American Express and cause-related website have chosen to feature Americans for the Arts as one of only 10 Arts & Culture organizations in their new social media Members Project campaign. The participation of Americans for the Arts means added visibility and exposure for our organization and its work in arts advocacy and other critical programs, but also a chance to win a $200,000 award from American Express. is a go-to site for volunteering and donating in a variety of topics and causes and is the social action network of Participant Media, the social change-oriented media company behind An Inconvenient Truth and Food Inc.

The Americans for the Arts page of the Member Project can be found here, with links to registering for and for voting in the campaign which runs through May 24, 2010. If you have a Facebook account, you can easily register from this page through Facebook Connect. Read the rest of this entry »

A few weeks ago, I was out to dinner with some colleagues and friends. We are all emerging leaders who work in the nonprofit arts field, for very different types of organizations and at various job levels within our organizations. During the course of our dinner, one of my friends brought up the subject of supervising staff. She had a question related to her personal experience supervising her own staff, and wanted to get our input. After we had all discussed my friend’s question, and gave a few tidbits of advice, I thought the conversation may morph into a different subject. However, I was surprised to find out that ALL of us had a story related to supervising staff—some good experiences, some not so good experiences. 

The next week, my colleague sat down in my office and said he was out to dinner with some arts friends, and the same subject of supervising staff came up.

Therefore—the seed for this blog post had been planted. Read the rest of this entry »

39 Steps

Posted by Jeff Hawthorne On March - 15 - 20105 COMMENTS

In reading all the great content here over the past few days, I’ve learned a lot. And I’ve had some new thoughts as well, inspired by others. So now, in honor of Broadway’s Hitchcock parody, I’ve come up with my own to-do list – 39 Next Steps, if you will – to build more private sector engagement of the arts here in Portland. Read the rest of this entry »

One of the themes of the blog posts this week has been about “telling our stories” in ways that resonate with corporate partners for the 21st century.   I want to tell the story of a small town Wisconsin arts organization that to me, defines the story that we should be telling about the arts to our corporate partners and everyone else.  The Northern Lakes Center for the Arts in Amery, population 2,777, located in beautiful northwestern Wisconsin about 65 miles from St. Paul, MN, is one of the most vibrant arts centers in Wisconsin, or anywhere.  The Center is a nationally recognized hub for the arts that truly involves its community in arts experiences on so many levels.

The Northern Lakes Center receives funding from plenty of public and private sources, but it earns income in ways that should serve as a model and inspiration for the future.   The Northern Lakes Center is the publisher for the weekly community paper in Clayton, WI (a smaller town about ten miles from Amery), a service which satisfies Clayton’s need for a community-based newspaper and, which brings in a good chunk of change for the Center each month from advertising and subscriptions.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dance Education

Posted by Betsy Loikow On March - 15 - 201014 COMMENTS

I was recently listening to a segment on the Diane Rehm show on NPR about First Lady Michelle Obama’s new initiative to combat childhood obesity, “Let’s Move,” (to hear the segment: Growing up in dance, I maintained a high level of physical activity as a child and, while the health benefits were never my motivation for dancing, they were a welcome benefit. Listening to the current debate on childhood obesity and the strategies of “Let’s Move,” I am struck by two things.

  1. Why does the focus on physical fitness and health so often focus solely on sports and leave out dance?
  2. How, as proponents of an education in dance in the ARTS can we tap into the concern over fitness and health without falling back into our traditional and stifling place as dance in P.E. programs? Read the rest of this entry »

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Amelia Northrup

In this tough economy, most of us have encouraged ourselves and others to look ahead to brighter times.

But, what exactly lies ahead in the next year for us? How can we make the most of our future? One thing is becoming clear—technology has something to do with it.

Last year, technology influenced our field tremendously. We saw ticketing software evolve, we saw organizations start to develop mobile apps, and the rise of crowd-funding with sites like Kickstarter, the list goes on.

Technology is moving at the speed of light, and innovation is around every corner. So here are some insider tips to get you ahead of the curve on the top trends poised to take off in 2011: Read the rest of this entry »

Making Change

Posted by Jennifer Armstrong On March - 12 - 20104 COMMENTS

Change happens. We make change happen.  Change changes us. We change places.  Becoming an arts leader is no small change.

