“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” -Albert Einstein

Perhaps the most compelling support for learning at all ages comes from participants:

Road Scholar participants chat with Maestro Perlman after an attending an exclusive rehearsal by the BSO. Photo by BSO.

Road Scholar participants chat with Maestro Perlman after an attending an exclusive rehearsal by the BSO. Photo by BSO.

“Many of us have been going to hear the BSO for DECADES! The classes of “Behind the Scenes at the BSO” fulfilled many of our dreams. Thank you so very much for creating such a splendid series of classes.”  – Student at Johns Hopkins University’s Osher program; May, 2014

Children and parents listen and interact with musicians during the Music Box concert “Bugs” on April 5th, 2014. Photo by Jim Saah.

Children and parents listen and interact with musicians during the Music Box concert “Bugs” on April 5th, 2014. Photo by Jim Saah.

 

 

 

“The program for the tiniest audience members was truly inspired. My grand-daughter (age 3) said the music was ‘beautiful’ and ‘magical.’ I appreciated that the mix of music for Bugs included a range from ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ to Bach and Fauré. The children were remarkably well behaved which speaks for their attention to the program being offered. Please accept this check as evidence of my support for this kind of programming. Cheers!” – Grandmother attending the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Music Box Concert, April 2014, at the Music Center at Strathmore

 

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Sonia BasSheva Manjon

Sonia BasSheva Manjon

The discourse, documentation, research, archiving, and communication about community cultural development are indeed vast and deep. Within this multilayered, diverse, and complex field of community-based art are artists and organizations that represent the diversity and complexity of communities and neighborhoods in the United States. The urgency for documentation, archiving, and communication are, at times, limited to those organizations that represent a more mainstream paradigm. The creation and introduction of multifaceted arts institutions is important to the building of community based arts organizations with social justice and cultural equity foci. Art institutions that address a holistic aesthetic perspective that embrace the complexities of their cultural communities are rooted across the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Kiyoko McCrae

Kiyoko McCrae

Junebug Productions’ work has always revolved around storytelling. It has been built on stories and its practices continue to be passed on through a strong oral tradition.  The story circle process was created by members of Free Southern Theater (FST), Junebug’s predecessor, as a way to better engage with audiences following performances.  The process was further refined by Junebug Productions and subsequently through its collaboration with Roadside Theater.

John O’Neal, co-founder of FST and founding Artistic Director of Junebug Productions has centered his work on stories because, as he states, “people come to shared understanding more quickly” through “stories and working with metaphor rather than argument.” You can’t argue with someone’s experience.  You may not like what you hear but you can’t disagree with someone’s personal truth. Stories demand respect in a way that arguments never can. The story circle teaches us many important values such as listening, respect, and empathy that are necessary in democratic process.  However, the form of storytelling teaches us even more. There are values and skills that are particular to the oral tradition that cannot be learned through writing.   Read the rest of this entry »

Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

Americans for the Arts has long been a national leader in the arts in America. For decades, the organization, too, has been involved in the advocacy of the inclusion of the arts as part of a quality education for all students in the United States.  Today, we work to ensure that all Americans have access to quality arts education in school, out of school, and throughout adulthood.

What makes this possible, you ask?

My answer: when people who care about arts education speak up and are heard.

The Arts Education Council of Americans for the Arts has crafted an event to help people like you from across the country build the skills necessary to speak up (advocate) and be heard (by elected officials, decision makers, the media or whoever you like!) Read the rest of this entry »

Lindsay Kistler Mattock

Lindsay Kistler Mattock

Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz

Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz

As an archivist, one way I can contribute to this conversation is to suggest ways we can define our terms and models for archival practice. What do we mean by “archive” and why do it? What are different forms which the archive can take, and what is lost and gained in each approach?

1. Archivist on Archives

Archives are records of enduring value. Records that warrant continued preservation. This not only includes the administrative records from community organizations, but also the art, artifacts, and ephemera, as well.

Archives are about history and documentation as much as they are about accountability and evidence. Archives not only serve as a means for documenting the history of organizations and individuals, but also serve as evidence of the impact of community organizations for both the short and long term. Read the rest of this entry »

Jamie Haft

Jamie Haft

Virginia Tech recently hosted a small national meeting on documentation, archiving, and communication in the field of community cultural development. Articulated by convener Bob Leonard, the meeting’s lead organizing question: How is documentation, archiving, and communication in the community cultural development field serving and not serving artists, humanities researchers, community organizers, non-artist community partners, community agencies and institutions, and scholarly communities? For me, the meeting debunked five misconceptions about documentation, archiving, and communication in the field.

 

Virginia Tech meeting, by Andrew Morikawa

Virginia Tech meeting, by Andrew Morikawa

Misconception #1: There’s no urgency.

Documentation, archiving, and communication are essential to demonstrating the ability of community cultural development to improve the lives of community members and to fostering a critical discourse that builds and sharpens those doing the work. Questions for the critical discourse include: Is community cultural development work advancing equity? How does the field deal with well-meaning but ineffective and sometimes even unethical practices? Bill Cleveland, Center for the Study of Art and Community, called for investments in independent reporting and data collection to reveal impact – for example, a study and report about how and where projects are doing damage and how and where they are making a difference. Participants pointed to assessment resources like Animating Democracy’s Impact Initiative and Imagining America’s Integrated Assessment Initiative. Cindy Cohen, Acting Together, suggested a core group commit to regular meetings over a sustained period of time to discuss and communicate the moral and ethical dimensions of community cultural development. Read the rest of this entry »

Pam Korza

Pam Korza

In early December, during the first of many icy weather events of this past winter season, Animating Democracy co-directors Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza participated in an national gathering at Virginia Tech (VT), warmly orchestrated by Bob Leonard, Professor of Directing and Director of Community-based Arts in VT’s Theater and Cinema Program.  A couple dozen artists, cultural workers and intermediaries, communications and technology folks, and scholars participated, united in their commitment to community cultural development as essential to healthy communities and artistic practice. Read the rest of this entry »

Kate McClanahan

Kate McClanahan

Above all, artists must not be only in art galleries or museums — they must be present in all possible activities.” — Michelangelo Pistoletto

What is art? Art is a means for social change. Art is relaxing. Art is inspiring. Art is culture. Art is pretty.

What can art really do? At Americans for the Arts we know; the arts are more than just around us or a part of us—they are also an application. Like an amoeba, they can live on their own, but when “discovered,” they suddenly are ever-present and malleable in ways you might not know, and perhaps, they are limited only by “un-thought thoughts,” or put differently, imagination. Read the rest of this entry »

Rob Schultz

Rob Schultz

For many years, the Mesa Arts Center (AZ) conducted a successful program with Lowell Elementary, a Title I public school located in one of Mesa’s most challenged neighborhoods. The basic premise was to send a teaching artist to work with two grade levels, and introduce the students to a particular literary work. Those same students would be brought to the Center to view a live theater performance of that literary work created and presented by the Center’s in-house theater for young audiences program, at no cost to the students. Reinforcement of classroom teaching would occur through the integration of theater and language arts. The kids would enjoy Q&A with the actors, and classroom teachers would be provided with additional resource materials for future use. It was a valuable, simple, easily-replicated formula for arts integration. Read the rest of this entry »

Nicole Glotzer

Nicole Glotzer

As part of Americans for the Arts’ Internship Program, my fellow interns and staff recently took an office field trip to see a unique public dance performance entitled Yolk by dance company Third Rail Projects. The performance was part of a series of events presented this spring at locations throughout Manhattan by Arts Brookfield, the cultural arm of Brookfield Office Properties. Yolk ran from April 8-10 at the plaza of the Grace Building, a Brookfield property located in Midtown Manhattan.

The piece featured two performers, one dressed in silver, the other in gold, dancing in and around large open eggshells accompanied by electronic music. Third Rail Projects is a multi-disciplinary performance company, and Yolk showcased Third Rail Projects’ explorations fusing dance, installation art, and performance in the public sphere. I watched as a crowd, made up of passersby and employees from nearby businesses (particularly the Grace Building), gathered to view the performance during their lunch hour and was able to see, firsthand, how such a performance could engage employees of the Grace Building and surrounding businesses. It was then that I realized that the performance was less about two girls dancing in fiberglass eggs, but rather the experience it was creating for those in attendance. Read the rest of this entry »

Talia Gibas

Talia Gibas

Working in K-12 arts education is like trying to choreograph a dance during a slow, rolling earthquake. You’re determined to take your next step, but spend a lot of time and energy fighting to stay upright. As the ground shifts beneath your feet, you never know when something unwieldy – a new set of standards, a reduced funding stream – may tumble in your direction.

Working in this environment requires you have a resource in your community to keep an eye on changing policies and boil them down to what you need to know. The better your understanding of the “big picture” of education and how it affects the arts, the easier it is to keep enough balance to dance amidst the chaos.

Recent changes to California’s education funding, and the arts education community’s response, provides a case study of how this works. Last June, Governor Jerry Brown signed a state budget that included a sweeping overhaul of school funding.  The new formula, called Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), replaced California’s prior categorical line items for education. These line items included the Art and Music Block grant that for years had been the state’s dedicated source of arts education funding. Read the rest of this entry »

Jay Dick

Jay Dick

In another example of arts and culture growing clout nationally, Americans for the Arts was invited to speak before the Las Vegas City Council’s Strategic Planning Session, which is used to help determine the future programs and priories of the city.  I had the pleasure of being one of 12 speakers and the only one whose topic was not on transportation or from the traditional business sector.

Attending this session was Mayor Carolyn Goodman, the six City Council Members, and all the department heads of Las Vegas City Government – including Nancy Deaner, the Director of the Las Vegas City Arts Commission.

I began my talk by stating that it was my goal to make them think about the arts and culture in a new way. I began with a quick over-view of the economic impact of the arts and culture. Specifically, I distributed our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV calculator and profiled the Neon Museum.  I am certain the attendees had no idea that the museum has an economic footprint of over $4 million, supported over 150 jobs, and returned over $200,000 in local tax dollars.  Once I had their attention with that, I moved onto how the arts could be transformational. How a child’s education that included the arts could help them to be a more productive member of the local community.  How the arts can be used to help make people, especially minority populations, feel at home in Las Vegas. How the arts provide a sense of place and belonging. I believe I was successful in what I set out to do – shed new light on the value of arts and culture to a city and the people who live there. Read the rest of this entry »

A Day Without Art

Posted by Stephanie Milling On April - 25 - 20143 COMMENTS
Stephanie Milling

Stephanie Milling

In thinking about this week’s blog post, I am inspired by the act of advocacy. At National Arts Advocacy Day  last month, arts advocates from all over the nation poured onto Capitol Hill to describe how the arts benefits the economy, culture, education, and healthcare. In an effort to procure support for the upcoming fiscal year, our carefully crafted message communicated how the arts not only enrich but exist as a necessity within the lives of Americans.

While arming ourselves with facts and figures provided by Americans for the Arts to state our case, a colleague of mine who works for the City of Mauldin Cultural Center  proposed that we describe a day without the arts to adequately articulate the essential role of the arts in our lives. While he was not seriously considering this approach in our appointments on Capitol Hill, he was serious about how the gravity of the message could help illustrate—well not illustrate because the arts would not exist—how the arts are present all around us. Read the rest of this entry »

Jaclyn Johnson Tidwell

Jaclyn Johnson Tidwell

My April calendar is filling up nicely with runway shows, play openings, art crawls, and artist workshops. This really shouldn’t surprise me. After all, Nashville has stepped into the spotlight in the last few years as one of the nation’s new “it” cities according to New York Times writer Kim Severson. GQ calls this burgeoning southern city “Nowville” noting that “it’s the most electric spot in the South, thanks to a cast of transplanted designers, architects, chefs, and rock ‘n’ rollers.”

For many of our local arts leaders, the national attention brings opportunity and trepidation. Our city is awake and moving towards its future as the world watches. Severson describes the threat saying that “the ingredients for Nashville’s rise are as much economic as they are cultural and, critics worry, could be as fleeting as its fame.” Currently, artists innovate outside of traditional funding opportunities. Our first artist housing development fills immediately with no new opportunities in sight, work-space prices continue to climb pushing artists to the city’s edges, and divisions still exist between genres and organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

Maura Koehler-Hanlon

Maura Koehler-Hanlon

The following is an article originally posted on VolunteerMatch, written by vice president of Client Services Maura Koehler-Hanlon, in which she describes how she recently challenged the existing system of employee volunteer programs, and argued for an overhaul of the field. Visit VolunteerMatch for more articles about volunteering and corporate social responsibility.

Earlier this month I hit the road with Vicky Hush, VolunteerMatch’s VP of Engagement & Strategic Partnerships. We headed up to Portland to present to Hands On Greater Portland’s Corporate Volunteer Council to share our expertise with employee volunteer managers about how to keep your employee volunteer program (EVP) fresh and exciting. Leading up to the presentation, we had a tough internal conversation which amounted to this: how controversial did we want to be? What would happen if we just came out and said that we think EVPs should be doing more? We decided to go for it – those Portlanders are a tough bunch with all that fresh air! And it worked: when we asked the room of EVP managers “how many of you feel like your employee volunteer program is as strong as it can be?” we (not surprisingly) didn’t see a single hand. 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

Teaching Artists

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Charting the Future of the Arts

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.