Welcome to the Green Paper discussion on Private Sector Support for the Arts. We encourage you to read the full Green Paper available in the tab above and make general comments at this time. Be sure to keep your comments brief—Keely Saye, the Ambassador for this Green Paper will soon begin deeper, threaded conversations around specific paragraphs, sections or themes that appear in this Green Paper. Follow this conversation thoroughly by adding the Private Sector Support for the Arts feed to your RSS reader!

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Green Paper: Strings

Posted by Michael R. Gagliardo On February - 16 - 2010No comments yet

Welcome to the Green Paper discussion on Strings. We encourage you to read the full Green Paper available in the tab above and make general comments at this time. Be sure to keep your comments brief—Michael Gagliardo, the Ambassador for this Green Paper will soon begin deeper, threaded conversations around specific paragraphs, sections or themes that appear in this Green Paper. Follow this conversation thoroughly by adding the Strings feed to your RSS reader!

Welcome to the Green Paper discussion on The Future of Digital Infrastructure for the Creative Economy. We encourage you to read the full Green Paper available in the tab above and make general comments at this time. Be sure to keep your comments brief—Casey Rae-Hunter, the Ambassador for this Green Paper will soon begin deeper, threaded conversations around specific paragraphs, sections or themes that appear in this Green Paper. Follow this conversation thoroughly by adding The Future of Digital Infrastructure for the Creative Economy feed to your RSS reader!

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Welcome to the Green Paper discussion on Urban Municipal Arts Agencies. We encourage you to read the full Green Paper available in the tab above and make general comments at this time. Be sure to keep your comments brief—Bettina Swigger, the Ambassador for this Green Paper will soon begin deeper, threaded conversations around specific paragraphs, sections or themes that appear in this Green Paper. Follow this conversation thoroughly by adding the Urban Municipal Arts Agencies feed to your RSS reader!

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Last month, as hundreds of thousands of New York City sight-seers walked through Times Square, the message of arts education was promoted through an interesting partnership of arts and business. For an entire week in January, MTV aired Americans for the Arts’ The Arts. Ask for More. public service awareness campaign television ad Raisin Brahms four times per hour on MTV 44 ½, one of the largest high definition screens in Times Square.

As an entertainment industry stronghold that believes in the power of the arts, MTV leads by example—showing other companies that supporting the arts is crucial to creativity, learning, a powerful workforce, and a strong economy. This collaborative effort is a great example of creative partnerships between business and the arts.

Each year at THE BCA TEN: Best Companies Supporting the Arts in America gala, businesses are celebrated for their support of the arts, including partnerships with arts organizations, sponsorships, leadership, grants, and other cross sector collaborative efforts. In November, the Business Committee for the Arts will once again come together to celebrate THE BCA TEN 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

With the release of President Obama’s budget today, the LA Times Culture Monster blog brings up some important questions about the arts and where they will stand financially in 2011 and beyond.  If the NEA is facing cuts and there are tax hikes proposed for wealthy individuals, where will this leave the arts?  To read more about this, click here.

Stay tuned this week for more on this topic from Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Chief Counsel of Government and Public Affairs of Americans for the Arts.

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Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

Leading up to Americans for the Arts Half-Century Summit in June, we will be previewing our host city Baltimore and all it has to offer in a series of blog posts entitled “Do You Know Charm City?”  The first post comes from our host, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts. 

This is our Baltimore: more than two hundred small neighborhoods that are as quirky and individual as the people who live in them; restaurants with award-winning food recognized by James Beard himself and the foundation named in his honor; art museums and galleries; historic buildings and breathtaking architecture; cultural attractions such as the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, Fort McHenry, and the Great Blacks in Wax museum; high-end boutique shopping and kitschy thrift stores; art movie houses and live theaters; sports arenas that are home to the Orioles, the Ravens, and the Blast; and nightlife—from local bands of every genre to our own symphony orchestra. Read the rest of this entry »

by Joanna Chin, Program Coordinator, Animating Democracy

According to the recently released National Arts Index, one third of arts groups are not making their budget.

The downturn in the economy, combined with the Index’s clear results, has shown that when giving dries up, an alarming number of arts groups are slowly pulled into financial starvation. This unsurprising revelation, now rooted in the Index’s data, leaves the field in an interesting predicament: Do we beg for more money to support a clearly failing subsidy model? Do we follow the suggestions of others who say to let financially weak nonprofits die?

A Darwinist at heart, I was happy to stumble upon an article in Next American City revealing that perhaps a more optimistic alternative exists: adapt and survive. We, as artists, pride ourselves on being creative but, as business people, still cling to old paradigms of audience engagement or follow a step behind widely popular trends (e.g., social networking).

However, organizations such as FEAST (Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics) in Brooklyn, NY, and Sunday Soup (a program of InCUBATE) in Chicago, illustrate the possibility of breaking away from government/funder aid with their innovative application of community-supported arts grantmaking. Read the rest of this entry »

What an adventure! When Randy Cohen and I started putting the National Arts Index together in 2005, we had little sense of how expansive it would become. At first, we hoped to find about 25 or 30 national and annual measures of arts and culture activity that we could report on annually. We knew of a few national service organizations that kept what we thought were pretty good and robust measures of annual activity in their fields – think symphonies, opera, and theatre. We knew of periodical studies by the NEA and the Census Bureau, as well as some measures at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Urban Institute. When we got going, we thought we could cobble these together into a pretty good annual picture of arts and culture in the U.S. over time.

