Ellen Keiley

Ellen Keiley

The Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation was founded by Eliane and Gary Markoff in 1999 after their daughter Rachel was found to have an inoperable brain tumor. She died nine months later, one week after her and her twin sister Audrey’s ninth birthday. At the heart of Art in Giving lies a family’s hope to eliminate childhood cancer.

Art in Giving is a unique model in that it combines the arts with business to benefit an important cause. “The concept and model is so strong and is a win/win scenario for all. The artist and art owner benefits and pediatric cancer research benefits,” said Margaret Pierce, Art in Giving’s Vice President of Operations and Business Development. The artists donate 50% of the proceeds of the art, and the other 50% of the proceeds go to the artist.

Sanofi Oncology chose to lease paintings from Art in Giving’s loan program for its newly-opened location at 640 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which houses a number of oncology (cancer) research scientists. “As science can be a highly creative process, we feel that this art not only contributes to a beautiful environment but also complements the scientific creativity underway at the site,” said Beth Tyler, Head of Operations for Sanofi’s Boston R&D Hub. Read the rest of this entry »

Doug Israel

Doug Israel

Over the course of the past several years, big cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle have been advancing ambitious plans to expand access to arts education and creative learning for public school students. Here in New York City – home of the nation’s largest school district – with a new mayor and schools chancellor, and a growing chorus of parents calling for the inclusion of arts in the school day, there is momentum gathering that could lead to a much-overdue expansion of arts and music in city schools.

This December, at the close of his 12 years in office, New York City’s former Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law a City Council bill that would require the Department of Education to provide annual data on arts instruction that advocates believe will help identify gaps in the delivery of arts education and drive improvements in what is being offered at schools across the city.

While strides were made in expanding access to arts instruction at many schools across the city over the past decade, large gaps persist in the provision of music, dance, theater and visual arts in the over 1,800 New York City public schools.

That is why on the heels of the successful effort to pass the arts reporting legislation, advocates and leaders from a diverse cross section of New York, released a statement calling on the city to ensure that every child, in every part of the city, receives arts instruction as part of their K-12 education.

The statement – entitled “Every Child in Every School: A Vision for Arts and Creativity in New York City Public Schools” –notes that New York City – with its rich and diverse array of arts and cultural experiences and organizations – is uniquely positioned to be the leader in arts and creative education. Read the rest of this entry »

Deb Vaughn

Deb Vaughn

As a statewide funder of arts education, the trend in my organization’s support of arts education over the last decade has been to push the field towards deeper levels of arts integration. Although the beginning of the erosion of arts specialists in schools predates my career in arts administration, I strongly suspect that this emphasis on integrating the arts with other (perhaps more stable) subject areas was a reactive measure rather than a proactive one. In other words, instead of honoring arts integration as an effective teaching method for addressing multiple learning styles, it was seen as a “quick fix” for the loss of critically important arts specialists.

One of the consequences of this investment has been a decrease in attention to out-of-school work. This may be due to a perceived lack of quality (not aligned with state standards, not assessed, not taught by certified educators, etc.), but is also probably a result of decreased availability of grant dollars. As funders turned their attention to in-school work, organizations dependent on that funding were forced to divert their resources towards in-school programs. While there are still many high-quality out-of-school programs in operation, as evidenced by the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, they seem to lack broad recognition as a valuable component of arts education.

I’ve recently watched the evolution of several new grant programs in Oregon, each with their own attempt to link in- and out-of-school earning. The Oregon Community Foundation’s new “Studio to School” program endeavors to create a lasting arts education legacy within a community over a five year investment. While the final funding decisions have not yet been announced, I noticed while serving as a reviewer in the initial phase that the most problematic section of the application asked applicants to “link arts education during the school day to out of school arts learning.” Read the rest of this entry »

Theresa Cameron

Theresa Cameron

Wow!  What a great week of blogs in our first Blog Salon on Rural Arts. Thanks to our bloggers and all our commentators, followers on Twitter, and Facebook fans.

As I read each of these blogs, I was inspired and encouraged about ways the arts are helping the economy, improving place, and creating change for rural America. I am from Wyoming and was an arts administrator on the frontier there for several years, so I especially loved Michael Lange’s blogs about how the arts are playing a leading role in revitalization efforts. This is especially challenging since Wyoming enjoys “the smallest population of any state, with 575,000 people and of the 99 incorporated municipalities, only about half have populations are over 1,000 people, and only a handful of those have a population over 10,000”.

Did you know that 2014 is the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act? And that the Cooperative Extension Service is celebrating through a partnership with Imagining America called Extension Reconsidered? Thanks to Savannah Barrett for her wonderful post on how important Cooperative Extension Service has been to rural arts and economic development.

Other highlights: Michele Anderson’s blog about Fergus Falls and the steps the community is taking to save the former state mental hospital-the Kirkbride Building was inspiring. I loved how this project has helped Fergus Falls re-invent itself using this magnificent building and the arts. Gorgeous photos accompanied many of our posts, including Anderson’s and Michael Lange’s (which can also be viewed on our Instagram) and I loved watching videos from the Higher Ground project in Mark Kidd and Ada Smith’s piece on the Kentucky coalfields. Janet Brown’s blogs informed by her 26 years of work in rural arts – and how she is still impacted by the Declaration of Dakota Cultural Identity – amazed me because it still resonates today and it obviously had an impact on Janet.

Finally, thanks to you – our readers – for participating in this great week of rural arts. I hope that you will continue to revisit this blog salon in the future for more creative ideas and inspiration. Fortunately, all of the posts will be archived here. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we’re holding a webinar series on Rural and Small Communities THIS week, Wednesday-Thursday-Friday – sign up today! Also, there will be Annual Convention sessions dedicated to rural arts, so consider joining us in Nashville in June.

And if you are ever interested in blogging yourself, just send us an e-mail. Keep in touch!

Eric Rogers

Eric Rogers

Small places typically have small financial resources. That certainly describes the environment for Jay County (population 21,253), where Arts Place started in 1967. Small also often translates into limited audiences if an organization cannot reach beyond its traditional boundaries.

One way Arts Place has found to hurdle these obstacles has been to partner with our neighboring rural communities to create economies of scale. This approach also breaks some of the isolation natural to making the arts happen in places outside the urban mainstream.

Partnerships and collaborations have become second nature to Arts Place. While survival may have stimulated our early efforts, the benefits of such an approach have made reaching out to other communities and organizations our preferred way of making the arts happen.

Partnerships can be as simple as offering the same program in multiple communities. For example, Arts in the Parks, a series of summer workshops and community projects for children, requires significant overhead for planning, fund raising, and management during the program. But, by spreading the overhead amongst more than a dozen communities in five counties we created a more cost effective program.  Read the rest of this entry »

Jamie Feinberg

Jamie Feinberg

Growing up in New Hampshire, my favorite days of the year — a few major holidays excepted — were Old Home Days. I loved the crafts, the animals, the special parades, performances and fireworks – it was part of what made our town so special. Cultural traditions still play a large role in defining local community identity in northern New Hampshire towns. While it can be tempting to focus exclusively on new art forms when we look for ways to use the arts as a driver of 21st century rural economic development, we’ve found that the key is often in discovering, acknowledging, appreciating, nurturing — and then marketing and building upon — what we already have.

The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts defines traditional arts as “artistic activities that are passed down from one generation to the next within families and communities and are regarded by the community as part of their heritage”. Whether we’re attending contra dances, purchasing locally woven ash baskets or fishing with a hand-tied fly, traditional arts feature prominently in both our daily life and in our celebrations.

Old Home Days were created in New Hampshire in the late nineteenth century to encourage sons and daughters who’d moved west after the Civil War to come home – for a visit or to stay – and to support their hometowns. This same need – to attract young people and to reconnect with one another — exists in our rural communities today. Traditional arts have always been showcased at these celebrations, but it isn’t just the locals who appreciate them. These events have become popular with both tourists and new residents, people who are looking for authentic experiences and a glimpse of a unique community and culture. People from eight to eighty-eight can be seen both observing and participating in these community celebrations, which reflect past traditions while showcasing the best the town currently has to offer. (Oh, and did I mention they’re fun?!) Read the rest of this entry »

Matthew Glassman

Matthew Glassman

For many of us working in the rural arts and culture movement, years have been spent incubating and developing our model. This April marks Double Edge Theatre’s 20th year of its Farm Center in Ashfield, MA—once a thriving dairy farm community that lost almost all of its nearly thirty farms over the course of the 80s. Double Edge previously was based in Boston and had established itself as an international company both in make-up and its touring/ research activities. The company first inhabited the Farm as a part time theatrical laboratory in April 1994 and eventually moved its full-time operations here by 1997 to create an international center for performance, collaboration, and training in the heart of rural Western Mass.

The Farm Center, a vision of Double Edge Founder and Artistic Director Stacy Klein, is this singular sort of place where creative research thrives and creativity and sustainability are deeply intertwined. The mutuality and duality between ‘W’ Work and ‘w’ work is fluid and holistic in the best and most earthbound sense. Performance, farming, administration, education, and deep individual and group research flow harmoniously on this fertile landscape in cyclical evolutions.

A slow, steady, and organic development has taken place in the past twenty years that includes renovations of barns, animal stalls, and buildings – but also a focused honing of our artistic practice and methodology and a continuous elevation of collaboration with our local community.

After recent touring to major cities in transition such as Baltimore and Hartford, as well as to more developed and gentrified places like Chicago and Washington D.C. (not to mention Moscow), it has become clear to our company through these interactions with these urban communities that now is the time for more highly developed inter-local exchange and cross pollination between these rural models and urban contexts as well as cross-pollination through rural to rural exchanges. Read the rest of this entry »

Michele Anderson

Michele Anderson

I live in a small town, I am an artist, and I am young.

In my work helping other artists with their careers, I spend a lot of time thinking about the types of resources younger artists need in rural communities.  For the most part, this means just what you would expect: developing or identifying ways to help them find funding, sell their work, or learn new skills. But I also want to think more deeply than that: What kind of unique resources might actually motivate young artists to create art in the first place, be connected to their community and stick around to provide the strong, innovative leadership that small towns need right now?

In other words, what are the conditions of creativity and talent development in a small town, and how does this affect the $100 million-dollar question of rural America: Why do our young people stay or go?

Here at Springboard for the Arts’ rural office, working with and encouraging younger artists has become a priority. Last Saturday, we led a day-long creative placemaking workshop on the role of art in historic preservation and economic development as part of our Imagine Fergus Falls initiative. Much to our surprise and delight, this workshop attracted a powerhouse of young artists from the region, most of whom had never met one another before. Read the rest of this entry »

Nicole Faller

Nicole Faller

The following is an excerpt of an article originally posted on Business News Daily, written by staff writer Nicole Fallon, in which she cites a list how creativity is a truly essential business skill, particularly for entrepreneurs. Visit BusinessNewsDaily.com to read the full article.

What is the most important quality of an entrepreneur? Many would argue it is passion—an overwhelming love of what one is doing, and the drive and determination to see one’s dreams realized. Others might say leadership—the ability to bring a team of people together and guide them toward a common goal. But some believe that creativity—a boundless imagination that is constantly innovating and seeing the world through a different lens—is the ultimate key to business success.

Phoebe Cade Miles, daughter of Gatorade inventor Dr. James Robert Cade, is one such believer in the power of creativity. She watched her father work tirelessly to invent a product that, five decades after its introduction, is still used by athletes around the world. Today, Cade Miles is working on her own entrepreneurial project, The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. The museum, scheduled to open in 2015 to commemorate Gatorade’s 50th anniversary, explores the history of the famous athletic drink, and highlights the crucial role creativity played in its invention. Read the rest of this entry »

Pat Boyd

Pat Boyd

Rural arts organizations like us are always hunting for resources. Sometimes it’s a treasure hunt.  Sometimes it’s a scavenger hunt. Sounds like fun. That must be why we just can’t stop searching out ways to support ourselves!  (Trumpets sound.) 

Resourceful is near the top of the list of most admirable traits of rural Americans, followed unfortunately but necessarily by self-reliant and thrifty.  We have to use as much imagination and skill to support arts opportunities as we do to create them.

You have license to go resource hunting within the territory defined by this circle of support and creation. Your carefully crafted mission and its resulting programs and projects come from there. They make your map, but there are no x’s to show where the hidden treasures lie.

Stray too far in your hunt for support and you risk losing your way in the real work of art.  Your role as an arts organization in your rural community is complicated in ways that belie the apparent simplicity of size and setting. Best be clear in your purpose.

As hunters and gatherers for the arts, we have to stand in that clearing and think about that purpose. If you are having trouble finding support, it is good to figure out what is the matter. So start with what really matters:

            What good does it do?                                                        

                        Who cares?

                                    What does it take to do it?

                                                What do you have now?

                                                            What are you looking for?

                                                                        How much do you need and when?

If you know the answers without thinking, you are probably wrong.  Take the time to explore the answers in full. If you go off half-cocked by making assumptions, you might hunt up some help and simultaneously create some problems you don’t need.

Getting and understanding the answers can lead to your best resources. You may be looking for support for general operations, a major program or a small project — starting up, sustaining, or starting over, you make your case successfully if you know.  Read the rest of this entry »

Jamie Feinberg

Jamie Feinberg

It’s impossible to talk about what makes northern New Hampshire unique without talking about the environment. I’ve found that the stereotype of North Country residents — hardy, resourceful and independent – is basically true, and I’m sure this is in no small part due to the landscape of our region, which captivates us – and, in some ways, holds us captive.

Northern New Hampshire is beautiful in all seasons, but our communities are also isolated; much of the region’s land mass is part of the 1,200 square mile White Mountain National Forest, with mountains, lakes, and rivers defining the area’s character, offering locals and visitors alike a wealth of recreation opportunities – and simultaneously separating even “neighboring” communities from one another.

Northern New Hampshire is more depressed economically than the rest of the Granite State. Since the economic center of New Hampshire is in its southern corridor, making a living up north is often a struggle, especially since the past few decades have seen almost all of the manufacturing and “big” businesses in the region close down or move elsewhere.

In the nineteenth century, our mountains drew some of the country’s greatest artists to the region, and the White Mountain artists and their work became associated with the identity, expansion and development of the region. Many of the grand (and not-so-grand) hotels housed “artists in residence,” whose images became important drivers and symbols of the new and thriving tourism industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas

Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas

Ecology and economy share the same root word, oikos referring to a household or family. Because it is at that level that these concepts can best be understood –a discrete unit that can sustain itself, financially, culturally and environmentally; large enough to have impact; diversified enough to be resilient, yet small enough to retain knowledge and control of its elements.

Economies in rural communities retains some of this compact nature. We operate at a level where our work can have measurable impact. We can communicate directly with elected officials, business leaders and seldom have to introduce ourselves more than twice.

Our original household economic goals were modest- we sought to derive a living by growing and marketing organic vegetables. Though our backgrounds were in the arts, we were used to performing duties not directly related to our vocation in order to pay the bills. But we quickly discovered that there were connections between the fields of culture and agriculture- not the least of which is the work of farming.  But for us, without the necessary balance of art, it would prove unsustainable.

Wormfarm Institute Combine

Wormfarm Institute Combine

Because of this, the Wormfarm Institute has always found the relationship between a vibrant culture and economic activity to be a natural one. Over the past several years, as our projects have grown larger and more complex, involving several communities simultaneously we have come to value projects in part in terms of economic development. This isn’t a stretch or compromise but instead a natural result of working to increase diversity, vibrancy and resilience whether in our farm fields or our small downtown. This coincides with a nascent re-localization movement growing in response to the global economic upheavals of the last 8 years. It is easier now to make this oikos (human-scale) argument since most folks are aware how unwise it is to be dependent upon distant financial markets operated by self-interested entities, personal or corporate, untethered to any community.

Read the rest of this entry »

Janet Brown

Janet Brown

People who work in the arts live in a perpetual state of aspiration and hope. We balance our budgets by projecting income that we “need” instead of income that we “expect.” Grantmakers in the Arts has spent four years focusing on the capitalization of arts organizations at GIA and other national conferences; through our web conferences, blogs, articles in the GIA Reader; and at our workshops for funders entitled Conversations on Capitalization and Community. Capitalization is defined simply as the resources an organization needs to accomplish its mission. The entire nonprofit sector operates in a business environment that is chaotic. It is the unpredictable nature of contributed income that makes the job of resource identification so difficult, requiring extreme cynicism and practical thinking by those trying to project budgets for the future.

