Amy Webb

Amy Webb

“When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” -Betty Bender

My name is Amy Webb, the newest member of the Americans for the Arts staff and the Director of Arts & Business Council of New York, and I’m so excited to kick off this week’s Unique Business Partnerships blog salon!

My goal in my new position is to increase our New York City presence and enhance connections between the arts and the business communities using a variety of current and developing programs. One of these is the implementation of an employee engagement program for businesses to connect employees with the arts and to help businesses increase recruitment and retention as well as overall employee satisfaction in the workplace. In my last job at Neuberger Berman–an asset management firm–I witnessed a transformation in the workplace once a well-rounded employee engagement program was put in place. There was a buzz around the office and it seemed like, for the first time, everyone was involved in something artistic. There are numerous ways–both big and small–to bring art to your employees, and from my experience they will thank you. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

Earlier this summer, you may have read Kristen Engerbretsen’s, Americans for the Arts’ Education Program Manager, blog post about the final event of the 2013-14 Vans Custom Culture program in NYC. It was an exciting, inspiring and high-octane event honoring some of the most innovative shoe designs I have ever seen. Being able to spend time with Vans employees – a company that values the arts as a vital part of education, community and life as told by their Brand Manager in this blog – and the students whom they work with as part of this program, was definitely one for the books!

However, did you know that the Custom Culture program doesn’t end with a big party in NYC? Read the rest of this entry »

Nina Simon

In light of our upcoming webinar on July 23 at 3pm on sports and arts partnerships, the World Cup final this weekend, and our upcoming blog salon next week on unique arts/business partnerships – we reached out to Nina Simon and asked if we could repost a blog she wrote for Museum 2.0 on learning from the growing popularity of soccer in the United States, and how we might relate and apply it to the arts world.

It’s World Cup time. And for the first time in my adult life as an American, that seems significant. People at work with the games running in the background on their computers. Conversations about the tournament on the street. Constant radio coverage.

If you are reading this outside the United States, this sounds ridiculously basic. Football/soccer is the world’s sport. But in the US, it has only recently become something worth watching. For most of my life in America, pro soccer was considered something risible and vaguely deviant, like picking your nose in public.

But now it’s everywhere. It’s exciting. And it’s got me thinking about how we build energy and audience for the arts in this country.

Read the rest of this entry »

Too Big To Fail

Posted by Erin Gough On July - 11 - 2014No comments yet
Erin Gough

Erin Gough

One of the wonderful things about the annual Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention is that the discussions held there reverberate beyond the days of the conference and beyond the people who were able to participate in person. As someone who was unable to attend, I was so pleased to be able read about, and dig into, some of the dialogues that were held last month in Nashville.

My interest was piqued when I read Devon Smith’s piece on the fate of failing arts organizations. She dives into a debate session held at convention on the controversial but essential argument that as an arts community, we too often distribute scare resources to keep struggling organizations on life-support when it may be more beneficial for the arts ecosystem as a whole to let them die gracefully. Read the rest of this entry »

Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

On June 22nd I visited Berkeley to attend the Voices of Our Nation Arts (VONA) Writers’ Workshop. This workshop is a week-long conference for writers of color with workshops led by award-winning writers in a variety of genres, including fiction writer M. Evelina Galang, poet Patricia Smith, memorist Andrew X. Pham, and novelist Junot Diaz, among many others.

The organization was founded in 1999 by Junot Díaz, Elmaz Abinader, Victor Díaz, and Diem Jones. Each envisioned an arts organization that could change the landscape for writers of color by supporting individual writer growth, creating a platform for community engagement, and providing a workshop and mentor focus to expand writing opportunities. Fifteen years after its founding, it has become one of the most esteemed writers’ conferences in the US. Read the rest of this entry »

Robert Bettmann

Robert Bettmann

Arts journalism is changing rapidly. Newspaper coverage has shifted, and the number of blogs and small magazines covering the arts has grown exponentially. While it’s uncertain what the structural changes in arts journalism will mean for the arts over the next twenty years, changes are happening and affecting audience participation.

As an artist, editor, arts writer and arts advocate, I was right at home moderating the “Future of Arts Journalism” panel at the recent Dance Critics Association (DCA) conference held in downtown Philadelphia at the Gershman Y. The DCA was created in 1973, “when a group of dance critics attending a Philadelphia arts conference saw a need for an organization that represented working dance critics.” The annual DCA conference draws leading arts writers from across the country for a weekend of panels, performances, and trainings. As she has before, critic Elizabeth Zimmer led the “Kamikaze Dance Writing Workshop”, which is a two-day boot camp for young and aspiring dance critics, and as he has before DCA Board Chair Robert Abrams organized the conference volunteers, and panelists. Read the rest of this entry »

Jay Dick

Jay Dick

Over the past 10 years as a staff member of Americans for the Arts, I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about how we as a nation support the arts and culture. I have the opportunity to work with hundreds of talented and innovative individuals across the nation. I have also learned a great deal from serving on two local boards, the Arts Council of Fairfax County and Arts for LA. Now, I have a new opportunity to help advance the arts in America.  Starting July 1st, I will begin a five year term as a Commissioner for the Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA). I am very grateful to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for presenting me with this opportunity.   Read the rest of this entry »

Ella Van Wyk

Ella Van Wyk

“There’s nowhere to go but on!” – Feist

Let this blog begin with my gratitude for the amazing experience I have had over these last few days. Receiving the Arthur Greenberg Memorial Scholarship Award is an event that has truly influenced my career, and will benefit my organization and my local arts community.  Thank you to Abe Flores, Rebecca Burrell, and Adam Fong for taking the time to have genuine conversations with me and truly contribute to the work I am doing.

Attending a conference is too passive a description for these last few days. I learned, sang, listened, laughed, digested, deliberated, rejected, reinforced, inquired, decompressed, and grew. I watched Robert L Lynch (CEO of Americans for the Arts) and Jonathan Katz (CEO National Assembly of State Arts Agencies) jam together. They spoke about leadership, their nonlinear careers, they read their own poetry, sang songs, enjoyed each other’s company, and celebrated each other’s achievements! I met fantastic people from across the country, Canada, and the UK who are all fighting for the same cause, attacking similar challenges and were open and willing to share ideas, brainstorm and listen. I sang with Ben Folds. I stayed up until midnight disseminating what I’d experienced that day making To-Do lists and resource wish-lists so that when I get home I can hit the ground running and implement all I have experienced here. I received wisdom, knowledge, empathy, and suggestions from leaders in the arts and experts with invaluable years of experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Bruney

Laura Bruney

Deborah Briggs

This interview with Deborah Briggs by Laura Bruney and Etain Connor of the Arts & Business Council of Miami was originally published June 2, 2014 on their blog.

 

 

 

With a façade that harkens back to the golden age of Ocean Drive yet refined for a contemporary palate, The Betsy South Beach is known for hosting a variety of events that are diverse, innovative and always interesting. Ask around town and the hotel that is consistently identified with showcasing the arts is The Betsy. Ask artists and organizations that work in the arts and their praise for the hotel is broad and deep for it is hard to find a true partner. On a glorious spring day on South Beach we joined Deborah Briggs, Vice President for Marketing, Philanthropy, and Programs at The Betsy at BLT Steak, the hotels signature eatery. Lucky for us we are between the lunch and dinner crowds so have a quiet hour to nosh on the most delectable cheese popovers. The Betsy’s attention to detail is observed with the accompaniment of a cute “popovers recipe” card for those so inclined to try to recreate perfection. While nibbling we embarked on an amazing and eye-opening conversation.

ABCMiami: What do you think makes a vibrant community and what role do the arts play?

DB: When my brother, Jonathan acquired and renovated The Betsy–philanthropy, with a focus on arts, culture and education was always at the core of his mission. We were inspired by our father, Hyam Plutzik’s legacy that art is a catalyst to bring people together around things that matter to them. Each of our hotel guestrooms for example, are outfitted with a mini-library and a bookmarker is placed on the bed during evening turndown. We believe the arts provide us with the opportunity to live in the moment and have an engaging collective experience. All great civilizations, past and present, are distinguished through the arts – and we are committed to that enterprise in our community. Read the rest of this entry »

It Was TOO Short!

Posted by Norie Sato On June - 24 - 2014No comments yet
Norie Sato receiving the 2014 Public Art Network Award at Annual Convention

Norie Sato receiving the 2014 Public Art Network Award at Annual Convention

The Nashville PAN Preconference has come and gone, sniff sniff, I miss seeing everyone already. I was thrilled to be able to speak to so many of you and to be with smart, hard working people in the field. The PAN preconference is such a great time to reconnect with old colleagues and meet new people as well as to learn. And so many issues and things to learn just to keep up or to innovate do not fit into the time we had. A special thanks to those who worked so hard for us to organize the conference.

