John Eger

The International Council of Fine Arts Deans‘ (ICFAD) meeting in Minneapolis (October 24–27) for their annual conference talked about “Art as a Public Good”—meeting the demands for creativity and innovation, and serving the communities they represent, socially and economically.

Nurturing the talented performer, musician, or sculptor is of utmost importance to the fine arts deans and their universities. However, knowing that the arts, broadly defined, are being called on to shape the larger economic discussion—a national discussion, really—to change the way the whole country thinks about education, economic prowess in the global economy, and preparing our students for the new innovation sector, cries out for their leadership.

Lucinda Lavelli, dean of University of Florida and incoming President of ICFAD, kicked off the conference by talking about the concept of “the creative campus,” now adopted by several universities, “to establish educational settings that infuse the academy with the arts, foster creativity in all disciplines, promote interdisciplinary projects and encourage new ways of solving problems and expressing ideas.”

She asked several deans to talk about their university and how their college was collaborating with other colleges in business, engineering or the sciences, but more, she asked perhaps the biggest question of the conference: “What could—or should—the deans and their universities be doing” with their students, their alumni living in the area and through the town/gown relationships that exist, and how can others be engaged to help everyone in our community to think differently about the arts?

Quite simply, as Harvey White, co-founder and former president of Qualcomm, has been known to say, this is a “national emergency.” The clock is ticking, and when the dust settles after years of budgetary and fiscal malaise, the nation will desperately need young graduates with the new thinking skills for an economy that demands the most creative workforce. Read the rest of this entry »

On behalf of Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund, I wish to congratulate President Barack Obama and all of the national, state, and local elected leaders across the country who won their elections last night.

White House

President Obama will now have the opportunity to fully realize his vision for the arts and culture as he originally laid out four years ago. By successfully securing healthcare for artists, economic recovery funds that saved artists’ jobs through the National Endowment for the Arts, and ongoing support for appropriations that fund federal cultural agencies, the president has taken many steps in supporting the nonprofit arts sector.

We hope to encourage President Obama and his administration over the course of the next four years to remain focused on maintaining arts education in every classroom; allocating a larger budget for the arts as an economic generator for American jobs, products, and communities; and protecting charitable giving incentives that are the lifeblood of the nonprofit arts sector.

We are proud that the nonprofit arts sector has already played an important role in our nation’s economic recovery by generating $135 billion in economic activity, supporting 4.1 million jobs, and returning $22 billion in tax revenue back to federal, state, and local coffers.

Congress

The make up of the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate, with a few races still to be called, is poised to remain relatively the same with modest gains by Democrats in both chambers. In the House of Representatives, we are happy to report that Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) won re-election in a hard-fought campaign made difficult by New York’s congressional redistricting plan. Also, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) will continue to chair the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee, ensuring a friend of the arts remains at the head of that very important panel. Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts Aren’t Red or Blue

Posted by Robert Lynch On November - 7 - 20121 COMMENT

Robert L. Lynch

Every four years America gets another chance to make its voice heard. And every four years the American arts community, in a way, gets a bit of a fiscal makeover.

How is that? Well, it has to do with how the nonprofit arts in America are funded and how policy affects those funding sources. And every four years, no matter who wins elections across our country, there are new policymakers in town.

Roughly 10 percent of the $61 billion aggregate budgets of the nonprofit arts in America comes from government—mostly local and then state government and finally federal sources. Yes, this is a tiny portion of the whole, and it is actually a lot smaller than many people, including many politicians, think. This 10 percent is indeed a small amount compared to the 30 percent the private sector—(mostly) individuals—chips in and the 60 percent that comes from earned and investment income.

But that 10 percent is critical in what is a very conservative funding model for arts in our country. I call this model conservative because a very modest government investment leverages more than 60 times as much private and earned revenue to create a whole industry and support millions of jobs. How?

A $146 million investment from the federal government directly leverages close to $5 billion more in local and state government investment, which in turn helps leverage another $50 billion to create the $61 billion nonprofit arts industry in America.

This model has helped grow an industry from a handful of organizations in 1965—when the federal cultural funding agencies like National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) came into being—to more than 110,000 arts businesses today. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks to the amazing work of advocates like the Creative Advocacy Network and others supporting measure 26-146 in Portland, OR, arts education funding will get a big boost from a $35 per person flat tax to pay for arts and music teachers in the city’s elementary schools as well as grants to local arts organizations.

As of this morning, the measure was approved by a 60% to 40% margin, paving the way for the $12 million it is expected to raise annually to fund the positions of 70 teachers.

$4 million of that is expected to be distributed to arts organizations providing arts education to K–12 students via grants administered by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.

Congrats to everyone who worked on the passage of the measure and thanks for giving the idea to other communities who can now attempt similar campaigns in other cities across the country!

