Amelia Northrup-Simpson

Amelia Northrup-Simpson

One of the pleasures of attending the NAMP conference is seeing how the field of arts marketing evolves each year as new technologies emerge. Social media, mobile technology, database systems, and video (as well as print and mass media), along with the role these play in our work, have changed considerably since the first time I attended just 3 years ago.

Changes in technology must always be viewed through the lens of what audiences (and prospective audiences) expect of your organization. As technology evolves, patron expectations and preferences change as well. In the mid-90’s, having a web presence was optional. Nowadays, not so much. Or, think back to when arts organizations were creating MySpace profiles. This was OK in 2006, but it would certainly raise patron eyebrows today. When you have so many marketing technology options at your disposal, you need a way to prioritize.  Thinking about patron expectations can help you separate the “gotta have it” options from the ones that fall under the category of “not necessary right now”.

At the NAMP conference this year, I expect to hear about the following 4 technology expectations that many patrons now have:

Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Kakolewski

Laura Kakolewski

Portland, Oregon is the home to this year’s National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference: Powered by Community. You can look forward to conversations about audience diversification, strategies for engaging college students, using augmented reality, the top telemarketing tips, and so much more.

This year’s keynote speakers are creative change agents, community builders, and marketing gurus – Kevin Carroll, Matt Stinchcomb, and Pamela Moore.  From Matt’s lessons on community building from the D.I.Y marketplace Etsy to Pam’s arsenal of tactics to keep your online communities striving, this year’s keynotes will leave you inspired and recharged to collaborate with your communities on a more meaningful level.

So to kick off the 2013 NAMP Conference, 20 of the top marketing practitioners and consultants in the field will be blogging right here on ARTSblog all week. Bloggers include Will Lester, Doug Tuck, Rachel Grossman, Ron Evans, and many others.

Here’s a taste of what you will read during this week’s Arts Marketing Blog Salon:

- How one community created and arrived at a collaborative model for partnership.

- Participatory arts programs across the nation that are connecting and interacting with audiences in new ways.

- Strategy for predicting patron behavior and future marketing campaigns.

- New technology and social media trends that are changing the landscape of audience engagement.

We hope you will visit us in the salon and take a moment to leave a comment, share an opinion, or ask a question.

Then come to Portland, Oregon, the home of the 2013 NAMP Conference, November 8-11Register today if you haven’t already – we’ll see you there!

Michael Stroik

Michael Stroik

While a new report shows that the global recession shifted funding away from the arts, is there a silver lining in how companies have changed their view of investing in communities?  CECP, in association with The Conference Board, recently released Giving in Numbers: 2013 Edition, an annual analysis of corporate giving trends among the world’s largest businesses. Despite a slow economic recovery, the majority of companies gave more in 2012 than in 2007, before the recession, yet the majority of funders decreased their funding of the arts. Companies decreased arts funding annually in each year from 2007 to 2012. The steepest declines occurred in 2008 and 2009, at the height of the global recession.

The news is not all bad for arts organizations. While the majority of arts funders have decreased funding, many continue their support today. In fact, behind only education and health and social services organizations, more companies supported the arts than any other program area in 2012, albeit at lower financial levels (Giving in Numbers, page 20). Revenues and profits have increased for large businesses since 2009, and giving budgets are expected to grow in coming years.

The shift away from the arts is likely related to many factors and trends occurring across the corporate philanthropy field. Companies aim to drive measurable societal impact with each grant, and many focus efforts on single program areas with the hope of moving the needle on specific societal problems. So why haven’t arts agencies reaped the benefits of an increased focus on individual program areas? Based on our research, there are a variety of reasons. Most notably:

  1. The Recession: During the recession it was no surprise that the fastest growing program area was community and economic development. The world’s largest businesses aimed to support community efforts to rejuvenate local economies. The hope was that economic growth, no matter how small, could spur consumer confidence and pay dividends for companies in the long-run. Many companies prioritized these programs over arts initiatives in the last half decade.
  2. Education Issues in America: CECP’s research sample is global but 92% of companies are based in the United States and focus the majority of funds domestically. In 2012, education support topped the list of program areas supported by large businesses for the first time since CECP first published Giving in Numbers in 2006.  American students are falling behind global peers in math and science achievement, and companies are concerned about the future of the American employee base. In addition, the racial achievement gap in student test scores (click here for more information) spotlights the social justice factors that are at stake when dealing with education programs.
  3. Non-Cash Giving: In-kind contributions, consisting primarily of product donations and pro bono service, accounted for more than 95% of aggregate giving growth from 2007 to 2012. Arts agencies often have fewer opportunities to work with bulk product donations; only 4% of corporate contributions to arts agencies came in the form of non-cash gifts in 2012. See Figure 11 (page 20) for more details. Read the rest of this entry »

Marete Wester

Marete Wester

The purpose was to get control of my problems, medical, personal, at home, family…basically trying to fight and conquer my demons. The angel has the authority, the power over this demon. That’s where I want to be. I want to have control over my problems, to have resiliency. It’s a struggle all the time but I’m slowly learning to control these issues I had before. Pinning down the demon, pinning down my problems…” SM, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune

“St. Michael Conquers the Demon,” photo courtesy of The Art Therapy Program at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune (NHCL)

“St. Michael Conquers the Demon,” photo courtesy of The Art Therapy Program at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune (NHCL)

Since 2001, more than two million U.S. troops have been deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF, War in Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (OND). The nature of these conflicts is unprecedented in the history of America’s all-volunteer force: over the course of more than a decade of war, America’s military service men and women have endured extended and multiple deployments, exposure to nontraditional combat (e.g., use of improvised explosive devices) and shortened time at home between deployments. The number of service members returning home who suffer from both physical and psychological traumas, including post-traumatic stress, loss of a limb, brain injuries and depression, has increased.

With the conflicts winding down and more troops returning home, there is a growing awareness among the public and private sectors, and the military itself, that the challenges facing service members, veterans, and their families require more than medical treatment to resolve.

Is there a role for the arts to play in addressing these challenges? Over the past two years, that question has been posed to more than 500 thought leaders, practitioners, and decision-makers from the military, government, corporations, foundations, and nonprofits  through a series of national convenings under the auspices of the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military. The results have been released this week in the new report, Arts, Health and Well-Being across the Military Continuum—White Paper and Framing a National Plan for Action.

Co-chaired by Americans for the Arts and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the National Initiative represents the first time the military has come together with a coalition of civilian public and private sector partners to ensure quality access to the arts for the health and well-being of service members, veterans, and their families in communities across the country. The White Paper chronicles the more than 2-year investigation and national conversation on how the arts help mitigate the challenges our military and veterans communities face. It provides a framework for how various stakeholders can work together to remove barriers and engage in greater cooperation and partnerships. It summarizes the extent of what we know about the National Initiative’s three critical areas of interest—research, practice, and policy—and provides an introduction to the kinds of programs and services currently taking place in the realm of arts and health in the military. The recommendations it contains are bold and inspirational. They are intended to stimulate further conversation and inspire action among all stakeholders, military and civilian. Read the rest of this entry »

Ron Jones

Ron Jones

There’s been so much written about the value of higher education and most of it, especially when it is positive, I agree with.   Lately, however, I have begun to question my own thinking, admitting to myself that I may be so biased and gullible that I will buy into anything that is said about higher education if it positively reflects upon my domain.

For years I have agreed with the argument that a broad, liberal education combined with arts training is the right balance, i.e., the best balance for graduating someone in the arts.  I also accepted hook, line, and sinker the notion that to be fully prepared, to have the full enchilada, so to speak, would require a student to major in a more professional degree such as the BFA.  Notice how I said, the “more professional,” with emphasis upon the “more.”