But in the spirit of constructive feedback and reflections back on the precon, I offer the following:

1)  The Preconference is TOO short. We had essentially only 1 day. 2 panel session slots do not give us enough time for the various issues that need covering. At least another half day would have allowed us at least another session slot to allow for some more breadth and depth would truly be desirable. The Nashville team worked hard to showcase their city…and maybe we (I) could have spent more time in it, as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Emily Saunders

Emily Saunders

We are cultural ambassadors, arts advocates, civic engagers, and change agents connecting and collaborating to bring the arts into the everyday landscape. As one of many, my focus has been on how to make the arts more accessible to under-served communities. I serve Metro Arts Alliance of Des Moines as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Metro Arts of Des Moines helps make the arts more accessible through free jazz concerts preformed in city parks, and arts integration programs presented within the schools.

By engaging participants from within every neighborhood, we are able to connect the arts to all. In my work, I have seen how cultural engagement within nontraditional spaces has helped bring arts experiences to those across the spectrum. During my year of service I have coordinated 129 arts programs in 59 locations with 25 artists reaching 8,744 youth within Central Iowa. Read the rest of this entry »

Jim Clark

Jim Clark

I always look forward to Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention for two very specific reasons: one is to be provoked by the audacity of others; the second is to be reminded of basic truths about our field.

The provocations usually generate one of two possible self-reflections: “Why didn’t I think of that?” or, “We did something similar, but why doesn’t anyone know about it?” Regardless of how I am provoked, these moments during the conference become the “drivers” that propel me to rethink our work at home. The provocations challenge, inspire, and create a sense of professional restlessness that keeps things fresh.  Case in point, Penny Balkin Bach’s presentation on how the Association for Public Art in Philadelphia uses social media. It was challenging and inspiring because I realized my organization was not using the tools (most of which are free) that are at our finger tips to not only communicate to a larger audience but also to harness the tools of measurement that are embedded within them. Read the rest of this entry »

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver

Nashville is not for the faint of heart, and neither is an Americans for the Arts’ conference. There were scheduled sessions that ran until midnight, where some of the panelists broke into song, and early bird specials—eight AM, lights, camera, action.  Nashville has nothing on Americans for the Arts, and Americans for the Arts has something for everyone.  More than one thousand arts advocates enjoyed networking, performances, and fascinating panels, myself included.  Convention themes ran from arts and community to building core skills (does being on your feet for fourteen hours build core strength too?), embracing diversity, reinvention and sustainability, and supply and demand. This conference was definitely not short on supply, and judging from the attendance, demand was high.

I was impressed on so many levels. Four jam-packed days of sessions, exhibitors, meet and greets, and all the big organizations, big names and big ideas. I learned about public art and placemaking, leadership skill development, and how art can translate data, and was fascinated by topics like engaging the biases, values and privileges underneath your work. I am grateful that AFTA organizes these conferences to invest in our field, inform leaders, and stimulate dialogue about relevance and sustainability. Read the rest of this entry »

Casey Gill Summar

Casey Gill Summar

An Americans for the Arts’ colleague recently shared this interesting article claiming that social activism is the “new religion” of the millennial workforce and asked if I felt this was true in my experience building partnerships between arts and business. In full disclosure, I think I’m just outside the millennial generation, but I will say there is something core to this concept of passion and commitment for your cause that drives me and my younger colleagues. We all share the desire to not just donate to a cause, but to contribute time and expertise as well, to bring along all friends, and in short, tell everyone we know how important this cause is to our hearts. I’m definitely guilty of this. You don’t have to spend much time around me to learn that I’m an ardent advocate for the arts, that I love my little transitional neighborhood so much I joined the board of the association, or that I’m a fan of living local right down to my front-yard garden. As the Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville since 2012, I have worked to incorporate some of these concepts of volunteerism, meaningful partnership, and first-hand experiences which I desire into our program offerings. Read the rest of this entry »

Reunion

Posted by Robert Bush On June - 18 - 20142 COMMENTS
Robert Bush

Robert Bush

My first Americans for the Arts (AFTA) conference—at the time, the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies (NALAA)—was in 1984, in Charleston, S.C., and in the middle of Spoleto.  Selena Roberts Ottum was the chair of the NALAA Board.  I was in awe.

Being the executive director of a small county arts council in North Carolina seemed like a different world from all the arts leaders I heard speak over those few days.  But what I took home was inspiration to take our modest efforts to new levels of community engagement and excellence.  And I made it a priority to attend NALAA—and later AFTA—conventions and advocacy days and to get involved in the work of its interest areas and leadership groups as well.  It wasn’t always easy due to small budgets, but over the last 30 years, I’ve made it to most.  Why, you might ask? It’s because what I found in Charleston so many years ago was not just professional peers but family. Read the rest of this entry »