These turned out to be only a fraction of the data that we ultimately found, as you can see in the full Index report on this site. Our final report, with 76 indicators, really shows a more diverse and multi-faceted system of the arts in America, one that we knew was there, but had not been able to get our hands around. No surprise: there are so many dimensions to the arts system: people, groups, institutions, artistic disciplines, artistic genres, businesses, nonprofit, and government, products, services, experiences, jobs, volunteers, and so much more. Not only “no surprise,” but also “no problem”: we wanted the Index to be as inclusive as possible, so we were happy to find all of the different measures.

Read the rest of this entry »

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At a time when the arts and culture community’s understanding of itself is shifting away from traditional conceptions of “arts participation” (i.e. attendance) and focus on publicly-supported business models, creating an empirical index such as the National Arts Index (NAI) is a daunting task. The challenge is that many arts-related data sources are anchored in conventional conceptions of the sector.  Consequently, the NAI makes huge steps forward by including both for- and non-profit indicators, by including indicators of personal participation, and by shedding light on lesser-utilized data sources (see pages 131-134 of the report).

The arts and culture sector seems to be moving toward a broader, more holistic, understanding of itself – one that spans a larger swath of the ‘cultural ecology’ – including professional arts, participatory practice and cultural literacy.  The cultural ecology framework developed by John Kreidler and Philip J. Trounstine in their 2005 Creative Community Index report (page 6) is a simple and elegant depiction of the cultural system. As we in the field continue to develop this broader self-definition, participatory practice and cultural literacy will need to be characterized at the same level of detail as indicators currently included in the NAI. Read the rest of this entry »

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As Bill Ivey says, “policy accretes around bodies of data.” If we can develop commonly-accepted metrics for characterizing cultural vitality, then we stand a better chance of influencing policy. You can’t win the game if you don’t know the score. And, if you are filling a void of scorekeeping, then you get to shape the rules for scorekeeping, which means you can change the conversation.  I see the National Arts Index (NAI) as a major step forward on a longer pathway of developing a set of generally accepted standards for assessing cultural vitality in communities, regions and the country. The Urban Institute has already done a lot of forward thinking about the topic, which you can read about here. What matters the most, however, is not the data itself, but the conversation that happens around the data and the extent to which the NAI can be used to galvanize discussion amongst people who can actually change policy.

When the NAI was discussed at the Grantmakers in the Arts conference back in October, it was interesting to see how some people immediately looked through the list of the 76 indicators to see what was included and what was not included. For example, one person pointed out that the NAI includes just one indicator of arts creation (i.e., “participation in music making, painting, drawing, and/or photography”). There are no indicators, for example, of the numbers of people who sing in choirs, or who compose music on GarageBand, or who belly dance.  Those types of data points simply aren’t available, or would cost a lot to generate. But what is the cost of not including them in the national conversation about cultural vitality? This is the risk associated with any aggregate measure like the NAI. Read the rest of this entry »

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The National Arts Index is the latest in a series of credible research reports to document the impact of arts and culture on a national and local level. Economic impact studies like the Arts & Economic Prosperity reports, employment data from the Creative Industries Report and other studies have all made significant contributions to our understanding of size and scope of the creative sector, helping to make the case for increased investment in arts and culture.

I know first-hand how valuable this information is to elected officials and policy makers when it comes to setting budget priorities. We continually reply on research from Americans for the Arts and other sources to keep civic leaders and the public informed and up to date on the health of our cultural sector. In difficult budget times like these, the NAI provides a new opportunity to engage in that conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce applications for Americans for the Arts’ Professional Development Fund for Emerging Arts Leaders of Color. A total of five Joyce Fellows from the Great Lakes region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) will be selected to participate in this program in 2010.  Fellows will receive stipends of $3,000 to support their attendance at the 2010 Americans for the Arts 50th Anniversary Summit/Annual Convention, 2010 National Arts Marketing Project Conference, and 2011 Arts Advocacy Day. In addition, fellows will have special opportunities to meet field leaders, connect with mentors, and receive individualized career coaching.  Support for this program is provided by the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation.

Eligibility information and application materials can be found here.

This past week I attended a U.S. Department of Education “stakeholders” meeting on the reauthorization of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The meeting was ground-breaking since it was the first time that the national arts education community had been invited to specifically address the reauthorization policy efforts. Since last June, the Department has been holding these meetings on various reform topics, typically broad and encompassing multiple sectors of the education universe. The meeting was led by Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement (OII) Jim Shelton and attended by Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (PEPD) Carmel Martin, OII Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary Scott Pearson, and PEPD Deputy Assistant Secretary Emma Vadehra.

Held in the Department’s auditorium, the meeting began with short introductory remarks by Shelton and Martin and then the arts education advocates in the audience were given time to speak. While a transcript of the meeting is expected, it will be weeks before it is available.  I’ll just simply say that each speaker made a thoughtful and passionate case for strengthening the arts through ESEA reauthorization. In most cases, representatives from each organization cited research or programs their members had run – or the school administrators and arts educators in the audience spoke about their schools and districts and the positive impact that arts education makes locally. Read the rest of this entry »

Galileo Galiliei once said, “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” I congratulate Americans for the Arts and their partners for doing just that by developing the National Arts Index. In so doing they have ignited a crucial national conversation about the arts, their health and vitality, and that of our communities and nation.

Artists, arts administrators and arts patrons may ask, “Why is this Index necessary? Why must we quantify the arts?  The arts are important for their own sake and they are good for our souls, for our children, for the world.” They are, but unfortunately that message doesn’t get through to many policy makers. I liken the arts community’s failure to verbally articulate the value of the arts to a conversation between two people who speak two different languages. One yells louder, figuring sooner or later the other person will understand. We must be able to translate what we value into what the person or audience to whom we are speaking values.  The National Arts Index will be an important aid in this translation process.   Read the rest of this entry »

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