Stephanie Evans

It’s the last week of Creative Conversations and National Arts & Humanities Month!  Since starting work at Americans for the Arts two years ago, I have had a goal that we reach an event total of at least 50 Creative Conversations happening in communities across the country.  This year, we did it!  Thank you to everyone who hosted, attended, and participated in this exciting program for Emerging Leaders.

I’m also thrilled that people are blogging about the events that they host and attend.  Check out two great posts by Emerging Leader Network Members David Zoltan from Chicago, and Gina Harrison from Pittsboro, NC.

And now – this week’s Creative Conversation Events…

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Yesterday, artists from around Buffalo, New York sent a message to Erie County executives about the effect proposed cultural cuts would have on them: they played dead in front of the county’s administrative offices.  Armed with signs saying “Culture Counts in WNY,” the protesters wanted to let county executives to know that these cuts could have devastating effects on artists in the region.  Check out the video below or click here for more information.

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Priya Sircar

Co-authored by Priya Sircar & Jonathan Lewis

Student Advocates for the Arts is thrilled to be a winner of the Why Arts Matter video contest. Of course, we are pleased that so many people viewed and responded to our video. And we are excited because this experience has opened up a dialogue with Americans for the Arts about possibilities for future collaboration. But we truly are thrilled because it gives us the chance to advocate more powerfully and broadcast our video’s message more widely: “You Need to Be an Arts Advocate!”

Student Advocates for the Arts (SAA) is a grassroots student organization dedicated to educating on and advocating for public policy affecting the arts in the United States. Founded in 2002 by graduate students in the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, SAA engages students in hands-on lobbying, workshops on advocacy and cultural policy, and discussions on the American system for funding the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Art Matters

Posted by Marisa Catalina Casey On October - 25 - 20109 COMMENTS

Students from Starting Artists

When I was 16 years old I desperately wanted to do something—something to express myself, something to make a difference. For me, that something became a fundraising calendar that I conceived of and photographed as a high school student and then again as a college student. I photographed portraits of internationally adopted children, worked with graphic designers to put them into a calendar and then sold the results to family, friends, teachers, community members and later at Barnes & Noble. The two calendars raised thousands of dollars to benefit international orphanages, including the Colombian orphanage I was adopted from at the age of three.

This project taught me that I could use both creativity and entrepreneurship to positively affect the world. Today, this is what I teach my students at Starting Artists, Inc. (SA). I founded SA in 2006 as a graduate student in the Program in Arts Administration at Columbia University Teachers College. I wanted to create a place where young people could use media arts and business skills to be just as artistic and innovative as I was at their age.

During the SA Afterschool Program, students learn the professional tools to make a statement—a statement about their lives, a statement about their communities, and a statement about their world. Through classes in photography, graphic design, printmaking, crafts, mixed media, video, animation, music mixing, and entrepreneurship students transform from passive media consumers into active media producers and catalysts for change. Read the rest of this entry »

Robert L. Lynch

Recently, Philanthropy News Digest spoke to Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, about the state of the arts in America, what arts and cultural organizations can and should be doing to weather the Great Recession, and what the digital future holds in store for artists, arts organizations, and all who support them.

Philanthropy News Digest: For many years now, arts groups around the country have been working to develop new, younger audiences while retaining their core, older supporters. How are they doing?

Robert Lynch: Some have done it very well, and others are struggling. To a large extent, it’s about marketing. Performing arts organizations have a product, but audiences have a variety of interests and ways in which they can receive information. Arts organizations that understand that, that understand the needs of multiple audiences and either market or deliver their product in a variety of ways, are building audiences. The ones that rely on the product to sell itself are having more difficulty.

PND: Are particular art forms or disciplines doing better than others? Are symphonies doing better than dance companies, for example?

