Andrew Horwitz

Andrew Horwitz

It was close to seven years after we launched Culturebot.org when my colleague Jeremy M. Barker joined the effort, and I had the time to begin more clearly articulating how the site functioned as community archive and platform for discourse. Rather than recapitulate the entire narrative, I will share some insights from my experience:

1. Positioning the Archive

Culturebot’s essential point of difference is positional. Since Culturebot.org originated at Performance Space 122 (P.S.122) –a hub of community – and because it has always operated from within that community of artists, it has never been positioned within either journalism or academia. Insofar as capacity and resources have allowed, Culturebot has been a collaboratively created, community-supported archive to promote a variety of perspectives and complexity of critical discourse. Even as it serves as a dynamic social map enabling a community to self-define, Culturebot is also meant to serve a critical function – to allow dissent and support voices that may otherwise be ignored. Read the rest of this entry »

Dee Boyle Clapp

Dee Boyle Clapp

Archiving community cultural development and the story of the arts through arts policy is important to the Arts Extension Service.

We recently launched the National Arts Policy Archive and Library (NAPAAL) in partnership with the UMass Amherst Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) as a free-standing collection within SCUA’s Social Change Collection.  SCUA staff does the hard work of archiving, digitizing, and making it possible for anyone with internet access to explore these materials.  They ensure that the primary documents will be stored and made available for visitors.   Read the rest of this entry »

Toolbox as Documentation

Posted by Liz Lerman On May - 15 - 20141 COMMENT
Liz Lerman

Liz Lerman

The topic for this salon is big. I am going to write about one small part of it. I am interested in how we observe our processes, discern them as repeatable actions, develop them to become tools for others to borrow and make their own. I believe that we can harvest our histories, make sense of what we did and describe it in terms that help us understand the context, the decisions, and perhaps the wisdom and meaning surrounding the work.  At the same time we can delineate the data, information, formats, processes that may aid others in their work.

In my case, the idea for such a toolbox made from thousands of hours of teaching and choreographing and dancing came in an instant.  It was a visitation born out of utter confusion and despair.  As I was preparing to lead a workshop for K-12 teachers I was pondering why the organizing arts and educational institution with whom I was working wanted an outline from me that would describe what was to transpire.  They wanted to hand it out at the beginning even though we all knew that the activities would change once I was in the room with the very particular people and needs that would coalesce that afternoon.  It was true I had a plan, but it was equally true that the plan would shift as soon as we began our work. Read the rest of this entry »

Andrew Horwitz

Andrew Horwitz

I have come to view human history as an epic tragedy of inadequate knowledge management. While I am dubious that we will ever finally solve the problem of knowledge lost across generations and cultures, much less the greater problem of recognizing wisdom when we see it, I’m hopeful that we can change our society’s perception of how history is constructed, and encourage a collaborative, peer-driven model of cultural discourse and documentation.

As Jamie Haft has inferred, it would be difficult to overstate the urgency around building new practices for discourse and documentation, not just in the field of community-based arts, but for society as a whole. We inhabit a moment of both great crisis as legacy systems fail and even greater opportunity to create new systems to supersede the old. Read the rest of this entry »

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” -Albert Einstein

Perhaps the most compelling support for learning at all ages comes from participants:

Road Scholar participants chat with Maestro Perlman after an attending an exclusive rehearsal by the BSO. Photo by BSO.

Road Scholar participants chat with Maestro Perlman after an attending an exclusive rehearsal by the BSO. Photo by BSO.

“Many of us have been going to hear the BSO for DECADES! The classes of “Behind the Scenes at the BSO” fulfilled many of our dreams. Thank you so very much for creating such a splendid series of classes.”  – Student at Johns Hopkins University’s Osher program; May, 2014

Children and parents listen and interact with musicians during the Music Box concert “Bugs” on April 5th, 2014. Photo by Jim Saah.

Children and parents listen and interact with musicians during the Music Box concert “Bugs” on April 5th, 2014. Photo by Jim Saah.

 

 

 

“The program for the tiniest audience members was truly inspired. My grand-daughter (age 3) said the music was ‘beautiful’ and ‘magical.’ I appreciated that the mix of music for Bugs included a range from ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ to Bach and Fauré. The children were remarkably well behaved which speaks for their attention to the program being offered. Please accept this check as evidence of my support for this kind of programming. Cheers!” – Grandmother attending the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Music Box Concert, April 2014, at the Music Center at Strathmore

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Sonia BasSheva Manjon

Sonia BasSheva Manjon

The discourse, documentation, research, archiving, and communication about community cultural development are indeed vast and deep. Within this multilayered, diverse, and complex field of community-based art are artists and organizations that represent the diversity and complexity of communities and neighborhoods in the United States. The urgency for documentation, archiving, and communication are, at times, limited to those organizations that represent a more mainstream paradigm. The creation and introduction of multifaceted arts institutions is important to the building of community based arts organizations with social justice and cultural equity foci. Art institutions that address a holistic aesthetic perspective that embrace the complexities of their cultural communities are rooted across the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Kiyoko McCrae

Kiyoko McCrae

Junebug Productions’ work has always revolved around storytelling. It has been built on stories and its practices continue to be passed on through a strong oral tradition.  The story circle process was created by members of Free Southern Theater (FST), Junebug’s predecessor, as a way to better engage with audiences following performances.  The process was further refined by Junebug Productions and subsequently through its collaboration with Roadside Theater.

John O’Neal, co-founder of FST and founding Artistic Director of Junebug Productions has centered his work on stories because, as he states, “people come to shared understanding more quickly” through “stories and working with metaphor rather than argument.” You can’t argue with someone’s experience.  You may not like what you hear but you can’t disagree with someone’s personal truth. Stories demand respect in a way that arguments never can. The story circle teaches us many important values such as listening, respect, and empathy that are necessary in democratic process.  However, the form of storytelling teaches us even more. There are values and skills that are particular to the oral tradition that cannot be learned through writing.   Read the rest of this entry »

Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

Americans for the Arts has long been a national leader in the arts in America. For decades, the organization, too, has been involved in the advocacy of the inclusion of the arts as part of a quality education for all students in the United States.  Today, we work to ensure that all Americans have access to quality arts education in school, out of school, and throughout adulthood.

What makes this possible, you ask?

My answer: when people who care about arts education speak up and are heard.

The Arts Education Council of Americans for the Arts has crafted an event to help people like you from across the country build the skills necessary to speak up (advocate) and be heard (by elected officials, decision makers, the media or whoever you like!) Read the rest of this entry »

Lindsay Kistler Mattock

Lindsay Kistler Mattock

Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz

Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz

As an archivist, one way I can contribute to this conversation is to suggest ways we can define our terms and models for archival practice. What do we mean by “archive” and why do it? What are different forms which the archive can take, and what is lost and gained in each approach?

1. Archivist on Archives

Archives are records of enduring value. Records that warrant continued preservation. This not only includes the administrative records from community organizations, but also the art, artifacts, and ephemera, as well.

Archives are about history and documentation as much as they are about accountability and evidence. Archives not only serve as a means for documenting the history of organizations and individuals, but also serve as evidence of the impact of community organizations for both the short and long term. Read the rest of this entry »

Jamie Haft

Jamie Haft

Virginia Tech recently hosted a small national meeting on documentation, archiving, and communication in the field of community cultural development. Articulated by convener Bob Leonard, the meeting’s lead organizing question: How is documentation, archiving, and communication in the community cultural development field serving and not serving artists, humanities researchers, community organizers, non-artist community partners, community agencies and institutions, and scholarly communities? For me, the meeting debunked five misconceptions about documentation, archiving, and communication in the field.

 

Virginia Tech meeting, by Andrew Morikawa

Virginia Tech meeting, by Andrew Morikawa

Misconception #1: There’s no urgency.

