Chip Heath

There are 600 people here at the conference.  “We only catered for 600.” Bruce Davis grinned as people began migrating from the exhibitors into the cavernous ballroom for the morning plenary and to hear Chip Heath. Read the rest of this entry »

Nora Koerner MacDonald

A colleague recently forwarded this New York Times article to me about job growth in the nonprofit sector; it seems as though things are starting to look up. As the manager of Americans for the Arts Job Bank since its re-launch in 2007, I have also seen growth in the number of nonprofit arts job postings this year compared to the past couple of years.

In 2009 we ended the year with 160 thirty-day job postings, and as of October 31 of this year we have already had 25% more job postings.   It seems organizations are hiring again, which is good news, especially for the nearly 17,000 registered job seekers on our site.   In 2009 the Job Bank saw a nearly 200% increase in job seekers from 2008 and almost 150% up from that in 2010.  Clearly there is a need and many people have been looking for work for quite a while.

I’m curious to hear, if you have worked at an organization that had layoffs, do you feel more confident in its financial stability now that the recession is “over”?   Or, perhaps you are now experiencing the opposite, and your organization decided to expand and hire for brand new positions?   Do you feel a new confidence in the decisions that are being made and frugality in how money is spent?

Even though we are on the road to recovery, the economy still feels somewhat uncertain.  I know I find myself still holding on to more of my money and not wanting to go out and make a lot of purchases.   I think there are many job seekers out there that would love to hear your answers and, hopefully, give them some positive news as the holiday season and the new year approaches.

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Do You Know the Way?

Posted by admin On November - 12 - 20102 COMMENTS

BY: Terry S. Davis, UNM Center for the Arts

What do you do on a Monday night in Montgomery, Alabama?

If you had been like a lot of locals this week, you would have gone downtown to see the touring production of Fiddler on the Roof. On a Monday night. In Montgomery, Alabama.

I got to the Montgomery Performing Arts Center, pictured above, about 20 minutes before curtain surprised to see a crowd of people in the lobby. So many people were there that I could not make my way to the Will Call window to pick up my ticket.

They had not opened the house yet — some minor technical difficulties with the show that had arrived that morning and would depart after the curtain came down — which meant that all of us were packed into the lobby, which was quite large. A lot of people had come out on a Monday night in Montgomery, Alabama, to see a show.

What brings us out of our homes to the theater?

If I knew that answer, I’d be a featured speaker at the National Arts Marketing Project in San Jose. (It’s been a week of travels.) Several dozen arts marketers are going to gather in a room today to start discussing that very question. As long as I’ve been in this business, I confess I don’t always know the answer. Nor do the others who I will share a room with today, experts though many of them are.

Certainly we understand that people come out for the shared stories of theater, to hear, for example, the tale of a poor Jew in Russia struggling with maintaining balance and traditions in an ever-changing world. But why on a Monday night? Or, more to the point, why not?

In spite of the packed nature of their lobby, the Montgomery Performing Arts Center (MPAC) had not sold out the performance. The question for those of us in San Jose today will be what might we have done, had we been marketers for MPAC, to fill those seats that went empty that night.

Or the seats that went empty on Sunday night in Kansas City’s Music Hall for the performance of Cats I saw. Or the vacant seats in Bass Hall in Fort Worth for Spring Awakening on Tuesday. Or the unsold seats in Popejoy Hall we will have for many of our shows yet this season. Read the rest of this entry »

With little fanfare, the Community Arts Network (CAN) website went dark in September. CAN was led with passion by founders Linda Frye Burnham and Steve Durland. Through Art in the Public Interest and CAN, Linda and Steve worked to “promote information exchange,  research, and critical dialogue within the field of community-based art.”

CAN was grounded in the belief “that the arts are an integral part of a healthy culture, providing both intellectual nourishment and social benefit, and that community-based arts provide significant value both to communities and artists.” The site and the volumes of writing Linda and Steve contributed and commissioned helped to legitimize the community arts field here in the United States.

CAN site usage was high. It averaged 40,000 –50,000 visitors per month. 28,000 of those were unique visitors, and each visitor viewed an average of six pages each. Fifty-eight percent of respondents to a user survey indicated the CAN was among the top five preferred websites and 40.7 percent of respondents indicated it was in their top three. A respondent to a 2007 user survey expressed the site’s value well:

CAN shines a light on the depth and, more importantly, breadth of community arts activity. It turns out that community arts do not just exist for a few lucky people in one corner of the world, but by thousands of people in schools, prisons, lumberyards, police forces, girl scout troops, senior centers, on boats, on trains, in bars… the list is endless. CAN helps to contextualize these highly individual experiences in the broader community arts landscape and promote discourse about the field. CAN is building a body of evidence that community arts are not marginal, but rather constitute a large and vibrant part of the greater arts landscape.”

Ironically, CAN goes dark as the community arts and participatory arts practice and projects on which Linda and Steve shined a light seem to be gaining in recognition and support. Thanks to the Open Folklore project, a joint effort of the Indiana University Libraries and the American Folklore Society, the CAN website, as it existed at the beginning of September 2010, has been preserved in an archive. Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, the Humanities!