RL: It’s too easy to generalize. But an example of an organization that has done a good job is the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. It has a variety of mechanisms, many of them based on new technologies, for reaching a range of audiences. Similarly, many theaters, including for-profit theaters, have diversified their performance times with an eye to an older audience. And though we read a lot about the graying audience for classical music, I don’t know if that’s universally true. A 2008 survey by the National Endowment for the Arts found what looks like fewer people attending performances, but when I look at our own National Arts Index I see a huge increase in the downloading of classical music. My colleagues at the League of American Orchestras also tell me they are seeing a lot of positive trending in their studies of audience development. So, while we read about certain art forms that may be in trouble, let’s keep in mind how difficult the economy has been for the arts in general. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

Regardless of your stance on same-sex “anything,” no one wants to see young people take their own lives due to harassment inside or outside of school, but as educators know, sometimes the best place to open up young minds is beyond the front door of their home and inside the classroom.

As has been reported broadly across the media, September and October have been particularly hard months for several young people who chose to end the physical and emotional abuse they faced at school—through suicide.

Today’s campaign to wear purple to honor the memory of those students  is just one of the ways that can shed some light on a terrible epidemic going on inside schools all across America.

While some states and localities have tried to address bullying with laws, it will take true societal shifts for all types of bullying to be prevented.

And this is the perfect entry point for the arts and arts education. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tuesday, October 19th at 2:15 p.m. EDT

In celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month, visual artist Chuck Close, ballet dancer Damian Woetzel, and committee co-chairs Margo Lion and George Stevens, Jr. discuss arts and humanities education and the arts.

Creative Conversations are continuing to sweep the country this month. To date, there are still 27 events on the calendar in 20 states. Emerging leaders are using this moment within a national movement to develop local networks in their communities and to cultivate the unique leadership potential of young arts professionals. Remember it’s not too late to sign up to host an event. You have until October 29th.

Michael R. Gagliardo

Back in July I received a comment on a blog post, after asking readers what the subject of my next blog post should be.  One reader, Denise, chimed in with the topic of “persuading school systems and communities to recognize the foundational importance of classical music and cultivating a lifelong appreciation.”  I like it.

I’m currently teaching a class for the University of Alabama’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.  In a nutshell, OLLI is a program that is designed for “mature adults” with the basic premise being “learning for the pure joy of learning.”

What a great concept!  Adults come and take classes on music, history, computers, languages – you name it.  There are no tests, no homework, no age limitations – just an open, exciting learning environment where students who share common interests come to brush up on things they are already familiar with, or to add new learning experiences.

It begs the question – how do we take this love of and desire for learning and transfer it from the world of “mature adults” to the realm of those we should be working hard every day to reach – young people? Read the rest of this entry »

The arts are a huge part of communities everywhere, bringing culture, vibrancy, and economic well-being to cities around the country.  But arts supporters often wonder if their civic leaders are aware of the impact the arts have, lobbying their local councils and state legislatures with stories and statistics on the importance of supporting the arts.  The Massachusetts Cultural Council has turned the table on some of these civic leaders, asking mayors across Massachusetts to provide video testimonials on how and why arts and culture make their cities better places to live, work, and visit as part of the Mayors’ Arts Challenge.

You can check out all the video submissions on YouTube and vote on your favorites by “liking” the ones you believe make the best case for the power of the arts in building community. Sign-in to “like” these videos by Oct. 29, 2010. The winning video will be showcased at the Massachusetts State House in February 2011 as part of the Commonwealth Awards, the state’s highest honors in arts and culture. It will also be shown by Americans for the Arts at its annual presentation at the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  For more information on the challenge, click here.

On behalf of Americans for the Arts, I would like to thank all of our readers for stopping by our first ever arts marketing blog salon.  With almost 6,000 views, 73 comments, 15 bloggers, hundreds of tweets and retweets, and hundreds more of Facebook likes, the salon was a perfect way to jump start the National Arts Marketing Project Conference: New. Tech. New Tools. New Times.

I also want to extend a huge thank you to our bloggers:

All their contributions were thoughtful, smart, relatable, and well presented.  They shared their ideas with ease and honesty, and I can’t wait to hear what they all have to say when they present at the NAMP Conference in San Jose, November 12-15. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

Having worked for a state legislative caucus and an individual legislator at the beginning of my career, it always amazes me that potential arts advocates feel that contacting local or state officials is either a difficult or frightening experience.

As arts education programs across the country continue to face uphill budget battles in individual school districts and even within schools, it is the perfect time to sit down with leaders at all levels to discuss the benefits of arts education and the good work that you do or witness others doing in your own communities.