Why did I, and, for that matter, most, if not all of my world of colleagues buy into this notion of how to shape a curriculum intended to prepare an artist?  For others, it may be different but for me the answer is embarrassingly clear: the argument made sense because I was always in a comprehensive university and, therefore, what made sense was justifying the value of the institution in which I worked. Read the rest of this entry »

Kate Ostrander

Kate Ostrander

Déjà vu: The Federal Government Standstill’s Implications on the Arts

It seems inevitable.  When U.S. Senators take to the Senate floor and immediately follow their words insisting they don’t support a federal government shutdown with, “but if it were to occur,” it conveys a sense of forecasted inevitability.

When Members of Congress note their shutdown “fatigue” but can’t seem to find any rest, and when a White House memorandum planning for a shutdown states that the “Administration does not want a lapse in appropriations to occur,” you know it is coming.  All the while, a real sadness and profound loss surrounds the work of our federal government that is idled, stalled, and delayed—with real implications, especially the longer it lasts without resolution.

The first “shutdown day” may prove similar to a “snow day” – an inconvenience, a loss of productivity, and maybe a respite.  But as it continues, here is how the social and economic impact through arts and cultural policy might be felt throughout the nation and in our local towns.

Photo Credit: Associated Press, 1995

Photo Credit: Associated Press, 1995

  • During the federal shutdown in 1995, the vast majority of the staff members at the National Endowment for the Arts were sent home, leaving six staff on duty. This means that grants aren’t processed, programs and events are halted and NEA partners, including the 50 state arts agencies, are cut off from their primary federal cultural agency.
  • Head Start, a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families, is reliant on federal dollars.  Look for these programs to shut their doors on critical work incorporating arts education into early childhood development programs.
  • The facilities of the Smithsonian Institution, including museums, and zoos will be closed every day the shutdown is in effect, inhibiting tourism, school trips, creative and innovativelearning opportunities, and ongoing preservation of arts and culture. According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) study of the last federal shutdown in 1995, closure of national museums and monuments resulted in a loss of 2 million visitors.
  • All national parks will close, including the more than 40 Artist-in-Residence programs throughout the National Park Service system.  The world-renowned Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, although also supported through a private foundation, would likely need to shutter its federally-supported operations. In 1995 there were closures of 368 National Park Service sites—a loss of 7 million visitors and local communities near national parks lost an estimated $14.2 million per day in tourism revenues.
  • Tourism and its associated economic driver and tax revenue generator will suffer. One measure of the loss to tourism is to expect visa processing delays. In 1995, 20,000-30,000 applications by foreigners for visas to come to this country went unprocessed each day and 200,000 U.S. applications for passports went unprocessed. Cultural centers receiving federal funds such as Wolf Trap and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (the nation’s busiest arts facility) could face partial closure.

This is just a brief outline of the consequences a federal government shutdown will have on the arts:  Another self-created crisis that unfortunately seems inevitable.

Please add your feedback and perspective regarding the impact to the arts and cultural community, should a shutdown occur.

Update: The White House has posted federal agency contingency plans here, including those for cultural agencies such as the NEA.

Learning to Reside in Quadrant II

Posted by Ken Busby On September - 27 - 20131 COMMENT

I just had the most wonderful opportunity to participate in the Executive Leadership Forum with Americans for the Arts.  Eighteen executive directors of Local Arts Agencies from Alaska to Florida spent four days at Sundance Resort discussing all manner of topics, including diversity, cultural districts, the art of healing, and navigating change.

We bonded quickly, and shared information that might be difficult for any of us to share aloud in our respective communities.  Here, we had the opportunity to discuss issues openly and honestly with a goal toward resolution and developing a way forward.

For me, and I actually think for all my colleagues, probably the most impactful session came near the very beginning of our Forum.  David Grant, former President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, led us on a journey of, “Thinking Past Urgent:  Organizational Assessment, Decision Making, and Change.” What David showed us was a number of “mental models” that help diagram how we approach our jobs, work with our boards, engage staff, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

jonspayde

Jon Spayde

I like to call them “pop-up think tanks” – informal gatherings to discuss serious topics in innovative ways and from unstodgy new perspectives.  They’re all over the Twin Cities, from the lively gatherings organized by our friends at Works Progress and the Ignite Minneapolis talks to Tane Danger’s Theater of Public Policy and the new Twin Cities branch of the international House of Genius project.  They’re inspired, I think, by a widespread sense that meeting and talking in the same old ways to the same old folks is getting us nowhere in an era of proliferating problems and sclerotic institutions.