Posted by Ben Burdick On November - 9 - 20101 COMMENT

In the world of arts and arts education advocacy, we sometimes forget that it’s not just the “arts” that are facing scrutiny and budget cuts.  The humanities are facing the budget ax as well, and not just at the elementary, middle, or high school level, but at the college level.  Recently, the State University of New York at Albany announced last month that it would cut programs in Russian, French, Italian, theater, and the classics due to budget constraint.  And it’s not just budget cuts that are the problem; since 1966, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the humanities has dropped from 17% to 8%.  Some might argue that there is no use in funding humanities departments if there’s no one majoring in those disciplines.  But as a history major, I can’t imagine a university without a French department, or theater, or languages, et al.  These aren’t just a huge part of history, in fact, they are history (no pun intended).  How can one study law without studying the classics?   Can you even hope to study foreign affairs without knowing another language?

Worried “that students won’t develop the kind of critical thinking, imagination, and empathy necessary to solve the most pressing problems facing future generations,” a group of college leaders is working to combat these cuts and the apathy that has built up toward humanities. I think this may be an uphill battle, though.  If this month’s election results are any indication, I can’t imagine funding for humanities at the university level (especially at state-supported schools) receiving anything but the same treatment the arts have received.  For me, it goes without saying that the long-term impact of cutting humanities programs at the university level will be devastating.  When even the best college students can only muster a D+ on a history test surveying topics from high school civics, there is cause to be alarmed. Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking ManSome questions take on a strength and resolve in my mind that it’s like all the events I experience and all the facts and stories I acquire point back to the question.

All roads lately lead to this: “What makes an advocate an arts advocate?” A simple question, but does it have a simple answer?

How do you define an arts advocate? What are the denominators that all arts advocates share? Is it about stances on specific issues — a belief in public funding for the arts and arts education? Is it about actions — supporting museums, theatres, orchestras, dance companies, etc., with your own money? Is it about motivations — a conviction that culture makes communities better places to live, work, and raise a family?

As I’ve been trying to answer the question, November 2 has come, but it hasn’t gone. Here in Illinois, the race for governor was won by about a half percent. We will have to wait months to know the meaning and impact of Election Day, the changes it championed and the things it left the same.

So, I’m still stuck on the question, but in some new ways:

What will National Arts Advocacy Day be like in 2011?

This spring, I’ll be in Washington, DC for National Arts Advocacy Day. There are 5 newcomers to the Illinois congressional delegation (technically, one of the 5 races isn’t called, but it looks like Republican Joe Walsh will oust Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean by a few hundred votes). Read the rest of this entry »

It’s an experience I can’t quite articulate; being one of 14,000 phishheads grooving at a sold out Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ for three nights of electric music.  Even after three nights, I wanted to hear more.  Phish has a fanatic following, so much so that it’s normal for tickets to sell out three minutes after they go on sale.  The possibilities to mobilize the massive community are awesome, and that is just what the founders of The Mockingbird Foundation have done.  A foundation organized by Phish fans, The Mockingbird Foundation, funds music education programs for children, especially in communities touched by Phish tours.  This past weekend, the foundation donated $1000 for instruments to the Atlantic City High School.   It’s their mission to grant access to music, but they strongly support programs that integrate student interaction with music.  Music is a Phish fan’s fuel; it would be silly to keep it confined to music halls and venues.

Even though we get really pumped over songs with lyrics about running antelopes and possums, we do what we can to spread the groove into communities, and I couldn’t be happier to be a morsel of that culture.

Alie Wickham

It’s been awhile since a post has gone up.  I apologize for that, however, this delay in posting is not just from my lack of time, but also from my lack of motivation to continue these posts.  I am going to be frank and honest with all of you: These Green Paper posts can ONLY make a difference with EVERYONE’S help!! This means you! I could suggest improvements, and attempt to facilitate discussions as much as I want – I love talking about the arts in healthcare, it’s my passion! However, how are we supposed to grow and be innovative thinkers as a field without the input of all of you? Ladies and gentlemen, artists and healthcare providers, students and professionals, it is now your time to step up…do you want me to keep writing and suggesting topics of discussion? PLEASE RESPOND! Thank you!

Now for the post…

The following statement comes from the “Moving Forward” section of the Arts in Healthcare Green Paper:

Arts in healthcare is steadily moving forward. Increasingly, healthcare administrators are not only welcoming but also financially supporting arts programming in their institutions. Medical and nursing schools see the value in incorporating arts in healthcare courses or content to help their students develop essential skills such as observation and communication. Arts institutions, schools, and colleges are partnering with healthcare organizations to provide arts programming and health promotion experiences in community settings. Read the rest of this entry »

Stephanie Evans

October and National Arts & Humanities Month has officially come to a close, but there are a few Creative Conversations that we are celebrating in November.  If you live in South Florida, you’re in luck, because there are three.

      To read or hear about other Creative Conversations that have taken place recently, check out the following links:

      • The Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA) uploaded a podcast of their recent Creative Conversation, Defining Impact:  Building the Case for Arts Support, from October 5.  To read speaker bios and listen to the podcast from this event, click here.
      • Also, here’s a news article from a Creative Conversation in Reston, VA.