Janet Stanford

YES is the answer to this question judging from the enthusiastic audience response on October 10 to Imagination Stage’s Creative Conversation on the topic.

One hundred and forty parents, educators, and other stakeholders attended a panel discussion, moderated by Doug Herbert of the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Innovation & Improvement, and then enjoyed breakout sessions that included sample sessions in professional development for teachers, creative parenting classes, and an opportunity to take the Torrance Test, the only nationally recognized measure for creativity that has been in use for more than 50 years.

Each of the four panelists described their viewpoint about creativity during the forum.

Developmental Psychologist Meredith Rowe debunked the commonly held assumption that creativity is a gift which cannot be taught.

Neuropsychologist Bill Stixrud spoke about what he sees daily in his clinical practice: that kids today enjoy less free play, feel more stress, are less motivated, and have lower self-esteem than past generations. His findings parallel data from the Torrance Test, which has noted a sharp decline in children’s creativity scores over the last 20 years, especially in the elementary grades. Stixrud recognizes that children are missing the benefits of creative play and arts education.

I discussed how theatre arts classes and arts integrated into the school curriculum can help children of all abilities to find motivation for their studies. Projects that are student-led and focused on creative problem solving have been shown to engage young people in ways that traditional modes of instruction no longer can. Read the rest of this entry »

After you cast your vote for the next President, we wanted to remind Americans for the Arts members to be sure to vote in this year’s Advisory Council Elections.

Our councils advise staff on programs and services that will build a deeper connection to the field and to our networks, giving them the opportunity to be seen as national leaders and providing an opportunity to “give back to the field” by connecting the national work of Americans for the Arts to the local level.

As members of our organization, this is your opportunity to elect the nominees you want to lead your network(s)! We have been collecting nominations from the field for the past month, and thanks to our members we have outstanding nominees across the board.

Voting for Council Elections will officially close on November 21, but why not add a second chance vote to your day today?

To view our current nominees and cast your vote, please click on any and/or all of the following council voting pages:

You will need to enter your Member ID to view the nominees and proceed with voting, so if you are unsure of your Member ID, please log into your account here and click “my account information.”

If you have any questions please email membership@artsusa.org or call 202.371.2830.

Janet Langsam

The presidential election is just one day away and American entrepreneurship is on the line.

We are told by the candidates that 60% of all jobs come from small businesses. So, I thought I’d check in with Chris Wedge, who is the brains, the heart and the innovator of Blue Sky, an animation studio that produced “Ice Age,” “Robots,” and the soon-to-come “Epic.”

Blue Sky, once a very small business, started out in Elmsford (NY), then located in White Plains, and now has expanded, moving its artists, writers, producers, designers, modelers, riggers, filmmakers, cameramen, photographers, sculptors, composers, lighting and costume designers, editors and other creators to new studios in Greenwich, CT.

With roots still in Westchester, however, (Chris and family reside in Katonah) Wedge has collaborated with the Katonah Museum and Jacob Burns Film Center on a joint exhibition, film and education program about the art of animation. This unique program introduces observers to Blue Sky’s creative process, from initial concept to finished frame through original drawings, storyboards, props, movie clips, and hands-on technology.

Though Blue Sky is a small business, in comparison, say to Twentieth Century Fox Animation, with whom they work, it is also a creative business of which there are some 3,988 in Westchester alone, employing 15,279 people, according to a study by Americans for the Arts.

So, as one left brain person to another, I asked Chris Wedge what it takes to be a creative entrepreneur like himself.

“You just can’t put a limit on possibilities,” he says. ‘You must be open to discovery and surprise. Don’t think too hard. Fun is important. Get out of your own way. Do the work that feels right. The more one investigates, the clearer the potential becomes.” Read the rest of this entry »

Generating $50,000 for the winning school’s art program while simultaneously drawing attention to the importance of art as an integral part of a well-rounded education, Vans Custom Culture comes back in its fourth iteration with registration opening on January 2, 2013:

The Vans Custom Culture Competition sparks the creativity and teamwork of art students across the country as they work together to design blank pairs of canvas shoes into wearable pieces of art.

Shoes are sent out in the month of February to the first 1,500 U.S.-based public or private high schools that register and students have until April 5 to complete the shoes and submit their images online.

Each registered school receives four blank canvas shoes they must design using the following themes: art, music, action sports, and local flavor—a design inspired by the surrounding community, city, or state.

An internal selection narrows the field down to 50 participants and the external online public vote whittles those 50 schools down to a group of five finalists who will be flown to New York City for the final judging in June 2013.

