Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

There is an old quote attributed to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:

“If any man will draw up his case, and put his name at the foot of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply. Where he compels me to turn over the sheet, he must wait my leisure.”

This was the charge given to me by a business leader who needed to make a compelling case for government and corporate arts funding:

“Keep it to one page, please,” was his request. “I can get anyone to read one page.”

With the 2014 arts advocacy season upon us, the following is my updated “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

  • Which of these would you rank as #1?
  • Do you have a #11 to add?
  • Tell us in the comments below!

You can download this handy 1-pager here.

1. Arts promote true prosperity.   The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, art is salve for the ache.

2. Arts improve academic performance.  Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates—benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with 4 years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with just one-half year of arts or music. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

As Congress returns to work in Washington, DC, this week they will face more than just angry tourists who came to see the not-quite-in-bloom cherry blossoms.

Today, advocates are receiving training from experts and tomorrow 500 arts advocates from across the country (and even Japan!) will take to the Hill on behalf of their local arts and arts education programs.

The good news is that you don’t have to be here to participate (although we’d love you to come next year!). In fact, you can pick and choose your ways to support the arts over the next two days.

1. Send a letter to your member of Congress! Head over to our Action Center and send an email stating your case for funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, arts education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, and encouraging their participation in the House Arts and STEAM Caucuses.

2. Watch the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy live online! At 6:30 p.m. EDT join us live as we stream Yo-Yo Ma’s lecture and performance tonight via our YouTube channel. You won’t want to miss his inspiring story!   Read the rest of this entry »

Kristen Engebretsen

Kristen Engebretsen

During the Friday, March 29 meeting of the National Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) revealed their new four-point plan for arts education, under the leadership of new Director of Education Ayanna Hudson.

Ayanna is my former boss from when we both lived in Los Angeles and worked on the Arts for All initiative at the LA County Arts Commission. So I wasn’t surprised by this new direction for arts education at the NEA—it is great to see Ayanna have a national platform to spread her expertise on issues like collective impact.

At the beginning of the council meeting, Ayanna stated that the NEA wants to weave arts education into the very fabric of every school so that ALL students have access to the arts. And given the scope of the NEA, they want to focus on the following four key areas to achieve this:

Point 1 – Leverage Investments: The NEA is looking to invest its grant dollars for arts education in a way that can really spur change in the field. Their new investment strategy is what former NEA chairman Rocco Landesman called “doubling down on what works.”

Ayanna mentioned that new guidelines for arts education grants are currently under review and they MIGHT start allowing larger, multiyear grants to models based on best practice and collaboration. She mentioned several examples, such as Arts for All, A+ Schools, Ingenuity Incorporated, etc.  Read the rest of this entry »

Raynel Frazier

Raynel Frazier

It used to be that the success of arts marketers was dependent on how well they could predict the future and then pray for success. But those days are over.

Today, arts marketers can rely on data analysis and market research to make well-thought-out strategic decisions.

I, for one, am glad that marketers no longer have to rely on future telling because marketing is an essential part of the arts experience. As a jazz trombonist, I had to learn how to market myself to land gigs and then market my gigs so that people would come to them. Arts organizations have to do the same. But they must market their organization as well as individual performances.

Several years ago Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) ran an institutional marketing campaign with the theme “BAM and then it hits you.” The message they conveyed was that the experience at BAM lingered long after you left. This campaign excited people about BAM as an entire organization, as opposed to a singular performance.

There are countless other examples of successful marketing campaigns in the arts. As emerging arts leaders I think it is essential we pay attention to trends in marketing. What are the latest trends in arts marketing? How do arts marketers use data analysis and market research to make strategic decisions? What type of programming is becoming most difficult to market? There is an endless amount of questions we can ask.  Read the rest of this entry »

Richard Jaffe

Richard Jaffe

April is National Poetry Month, inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets to celebrate poetry and its vital role in American culture. The academy sponsors events such as the star-studded Poetry & the Creative Mind Gala (April 17 at Lincoln Center in New York City) and mass-appeal activities like Poem in Your Pocket Day (April 18), when everyone is encouraged to carry a poem.

