Hello Everyone-

I have been waiting to make an “official” post until I could create a slightly organized pattern as to how these posts would go so that folks would know when to check if a new post has been published. I have decided, until the conversation gets going a bit more, I will publish one post about a specific portion of the green paper every other week, and a post about a general topic regarding the field in the weeks between. So, check the blog each Monday, and something new should be up. :)

Specific topic #1
Reading thru the green paper, I came across this sentence that I thought many of us could relate to:

“Changes in the American economic and healthcare systems, coupled with the growth of our aging populations, bring opportunities for expansion of the arts in healthcare into rural communities and the realms of public health, social services, and human services.” Read the rest of this entry »

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How did I end up writing for this blog salon? Do my friends at Americans for the Arts know how old I am? I am going to hang up my GIA hat for a moment, and write from my perspective as a long-time advisor and current board president of the Washington Ensemble Theater in Seattle. I have been working with this group for roughly five years, and most of the artists involved are in their 20’s or early 30s.

What have I learned?  Folks are coming out of MA programs in acting, theater design, and directing graduate without receiving much training in basic business, finance, or management skills. But, on the other hand, they are absolutely fearless about jumping in and making up what is needed from scratch. This is both a blessing and a curse.  Along with administrative innovation comes glacial progress at basic management tasks, and a legion of artists becoming burnt out from endless tasks done inefficiently. If this company is representative of the field, there is a lot of time and energy wasted reinventing wheels. Multiply this by hundreds of comparable small theaters and you have colossal waste. Read the rest of this entry »

In October 2009, I attended a panel put together by the Hewlett Foundation’s Marc Vogl at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference on new models and emerging leaders in the arts. Afterwards, Marc offered to send me, like everyone else who attended the panel, a copy of the Focus Group on Next Generation Leadership report by Barry Hessenius. The report is wonderful (disclosure: I participated in one of said focus groups during my internship at Hewlett in summer 2008), but since I had already read it, my attention was drawn instead to something else Marc included in the package: an excerpt from the most recent application for funding from the Hewlett Foundation that specifically asks grantseekers to address emerging leader issues.

For context, everyone should understand that Hewlett is a major funder of the performing arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nearly every player in the region either receives grants from Hewlett or aspires to. So the Performing Arts Program team’s decision to put this in the application means that a lot of people will be filling it out. And just what questions will they be answering? Well, here’s a sample:

Have you provided formal feedback about job performance to all of your employees in the last 12 months (for example, through performance evaluations, a discussion on meeting job expectations, etc.)? Read the rest of this entry »

Take a Chance on Me

Posted by Michael Bigley On April - 5 - 20102 COMMENTS

Michael Bigley

We’ve all been through the process of job applications. Finding the job that feels just right and sending in that perfect resume and cover letter, hoping that the organization takes the chance. I was fortunate that, at 23 years old, someone took a leap of faith in hiring a very green arts education staffer and let me develop the program to become head of that department four years later. It’s the “breaking in” that is difficult, and equally as difficult is continuing to show your value within an organization.

Whether you are currently job searching or already working for a nonprofit , emerging professionals need to consider a couple of actions to position themselves for advancement: Read the rest of this entry »

Letitia F. Ivins

When the Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles (EAL/LA) network submitted its initial annual plan and budget to the Irvine Foundation in the spring of 2009, the ask was a modest $8,000. The Irvine Foundation then queried: What we would do with $75,000 over three years? Say what?! With twinkling eyes and pants of excitement, we drafted our formal proposal around this funding amount. Honored by the request and smitten by the Foundation’s vision and progressive funding priority, the core group of EAL/LA members working on the proposal didn’t question the ramifications (mostly positive, some provocative) of envisioning our program around this new funding stream. This would be the first grant received by the network, so the first time this organic, budget-less network conceived a sustainable infrastructure.

While the other California Emerging Leader networks have officially received funding, EAL/LA awaits approval by a fiscal sponsor (Community Partners www.communitypartners.org – fingers crossed!) For Community Partners, a successful fiscal sponsor has a development plan. While it’s important for any nonprofit to strive for diverse funding, I wonder if EAL/LA’s investment in development efforts, will impede the members’ ability to execute the programs that are at the network’s core: professional development, social networking events and advocacy?