The winning school receives a $50,000 prize for their art program and the opportunity for the shoes to be produced and sold in Vans’ retail stores. The remaining schools won’t go home empty handed—the four runners-up will receive a cash prize of $4,000 towards their art program. Read the rest of this entry »

Your Post-Election To Do List

Posted by Jay Dick On October - 26 - 20124 COMMENTS

Jay Dick

So much attention is paid to the time leading up to Election Day that people often forget about how valuable the time is after the election to the when the winners are sworn in. This is an excellent opportunity to reach out to the newly elected and an excuse to reconnect with incumbents. Here at Americans for the Arts, we encourage our members to adopt the following “schedule” after any election.

November 6, Election Night: Send the winner a congratulatory email, post to their Facebook, etc. If they have a victory party, attend or send someone on your behalf. (It is even better if the person attending was a campaign donor.)

November 7: Have a grasstop supporter contact the winner via phone or personal email on your behalf and congratulate them. This grasstop supporter should be an individual who has a personal friendship with the elected official. It is important that you provide your grasstop supporter with your talking points, but this is primarily a social call, not a hard sell about your issues.

November 7-13: Send a formal congratulatory letter to the winner via the USPS (not an email). The letter should be on your letterhead and tailored to that specific elected official. Overview your organization and what you do in their district. This is also a great time to remind them of any campaign promises that they made. Enclose information about your organization and upcoming events and offer an open invitation for them to visit or call upon you.

November 14-30: Contact the elected official and obtain a meeting. Ask your grasstop supporter to attend along with representative(s) from local organization(s) in that district. The meeting does not have to be at their office – they might not even have one yet – but can be at your office, a coffee shop, etc. The meeting should not be a hard sell, but continue to introduce you to them and talk about what your organization does in their district, show them any economic data you have on how your organization/industry benefits their district and offer to become an auxiliary staffer on your issue. Read the rest of this entry »

Emily Peck

Emily Peck

The latest CECP (Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy) Giving in Numbers study, conducted in association with The Conference Board, shows that giving to the arts continues to receive 5% of the allocations from corporations. This number held steady from the 2010 study. Overall corporate giving has started to rebound as 60% of the companies surveyed gave more in 2011 than in 2009.

Companies gave larger grants to fewer organizations and often focused on a single issue area like education. Health, education, and community and economic development were top priorities for companies. Companies also focused more on employee engagement and matching gifts. 83% of companies offered a matching gift program and 85% had a volunteer program. According to Charles Moore the Executive Director of CECP, “Our analysis this year shows that companies are becoming more focused about their giving: from larger grants to a smaller number of organizations; to giving where they have community connections; to using the skills and expertise of the business to build their community engagement.”

It is great to see support for the arts holding steady but as businesses continue to look at decreasing their areas of focus and 47% of respondents expect their company’s giving to remain unchanged we need to continue making the case for the value of the arts to business. During this past year, we have compiled a number of lists to provide arts organizations and businesses with reasons on how and why to partner.

What’s better than a list? A list of lists! Here are the top 4 lists of lists (AKA the top 33 reasons/ideas/ways) to create meaningful relationships between arts and business. These sources should help you start, build and strengthen your partnerships with business.

1.    8 Reasons to pARTner with the Arts: On our pARTnership Movement website we provide 8 reasons why partnering with the arts makes business sense.
2.    10 Ideas to Create a Moment with Business: Margot Knight offers 10 suggestions for arts organizations to connect with the business community.
3.    10 Reasons to Support the Arts: In his popular blog post, Randy Cohen provides 10 reasons for businesses to support the arts.
4.    5 Ways the Arts Can Combat Flat Corporate Giving: Marisa Muller updates the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of tips for fundraisers to focus on the arts.

Which reasons resonate in your community? What are we missing?

(This post 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!)

 

Deb Vaughn

We get asked to “tell our story” all the time in the arts. Who are you? Why do you value this work? What is it that you hope to accomplish? How will you get there?

Funders demand it from grant applicants. Legislators require it of state agencies, lobbyists, and constituents. Individual artists have to do it to justify their work.

Even as a working professional, being able to concisely “tell the story” of what I do all day is an important skill, especially at family reunions, when Crazy Uncle Dave asks: “Now, what is it you do again?”

But rarely do any of us do it well. We get so wrapped up in the desired outcome of telling our story that we forget: the best way to achieve that outcome is to tell a compelling story. It’s as simple as that.

At a professional development training earlier this month, hosted by SpeakeasyDC, I was reminded of what it actually takes to TELL A STORY.

The facilitators asked us to think of a time when the arts impacted our lives.

We started by telling the story out loud to someone else (writing or typing your story will activate the “mean writing teacher” that sits on your shoulder, bogging you down in grammar and punctuation and sentence structure. Keep it verbal and keep going). This helps you and your listener determine which points are memorable and which are expendable.

