The first thing I did was set a goal I could never reach on my own. Long before I even joined or started a cause. I just knew I had to go big if I were going to achieve anything at all.

Second, I picked something that I knew I was connected to in a big way. Something that I could discuss until the room ran out of air. And I chose something that I didn’t think of as controversial. There are people who think my cause is controversial, but to me, its a no brainer. It keeps me from playing small, being self conscious, or overly concerned about what other people will think of me. The cause on Facebook is Keep the Arts in Public Schools.

The third thing I did was make a declaration. I said to myself and everyone I knew for an entire month, “This year I’m raising $50,000 for arts education in grade schools. I don’t know how, I just know I will.” Read the rest of this entry »

From September 21 to 25, two dozen arts education experts from around the country will blog daily on Americans for the Arts’ new arts education blog and webpage:

Each September, thousands visit our site, taking the start of the school year as an opportunity to ask questions about their children’s arts education. So the topic of this blog event will serve not only arts professionals but also citizens and concerned parents. Our esteemed bloggers will be talking about steps each person can take to ensure the children of their community have access to a great arts education.

Our bloggers will include members of the Arts Education Council of Americans for the Arts; Lucia Brawley, activist, actress, and writer for the Huffington Post; emerging leaders Jenna Lee and Kim Willey, both of Washington, DC; Mike Blakeslee from MENC; state advocacy leaders; state department of education staff; teaching artists; local program experts; and, other folks from all over the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Americans for the Arts Network Councils are volunteer, working bodies that augment and inform the work of Americans for the Arts. The Network Councils for Arts Education, Emerging Leaders, and Public Art are all seeking nominations for a three-year term from January 1, 2010–December 30, 2012.

Candidates must be professional members of Americans for the Arts and you may nominate yourself or a colleague. The deadline for nominations is October 2, 2009. To find out more about eligibility, guidelines, and nominating yourself or a colleague, visit our website.

Questions about getting involved in the networks?  E-mail

I’m so happy to have been invited to return to the National Arts Marketing Project Conference and host another Sponsorship Boot Camp Preconference. I’ve been involved since the conference’s first year in 2001, and I’m flattered to have been invited back ever since to run the boot camp. I must be doing something right. Having watched how these NAMP Conferences have grown since the beginning,  I have to admit that they have gotten better and better (ie, content), not just bigger and bigger.

As you can imagine, securing corporate money is getting more difficult in today’s economy so the boot camp has become a staple at the conference.  I promise each and every one of you that you will walk out of the room with specific tools – that work – starting  the first day you get back to your desk.

Let me tell you a little bit about my background. I spent 20 years giving away money around the world for The Chase Manhattan Bank, that is, “heritage” Chase, the original one before it merged with any other banks. I spent eight years in the Philanthropy group and then moved over to Marketing for what I thought would be six months. The six months turned into 12 more years, and I landed up creating the first sponsorship program in a commercial bank.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Today, The Washington Times published an editorial titled “Inartful Politics” that contains many inaccuracies and fabrications. It was originally posted on its The Water Cooler blog and was preceded by a number of other blog posts by the writer that were equally unfounded.

On September 13, I issued the following letter to the editors of The Washington Times urging them to correct this misinformation.

To the Editors of The Washington Times:The better health care for artists conspiracy fabricated by Kerry Picket of The Washington Times goes something like this:

The White House and the NEA, which gives out grants, “pressured” 21 national arts organizations and a bunch of artists on a conference call to “comply with the Administration’s wishes” to advocate for health care which resulted in the release of statements endorsing health care reform and urging Congress to act. Plus, when the President and CEO of Americans for the Arts met with the incoming NEA Chair on August 27 or 28, as chronicled in a podcast by Americans for the Arts, Lynch must have been pushed into supporting health care reform because the podcast posted on his website mentioned it once, and then had a mysterious audio failure for a couple of days at the end of August. And when Ms. Picket called about the podcast it went back up.

Moderately interesting as fiction, this, however, is very poor journalism. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re all back to school…hooray!  I think.  It’s a little hard to be excited as I begin the new semester at my university in California;  I’ve been furloughed at 10% of my pay, the students are paying 30% more than they did last semester, and so many classes have been cut that students are scrambling. What a tough entry into a new year – making learning exciting a pretty big challenge.

Despite the challenges, we all have roles to play – and it is important to play them well!  As I met with my students the first day, I went over the syllabus, as I usually do, and then I played a song from “Into the Woods,” by Stephen Sondheim.  The class I teach is called “Learning Through the Arts.”  The song I played is called “Children will listen.”  It is a wonderful tune with great lyrics (sampled here): Read the rest of this entry »

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serveIn this podcast, Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Chief Counsel for Government and Public Affairs, discusses the United We Serve ArtsUSA website. This effort is designed to collect arts volunteer stories from across the country, from artists teaching free classes to arts organizations joining together for a canned food drive, to show how powerful a role the arts play in community service.