Recently, I have been working on a new tool kit for our Keep the Arts in Public Schools Facebook Cause that provides teachers, students, and parents with a few easy steps for those groups to take to support arts education in their respective schools.

Here are the six easy steps that parents and teachers can take to affect change for arts education in their schools: Read the rest of this entry »

Susannah Greenwood

Oh, Chad Bauman you might be my new hero. Your insightful article on A Collection of Worst Practices was in a word, awesome. In another word, brave. Just one more word… awesome. Oh, wait, I already said that. Dammit. But, seriously, we’re brought up all our lives to believe mistakes are bad. You mess up that one term paper and it’s 40% of your grade and your GPA is affected for life, you’ll never get into grad school, you’ll never attract a spouse, you’ll end up miserable living in a ditch, a worthless piece of detritus and probably a total sot (not to be confused with Scale of Trustiness). What, your parents never used that argument? Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but so many times the consequences of mistakes are seemingly so monumental that you don’t take any risk at all. You never grow. And let’s be honest, sometimes those BEST practices don’t have the same results for you in your organization.

I’m here to support loud and clear MISTAKES. Boy, do I love sharing the mistakes. Sure they can be a bit of a sucker punch to the pride, but mistakes and sharing them are at the core of collaboration, education, and the continued drive for improvement and ultimate success. Hopefully your mistakes aren’t BP sized, no one wants that, but it’s easier to rise from the ashes if you just approach things with the attitude of practice makes perfect…or maybe not perfect, but very respectable progress and desired outcomes. When people say we are building on our “experience” what they really mean is, “we messed up a lot, but we won’t do that again. Not the same way at least.” Read the rest of this entry »

Due to the incredible dedication in putting together thoughtful and relevant Creative Conversations for emerging arts leaders, young/new arts professionals in communities across the country now have the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue at the local level. These hosts are making a difference and we truly believe that, through these Creative Conversations, local emerging leaders are positively impacting the national arts community in a significant way.


Pittsburgh, PA- October 12 – Arts Education:  A Community of Inquiry in Pittsburgh

New York, NY- October 12- Four Topics in Search of Dialogue

Harrisburg, PA- October 13- A Sense of the Arts in Central Pennsylvania

Oakland, CA- October 14- ArtistSpeak!

San Francisco, CA- October 14- Investing in Our People: How We Support our Arts and Culture Workers and Strengthen the Field

Scottsdale, AZ- October 14- Greater Phoenix Emerging Museum Professionals Inaugural Event

Bethlehem, PA- October 15- Creative Conversation

Berkeley, CA- October 16- Community gathering

Cincinnati, OH- October 17- Town Hall Meeting on the State of Dance in Cincinnati

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The Scale of Trust

Posted by Ron Evans On October - 12 - 20106 COMMENTS

Ron Evans

I’m really enjoying the blog salon discussion by so many smart folks here on ARTSBlog. Technology in the Arts’ David Dombrosky and I both decided to pick up the banner of discussing citizen reviewers and trusting online commentary. In his recent post, he talks about the need to educate citizen reviewers so they know how to write an intelligent review. And in my recent post, I talk about training people to trust what people are reviewing right now.

I thought this was a cool way to attack the problem, and people seemed to dig the perspectives via the comments they left. So I emailed David and asked is he wanted to join my on Skype and talk about these two ways of attacking the problem on a deeper level. You can listen in on the recorded convo below:

Ian David Moss (fellow ARTSBlog writer) also chimed in with some thoughts on how he and his friend Daniel Reid had considered some of these issues when it comes to some of the big “vote for your arts group to get a grant” challenges that are happening all over the place. Based on these conversations, I decided to take a crack at a simple rating system, let’s call the “scale of trustiness” (or SOT — let’s bring the great word SOT back from its original meaning!) that you can store in your head when you’re reading an online review for an arts event. You won’t need to remember any number of points or anything — it’s enough that you just consider a particular review on the SOT scale, and if you’re weighing two shows to go to, perhaps each review’s SOT score can help you decide what to attend. Read the rest of this entry »