Didn’t many of us start out in this business to make change, or at least to contribute to change already occurring? Did we really sign on to a life of low pay and low profile for the excitement of the status quo?  Is that what keeps our artists and audiences growing, the lure of monotony?  What are the road blocks that prevent us from being innovative agents of change? Read the rest of this entry »

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First, John Killacky, I’m so jealous that you blogged from and about Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and imaginary home of the Von Trapps. Second, I sensed a thread through many of the rich posts—notably Margy Waller’s and Barry Hessenius’—about the importance of telling an arts story that resonates and is relevant to listeners.

What is the connection between Salzburg and The Hurt Locker?  I believe it’s about authenticity and identity.

Read the rest of this entry »

I was inspired to connect the dots by John Cloys’ “Big Thing$ Come in Small Packages” and Mark Brewer’s “Finding Passionate Art Investors.” The challenge for the arts community is that we are currently caught in the “in-between.” Most institutions are trapped between the old fundraising techniques that we’ve practiced for the past thirty years and younger givers used to the new technologies of cyberspace.  We are “in-between” the generational gap of traditional donors who want their names on projects and buildings and a younger generation that wants to be totally involved and make community change with cell phones and ipods in hand.

One of our challenges is to position traditional arts institutions not as “entitlements for giving” but as agents for community development, cultural growth and economic expansion. This means a change in operations, marketing and programs. Younger, leaner, and more “hip” organizations may have the upper hand in their appeal to the new generation of givers. Ethnic-centric organizations have the ability to promote cultural diversity and understanding through their art that appeals to a generation that has grown up with a better reality of how our communities have changed.

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This week, hundreds of people met in Providence to discuss “Connecting Creative Communities” in New England.

While there, I had the chance to share our new research with the audience. The response was inspiring. So many people there seemed to recognize the polite head nodding we get when talking about ROI of the arts in dollars and cents. Like us, they also know it isn’t persuasive enough to decision-makers. So, the arts remain a vulnerable policy choice in the public arena. Read the rest of this entry »

Bob Lynch, President & CEO of Americans for the Arts, discusses the slippage in current private sector giving and addresses the private sector giving blog salon taking place on ARTSblog from March 8-12.

Bob also makes specific references to blog posts by Janet Brown, Julie Muraco, and Mark Brewer and urges visitors to catch up on the the blog posts from the salon.

To find the Salon blog posts in one place, use the Salon March 10 tag.

When Americans for the Arts rolled out its National Arts Index in January, it presented a new way to measure the health and vitality of the arts and culture sector by examining various indicators and comparing them to a 2003 baseline.

“Healthy” would not be a word used describe what the corporate giving figures will look like in 2009 and 2010, and there was some discussion as to whether business and corporate giving  to the arts would ever again be vital. Arthur C. Brooks, an advisor to the index, a musician, and president of the American Enterprise Institute, went so far as to declare that this, ladies and gentlemen, is the new reality for corporate giving in American, and we will never again see even the modest levels of support that arts organizations received in the mid 2000s.

Read the rest of this entry »

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get rid of
towel heads
and tuition will go down
tea party USA
4 Eva

This graffiti showed up in several women’s bathroom stalls on my college campus, California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) (just north of San Diego) last week. It fell on the heels of several racial incidents at another local campus, University of California San Diego, and the announcement on our campus, that we had been officially granted “Hispanic Serving Institution” status.

The President of the university immediately issued a statement that “hate crimes on campus will not be tolerated,” and university police “are taking all necessary steps to bring the person responsible to justice.” The president also posted a picture of the graffiti for all to witness (above). Students organized a huge “Stop the hate at CSUSM” rally within days, and during the rally many students expressed their fears, hopes, thoughts, and experiences through rap and poetry. In 1967, when I was in 3d grade, my elementary report card began with these words: Read the rest of this entry »

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After reading the blogs and participating in conference calls and every other forum, the question remains: What works? Because we are a UAF we want to know the message that helps garner investments. But any one of us knows that to do whatever we do, we need money. How do we get it?

We ask each other, searching for just the right message that will resonate–with corporations and individuals. One of my questions has become: Is true philanthropy gone? We continually try to link investment with return–and not just helping create a wonderfully rich community–a dollar return. What do you get for the money?

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I’d like to take this opportunity to brag about a very exciting creative economy effort in Wisconsin, in the Milwaukee region. National arts and culture leaders from around the country experienced Milwaukee’s vibrant arts and culture sector at the 2006 Americans for the Arts conference. Now southeast Wisconsin is leading the way in assessing, strengthening and sustaining the regional creative economy for the 21st century.

The Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee, the regional cultural development/service and advocacy organization, has recently received a $146,250 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for “Creative Works!”, a visionary project to turn cultural and creative vision into action and results.

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