Documentation, archiving, and communication are essential to demonstrating the ability of community cultural development to improve the lives of community members and to fostering a critical discourse that builds and sharpens those doing the work. Questions for the critical discourse include: Is community cultural development work advancing equity? How does the field deal with well-meaning but ineffective and sometimes even unethical practices? Bill Cleveland, Center for the Study of Art and Community, called for investments in independent reporting and data collection to reveal impact – for example, a study and report about how and where projects are doing damage and how and where they are making a difference. Participants pointed to assessment resources like Animating Democracy’s Impact Initiative and Imagining America’s Integrated Assessment Initiative. Cindy Cohen, Acting Together, suggested a core group commit to regular meetings over a sustained period of time to discuss and communicate the moral and ethical dimensions of community cultural development. Read the rest of this entry »

Pam Korza

Pam Korza

In early December, during the first of many icy weather events of this past winter season, Animating Democracy co-directors Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza participated in an national gathering at Virginia Tech (VT), warmly orchestrated by Bob Leonard, Professor of Directing and Director of Community-based Arts in VT’s Theater and Cinema Program.  A couple dozen artists, cultural workers and intermediaries, communications and technology folks, and scholars participated, united in their commitment to community cultural development as essential to healthy communities and artistic practice. Read the rest of this entry »

Kate McClanahan

Kate McClanahan

Above all, artists must not be only in art galleries or museums — they must be present in all possible activities.” — Michelangelo Pistoletto

What is art? Art is a means for social change. Art is relaxing. Art is inspiring. Art is culture. Art is pretty.

What can art really do? At Americans for the Arts we know; the arts are more than just around us or a part of us—they are also an application. Like an amoeba, they can live on their own, but when “discovered,” they suddenly are ever-present and malleable in ways you might not know, and perhaps, they are limited only by “un-thought thoughts,” or put differently, imagination. Read the rest of this entry »

Rob Schultz

Rob Schultz

For many years, the Mesa Arts Center (AZ) conducted a successful program with Lowell Elementary, a Title I public school located in one of Mesa’s most challenged neighborhoods. The basic premise was to send a teaching artist to work with two grade levels, and introduce the students to a particular literary work. Those same students would be brought to the Center to view a live theater performance of that literary work created and presented by the Center’s in-house theater for young audiences program, at no cost to the students. Reinforcement of classroom teaching would occur through the integration of theater and language arts. The kids would enjoy Q&A with the actors, and classroom teachers would be provided with additional resource materials for future use. It was a valuable, simple, easily-replicated formula for arts integration. Read the rest of this entry »

Nicole Glotzer

Nicole Glotzer

As part of Americans for the Arts’ Internship Program, my fellow interns and staff recently took an office field trip to see a unique public dance performance entitled Yolk by dance company Third Rail Projects. The performance was part of a series of events presented this spring at locations throughout Manhattan by Arts Brookfield, the cultural arm of Brookfield Office Properties. Yolk ran from April 8-10 at the plaza of the Grace Building, a Brookfield property located in Midtown Manhattan.

The piece featured two performers, one dressed in silver, the other in gold, dancing in and around large open eggshells accompanied by electronic music. Third Rail Projects is a multi-disciplinary performance company, and Yolk showcased Third Rail Projects’ explorations fusing dance, installation art, and performance in the public sphere. I watched as a crowd, made up of passersby and employees from nearby businesses (particularly the Grace Building), gathered to view the performance during their lunch hour and was able to see, firsthand, how such a performance could engage employees of the Grace Building and surrounding businesses. It was then that I realized that the performance was less about two girls dancing in fiberglass eggs, but rather the experience it was creating for those in attendance. Read the rest of this entry »

Talia Gibas

Talia Gibas

Working in K-12 arts education is like trying to choreograph a dance during a slow, rolling earthquake. You’re determined to take your next step, but spend a lot of time and energy fighting to stay upright. As the ground shifts beneath your feet, you never know when something unwieldy – a new set of standards, a reduced funding stream – may tumble in your direction.

Working in this environment requires you have a resource in your community to keep an eye on changing policies and boil them down to what you need to know. The better your understanding of the “big picture” of education and how it affects the arts, the easier it is to keep enough balance to dance amidst the chaos.

Recent changes to California’s education funding, and the arts education community’s response, provides a case study of how this works. Last June, Governor Jerry Brown signed a state budget that included a sweeping overhaul of school funding.  The new formula, called Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), replaced California’s prior categorical line items for education. These line items included the Art and Music Block grant that for years had been the state’s dedicated source of arts education funding. Read the rest of this entry »