Joanna Chin

Joanna Chin

Memorial Day is coming. Back in elementary school, I remember this (and Veterans Day) as the only time(s) we talked about war in a contemporary sense or what it meant to serve your country. Now the politics of war, service, military culture, and their effects on military personnel are ever present in all corners of the U.S. These issues pervade our conversations, float across newsfeeds, fill our TV screens, and sometimes touch even closer to home.

Among organizations that serve veterans, their families and communities, the arts are becoming an increasingly essential means and end to understanding, reckoning, and moving forward. Nowhere has this movement been so clearly evidenced than the  April 10th announcement by Americans for the Arts and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) of a nationwide “Blueprint for Action” designed to make arts programming widely available to service members, veterans, and their families throughout their lifespan, including the continuum of military service. The announcement took place at the second “National Summit: Arts, Health and Wellness across the Military Continuum” at Walter Reed Bethesda, and represents an unprecedented coming together of military, veteran, health, arts and federal agencies to work together to find arts solutions to some of the military’s most pressing problems.

While the national momentum is building to act, the challenges our military servicemen and women and their families face are felt most deeply at home and in their communities. As writer and “former military kid,” Maranatha Bivens, stated in her Animating Democracy trend paper, Art in Service: Supporting the Military Community and Changing the Public Narrative:  “…the military is now far from a niche community. Today’s all-volunteer force has 1.4 million active duty service members and nearly 400,000 members of National Guard and Reserve components.” As combat operations come to a close, an unprecedented number of returning service members are joining an estimated 23 million citizens already classified as veterans.  The wave of returning service members includes many suffering from physical and emotional traumas, as well as families, communities, and a society in need of ways to understand, adjust, and heal. Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Whitacre

Bruce Whitacre

While corporate philanthropy has long ago shifted from community charity to strategic, carefully designed programs, a fundamental question of authenticity can undermine the soundest strategies.

If the association between a company and a cause, or the social impact of the company’s action does not resonate with consumers and other stakeholders, what is the point of the best-laid plans?

This question was examined at a recent panel convened by Barron’s and the Luxury Marketing Council, a collaborative organization of leading brands. Discussion was led by journalist and author Richard C. Morais, editor of Barron’s Penta, a quarterly magazine and website serving wealthy families. In this context, Morais addressed the inherent contradiction facing luxury brands and philanthropy — high end products are often marketed as expressions and rewards for one’s self, and this can create dissonance for philanthropic projects focused on others. Customers of these brands are also often philanthropists themselves and they are attuned to these inconsistencies.

As Page Snow, Chief Philanthropic Officer at Foundation Source, illustrated, “Individuals of wealth are approached constantly for various causes, and their BS detector becomes very finely tuned, especially at higher levels of wealth.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Wonky In Pittsburgh

Posted by David Pankratz On May - 8 - 20132 COMMENTS
David Pankratz

David Pankratz

I am new to Pittsburgh, having arrived here from Los Angeles on New Year’s Day 2013 to join the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) as its Research & Policy Director. It’s one of the few such positions in a local arts agency in the U.S., reflecting GPAC’s ongoing commitment to strategically integrating research, policy, and advocacy.

Overall, even though, alas, Pittsburgh’s signature dish (pierogies) is no replacement for Southern California’s fish tacos–sorry!–and Burghers’ sense of direction seems to rely more on landmarks long gone than concepts like east, west, north, and south, I’ve had a very happy landing here, in part, because it’s a dream locale for an arts policy wonk like me.

Pittsburgh is a policy wonk’s paradise for several reasons–its many assets and accomplishments, challenges, and policy windows.

Assets and Accomplishments
–Our state (Pennsylvania) is the birthplace of the Cultural Data Project, thanks in part to Pittsburgh-based foundations, while GPAC is a standing member of the PA CDP task force, which helps give direction to the use of CDP data by arts & culture organizations (and researchers).

–GPAC participates in national arts research initiatives on a regular basis, for example, TRG Arts’ Community Database Network, the Local Arts Index, and AEP IV, for which GPAC created its own customized reportArts, Culture & Economic Prosperity in Allegheny County. The “Prosperity” report found, among other things, that our county’s arts & culture industry generates $410 million in household income annually which, in turn could be used in many ways–for house payments for 44,000 families or  to buy 505,849,383 pierogies. Read the rest of this entry »

Rob Schultz

Rob Schultz

For those of us who’ve been involved with arts education for any length of time, we’ve seen many theories and practices arrive on the scene. All are well grounded, express a philosophy of teaching, and hopefully build upon the education foundations already laid since the late 19th Century and the rise of the Picture Study Movement. Today, over one hundred years later, Common Core’s focus on national standards is receiving much attention from educators, commentators, think tanks, and politicians.

What seems overlooked in this evolution is the tectonic change that’s occurred inside the classroom. Specifically, inside the arts classroom–or on the mobile cart that carries the arts into the “regular” classroom.

Much time, it seems, is spent studying arts education practices at the macro level. We in the field read, listen, talk, debate, and write consistently on how theory and practice impacts students. In my household, alternatively, we generally eschew theory and instead talk a lot about reality. Why is that? Because my wife is a visual arts teacher in a K-8th grade public school.

In her 27 years in the classroom, things have changed. Kids haven’t really changed all that much, but the atmosphere surrounding public education certainly has.

The challenges she faces in her job on the front lines of education have evolved significantly. At one time, she felt supported by her principals and school administrators, especially in areas like discipline. Today, the kids rule. Principals now consider the child’s side of a dispute more than the teacher who brought it to their attention. School board members bend sideways with any angry parental breeze. Imagine an eight-year-old lying through their teeth after being caught doing something wrong, in spite of plain evidence to the contrary, and having the principal castigate the teacher for not “truly understanding” the child’s behavior. Read the rest of this entry »

Moving On…

Posted by Tim Mikulski On May - 3 - 20138 COMMENTS
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

This is my 149th ARTSblog post as a writer. It’s also my last—at least as a staff member here at Americans for the Arts.

I have been with the organization for almost six years and started blogging four years ago (after becoming ARTSblog editor a little over two years ago).

In those two years, I have tried to write, recruit, or find at least one relevant post per day to publish on the site. Some weeks were easier than others, but it is pretty amazing to see the depth and breadth of the quality of the posts that I have had the pleasure of adding to the site.

And, of course, I can’t help but think of the 20 Blog Salons I have worked on along with the fantastic program staff at the organization who work hard to find the bloggers, gather the posts, pictures, and profiles, and send them along to me for editing, formatting, and social media promotion.

While those weeks are some of the more stressful due to the work that it all entails, I think the fantastic collection of resources in the right side bar speaks for itself.

I’m leaving ARTSblog in the perfectly capable hands of our marketing and communications staff members, but I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for visiting our little corner of the web to read, comment, and share the amazing work of our bloggers.

Americans for the Arts represents a diverse group of interests—from arts administrators to marketing professionals to advocates to arts-education-supporting parents—and I hope that my work on the site has represented you at one point or another. If it hasn’t, I hope you will consider adding your voice to the mix sometime soon.

Until next time…

Tim

Stephanie Milling

Stephanie Milling

As a university administrator and associate professor, I frequently interact with parents who visit our campus with respective students. The one question that is always interesting to field is, “What will my child be able to do with a degree in (fill in your respective arts area here)?”

From a financial standpoint the question is a valid one: parents want to know that their investment in their child’s future is going to lead to gainful employment and prevent him/her from returning home and living on their couch after graduation. However, the assumption that any college degree, regardless the area of study, will lead to a specific job is a misconception.

While a degree does set one on a career path with a specific skill set, it does not guarantee employment in any specific field. The question is also valid because in my experience, the knowledge that a majority of students and their parents have of the opportunities in the arts is limited to practical involvement in their respective art area of study: singing, painting, dancing, acting, etc.

In higher education, I have witnessed practicing an art form as the point of entry that many students take into their respective fields. However, that initial exposure leads them to a variety of careers within and outside of the arts. Therefore, I try to quell the notion that a degree in the arts leads to being a starving artist. Instead, I point them to resources that will help them expand their perspective of the possible career options for those with arts backgrounds and discuss the transferable skills that students learn within the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

"Demon Eye 1," by Steinar Jakobsen, 2005, oil on alucore. From the Schwartz Art Collection of the Harvard Business School.

“Demon Eye 1,” by Steinar Jakobsen, 2005, oil on alucore. From the Schwartz Art Collection of the Harvard Business School.

In a recent development in the corporate art world, many of the most important business colleges and schools are now collecting art and using it as a learning tool.

As I was updating the information for the new 2013 edition of the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections, I discovered a surprising and unexpected growth sector—business schools and colleges have begun to form art collections as a necessary component to their business curriculum.

During the past 20 years, it has become more recognized and accepted that art in a corporate environment has numerous benefits—for employees, clients, and the company itself. So it is heartening to see that many of the most important business colleges have developed an art program as an adjunct to their more traditional course offerings.

Primarily a North American phenomenon, some of the business schools with important collections include the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia, Harvard Business School, the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, the London School of Economics, and the Stephen Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Read the rest of this entry »

Kristen Engebretsen

Kristen Engebretsen

“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves…We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.” ~ from A Nation at Risk

Last Friday I attended an event at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute looking at the impact of the report released back in 1983, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform. According to the Fordham Institute’s website:

“Thirty years ago, A Nation at Risk was released to a surprised country. Suddenly, Americans woke up to learn that SAT scores were plummeting and children were learning a lot less than before. This report became a turning point in modern U.S. education history and marked the beginning of a new focus on excellence, achievement, and results.”

The report language itself called for many sensible reforms, including more instructional time, higher standards for courses and content, stringent high school graduation requirements, and demanding college entrance requirements.

But the sound bite that came out of the report was that we have a “desperate need for increased support for the teaching of mathematics and science.” And, “We are raising a new generation of Americans that is scientifically and technologically illiterate.” Read the rest of this entry »

Jamie Kasper

Jamie Kasper

Imagine a fast-growing, increasingly diverse school district with approximately 2,700 students in grades K–12, located 12 miles from the downtown area of a city. The district currently consists of three buildings: an elementary school (grades K–4), a middle school (grades 6–8), and a high school (grades 9–12). Also imagine the following:

  • Because of the growing population, the district is building a new facility for grades 3-5 that will open in the 2013–2014 school year. This building will have a STEAM focus.
  • In addition to visual arts and music, students in the elementary school also participate in an Arts Alive class. Arts Alive is a performing arts class that focuses on storytelling; students employ dance, music, and theatre to tell and create stories. Students often comment that they wish Arts Alive would continue into the middle school because they learn so much in elementary school.
  • The administrative team—including the superintendent and other central office staff; building leadership; heads of transportation, food service, and grounds; and other leaders—has spent its last three summer leadership retreats at local arts and cultural facilities, engaged in creative arts-based learning with staff from those facilities.
  • The middle school visual arts teacher took it upon herself a few years ago to attend a robotics workshop at a local university. With the help of staff from a special robotics program at the university, she now engages her middle school students in designing, creating, and programming kinetic sculptures that use the elements and principles of design. Read the rest of this entry »

Raymond Tymas-Jones

Raymond Tymas-Jones

Arts education in our society sometimes gets a bad rap. When I’m speaking with potential students and their families I’m frequently asked questions such as: What do people actually do with a degree from the College of Fine Arts? What kind of jobs do they get? How much money do they make?

These are all valid questions, but the answers are often more complicated than the inquirers desire. I often wonder whether or not these are the most important questions for people who are passionate about studying and creating art.

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) is an organization designed to enhance the impact of arts-school education. To do this, SNAAP partners with degree-granting institutions to administer an annual online survey to their arts alumni. The information from the survey provides important insight as to how artists develop in this country, help identify the factors needed to better connect arts training to artistic careers and allow education institutions, researchers and arts leaders to look at the systemic factors that helped or hindered the career paths of alumni.

SNAAP defines “the arts” and “the arts alumni” broadly, to include the fields of performance, design, architecture, creative writing, film, media arts, illustration, and the fine arts. The survey population includes alumni from undergraduate programs, graduate programs, and arts-focused high schools. Read the rest of this entry »

Greg Coppa

Greg Coppa

For decades, science and math educators have been the beneficiaries of government largesse, which has often been supplemented by corporate philanthropy. As a high school science teacher for three decades, I have often benefited from this policy along with my students and I have never questioned why it was so.

Many of my post-graduate courses were funded in whole or part by grants from the National Science Foundation. A good number of the many summer programs that I have attended were federally financed by one agency or another. Texts, videotapes, and computer software which I used were developed with government, corporation, or coalition assistance. And I have been very fortunate to have received honors and grants which have been sponsored by federal agencies and an assortment of professional societies.

I cannot warrant that every penny used to fund the variety of things just mentioned was spent wisely by the numerous government agencies and grant recipients. But overall I would have to say that from my vantage point, the taxpayers and corporate sponsors got their money’s worth.

People were trained, energized, and assisted so that they could become better teachers of science or math. Resources or teaching methods were developed which were often better than those previously utilized, or if they turned out to be worse, at least it was known for the future that that was the case. Failure was acceptable and looked at as part of the price for future success. Read the rest of this entry »

Valerie as a fairy in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at age 3 1/2.

Valerie as a fairy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at age 3 1/2.

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.

This time I have turned to Valerie Beaman who currently serves as Private Sector Initiatives Coordinator.

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

Program planner, council wrangler, seeker of speakers and bloggers, herder

2. What do the arts mean to you?

In my family it was an anomaly if you weren’t involved in the arts in some way. We are all a bunch of introverts and eccentrics who’ve managed to stay sane by participating in the arts. My first stage experience was as a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Redlands Bowl at age 3 ½. I still get goose bumps when I hear Mendelssohn’s music for the entrance of the fairies! Experiences like that never leave you. It’s very important to me to that children everywhere have an opportunity to connect with the arts. They’re a lifesaver. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Bruney

Laura Bruney

In front of a sold-out crowd of almost 150 hospitality executives, arts directors and community leaders at the Intercontinental Miami; the Arts & Business Council’s annual Breakfast with the Arts & Hospitality Industry got off to a rousing start. George Neary from the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau welcomed participants by exclaiming, “Miami is what the world wants to be!”

Much of the “Miami” brand features the arts and our world class cultural community. Art Basel Miami Beach is well known for attracting cultural tourists. But it is not alone.

Music fans from around the world come for Ultra Music Festival; half a million arts lovers come for the Coconut Grove Arts Festival; architect buffs visit the New World Center on Miami Beach and take art deco walking tours hosted by Miami Design Preservation League; and, film enthusiasts flock to the Miami International Film Festival. Read the rest of this entry…

(This post, originally published on KnightArts.org, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)

P. Scott Cunningham

P. Scott Cunningham

Three years ago, a group of friends and I started to dream up what a lot of people considered impossible: a festival that would bring poetry to all 2.6 million residents of Greater Miami.

At that time, Miami’s cultural scene was exploding. Art Basel was in full force, and we wanted to do a festival that was the opposite of the “pipe-and-blazer” readings that most people associate with poetry. We wanted to do a festival that reflected Miami’s diversity and personality.

Knight Foundation had just finished the first round of its famous Random Acts of Culture™ and we liked how those events turned everyday events into cultural occasions. What if did something like that? What if we did it every day for a month?

And that’s how O, Miami was born. In the poetry festival’s first year, we did 45 events and 19 projects in a 30-day span, and almost none of them had a recognizable headliner. (You can get a taste for it in a new report being published this week.)

As we headed into our second full incarnation of the festival this month, we wanted to share a few of the things we learned about engaging new audiences and creating a cultural event that transcends geography, genre, and demographics… Read the rest of this entry »

Sam Laffey

Sam Laffey

I love Pittsburgh. I mean it; I am a full on Pittsburgh-loving evangelist.

I have a full-time job that I love here. I co-own a small business here. I own a house here. I wasn’t born here. I’m a transplant. And unlike my friend Michelle, it took me longer than a year to get on board with Pittsburgh.

“Why did you come here?” The emphasis on ‘here’ was always more dramatic when the person asking knew I came from Los Angeles. I grew up in L.A. for 18 years and couldn’t wait to leave when it came time to apply to college. It’s not that I didn’t like L.A., but I was hungry for something new and different. I mean, how much sunshine can a person take? I kid, but in truth I did want to experience seasons.

I originally came to feed my hunger for seasons and independence and to study art at Carnegie Mellon University. After about two months, I felt my hunger had been satiated and I announced to my family that after I completed my four-year degree, I was coming home as fast as that plane could carry me.

When I tell this story now it makes me laugh, because it truly was a rough beginning to my courtship with Pittsburgh. My apartment and school and the four square blocks in between were all I knew. It got really small really quick. The public transportation system was pretty good back then and my school ID got me on for free, but I didn’t know where to go, so I felt trapped. Read the rest of this entry »