I had the pleasure of taking part in a new one just last week.

A year and a half ago I wrote a short piece for The Line about my visit to a remarkable institution in Omaha, Nebraska, called KANEKO. Named for its founder, Japanese-born and Omaha-based sculptor and international art-star Jun Kaneko, it’s a space where artists, creativity consultants, businesspeople, performers, and scientists come together to explore creativity across the boundaries of disciplines via talks, performances, and free-form discussions.

After the piece ran, I got a call out of the blue from a dynamic woman named Katy Gaynor, a fundraiser, development consultant, and arts advocate here in the Twin Cities who had read the piece. Among the many things Katy and I discovered we had in common was an interest in fostering creativity and helping artists bring their skill-sets to bear on other areas of life, like business. Katy told me that she wished the Twin Cities had its own version of KANEKO.

Plans for a Dialogue

In the months since that conversation, Katy has been busy making her hopes real by putting together a team of sharp colleagues to organize what the group dubbed the “Art and Business Dialogue X-Change,” a large invited gathering of some of our community’s most prominent artists, business people, and artist-businesspeople to talk about how the arts and business could break down barriers that separate them.

It took place last Thursday, July 25, in the beautiful conference room of the McKnight Foundation, and it attracted local A-listers like Gülgün Kayim, Director of Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy for the City of Minneapolis; public artist Ta-Coumba Aiken; and actor and Jeune Lune alumnus Steve Epp, to name just three of the fifty or so distinguished attendees. Read the rest of this entry »

Ellen Schneider

Ellen Schneider

“I cried after my first big film was released,” she admitted, in hushed tones over the phone.  This was no traditional case of post-partum blues. This was an award-winning filmmaker, who had spent years of her life, thousands of her own dollars, and probably a relationship or two to bring her poignant, hybrid, social issue documentary to the light of day (or in her case, a night on PBS following a limited theatrical release). “I wanted to change the world with that film. But even though the critics liked it, and people saw it, I had no proof that anything changed. Silence. I still don’t know if it had any impact at all.”

I had phoned my friend (let’s call her Maya) because I wanted to see how the indie crowd at the Sundance Film Festival would respond to my question: “You know your film is making a difference when…” I first attended Sundance in the late-80s when I was a script reader in Hollywood, and participated during the decade I was at the PBS series POV. But this year in my current role leading the Active Voice Lab for Story & Strategy I did more listening than screening. As a lifelong believer in the power of story — and other creative work – to advance social change, these days I’m spending a lot of time trying to prove it.

I can admit it now: early in my career when I wrote the “Evaluation” part of grant proposals I would wince, concoct a few bullets about the kind of change I wanted to see, and keep my fingers crossed that the funder would be so dazzled by what we were actually able to accomplish programmatically that they wouldn’t feel compelled to go back and reconcile it with our originally-stated objectives. During the first 10 years at Active Voice we commissioned outside firms and social scientists to give us qualitative feedback about our process and our partners’ satisfaction. We weren’t trying to impress funders; we simply couldn’t afford to repeat mistakes. But it wasn’t until Active Voice brought on a full time evaluator that were we able to identify and actually measure the kind of shifts we think films can contribute to. Read the rest of this entry »

Sara Ansell

Sara Ansell

What is the Porch Light Program?

Does art have the power to heal? The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program thinks it does. Through the Mural Arts Porch Light Program, a partnership with the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), we mine the social power of art to not only address a community’s physical environment but ultimately the community’s health. The program strives to catalyze positive changes in the community, improve the physical environment, create opportunities for social connectedness, develop skills to enhance resilience and recovery, promote community and social inclusion, shed light on challenges faced by those with behavioral health issues, reduce stigma, and encourage empathy. Through participatory public art, we have tackled issues such as trauma, faith and spirituality, homelessness, immigration, war, and community violence.