How do we chart a realistic growth pattern and ensure sustainability without straying from our critical programs for the sake of pursuing new funding? Read the rest of this entry »

Josh Russell

One of the most common challenges among arts and culture organizations that we work with in Silicon Valley is, “how can we reach out and engage younger audiences?”

It’s a very important question and one that every organization should be considering. As we all know, audiences, arts leaders and donors are not getting younger. Recognizing the issue is the first step but the solution might literally be just a few steps from where you are reading this now.

I believe the biggest untapped market for engaging a younger audience is the younger, emerging leader that’s working for your arts organization. How can somebody who is not in the age group of the audience you are trying to reach know what that audience cares about and how they make their entertainment decisions? You can’t – and even if you’ve read studies and reports, they don’t tell the whole story. Read the rest of this entry »

Stephanie Evans

In June 2009, at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Seattle, I met Marc Vogl from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for the first time.  Marc gave me a copy of a study commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation, titled Focus Group on Next Generation Leadership.  I came back to DC after convention, and spent a few hours on my back porch at home reading the study cover to cover.  The study, which is actually the second part of a 2-Phase Hewlett initiative, was conducted through the use of eight focus groups – six composed of Millenials and Gen Xers, and two composed of Boomers.

The conclusions of the study shed light on the wide ranging generational attitudes towards issues of work in the nonprofit arts sector.  It demonstrated a lack of understanding one another on the sides of both emerging and seasoned leaders.  The end of the study includes a list of recommendations for individual organizations and funders on how to manage the “generational divide” taking place in our sector. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been six years since the George Gund Foundation started its Fellows Program, and the benefits for both the fellows and the foundation have far exceeded our expectations.

Each fellow is with us for two years (we just selected the seventh who will start this summer) and rotates through all our program areas, getting a real overview of the nonprofit community and the foundation world. They are not interns, relegated to tangential projects, but integral members of our staff. The fellows review proposals, participate in all staff discussions and decisions, manage special assignments, staff community committees and taskforces and represent the foundation at meetings and events. Scheduled bi-weekly meetings with our executive director and informal meetings with staff members provide ongoing mentoring opportunities. Read the rest of this entry »

Backing it up…

Posted by Mike Latvis On April - 2 - 2010No comments yet

As arts advocates throughout the country prepare to converge on our nation’s capitol for Arts Advocacy Day, I began thinking of the conversations many will have with their members of Congress. Some will be fruitful while others will feel like they’re talking to a brick wall, but regardless of the situation we will certainly get our point across.

But that got me thinking. What is our point, how do we back it up and do they get it?

I believe that there are two key elements to making our case for increased and sustainable funding for the arts. We need to have a compelling story that is backed up with reliable and comprehensive data.

We have the stories down pat. We know how to talk about John Q Student who was saved by the arts or how Organization B and Artist X contributed to the revitalization of a community’s downtown development. We are great story tellers, but for the most part cannot back up our stories with data.

It’s a common theme that I’ve seen come out of many meetings, interviews and conversations over the past couple of years. Elected officials, and the public in general, understand what we are doing but they need the numbers to back it up. They want to know exactly how many jobs we create, how much money is contributed to the local and regional economy, etc. Until we are able to provide them with reliable data, they will hear what we’re saying/doing but will never “get it”. Read the rest of this entry »

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If We Build It. . .

Posted by Casey Rae-Hunter On April - 2 - 20101 COMMENT

Flexibility has never been more important to our field. The economy is in a protracted downturn, and we know that there will continue to be contractions. Yet it’s not all doom-and-gloom — some of these shakeups will also reveal new opportunities. To seize them, we must be ready to refine our approaches and document and build on our successes. And we can’t be stingy, either. In a time of profound economic challenge, the sustainability of our sector will depend to a large degree on willingness to collaborate and lead by example.