This idea of projecting income in a chaotic marketplace is as important to the smallest of organizations as it is to the largest museum or opera company. Understanding how much money you need to exist and then understanding where that money will come from – this is the foundation of a good business model.

There is a false hope within the nonprofit world that all organizations, and even artists for that matter, can be saved by a good grant writer, that all we need to do is find a foundation and write a grant. The reality is that most organizations (and artists) are funded by only a small percentage of America’s foundations. About 10% of all foundation giving goes to the arts and one can probably predict without doing much research that the bulk of funding goes to institutions in urban centers. Read the rest of this entry »

Savannah Barrett

Savannah Barrett

From the coalfields of Appalachia to the lumber mills of the Cascades, rural people across the nation share a common desire to see the places where they live grow and prosper as livable, energetic communities. Many small communities in rural America have witnessed dwindling philanthropic investment in the twenty-first century. Although rural communities, labor, and expertise remain vital to health of our nation, reports of philanthropic investment in small communities average between 1-5%. As Rick Cohen referenced in the Non Profit Quarterly earlier this year, “Many rural nonprofits have probably given up on seeing philanthropy double its rural grant making in five years, as per the challenge issued by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) to the Council on Foundations seven years ago, because of the historic underfunding of rural communities by foundations.”

Thankfully, this narrative is beginning to shift. While inequity in resource allocation to rural communities persists across the arts and culture sector; agencies, foundations, and support organizations are beginning to take note of the value of rural arts and humanities organizations, and are increasing their investment in rural communities. This blog post is aimed to inform rural arts and culture practitioners of the opportunities available for capital, human, and social investment in rural organizations.

The Year of the Rural Arts and the Rural Arts Resource Directory
2014 marks the inaugural Year of the Rural Arts: a biennial program of events, conversations, and online features celebrating the diverse, vital ways in which rural arts and humanities contribute to American life. This inaugural effort connects citizens, artists, scholars, designers, and entrepreneurs and meets with audiences on the grounds of universities, museums and galleries, cultural organizations, and across rural and urban communities. Coordinated by Art of the Rural and organized by a collective of individuals, organizations, and communities; we utilize a digital platform to elevate the rural arts field by facilitating rural-urban dialogue and cross-sector exchange.

Each time we partner with regional organizations to build digital networks on the Atlas of Rural Arts and Culture, we attempt to strengthen those networks on the ground by connecting rural organizations and individuals to one another, and to regional and national associations and opportunities. Through this process and the contributions of many advisors and stakeholders, we’ve created an online rural arts resource directory, complete with a variety of helpful toolkits, funding opportunities, networks and associations, conferences, webinars, professional development opportunities, websites, books, and articles related to rural arts and culture.

The range and diversity of resources included in this directory are exciting. We identified more than 50 funding and support opportunities for rural and cultural organizations from federal assistance programs, foundations, and corporate grant makers. Read the rest of this entry »

Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas.

Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas.

Some are born rural, some achieve rural, and some have rural thrust upon them. I am somewhere between the second two and have been immersed in rural life in Wisconsin for 20 years now. Though I was formed by urban and suburban places, none would claim me.

I used to call it portable roots and came by them honestly. Ours was a military family who moved every 3-4 years. There was once a time when my peripatetic life was unusual, but now even people like myself, who are most passionate about the places we live, once lived somewhere else and may likely relocate again. I live as I believe we all do—with varying degrees of awareness, along a rural/urban continuum.

This continuum is especially vivid to me today as I write from Mexico City, which has a population of 25 million.  Here among ancient and contemporary ruins, throngs of people, and centuries of visible history on nearly every corner, is live music or bizarre performances; every wall is either a reminder of Spanish conquest or crowded with murals and graffiti. The stream of romantic couples, the well behaved children, the ornate churches, the incense, the roaming vendors, and the incredible street food all goes through my senses into my brain and winds up comingled with Fermentation Fest or Roadside Culture Stands. Experiences here in Mexico for a couple weeks (during a polar vortex back home) can’t help but shape ideas to enliven and transform our very small, very different agricultural community. 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

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

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.