone with extensive knowledge in the arts or arts administration. Quite the contrary, successful arts organizations employ diverse candidates who bring different – and critically important – experiences or viewpoints. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Gagliardo

But that’s what many of us have been forced to do.  Our role as arts advocates has turned us into “arts apologists.”  Think of it – how many times have you said, “I’m sorry to have to ask you again, but can we count on your support for our program?”  It’s like rooting for the team that no one else cheers for – you know that they’re mired in scandal or they’re just downright bad, but they’re your team. Therefore, you root for them anyway, and then you find an excuse to do so.  “I know, but I grew up there,” or “I know, but they’re just so good it’s hard not to cheer them on.”  In a way, our arts advocacy has become a game of arts apology.

It’s easy to let this happen.  I mean, it seems like we’re always asking for something, and the resources out there are certainly finite.  So we go back to the same well time and again, and each time we do, we feel a little guiltier about having to make the trip.  It’s like asking Santa if we can add one more thing to our list – pretty soon the jolly old man is going to cut us off. Read the rest of this entry »

Munira Khapra

Munira Khapra

According to a survey conducted by MetLife, American students (grades 6–12) believe that studying the arts – in addition to history, government, and politics – is important to understanding other nations and cultures and international issues.

This is in contrast to their teachers, who view other languages and the arts to be less essential in the understanding of other nations.

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for College and Careers” examines education priorities for high school students; what being college- and career-ready entails; and the implications of this goal for teaching.

The results are based on a national survey conducted in the fall of 2010 of public school teachers, public school students, parents of public school students, and Fortune 1000 business executives.    Read the rest of this entry »

Every country, society, and culture places a different value on the arts.

It’s no secret that Americans love pop culture.  Meanwhile, our symphonies, orchestras, and ballets are struggling to stay in business.

In Holland, social workers are trained in the arts for the purpose of improving communities and everyday quality of life through arts learning and participation.

Meanwhile, in Bali, gamelan concerts can last for hours and sometimes days.

In Lima, Peru, concerts often start two hours later than scheduled.

No matter where you go, there may be subtle or obvious cultural differences from the way we do things in the United States.

Working in the realm of international arts management means learning to understand and work with those cultural differences.   Read the rest of this entry »

Katherine Damkohler

Katherine Damkohler

If we took math out of the school curriculum, and replaced it with a six-week outreach program from an external organization, should we expect our children to develop a knowledge of math?

Of course not.

Then, why do we do this with the arts?

Many schools have responded to cuts in arts education funding by relying on temporary arts programs in place of investing in an arts teacher for their school.

These part-time programs often cherry-pick only a handful of students to participate, and do not fully engage the students they do serve.

Many refer to these programs as arts enrichment. However, I have to ask: without the foundation of arts instruction in our schools, what are they enriching?    Read the rest of this entry »

NCLB & the Obama Administration

Posted by Narric Rome On March - 18 - 20111 COMMENT

Narric Rome, Lynne Kingsley,Michael Sikes

The picture on the right was taken at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, VA, – a Kennedy Center Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) partner school following an education policy speech by President Obama on Monday, March 14.

Pictured are Americans for the Arts Senior Director for Federal Affairs & Arts Education Narric Rome, Americans for the Arts’ Arts Education Council Member and Executive Director of the American Alliance for Theatre & Education Lynne Kingsley, and Arts Education Partnership Senior Associate for Research & Policy Michael Sikes.

The President’s speech was the third in a set of education events to celebrate “Education Month at the White House.” He began the month at Miami’s Central High School and later visited the TechBoston Academy.

At the Kenmore visit, the President challenged Congress on the need to “fix No Child Left Behind.” Specifically, he said this:

“According to new estimates, under the system No Child Left Behind put in place, more than 80 percent of our schools may be labeled as failing – 80 percent of our schools. Four out of five schools will be labeled as failing. That’s an astonishing number. And our impulse is to either be outraged that the numbers are so high, or skeptical that they’re even true. And let’s face it, skepticism is somewhat justified. We know that four out of five schools in this country aren’t failing. So what we’re doing to measure success and failure is out of line.” Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

As my third Arts Education Blog Salon comes to a conclusion, I wanted to first thank you for stopping by and (hopefully) reading all 31 posts over the past week.

The good news is that all of the posts will remain on the site and you can view them all at any time via this link – You can also search our blog by topic or by other tags listed at the bottom of each post. And, if you are ever interested in blogging yourself, just send me an email.

I also want to thank all of the intrepid bloggers from the week: Victoria Plettner-Saunders, Ken Busby, Kristy Callaway, Alyx Kellington, Lynne Kingsley, Rob Schultz, Deb Vaughn, Allen Bell, Kim Dabbs, Rachel Evans, Kathi R. Levin, Joan Weber, Marete Wester, Richard Kessler, Merryl Goldberg, Clayton Lord, and Ben Burdick.

Each of the authors (among them a few staff members of Americans for the Arts, members of our Arts Education Council, Twitter friends, meeting presenters, and members of Americans for the Arts) wrote great pieces that rarely overlapped, but when they did, they complimented each other.

Considering my usual guidance is, “Write on anything related to arts education that you feel needs to be addressed – in under 650 words,” I think they do a wonderful job.   Read the rest of this entry »

Listening to my grandmother tell stories about her youth, I cringed at the gallows humor of her siblings grabbing chickens by the neck and swinging them around their head trying to make a quick break, or their mother harkening out not to chop the head off too close to the clothes line.

Today’s youth are learning how to make their way a wee bit differently, instead of killing and eating their beloved livestock, they have really cool games to play, with titles like the just released Homefront for Xbox 360.

The plot is fabulous, the year is 2007 and the U.S. is pit against North Korea on our own killing fields, American soil.     Read the rest of this entry »