Join us here every Friday, where you’ll find a new ArtCast audio blog featuring the leaders of Americans for the Arts as they focus on important and timely topics that affect you and your arts community.

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I spent last week in Vermont, which is where I grew up. I was in Middlebury, where my parents and one of my brothers live. It was achingly beautiful—the best week of the summer people kept saying to me—they’d had a lot of rain all season but the sun was fantastic all week long. 

But it was my first time back in town since the Frog Hollow closed. Frog Hollow is the Vermont State Craft Center, and while they still maintain a prime retail location on Church Street in Burlington, they closed their Middlebury location. Their spot in Middlebury was a fantastic little red building built onto the rock of a steep hillside on Mill Street. The Otter Creek Falls roared outside the picture window.   Whether I was buying or just looking, I would go there every time I visited home. Read the rest of this entry »

The Aversion to Risk

Posted by Adam Thurman On September - 8 - 2009No comments yet

To have a successful career in the arts you have to understand risk aversion.

Here’s the best definition of risk aversion I have ever heard and it is particular to the performing arts: Most people, when given the option to attend a performing arts event are more scared that the performance is going to be disappointing then they are excited that the performance is going to be good.

When we approach the public with our work, they immediately ask themselves, “is this worth my time and money?” And the default answer to that question is “no” until we prove otherwise.

That means the burden of proof is on us. Many of us don’t understand this. Read the rest of this entry »

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MusicianCorpsMusic National Service (MNS) is a nonprofit enterprise that recently launched MusicianCorps, a domestic “musical Peace Corps,” in four American cities. MusicianCorps recruits, trains and places talented musicians in under-resourced schools, low-income communities and health care settings  for a year of “music public service.” The goal of the organization is to promote service through the arts, strengthen 21st century skills, and bring diverse communities together through music.

Follow this link to the site to read more about this volunteer project.

A blog post on the Education Policy Blog offers a slice of a new report. It’s concerning both for students and for new professionals:

  • 31% of young workers report being uninsured, up from 24% 10 years ago, and 79% of the uninsured say they don’t have coverage because they can’t afford it or their employer does not offer it.
  • Strikingly, one in three young workers are currently living at home with their parents.
  • Only 31% say they make enough money to cover their bills and put some money aside—22% points fewer than in 1999—while 24% cannot even pay their monthly bills.
  • A third cannot pay their bills and seven in 10 do not have enough saved to cover two months of living expenses.
  • 37% have put off education or professional development because they can’t afford it. Read the rest of this entry »


In this podcast Bob Lynch, President & CEO of Americans for the Arts, discusses a recent Americans for the Arts convening of leaders in the arts and philanthropy at the Aspen Institute. The topic of this second annual convening, a partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Harman-Eisner Arts Program, was the state of private sector giving to the arts.

Join us here every Friday, where you’ll find a new ArtCast audio blog featuring the leaders of Americans for the Arts as they focus on important and timely topics that affect you and your arts community.


Five hundred miles northwest of nature’s scouring of the southern California landscape a planned burn is about to take place in the Black Rock desert of Nevada. At midnight August 31, the gates opened to hundreds of cars, RV’s and truckloads of people and arriving for the week-long Burning Man festival of art, self-expression, self-reliance, participation, and community.

Americans for the Arts featured Burning Man founder and director Larry Harvey at the 2007 Las Vegas Annual Convention. Harvey co-presented with artists Lady Bee, Louis Brill, and Leslie Pritchett discussing the interactive art of Black Rock City, the temporary experimental community of over 40,000 people that exists the week before Labor Day every year. Each year, participants bring art of all forms as well as materials to create more art during the week-long event. This year’s theme, Evolution, was posed to Burners, “What are we as human beings, where have we come from, and how may we adapt to meet an ever-changing world?”

What is Burning Man? According to their website, “Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind.” Read the rest of this entry »

With schools back in session around the country, shortfalls in many state budgets have forced school systems to cut back art and music programs. This article offers parents some ideas to fill in the gaps in arts education their kids may face this coming year. What are some other ideas parents can use to fill these gaps and encourage participation in the arts outside of school in the coming months?

With so much in the news about the faltering economy, it’s sometimes hard to find stories about positive change still happening in communities around us. There’s a really wonderful story about the rebirth of the town of Ben Wheeler, Texas on Art&Seek–a website of KERA public media in North Texas. A local man named Brooks Gremmels has started to transform a town that was dying into a vibrant artist colony. He’s formed a 501(c)3 and development company and is renting store fronts to artists for $1 a month. The story is here.

Tell us about projects in your local area where the arts are helping build community.

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices


Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.