Robert Bettmann

Robert Bettmann

Arts journalism is changing rapidly. Newspaper coverage has shifted, and the number of blogs and small magazines covering the arts has grown exponentially. While it’s uncertain what the structural changes in arts journalism will mean for the arts over the next twenty years, changes are happening and affecting audience participation.

As an artist, editor, arts writer and arts advocate, I was right at home moderating the “Future of Arts Journalism” panel at the recent Dance Critics Association (DCA) conference held in downtown Philadelphia at the Gershman Y. The DCA was created in 1973, “when a group of dance critics attending a Philadelphia arts conference saw a need for an organization that represented working dance critics.” The annual DCA conference draws leading arts writers from across the country for a weekend of panels, performances, and trainings. As she has before, critic Elizabeth Zimmer led the “Kamikaze Dance Writing Workshop”, which is a two-day boot camp for young and aspiring dance critics, and as he has before DCA Board Chair Robert Abrams organized the conference volunteers, and panelists. Read the rest of this entry »

Jay Dick

Jay Dick

Over the past 10 years as a staff member of Americans for the Arts, I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about how we as a nation support the arts and culture. I have the opportunity to work with hundreds of talented and innovative individuals across the nation. I have also learned a great deal from serving on two local boards, the Arts Council of Fairfax County and Arts for LA. Now, I have a new opportunity to help advance the arts in America.  Starting July 1st, I will begin a five year term as a Commissioner for the Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA). I am very grateful to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for presenting me with this opportunity.   Read the rest of this entry »

Ella Van Wyk

Ella Van Wyk

“There’s nowhere to go but on!” – Feist

Let this blog begin with my gratitude for the amazing experience I have had over these last few days. Receiving the Arthur Greenberg Memorial Scholarship Award is an event that has truly influenced my career, and will benefit my organization and my local arts community.  Thank you to Abe Flores, Rebecca Burrell, and Adam Fong for taking the time to have genuine conversations with me and truly contribute to the work I am doing.

Attending a conference is too passive a description for these last few days. I learned, sang, listened, laughed, digested, deliberated, rejected, reinforced, inquired, decompressed, and grew. I watched Robert L Lynch (CEO of Americans for the Arts) and Jonathan Katz (CEO National Assembly of State Arts Agencies) jam together. They spoke about leadership, their nonlinear careers, they read their own poetry, sang songs, enjoyed each other’s company, and celebrated each other’s achievements! I met fantastic people from across the country, Canada, and the UK who are all fighting for the same cause, attacking similar challenges and were open and willing to share ideas, brainstorm and listen. I sang with Ben Folds. I stayed up until midnight disseminating what I’d experienced that day making To-Do lists and resource wish-lists so that when I get home I can hit the ground running and implement all I have experienced here. I received wisdom, knowledge, empathy, and suggestions from leaders in the arts and experts with invaluable years of experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Bruney

Laura Bruney

Deborah Briggs

This interview with Deborah Briggs by Laura Bruney and Etain Connor of the Arts & Business Council of Miami was originally published June 2, 2014 on their blog.

 

 

 

With a façade that harkens back to the golden age of Ocean Drive yet refined for a contemporary palate, The Betsy South Beach is known for hosting a variety of events that are diverse, innovative and always interesting. Ask around town and the hotel that is consistently identified with showcasing the arts is The Betsy. Ask artists and organizations that work in the arts and their praise for the hotel is broad and deep for it is hard to find a true partner. On a glorious spring day on South Beach we joined Deborah Briggs, Vice President for Marketing, Philanthropy, and Programs at The Betsy at BLT Steak, the hotels signature eatery. Lucky for us we are between the lunch and dinner crowds so have a quiet hour to nosh on the most delectable cheese popovers. The Betsy’s attention to detail is observed with the accompaniment of a cute “popovers recipe” card for those so inclined to try to recreate perfection. While nibbling we embarked on an amazing and eye-opening conversation.

ABCMiami: What do you think makes a vibrant community and what role do the arts play?

DB: When my brother, Jonathan acquired and renovated The Betsy–philanthropy, with a focus on arts, culture and education was always at the core of his mission. We were inspired by our father, Hyam Plutzik’s legacy that art is a catalyst to bring people together around things that matter to them. Each of our hotel guestrooms for example, are outfitted with a mini-library and a bookmarker is placed on the bed during evening turndown. We believe the arts provide us with the opportunity to live in the moment and have an engaging collective experience. All great civilizations, past and present, are distinguished through the arts – and we are committed to that enterprise in our community. Read the rest of this entry »

It Was TOO Short!

Posted by Norie Sato On June - 24 - 2014No comments yet
Norie Sato receiving the 2014 Public Art Network Award at Annual Convention

Norie Sato receiving the 2014 Public Art Network Award at Annual Convention

The Nashville PAN Preconference has come and gone, sniff sniff, I miss seeing everyone already. I was thrilled to be able to speak to so many of you and to be with smart, hard working people in the field. The PAN preconference is such a great time to reconnect with old colleagues and meet new people as well as to learn. And so many issues and things to learn just to keep up or to innovate do not fit into the time we had. A special thanks to those who worked so hard for us to organize the conference.

But in the spirit of constructive feedback and reflections back on the precon, I offer the following:

1)  The Preconference is TOO short. We had essentially only 1 day. 2 panel session slots do not give us enough time for the various issues that need covering. At least another half day would have allowed us at least another session slot to allow for some more breadth and depth would truly be desirable. The Nashville team worked hard to showcase their city…and maybe we (I) could have spent more time in it, as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Emily Saunders

Emily Saunders

We are cultural ambassadors, arts advocates, civic engagers, and change agents connecting and collaborating to bring the arts into the everyday landscape. As one of many, my focus has been on how to make the arts more accessible to under-served communities. I serve Metro Arts Alliance of Des Moines as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Metro Arts of Des Moines helps make the arts more accessible through free jazz concerts preformed in city parks, and arts integration programs presented within the schools.

By engaging participants from within every neighborhood, we are able to connect the arts to all. In my work, I have seen how cultural engagement within nontraditional spaces has helped bring arts experiences to those across the spectrum. During my year of service I have coordinated 129 arts programs in 59 locations with 25 artists reaching 8,744 youth within Central Iowa. Read the rest of this entry »

Jim Clark

Jim Clark

I always look forward to Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention for two very specific reasons: one is to be provoked by the audacity of others; the second is to be reminded of basic truths about our field.

The provocations usually generate one of two possible self-reflections: “Why didn’t I think of that?” or, “We did something similar, but why doesn’t anyone know about it?” Regardless of how I am provoked, these moments during the conference become the “drivers” that propel me to rethink our work at home. The provocations challenge, inspire, and create a sense of professional restlessness that keeps things fresh.  Case in point, Penny Balkin Bach’s presentation on how the Association for Public Art in Philadelphia uses social media. It was challenging and inspiring because I realized my organization was not using the tools (most of which are free) that are at our finger tips to not only communicate to a larger audience but also to harness the tools of measurement that are embedded within them. Read the rest of this entry »

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver

Nashville is not for the faint of heart, and neither is an Americans for the Arts’ conference. There were scheduled sessions that ran until midnight, where some of the panelists broke into song, and early bird specials—eight AM, lights, camera, action.  Nashville has nothing on Americans for the Arts, and Americans for the Arts has something for everyone.  More than one thousand arts advocates enjoyed networking, performances, and fascinating panels, myself included.  Convention themes ran from arts and community to building core skills (does being on your feet for fourteen hours build core strength too?), embracing diversity, reinvention and sustainability, and supply and demand. This conference was definitely not short on supply, and judging from the attendance, demand was high.

I was impressed on so many levels. Four jam-packed days of sessions, exhibitors, meet and greets, and all the big organizations, big names and big ideas. I learned about public art and placemaking, leadership skill development, and how art can translate data, and was fascinated by topics like engaging the biases, values and privileges underneath your work. I am grateful that AFTA organizes these conferences to invest in our field, inform leaders, and stimulate dialogue about relevance and sustainability. Read the rest of this entry »

Casey Gill Summar

Casey Gill Summar

An Americans for the Arts’ colleague recently shared this interesting article claiming that social activism is the “new religion” of the millennial workforce and asked if I felt this was true in my experience building partnerships between arts and business. In full disclosure, I think I’m just outside the millennial generation, but I will say there is something core to this concept of passion and commitment for your cause that drives me and my younger colleagues. We all share the desire to not just donate to a cause, but to contribute time and expertise as well, to bring along all friends, and in short, tell everyone we know how important this cause is to our hearts. I’m definitely guilty of this. You don’t have to spend much time around me to learn that I’m an ardent advocate for the arts, that I love my little transitional neighborhood so much I joined the board of the association, or that I’m a fan of living local right down to my front-yard garden. As the Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville since 2012, I have worked to incorporate some of these concepts of volunteerism, meaningful partnership, and first-hand experiences which I desire into our program offerings. Read the rest of this entry »

Reunion

Posted by Robert Bush On June - 18 - 20142 COMMENTS
Robert Bush

Robert Bush

My first Americans for the Arts (AFTA) conference—at the time, the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies (NALAA)—was in 1984, in Charleston, S.C., and in the middle of Spoleto.  Selena Roberts Ottum was the chair of the NALAA Board.  I was in awe.

Being the executive director of a small county arts council in North Carolina seemed like a different world from all the arts leaders I heard speak over those few days.  But what I took home was inspiration to take our modest efforts to new levels of community engagement and excellence.  And I made it a priority to attend NALAA—and later AFTA—conventions and advocacy days and to get involved in the work of its interest areas and leadership groups as well.  It wasn’t always easy due to small budgets, but over the last 30 years, I’ve made it to most.  Why, you might ask? It’s because what I found in Charleston so many years ago was not just professional peers but family. Read the rest of this entry »

A winning school is picked by vote, based on a set of four uniquely designed VANS shoes.

Editors Note: Americans for the Arts has partnered with VANS for the past two years on their Custom Culture program. Last night in New York City was the final event, where the winning shoe design was picked. Below are remarks that our Arts Education Program Manager made during the event:

Hello, my name is Kristen, and I’m the Arts Education Program Manager at Americans for the Arts. Whether you like to sing in the shower, dance like no one is watching, or design the next great VANS shoe, we want to support that. Our motto is “All the Arts for All the People.”

We firmly believe that the arts have the power to transform lives. In fact, last year we had the privilege of featuring an artist at our annual convention named Inocente. Her story is nothing short of incredible. As a teenager, Inocente was homeless, the victim of abuse, and the daughter to undocumented immigrants. Her life had hit rock bottom until one day she walked into an arts center in San Diego called A Reason to Survive. She began painting, and indeed, it gave her a reason to survive. She graduated from high school and selling her art kept her from living on the streets. Her powerful transformation was featured in the Oscar winning documentary, Inocente.

Inocente designed these as an ambassador for Custom Culture.

Inocente designed these as an ambassador for Custom Culture.

Americans for the Arts knows that learning in the arts enables every individual to develop the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills necessary to not only survive but thrive in today’s ever-changing world. And so when VANS approached us a few years ago about partnering on Custom Culture, we could see that they too value the arts as an integral part of all students’ education. Together we hope to encourage high school students to embrace their creativity and inspire a new generation of youth culture. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Norman

Laura Norman

Erika Boardman Kraft

Erika Boardman Kraft

Can the work teaching artists do in school districts impact a district’s long-term arts programming?  Absolutely!, as illustrated by the Twin Rivers Unified School District in northern Sacramento, California.

Founded in 2008 when four districts merged, Twin Rivers Unified School District saw more than $100 million in state cuts during its first three years of existence. This exacerbated an already difficult situation for arts education in the district composed of primarily Title I schools.  Most elementary schools had no credentialed arts specialists in any of the disciplines. Middle schools had a few arts education offerings, often available only as electives, and the arts programming in the high schools varied by school, but did not come close to matching what more affluent districts in the region could offer or what the state mandates.

In spite of this, the district’s arts education leadership was determined to provide what arts education programming they could, using resources from the local arts community. They brought in programming from the region’s arts organizations, found grants to take students to arts events, and contracted with regional teaching artists for residencies and workshops. Read the rest of this entry »

Gemma Irish

Gemma Irish

The following is an article originally posted on Minnesota Playlist, written by playwright Gemma Irish, in which she describes how her daily work in marketing at a Fortune 500 company has made her a better artist.

Writers are notorious procrastinators. We would rather do the dishes, read the entire internet, eat a sandwich, or meet friends at the bar than sit down and write. When we finally get down to work (probably because we have a deadline looming, and/or we’re disgusted with ourselves) we drink sherry, we write while reclined, or standing up, or at a café, or in absolute silence. We need just the right conditions, the right pen, the right atmosphere in which to write.

I have to be honest with you: I am guilty of cleaning my entire kitchen instead of re-writing a play, and furthermore I am guilty of getting caught up in the mystique of Being A Writer. “This is how I’m supposed to act! I’m supposed to be a total weirdo and drink too much coffee and put off revising this draft by cleaning my apartment and researching serial killers! It proves that I am a Real Writer!” Read the rest of this entry »

Cara Scharf

Cara Scharf

The following is an interview with Americans for the Arts’ Senior Director of Arts Policy Marete Wester. Conducted by Cara Scharf, it was originally published in ArtsLine, the Drexel Arts Administration quarterly newsletter focusing on the program, the arts and culture sector, and the students’ perspective.

Marete Wester’s professional journey started in the mid-80s with a Masters in Arts Administration from Drexel University and landed her at national arts service organization Americans for the Arts in 2006. As Senior Director of Arts Policy, Wester brings the voice of the arts field to policy discussions nationwide. This means cultivating partnerships and convening meetings with a diverse group of organizations to show how the arts play a role in quality-of-life issues such as the environment and education. One recent example of her work is the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military, which works to expand access to and research on the arts as effective tools in the care of service members. I spoke with Marete about her work and experience in Drexel’s program.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kristy Callaway

Kristy Callaway

We are currently notifying the 2014 ASN Exemplary School applicants of their designation status. During our process, we conduct a peer review of the schools’ self-evaluations based on “A Guide to Assessing Your Arts School.” Here, we share some interesting information on our criteria as well as what these applicants considered critical success factors for an exemplary school.

We define an “arts school” as any school for children and youth with a mission that includes intensive education and training in the arts. These may include precollegiate PreK–12 arts schools, or the arts component of a program that meets elementary/secondary education or high school diploma requirements of the states or other governing entities, arts magnet or charter schools, or other organizations. Read the rest of this entry »