The Porch Light Program builds a team of artists, service providers, program participants, and other community and city-wide stakeholders to collaborate on a transformative public art project over the course of a year. During that year, artists are embedded within a provider agency and work closely with service recipients, staff, and the surrounding community. Through the weekly workshops, community meetings, and Open Studios, the artists forge meaningful relationships and explore the issues most pressing to the community. After months of dialogue, brainstorming, and art activities, the artists delve into the mural creation process with program participants. The participants help design the mural and then move on to the most exciting phase of the work: painting the mural. At the end of a program year, we celebrate and honor the completed mural at a highly anticipated “Mural Dedication Ceremony.”

Through this collaborative creative process, individuals and communities are not simply beneficiaries of public art or recipients of treatment, but co-creators of the work as they learn new skills, gain knowledge among peers and community members, and play an active role in improving their physical environment. National foundations, health leaders from across the country, and universities are looking at the Porch Light Program closely as an example of progressive public health promotion: the consideration that our physical and social ecosystem impacts our health as much as a visit to the doctor. Read the rest of this entry »

David Pankratz

David Pankratz

What do musical chairs, speed dating, and crowd sourcing have to do with arts research? Well, on Day 2 of Americans for the Arts’ National Convention in June, co-hosted by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC), Randy Cohen, AFTA’s Vice-President for Research and Policy, and I, found out.

Context:  We knew that arts researchers and policy wonks from arts service organizations, academia, consultancies, and foundations would be among the 1,000 convention attendees coming to Pittsburgh. Randy and I also knew that opportunities for researchers and wonks (and geeks, too!) to gather in one place and explore issues connecting research, policy, and advocacy were, at best, rare. So we invited 40 such folks to do just that!

Format:  In the lobby of Bricolage, a small, progressive theater in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, four groups of 10 chairs each were divided by topic–Producing Arts Research, Evaluating Policies, Disseminating Research, and Leveraging Research for Advocacy. As participants arrived at 8:00 am, they scoured the room and chose, on a first-come, first-served basis, which group to sit in (the Musical Chairs portion of the program). Each participant then engaged in five animated, 5-minute conversations with others in their group (i.e., Speed Dating). According to Randy’s phone, the decibel level in the room rivaled that of a rowdy night club. Leaders of each group then shared highlights of those conversations with all the convening’s participants (Crowd Sourcing). Read the rest of this entry »

Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

This week Americans for the Arts released its 2013 National Arts Index report—the annual measure of the health and vitality of the arts industries in the U.S.  This year’s report provides the fullest picture yet of the impact of the Great Recession on the arts—before, during, and after. The Index losses during 2008-09 were swift and measurable:  the two-year drop from 2007-09 far exceeded the five-year gains made between 2002 and 2007 (-5.4 percent vs. +3.6 percent, respectively).

The Index is set to a base score of 100 in 2003; every point difference is a 1 percent change from that year.  The National Arts Index score effectively leveled-off in 2011 at 97.0, down just a fraction from a revised 2010 score of 97.2.

  • During the economically robust years of 2002-06, over half of the indicators increased annually.
  • Between 2007 and 2009, however, less than one-third increased.
  • While the arts rebounded in 2010 (43 percent of the indicators rose), there was slippage in 2011 (just 38 percent increased).

arts index photo

The Index is composed of 78 national-level indicators—the latest annual data produced by the federal government and private research organizations—and covers the 12-year span of 2000-11.

Why do an Index? 

The arts are a fundamental component of a healthy society, based on virtues that touch the individual, community, and the nation—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times:

  • Aesthetics: The arts create beauty and preserve it as part of culture
  • Creativity: The arts encourage creativity, a critical skill in a dynamic world
  • Expression: Artistic work lets us communicate our interests and visions
  • Identity: Arts goods, services, and experiences help define our culture
  • Innovation: The arts are sources of new ideas, futures, concepts, and connections
  • Preservation: Arts and culture keep our collective memories intact
  • Prosperity: The arts create millions of jobs and enhance economic health
  • Skills: Arts aptitudes and techniques are needed in all sectors of society and work
  • Social Capital: We enjoy the arts together, across races, generations, and places