      Thank you to everyone who hosted and participated in a Creative Conversation this year!  We hope these events were successful for your organizations and communities.

      Without a crystal ball or Miss Cleo’s digits, it’s impossible to write a “what will the election mean …” piece before the polls close. Right? Well, I like a challenge, so I’m going to try anyway.

      The forrest for the treesOf all the blocs of voters we have heard about this election — women, moderates, youth, Tea Party, single, unemployed, etc. — there is a breed of voter that hasn’t made the headlines: the single-issue voter, the person who chooses a candidate based on his stance on one issue.

      Even in “normal” times — when unemployment was less than 10 percent, when the National Debt wasn’t accelerating at a rate of $4 billion a day, and when Americans were confident in their country’s competitiveness — even in these times, many frowned on the single-issue voter. It’s unrealistic. It’s not sensible. It’s missing the forest for the trees.

      That said, I wonder whether our organizations — the voices for the arts and arts education — are making the same mistake as single-issue voters. Given the reality of the times, for us to focus squarely and solely on “our issue,” is that wrong? Is that a waste? Or is it smart, mission-driven, effective advocacy?

      Over the summer, the Obama administration announced $100 million in funding for initiatives to make communities more sustainable. Agencies like the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts would work together to award the money, and together they encouraged arts organizations to apply. Here in Illinois, this resulted in at least 3 grants, all with arts partnerships and components. Read the rest of this entry »

      As a sports fan, without mentioning the salaries of players and executives, I am willing to (begrudgingly) admit that I think spending public funds and giving tax breaks and benefits for professional sports teams is important for the economy.  Sports teams have a direct and indirect impact through jobs, restaurants, hotels, and other revenue-generating pieces of the economy.  I’d also be the first to tell you that the arts are just as important in generating such revenue for local, state, and federal governments alike.  Just take a look at Americans for the Arts research on the subject.  So who has the bigger economic impact?

      While you may not hear names like Picasso and Monet making clutch hits for the New York Mets, they’re definitely hitting homeruns for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  According to its study and survey of attendees, the Metropolitan Museum’s summer 2009 opening of its New American Wing, along with the concurrent presentation of three highly acclaimed and widely attended special exhibitions—Roxy Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom; Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective; and The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion—generated $593 million in spending by regional, national, and foreign tourists to New York.  This resulted in the generation of $59.3 million in revenue for the city and state.  According to the report from the chief financial officer at the Met, in 2008-2009 they received about 13% of their operating revenue from the City of New York, about $27 million.

      So how about the Mets?

      The case for financing sports stadium development with public funds has been an increasingly scrutinized topic, especially during the downturn in the economy. With both its baseball franchises building new stadiums over the past few years, New York City has seen its share of pushback for such funding, with the construction of the Yankees’ and Mets’ stadiums costing a total northward of $2 billion combined. However, these franchises still saw significant public support for their stadiums in the form of taxpayer funds, tax-free bonds, and infrastructure improvements, with the Mets receiving nearly $100 million in public financing from the city for its new stadium. While it’s hard to calculate the exact economic impact of the New York Mets new stadium, Citi Field, due to the relatively short time it has been in existence, in 2006 the Independent Budget Office (IBO) in New York City had this to say: Read the rest of this entry »

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      Tim Mikulski

      Dr. Jim Taylor, a psychologist who specializes in the areas of “business, sport, and parenting” and has also worked with a number of performing arts groups and individual artists over the years, recently published a blog post that takes a different approach to the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) movement in American education. Instead of turning STEM to STEAM to include the arts, Dr. Taylor makes a modification to the lovable acronym, changing it to STAMPER (science, technology, arts, math, physical, emotions, and reason).

      How’s that for covering all of your bases?

      In the post, Taylor says that he took engineering out of the equation, so to speak, because it is an “offspring of science, technology, and math” and he thinks the subject should remain in college and graduate programs, not in K-12 education. Read the rest of this entry »

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      When a national magazine like Newsweek is sounding the alarm call about the Creativity Crisis and its impact on the future of the American economy, you know it’s an issue that can’t be ignored. And though losing our creative edge poses problems for everyone, the business community has particular potential to suffer from a lack of creative talent going forward. So it’s very exciting to see businesses taking the lead in addressing the creativity crisis in their own communities.

      Michelle Walker-Moak’s post for the Applied Materials blog describes why the technology company supports arts education. “At Applied Materials we know that our industry’s success is dependent upon relentless innovation,” writes Walker-Moak. “Current research shows that the process of idea-generation can be taught, but we must make adjustments in our school curriculum to encourage innovative thinking.”

      It’s for these reasons that Applied Materials is a supporter of mindPOP, a collaborative initiative with the goal of increasing students’ access to quality arts education in Austin, Texas. mindPOP works with arts nonprofits, educators, advocates, and other concerned community members to address four focus areas—coordination, quality instruction, impact and equity. Read the rest of this entry »

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      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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