I love April, and not just because of my birthday and all those Final Four games!

We would be wise to celebrate America’s poetry because it’s an art form that does as much—sometimes even more—for the writer as the reader. Poems inspire, educate, and cleanse. And now that writing has become more abbreviated with blogs, text messages, tweets and the like, the time is perfect for poetry to make a big comeback.

The process of exploring my thoughts and feelings and expressing them in symbolic word images exercises my creativity in a fun way. I think it makes me sharper and, the more I explore the well of my imagination, the faster it fills again.

Everyone can benefit from writing poetry, whether they want to share it or not, because it:

1. Improves cognitive function. Learning new words (I’m never without a Thesaurus), working out meter (math!), and finding new ways to articulate our thoughts and feelings (communication) are all good for the brain. Want to get smarter? Write poetry!  Read the rest of this entry »

I was asked to include one of my favorite Americans for the Arts photos so I chose this shot from the 2010 National Arts Awards as it is proof that it really does take a village! It also shows that we all spruce up pretty nicely!

Nora (fifth from the right) was asked to include a favorite Americans for the Arts photo so she chose this shot from the 2010 National Arts Awards as it is proof that it really does take a village! It also shows that we all spruce up pretty nicely!

We recently launched a new series on ARTSblog that spotlights the staff at Americans for the Arts that I call “Ten Questions with…”, in which I will ask everyone the same questions and see where it takes us.

So far, I’ve conducted a self-interview and one with Hannah Jacobson.

This time I have turned to Nora Halpern who currently serves as Vice President of Leadership Alliances for Americans for the Arts.

1. Describe your role at Americans for the Arts in 10 words or less.

Grasstops wrangler: find the person who can move issues forward.

2. What do the arts mean to you?

I find this a very difficult question to answer because the arts are infused in everything I do and everything I am. Therefore, trying to define or identify the arts as something “other,” runs counter to the way I think.

I was lucky to have been raised in a home where the arts were central. Film, music, performance, and the visual arts were vital members of the family and often the glue that got all six of us talking about one topic at a time. Long before the days of remixing and mash-ups, dinner at our house was a cornucopia of art conversations: whether debating likes and dislikes or passions and poisons.  Read the rest of this entry »

Yo-Yo Ma (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Yo-Yo Ma (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Have you ever chatted with someone about the importance of the arts in our schools? Would you like the chance to discuss it with Yo-Yo Ma?

Yo-Yo Ma will deliver the 26th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy on April 8 at 6:30 p.m. EDT and, for the first time, Americans for the Arts will stream the event live from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (courtesy of Google), so you can watch regardless of whether or not you made it to National Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC.

Drawing on his training as a musician and what he has learned traveling the world for more than 30 years as a touring performer, Ma will discuss where in nature, society, and human interactions we can find the greatest creativity, and what we can all do to help students grow up to be contributing and committed citizens.

And, if you have a burning question that arises during the lecture, you can ask Yo-Yo the next day. On April 9, Yo-Yo will take a break from his Arts Advocacy Day visits with members of Congress to participate in a Google Hangout video chat about arts education with Matt Sorum (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer for Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, Co-Founder of Adopt the Arts in California); Damian Woetzel (Former Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet and the director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program); Lisa Phillips (Author of The Artistic Edge and CEO of Canada’s Academy of Stage and Studio Arts); and, Bob Lynch (President & CEO of Americans for the Arts).

We’ll be collecting questions before the Hangout via Twitter and email. You can either tweet using #AskYoYo or send an email to artseducation@artsusa.org with #AskYoYo in the subject line and your question in the body. We’ll take questions anytime from now until the Hangout.  Read the rest of this entry »

Scott Kratz

Scott Kratz

Most of the world’s great cultural capitals emerged organically through a virtuous cycle in which creative people flocked to prosperous cities, where they helped to create or expand prominent cultural institutions, which in turn attracted more creative people, and so on.

