Ken Busby

Ken Busby

“The arts are under attack!”  We hear this cry on a consistent basis as state and local governments wrestle with priorities to balance budgets.  The arts always seem to be the first on the chopping block.  Detroit continues to face seemingly insurmountable challenges, and one of the suggestions for how to raise capital to satisfy creditors is to sell off the outstanding art collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Selling the DIA’s collection is only a short-term fix, that doesn’t actually alleviate the problem at all.  It’s more for showmanship.  It’s a statement that we can live without the arts.  They are only important if they can be sold to raise money. Read the rest of this entry »

BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts 2013

BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts 2013

In addition to measuring the dollars spent by businesses in support of the arts, as well as the types of companies doing the supporting, the 2013 BCA Survey of Business Support for the Arts delved into the motivations and goals of businesses when considering partnerships with the arts.

As much as we may want to focus on why businesses do support the arts when trying to build strategic partnerships with them, the reasons why they typically don’t support the arts will never go away if we don’t address them head-on. Fortunately, a lot of the reasons businesses choose not to support the arts can be amended by starting open communication with companies that historically have not shown interest in supporting our sector. Many times, this is because they don’t know how the arts can benefit the company and its employees, and not because the arts are not perceived as useful to society. (It’s also important to remember that 66% of organizations in the survey stated that they have never been asked to support the arts). Read the rest of this entry »

Jamie Haft

Jamie Haft

A call to action is what has emerged for me from Animating Democracy’s vigorous blog salon, Back to the Future: Forward-Thinking Documentation & Archiving. Imagine an organizing effort to achieve Reverend James Lawson’s founding statement of principle for the civil rights movement’s Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee: “a social order of justice permeated by love.” Do documentation and archiving come to mind as essential to building a movement? Reading the insights from all the thoughtful writers in this blog salon, I am happy to say, yes!

The work of documenting, archiving, and communicating about the field of community cultural development is a political act. This context encompasses and gives meaning to the five debunked misconceptions about archiving and documentation in my opening post. Read the rest of this entry »

Jan Cohen-Cruz Caracas

Jan Cohen-Cruz Caracas

Jamie Haft names in her blog initiating this series on Documentation, Archiving, and Communication the misconception that the Community Cultural Development (CCD) field needs “a central digital town square.” While I, too, recognize the value of multiple platforms publicizing stories, news items, essays, manifestoes, et al, for diverse CCD constituencies, we risk bifurcating the field if all communication reflects separate siloes. I propose the additional creation of a CCD Reader — shaped along the lines of the Utne Reader, a publication that “combs the alternative, independent, and digital press for thoughtful journalism, artful storytelling, and emerging ideas.” A CCD Reader could serve as a commons for the regular exchange of ideas across our habitual groupings. To generate such a “digital town square,” we could, say once a year, cull from the multiple publications representing different CCD threads to produce one set of pieces valuable to us all. Read the rest of this entry »

Barbara Schaffer Bacon

Barbara Schaffer Bacon

Check out the Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library – a digital video library of performance practices in the Americas. Created in partnership with NYU Libraries and with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this growing repository guarantees historical preservation and free online access to more than 600 hours of video that explores embodied practice—performance—as a vehicle for the creation of new meaning and the transmission of cultural values, memory and identity. Read the rest of this entry »

Vijay Matthew

Vijay Mathew

Open sourcing—otherwise known as “commons-based peer production”—is a model for the production of cultural and material products and activity. It is most well known outside of the arts as a successful collaborative model for producing software since the advent of the web more than twenty years ago. The goods that result from an open source endeavor belong to “a commons” and are accessible to all.

A key characteristic of an open source product is that it cannot be privatized. Privatization defines value through artificially induced scarcity and then derives money from barriers to access. Value in an open source project, however, is defined by how successful the needs of a community are being met and by the project’s ability to enable continuous innovation and evolution due to its openness and accessibility. Open sourcing is a civic good and a process for re-organizing communities and social dynamics. In many economic and cultural contexts in which we inhabit, open sourcing is counter-cultural. In terms of its value system and world-view, it’s a perfect match for what many people feel the not-for-profit sector should aspire to. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »