Lisa Phillips with Steve Wozniak

There seems to be a major disconnect between how creativity is valued in society and the career advice we give our children. We all know that the arts are a valuable means of expression, a means to share stories across cultures and an uplifting and moving source of entertainment.

We revere our cultural icons, whether they are movie stars, literary authors or artists, but we seem to limit the possibility of careers in the arts to only a talented few.

How many of us arts professionals have heard from family and friends, “When are you going to get a real job?”

So, why do we put our cultural icons on a pedestal but undervalue arts education? I think one of the reasons is that as a society we are preoccupied with the idea that the arts are reserved only for those with talent. However, in the reality of today’s job market, we need to change this idea.

There is a significant gap between what children are told is important for their future career success and what business leaders actually want from the emerging workforce. Creative individuals are actually in demand. Not just for arts careers, but for careers in business as well.

For example, Disney and Apple are two of the most successful companies of our time, largely because of the creativity, innovation, and the leadership they have demonstrated in their respective industries.

In an era when businesses are constantly struggling to find creative ways to stay at the top of their market, arts education can be a powerful tool to nurture the creative abilities of our young people, ensuring they are ready for the skills that are in demand. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan Soroko

Probably the best part of producing BizSmART for Arlington (Virginia)’s supported arts organizations was the pleasant surprise of unintended outcomes. Nothing salacious (sorry!), no misbehaving, but something that was an indirect benefit of having thought provoking speakers, interactive sessions, and opportunities to step outside daily challenges all in the same space at the same time.

As simple as it sounds, there was little way to plan, direct, or script a day that helped build our arts community.

On November 13, 2012, Arlington’s first BizSmART conference at Artisphere surpassed ‘symposium’ in both content and connectivity and drew on smart growth strategies for the arts. With the Arlington Commission for the Arts sponsorship of BizSmART, which began as a suggestion to create a symposium for arts organizations and Arlington Cultural Affairs’ recent move to Arlington Economic Development, a new direction in meeting the challenges facing arts organizations took root. The arts in our area may be extensive, but as public and private funding dwindle, organizations still struggle.

Arlington is no stranger to breaking new ground on many fronts and the arts are no exception. In 1996, Arlington Cultural Affairs was the winner of the Ford Foundation and Harvard University’s Innovations In American Government Award, the first time the award was given to an arts program in a local government. Leveraging resources, materials and facilities of the county government and applying them to the arts made way for an incubator program that was soon to be replicated throughout the country. Read the rest of this entry »

On the steps of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall earlier today, I joined Academy Award nominated actress Rosie Perez and New York City Councilman Robert Jackson for a rally to call attention to the fact that Time Warner Cable eliminated Ovation from their cable television line-up on December 31.

While speaking at the podium during the Bring Back Ovation Rally in New York today, I was joined by actress Rosie Perez (pictured on the far left) and New York City Councilman Robert Jackson (over my left shoulder).

As a national organization representing more than 250,000 arts advocates and local and state arts agencies in every city and state across the country, we’re very concerned about this action since Ovation is currently the only dedicated arts channel in the United States.

The mission of Americans for the Arts is to increase the American public’s access to high-quality arts in our communities, schools, and homes. Ovation has been an incredible partner in helping us advance our mission thus far, but we also need Ovation to remain strong and accessible on the television airwaves. There’s nothing that will fill the void created by Time Warner Cable’s decision.

Today, we encourage our arts advocates to sign the online petition demanding the network be reinstated on Time Warner Cable at www.BringBackOvation.com!   Read the rest of this entry »

John Eger

In the last decade alone, any business without a web presence—without an online, interactive website—was simply, not in business. Or wouldn’t be for long. The government and nonprofit sector soon learned their way around the internet too.

Now the Pew Charitable Trusts, specifically the Pew Internet and American Life Project, in a major survey covering 2007–2011 and involving 1,256 arts organizations, reported that: “The internet and social media are integral to the arts in America.”

The survey found:

  • 81 percent of the organizations in this survey say the internet and digital technologies are “very important” for promoting the arts.
  • 78 percent say these technologies are “very important” for increasing audience engagement.
  • 65 percent say digital technologies are “very important” for fundraising.

There seemed no question that web presence was “important” or “very important” although not everyone is persuaded—yet—that an internet strategy is a priority. Those reporting also felt that such technologies “disrupted much of the traditional art world” by changing “audience expectations, put[ting] more pressure on the arts groups to participate actively in social media and in some circumstances, undercut[ting] organizations’ mission and revenue streams.” In fact, 40 percent believe that “attention spans for live performances” are being negatively impacted. Read the rest of this entry »

Artist Charlavail designed this amazing pair of Vans.

As a Vans Custom Culture national charity partner in 2013, Americans for the Arts is proud to work closely with Vans to reinforce the importance of arts education in schools across the country.

With the launch of the Vans Custom Culture art competition on January 2, budding artists and designers are racing to have their teachers fill registration slots open to the first 1,500 U.S.-based public or private high schools (more than 650 have already entered!).

The program, in its fourth iteration, pushes students to compete and create a work of art from a blank pair of Vans shoes. Each blank shoe must be designed by using the following themes: Art, Music, Action Sports, and Local Flavor.

Students will have until April 5 to complete the shoes and submit their images online. The Custom Culture competition will generate $50,000 for the winning school’s art program at the final judging in New York this summer while simultaneously drawing attention to the importance of art as an integral part of a well-rounded education.

Artists, fashion designers, athletes, and local news anchors are all being tapped to create their own custom shoes as Ambassadors of the program. Eager to provide inspiration wherever possible, Ambassadors are tweeting images (#VansCustomCulture) of their own custom designs. Some of our favorites can be found below and also on the Vans Custom Culture siteRead the rest of this entry »

Cathlyn Melvin

“I was in a play once!”

I’m standing in line at a bookstore in my neighborhood, and the woman behind me is telling me her story. She recognized me from a show I did last spring, see, and her eyes light up as she tells me about her high school musical—how she almost didn’t audition, but in the end, it turned out to be the best eight weeks she had that year.

As an actor, I get that all the time. Not the being-recognized-on-the-street thing. That’s unusual. But when people find out I do theatre, so often I see their eyes brighten just like that lady’s, and they tell me about their third grade play, or an annual Christmas pageant, or being in the kids’ chorus of Joseph at their community theatre.

I love these stories.

I help run a children’s theatre called Compass Creative Dramatics, in Chicago, where I live, and we work with kids to create those kinds memories.

My co-founder, Cassandra Quinn, and I don’t focus on readying kids for careers in theatre, and we won’t “Make Your Child a Star.” We concentrate on stretching kids creativity and bravery muscles—so they can be bold enough to raise their hands in class, or imaginative enough to problem-solve in real life. And over the course of a week-long program, we see those skills develop, and we witness those memories taking shape, so that some day, they’ll want to tell someone “I was in a play once!”

Earlier this fall, our company decided to start a campaign to collect people’s memories about participation in theatre, and how it affected them. We posted on YouTube asking for video responses, and watched the stories begin to trickle in, both through responses to our YouTube channel and through essays submitted through our email: Read the rest of this entry »

Pam Rubert

When Alexander Gottman’s co-workers peer into his cubicle, they don’t see family or vacation photos. They see original art.

Gottman works in the information technology department of Guaranty Bank, accessing potential risk for electronic bank transfers for business clients and monitoring the safety of their accounts.

Locally owned Guaranty Bank is committed to encouraging employee personal development and community involvement. The bank sponsored a Creamery Arts Center exhibition in June, and Guaranty Bank Marketing Director Carlye Wannenmacher suggested Gottman enter the show.

It’s not uncommon for Springfield businesses such as Guaranty Bank to employ working artists. Our community offers many outlets for creative expression, if not as many opportunities to make a full-time living in the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

As your first week of 2013 gets closer to an end, Americans for the Arts wants to be sure to wish you a Happy New Year! Cue music, lights, photos!

Nina Ozlu Tunceli

The following are some quick highlights of the Fiscal Cliff Tax Legislation that was enacted into law Monday night. The legislation only addresses major tax issues, while raising the debt ceiling limits and preventing the automatic sequestration spending cuts from beginning will be dealt with over the next two months:

Charitable Deductions: Good news is that the charitable tax giving incentives were not specifically capped and no changes were made to the exempt status or classification of charities, such as nonprofit arts organizations. While no changes have been made in this first round of fiscal cliff negotiations, tax reform revenue raisers are still on the table as Congress and the White House negotiate staving off deep sequestration cuts in the next two months. Americans for the Arts will continue advocating the importance of this issue on behalf of the nonprofit arts sector.
Personal Exemptions and Itemized Deductions: Unfortunately, the new tax law does reinstate both the Personal Exemption limitation and the “Pease limitation,” (named after former Congressman Donald Pease (D-OH)), which will reduce the overall amount of itemized deductions (including home mortgage, charitable, local and state taxes, etc) by three percent of only that amount that exceeds the threshold (but not to exceed 80% of total itemized deductions that would have been taken). These deduction limitations are not a cap and they only kick-in for married couples earning more than $300,000 and singles earning more than $250,000 annually.

Here’s how it works: If married taxpayers earn $1 million and have total itemized deductions of $190,000 (home mortgage interest, charity donations, state/local taxes combined) in 2013, they will not be able to deduct the full $190,000 from their income. They will only be able to deduct $169,000 ($190,000 – $21,000) because the PEASE limitation rule reduces the deduction by the equivalent of 3% of the amount of their income above the $300,000 threshold ($1 million – $300,000 = $700,000 is the amount above the threshold). The reduction would then be $21,000 ($700,000 x 3% = $21,000). These rules were in effect in the 1990’s, but had been temporarily phased out during the Bush-era tax cuts in the previous decade.
IRA Rollover: extends for two years, retroactive to 2012, allowing donors age 70½ or older to donate to charities tax-free from their IRAs. Important note: donation deadlines have been extended by a month so that donors can designate their IRA distributions to a charity in January 2013, but still have the deduction apply to tax year 2012. Read the rest of this entry »

Susan Riley

These days, integration in any area, be it STEM or the arts, seems to be the buzzword to curriculum designers everywhere. There are so many resources floating around out there with the claim of integrating content areas. Yet, true integration is often difficult to find. Indeed, integration is a rare yet seemingly “magical” approach that has the capacity to turn learning into meaningful practice.

Which of course, as any teacher will tell you, is anything but magic.

Integration requires collaboration, research, intentional alignment, and practical application on behalf of the teachers who take on this challenge. From the students, integration demands creativity, problem-solving, perseverance, collaboration, and the ability to work through the rigorous demands of multiple ideas and concepts woven together to create a final product.

Integration is not simply combining two or more contents together. It is an approach to teaching which includes intentional identification of naturally aligned standards, taught authentically alongside meaningful assessments which take both content areas to a whole new level. Put together, these components set the foundation for how we will be able to facilitate the Common Core State Standards. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Bruney

The 2012 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, which ended on December 9, featured the perfect marriage of arts and business. Hundreds of high-end companies hosted private parties; pop up exhibitions and roving ads on cars, carts, and even people. Millions of dollars in art sales, restaurant meals, hotel rooms, and luxury car rentals exchanged hands.

This year’s massive six-day extravaganza featured thousands of the world’s top galleries showcasing art work worth more than $2.5 billion. The growing economy and booming arts market translated into sales for the week that exceeded $500 million.

The Basel spinoffs included 22 satellite fairs that converted Miami into a rambling art lovers paradise. From South Beach to Wynwood, from North Miami to Coral Gables, from Pinecrest to South Dade—there were museums, galleries, and unique spaces featuring thousands of works of art, special events, and cultural happenings.

Corporate marketing executives took notice. The way brands connect with consumers takes many forms. Partnering with an event like Art Basel and the related activities provides the opportunity for direct contact with new customers.

Hundreds of companies were looking to capture the attention of the 500,000+ arts aficionados that descended on Miami and Miami Beach for the week. Brand managers rented museums, galleries, warehouses, gardens, and clubs to showcase their products in an artsy atmosphere. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

Everyone loves a top 10 list. Sure, it seems the lists are everywhere this time of year—to the point that you’d think that we’ve over-saturated the market for them, right? Wrong.

The best evidence that I can give you to prove that top 10 lists bring people to your site is that four of our top 10 most viewed posts this year contain the number 10 and, as you will see below, our top 3 new posts published in 2012 contain the number, too.

Thankfully, though, that’s not all we’re about here on ARTSblog.

So, the Top 10 Most Viewed ARTSblog Posts created in 2012 are:

1. The Top 10 Skills Children Learn From the Arts

2. Ten Years Later: A Puzzling Picture of Arts Education in America

3. 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2012

4. Former President Clinton Supports Arkansas Arts Education Program

5. Overcommitment: Taking the ‘I Shoulds’ Out of Your Life?

6. What Do We Really Know About People Who Get Arts Degrees?

7. What’s Actually Keeping Your Audience Away?

8. President Obama’s Budget Request for the NEA: The Fine Print  Read the rest of this entry »

Gladstone Payton

Last week, I had the privilege of leading a diverse group of advocates from across the spectrum of the charitable sector to congressional offices in support of the Charitable Giving Coalition’s “Protect Giving – D.C. Days.”

You cannot escape talk of the oft-mentioned “fiscal cliff” and the looming lethal combination of major federal spending reductions (sequester) and expiring tax cuts (Bush-Obama tax extensions) set to take effect in January 2013.

“Protect Giving – D.C.” is an ongoing attempt to raise the direct policy concerns of the nation’s charitable sector and the possible devastating effect that last-minute negotiations to thwart the cliff may have on the tax policies around contributions to charity.

Needed: Federal Revenue

I warned in a previous post last June that the resulting mess that occurred after the failed “supercommittee” and debt limit deals of 2011 would probably complicate the bargaining positions of President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress as they struggle to forge an agreement to spare us some of the pain.

I hate to be right on this one…currently, they are at loggerheads on how to get more money returning to the federal coffers and avert the cliff. Read the rest of this entry »

Talia Gibas

Talia Gibas

When some brave soul writes an updated history of arts education in the United States (any takers?) I think he or she will describe the early-to-mid-2000s as an ambitious era. The arts education sector, mirroring the broader arts field and the constantly reforming field of education, is having larger and broader conversations about impact, outcomes, and sustainability. In the process it’s moving toward large and broader models of best practice such as the idea of  “shared delivery” (also known as “blended delivery” and the “three-legged stool model”).

Shared delivery has been in vogue for the last few years. It was a central topic of conversation at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in 2008. Americans for the Arts identifies shared delivery as a key component to a broader approach called “coordinated delivery”—which, in turn, was identified as a major arts education trend in 2010. My own initiative, Arts for All, upholds shared delivery as integral to the vision of ensuring high quality arts education for all students in Los Angeles County.

In the K–12 public school setting, shared delivery envisions students receiving arts instruction from three distinct parties: 1) generalist elementary school teachers, 2) arts specialists, and 3) teaching artists and/or community arts organizations.

Under this model, the three collaborate to provide visual and performing arts programs to children. The generalist teacher integrates the arts throughout daily lessons across subject areas, the specialist hones in on skills and content specific to his or her art form, and the teaching artist supports one or both while engaging directly with students and providing the perspective of a working arts professional. The model posits that each of these three roles is of equal importance…

(Editor’s Note: To read more of Talia’s post (reprinted here with permission), visit Createquity.com where it was originally published on December 3, 2012.)

On Easter Sunday 1513, Ponce de Leon landed his three ships on the eastern shore of the peninsula where I live.

Claiming the land for Spain, he named the place La Florida, (for the Spanish word “flor” or flower) because of the lush landscape and because of the day the explorers arrived, Pascua florida, Easter.

As we approach the 500th anniversary of this encounter, I am working through the Florida International University College of Architecture + The Arts to develop FLOR500, a participatory art, nature, and history project that encourages participants to explore Florida’s natural wonder:

Indeed, I wanted to create an art project that allowed our inhabitants to understand the multicultural origins of our state, its fragile biodiversity, and its threatened coastlines. So I took the father of the Fountain of Youth mythology and his historic milestone as a point of departure to explore ways of rejuvenating “the Sunshine State.” Read the rest of this entry »