During the modern era, however, the historically strong correlation between economic vitality and cultural resources diminished somewhat. In some cases, new centers of economic activity developed with unprecedented speed, making it difficult for cultural institutions—which tend to have long gestation periods—to keep up. In the U.S. in particular, the migration of substantial wealth to the suburbs often left venerable urban institutions impoverished, while depriving nascent cultural organizations of the critical mass necessary for success.

The past couple of decades have been marked by a revival of interest in cultural infrastructure and a growing belief that museums, performing arts centers, libraries, programmed civic spaces and other cultural facilities can themselves foster social and economic progress.

The poster child of this trend is the Guggenheim Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, which has been credited with the revival of a small, rather run-down industrial city in Spain. Careful analysis of economic and other data suggests that the influence of this one project is often overstated, but there can be no doubt that it was a significant catalyst for urban revival, not only because of the museum’s mission and content, but also because of its exhilarating architectural form.  Read the rest of this entry »

George Patrick McLeer

George Patrick McLeer

“Are you thinking about getting your Masters?”

Every time I’m asked that question, my brain has a dilemma. On one hand, I love learning as much information as I can about my field and anything that relates to it. I take what Malcolm Gladwell told Charlie Rose about the key to great journalism to heart—“It’s about teaching yourself that everything is interesting.”

And I love the classroom setting—well I should say the right classroom setting, but that’s another story. I would much rather write a 20-page paper on charitable tax policy or how to engage young people, than attend another City Council meeting or board meeting some days.

But on the other hand, why would I go back to school? I’m a young professional with the world at my fingertips; I’ve got a pretty great job and on top of all that, my undergraduate degree was in Arts Management—so unless I wanted to specialize in something very specific like Arts Policy or Arts Education, I don’t need to sit in a classroom and learn about mission statements, 990s, grants, marketing, etc, from the beginning all over again.

Sure I’d love to learn more about those things—I haven’t found the magic potion to make a perfect arts organization (yet…maybe a Chemistry class?)—but as it stands right now, I have a better chance of making an impact by staying out of the classroom than going back into it.

The other question I used to get when I was in college was, “Where are you looking to work?” No doubt, most folks hear “the arts” and think NYC, DC, Chicago, LA, Atlanta, Seattle and other locations. But for me, my answer was, “I’m staying here in South Carolina.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Raynel Frazier

Raynel Frazier

We all love to go to our favorite theatre and watch a production, sit and listen to our favorite orchestra, or visit our favorite museum.

Traditionally, a person interacted with arts organizations by sitting in the audience of a theater and viewing a performance; but is that enough? I say no way! Like me, many audience members want to get involved and interact with arts organizations in a new way.

Today we live in a world with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms. These platforms give us a space to share our views and interact with people from around the world.

As a person in my early twenties, interaction and participation is crucial. Arts organizations are beginning to realize the importance of audience engagement and are finding new and innovative ways to engage their audiences.

Audience engagement includes a range of activities from open rehearsals and online forums to interactive shows. Here in Washington, DC, Dog & Pony DC produced a production of The Killing Game that whole-heartedly embraced the idea of audience engagement.  Read the rest of this entry »

A local host committee has been working for months to organize tours and special events to show off public art in Pittsburgh during the 2013 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention to the most discerning public art audience: Public Art Network (PAN) Preconference attendees. No pressure!

The photo for our album cover –  Public Art n’At  by the Office of Public Art and Morton Brown Live From Agnes Katz Plaza

The photo for our album cover – Public Art n’At by the Office of Public Art and Morton Brown: Live From Agnes Katz Plaza

On Wednesday, June 12, all of the preconference attendees are invited to our Welcome to Pittsburgh event. Meet up in the lobby of the Westin to get your registration and Dine-Around location organized.