These are the reasons it is important to understand how the arts thrive, enabling them to deliver these valuable benefits. The health and vitality of the arts, therefore, should be of pressing interest to anyone who cares about healthy communities. Read the rest of this entry »

John Bryan

John Bryan

How many of Richmond’s corporate executives make art in their spare time? What percentage paint landscapes or play in a band or write poetry? Are their artistic pursuits of any real value to their companies? Does the fact that a corporate executive creates sculpture affect the bottom line of that corporation? A new survey of 271 Richmond, VA executives offers some answers.

First the context. The 2004 publication of Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class ushered in a pervasive corporate understanding of the value of “creativity” to corporate success – to a company’s bottom line. Creativity has become an essential theme in corporate strategy sessions, team-building exercises, and leadership training.

But there is an ingredient that is sometimes absent from conversations and research concerning creativity in the corporate workplace: art-making. While the corporate world values “creativity” as an important attribute for its executives to have, “art maker” may not be considered as a similarly important attribute. But while creativity is an attribute that is subjective and hard to identify, art maker is an objective attribute that is easily identified.

During the first half of 2013 CultureWorks administered a two-question survey that was completed by 271 Richmond corporate executives including some of the region’s topmost executives, members of the Greater Richmond Chamber, members of Rotary, and members of the Richmond Association for Business Economics. Read the rest of this entry »

Carol Bogash

Carol Bogash

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

What is Life Long Learning?  Simply, I believe it is the consistent and deep engagement of the mind and body in the active pursuit of knowledge and experience from birth to death.  Now, science is helping to support the importance of learning in keeping brains active and healthy for a lifetime.  The Maryland State Department of Education with the Johns Hopkins University School of Education published a set of guidelines in 2010 entitled Healthy Beginnings, supporting development and learning from birth through three years of age.  The Dana Alliance for the Brain states in its paper Learning as We Age (2012) that “mental exercise, especially learning new things or pursuing activities that are intellectually stimulating, may strengthen brain-cell networks and help preserve mental functions. The brain is just as capable of learning in the second half of life as in the first half.”

Over recent years, neuroscientists continue to conduct research on how the mental and physical activities so integral to the arts are equally fundamental for brain function. Charles Limb, brain scientist and musician at Johns Hopkins University (and a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s science advisory team), says that “the brain on arts is different than the everyday brain. Art is magical, but it is not magic. It is a neurological product and we can study it. “

At the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra we are committed to the importance of engagement in music from the earliest age to the oldest.  The BSO Music Box Series (™) introduces children 6 months to three years of age to music, art, and reading through interactive activities designed to stimulate awareness, listening, coordination, language, and music making.  Although the research is anecdotal based on observance, we are seeing positive recognition in children who are attending these experiences on a regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »

Dan Bowers

Dan Bowers

One thing I’ve learned during my years in the field of arts administration is that when it comes to the arts, decision makers are often willing to discount their intuition.  They ignore that gut feeling they have that the arts really do make a difference in their community, because it can be difficult to prove.  However, there is another lesson here as well: facts proven by valid research are extremely powerful and difficult to ignore.

That’s why last year, when a seven out of nine City Council members were newly-elected to the local government, ArtsBuild was there to welcome them with more than just an ask, and more than a promise that any funding to the arts would provide a real and tangible return on investment.  We came armed with the proof—our customized Arts & Economic Prosperityreport from Americans for the Arts.  The payoff?  Just a few weeks ago, we received word that the City Council approved an increase of $49,000 for ArtsBuild over the City’s 2012 funding.

With the economy still growing hesitantly, $49,000 is no drop in the bucket. This is a 22 percent increase in our allocation from the City from last year.  Clearly, these dollars will make an enormous difference to the arts community in Chattanooga.  This decision by the City Council, however, is symbolic of something larger: an understanding that the arts are more than just window dressing for our City.  This investment demonstrates that the arts are integral to creating the kind of place where we all want to live and work.  Read the rest of this entry »

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.