The Fractured Atlas, NAMAC and Future of Music Coalition green paper, “The Future of Digital Infrastructure for the Creative Economy,” identifies a few tech and policy issues that arts groups might do well to consider. It’s not meant to be a magical solutions-generator for the arts, but it does present several possible frameworks that our field can use to navigate ever-shifting technological and cultural terrain. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tiffany Bradley

I had the great pleasure to see Grammy-winning musical artist Angélique Kidjo last week at Town Hall, a nonprofit venue in the Theater District here in New York City. I always feel guilty, because it feels like I spend more time traveling for work than actually seeing arts performances! And there’s no point in studying audience development if you are never actually in an audience. (It seems a bit disingenuous actually!) The performance was great, the house was full, and everyone had a great time. Here are some arts marketing takeaways that I think apply to all of us:

Late is the new early: I first heard about the show three weeks before it happened (via print media of all things!) At that time, I thought it sounded like a good idea. I then proceeded to do nothing. I remembered that the show was happening two days before the actual performance. It seemed like an even better idea, so I bought a ticket. At seven in the morning online before heading to work. As much as we marketing folks hate the last-minute ticket buyers, we are the last-minute ticket buyers! With all the demands on my time, I never plan ahead. So yes, we really need to have every single bit of information relating to a purchase decision easily available 24/7. We all know this, but it bears repeating. If I have my credit card out and can’t figure out curtain time or parking or what I’m supposed to wear, I might just stay home with Netflix. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bob Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, talks with Jamie Boese about what makes the Green Paper initiative so revolutionary. Both Jamie and Bob invite our readers and listeners to let their voices be heard as we plan for the future of the arts field and different art disciplines.

Green Paper topics and partners can be found here.

Jalyce Mangum

Since Day 1 of my internship at Americans for the Arts, I have toiled to digest the information detailed in the National Arts Index: The good …the bearable, and the…unsavory. This report measures the health and vitality of arts and culture in America. My status so far, is ‘processing.’

Nonetheless, the NAI exposes compelling realities. One in particular caught my eye:  “Nonprofit arts organizations are losing their ‘market share’ of philanthropy to other charitable areas.” The share of corporate and foundation funding directed toward the arts has decreased from 10.3 to 4.6 percent and 14.8 to 10.6 percent between 1998 and 2007 respectively. I would hate to acknowledge the existence of even a tinge of competition among nonprofit organizations for planned giving. But if there was a competition for funding in the cause world, we would be losing.

We spend hours upon end explaining why the arts are important. The Private Sector Blog Salon, held March 8-12, offered tools to strengthen your case for arts funding among private contributors. But for some reason, the arts are still overlooked as a legitimate cause. The arts do not build houses, feed the poor, dig for wells, etc. Right? Wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to the Green Paper discussion on Private Sector Support for the Arts. As a way to celebrate the successes of the past 50 years, Americans for the Arts has partnered with over twenty arts service organizations and peer groups to collect Green Papers. And most importantly, we want your feedback!

I’m proud to serve as an Ambassador to the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties’ Green Paper on Private Sector Support for the Arts. This short vision of the future is meant to inspire a dialogue on the future of the arts, so I invite you to comment, make suggestions, and offer alternative visions in this virtual exchange of ideas through the ARTSblog Green Papers.

Andy Witt is the Executive Director of the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties. I encourage you to read Andy’s Green Paper on Private Sector Support for the Arts in its entirety, but here is a quick summary with questions at the end: Read the rest of this entry »

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Marete Wester

I love the spring for many reasons. For one, it often marks the start when the Americans for the Arts staff members begin receiving requests to meet with international visitors who are traveling in the United States. I love the visits, because it is always a fascinating opportunity to learn about cultural policy across the globe—from Iraq to South Korea to Germany.

In addition to government support in the United States, the question we are asked most often is, “How does our private sector model of support for the arts work?” It is no secret that in other countries throughout the world it is usually the government that is the largest patron of arts and culture. However, it is fair to say that many countries are putting increasing pressure on their cultural sector to think about how businesses and corporations and philanthropy can play a greater role in their support.

For better or worse, because the public/private sector support system is firmly embedded in our cultural DNA, we are the model the rest of the world comes here to learn more about. Read the rest of this entry »

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