Then our partner told the story back to us. See how it is no longer MY story, but THE story? That’s what we’re going for: finding a universal truth that the listener can connect to their own life. That’s the whole point to a good story. And when pitching a project to a funder, isn’t that your goal? Read the rest of this entry »

While Brunswick Acres has taken a significant lead in the KRIS Wine “Art of Education” competition thanks to a creative student-made music parody, it’s not too late for your favorite school to jump into the top 16 schools by using the following tips…

1. Get the press involved: Write a persuasive letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Or invite a journalist to your school to showcase the financial need, meet the principal and art teachers, and see first-hand the energy of the students.

2. Go digital: Create a website, blog, or YouTube video about the contest—be sure to include the reasons why you need their vote! Collaborate with other students, families, and community members, and assign every person a specific role (ex. videographer, writer, editor, designer).

3. Break out the art supplies: Make posters or fliers to distribute around your town. Drop them off at your local library, beauty salons, and supermarkets.

4. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP: What’s that sound? Your daily reminder to vote! Set a daily alarm clock on your watch or cell phone to remind yourself to vote and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Just be sure to set the alarm for a time of day you won’t distract others—and when you’ll be near a computer to vote! Read the rest of this entry »

Jonathan Tuchner

If you visit Tate Modern during the next few days, go down the ramp and turn right into The Tanks. On the opposite wall you will find images and notes celebrating thirteen years of the Unilever Series at the Turbine Hall.

It is a quiet celebration; a gentle place to reflect on what has arguably been the most significant arts and business partnership over the past decade or so. Many will forever recall the glow of Ólafur Elíasson’s The Weather Project, the thrill of Test Site by Carsten Höller, or the structure of Rachel Whiteread’s 2005 Embankment. Unilever’s money made all this happen.

Tino Sehgal’s These Association is the final work in the Unilever-sponsored series, which has attracted almost 30 million visitors over the past dozen years. Unilever says “It was planning a change of direction in its sponsorship programme, which is more focused on sustainability and the environment.” Where does that leave the arts?

Between 2000 and 2012, Unilever provided £4.4 million sponsorship in total, including a renewal deal of £2.2 million for a period of five years which was agreed in 2008. This is big money for arts partnerships and it created huge public interest and media profile for Unilever.

Unilever has had a long and important relationship with the arts over many years. This has ranged from the creation of the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight through to in-house amateur dramatics in the 1960s and an astonishing programme called Catalyst which ran over much of the last decade using the arts to inspire and engage their staff.

Their relationship with Tate began when Niall Ferguson was in charge and I recall him early on saying it was his passion for art that drove the investment. Clearly there was passion but what was the business case? Read the rest of this entry »

Two years ago I went on my first trip to Toronto and fell in love with the city and their all-night arts event Nuit Blanche. Projects like Kim Adams’ Auto Lamp made me vow to come back again:

It was a good resolution!

This year, I made my way up on September 28, driving 5.5 hours from Pittsburgh with my bike on the back of my car. Toronto is a bike-friendly city, with dedicated bike lanes, bike racks, and bike shops. Once I parked my car on Friday night, I did not see it again until it was time to drive home on Sunday afternoon.

Many of my trips tend to be a bit of a busman’s holiday, and this one was no exception. I had a list of Nuit Blanche projects to see as well as some permanent pieces commissioned by Jane Perdue through the Percent for Public Art Program. Biking gave me the chance to avoid traffic, explore more of the city than I could have on foot, and enjoy the fantastic fall weather.

Nuit Blanche started at 7:03 pm on September 29 and lasted until sunrise on September 30. This is a sleepless night of a diverse crowd of tens of thousands of people. There were over 150 projects to explore in three zones. Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

In celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month and the annual Americans for the Arts tradition of Creative Conversations, my colleague Ally Yusuf (Founder & Moderator of #ArtsMgtChat) and I are co-hosting the first national Creative Conversation on Twitter!

The Creative Workforce in the Post-Recession Economy is open to everyone and takes place today (October 17) for one hour starting at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT using #NatCC12 as the hashtag.

Come share in 140 characters or less, your thoughts, resources and stories about your view on this fascinating topic. We all either know someone or are someone who has been professionally affected by the recession. Whether you are a staffer, freelancer, consultant, employer or recruiter—you probably have something to add to the dialogue.

(Editor’s Note: For a quick primer on how Twitter chats work, check out this ARTSblog post by Kristen Engebretsen.)

As an arts leadership and professional development researcher and advocate, I’ve been profoundly concerned about the effects of the recession on our nonprofit arts workforce. In response, I established the Art Career Cafe which has both a website with job listings and resources as well as a Facebook page to provide an interactive community.

Since its launch in late July, we have over 200 Facebook group members. Many members are young arts professionals with degrees in arts management looking for full time work; others are freelancers who have chosen a less traditional but equally viable path to a creative career. Read the rest of this entry »