A guide will walk with you a few blocks down to Agnes Katz Plaza in the heart of the Cultural District. The photo was taken at the end of March. We promise you won’t need a winter coat in June! But you might need an umbrella, so please pack one.  Read the rest of this entry »

Emily Peck

Emily Peck

Last week, I left snowy New York City to spend some time in sunny Ft. Lauderdale at the invitation of the Broward Cultural Division to talk with arts organizations about the many ways they can partner with local businesses.

We discussed how to build a successful and meaningful partnership by thinking of the needs of business first, and how to look beyond the usual suspects when thinking about potential business partners.

We were joined by local business leaders from Florida Power and Light and Merrimac Ventures who spoke about how partnering with the arts helped their business engage new customers, reach new audiences, and enhance the quality of life for their communities. For more tips on creating partnerships check out our Building pARTnerships on Your Own toolkit.

This type of training session is just one way you can use the resources of The pARTnership Movement in your community. Here are some other ideas:

  • Tell your story: Promote great arts and business partnerships on twitter (#artsandbiz), Facebook, and YouTube. Don’t forget to let us know, too!

Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network Year in Review program is the only national program that specifically recognizes public art projects. Up to 50 projects are selected annually through an open-call application process and selected by two to three jurors. The projects are available on CD-Rom in our bookstore and include a PowerPoint, data and project list, and hundreds of project photos.

Our 2013 Public Art Year in Review nomination process is open through April 5, so be sure to nominate a project as we continue spotlight former honorees on ARTSblog.

Today’s project is Your Essential Magnificence by James Edward Talbot which was honored in 2012.

"Your Essential Magnificence" by James Edward Talbot

“Your Essential Magnificence” by James Edward Talbot (Photo by Philip Rogers)

Read the rest of this entry »

Liesel Fenner

Liesel Fenner

“Open the Door and Come In,” a sweet phrase invented as a fortune cookie prediction by her granddaughter, fully expresses the life and work of Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art Dialogue’s (PAD) 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Penny is the longtime executive director of the Association for Public Art (APA; formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) in Philadelphia; an Americans for the Arts Public Art Network (PAN) Council member; and a curator, producer, educator, writer, activist, advocate, mentor, world traveler, bon vivant, and arts administrator extraordinaire.

Her brilliant leadership and vision in the field was deservedly recognized and honored at the award ceremony on February 15 at the annual College Art Association conference in New York City. Surrounded by friends; APA board, PAN, and PAD members; and other fans and colleagues, Penny provided a sweeping overview of exemplary projects she’s curated, shepherded, and protected over the past thirty years.

Her talk, “Separation Anxiety: Rites of Passage in Public Art,” provided an overarching theme that followed the philosophy of Joseph Campbell’s stages of a hero’s journey: departure, initiation, return—rather like the phases of the public art commissioning process (proposing, information gathering, idea testing, fabricating, etc.).  Read the rest of this entry »

Shannon Musgrave

Shannon Musgrave

Washington, DC is full of young, ambitious, up and coming leaders—politicos, entrepreneurs, engineers, and of course, those of us in the arts. We live in an exciting time and as we prepare to dive into the working world, we are faced with some unique challenges. But we are young and energetic and up to the task.

One universal challenge emerging leaders face in every field is the evolution of the ever expanding “work day.” Gone are the days of a typical 9 to 5. (Though, did they ever really exist in the arts?)

In this iPhone, iPad, Blackberry world, we are continually and constantly connected. Emails are sent and expected to be read at any and all hours. Tweets and Facebook comments don’t take the night off. We are embarking on a career world that never stops and rarely sleeps.

And how does one break into this world?

Ah yes. The internship.

Internships have the potential to be great career launchers. They also have the potential to become traps. All work and no pay makes Jane a tired intern.

The New York Times recently published an article detailing the struggles of many 20-somethings—“a population historically exploitable as cheap labor”—as they learn that “long hours and low pay go hand in hand with the creative class.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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

Teaching Artists

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Charting the Future of the Arts

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

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.