In late July 2001, Americans for the Arts held its annual conference in New York City. It was the biggest gathering we had ever had, some 1,600 leaders from the local arts agency and state arts agency worlds, including not only members of Americans for the Arts but also the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
A favorite event that we produce at these conferences is ARTventures — special off-site, educational tours that offer convention attendees the opportunity to see what arts activities are going on and meet artists in different neighborhoods and different venues throughout the city. In New York in 2001, I chose to go to our ARTventure program at the World Trade Center.
Somewhere up high on the 91st and 92nd floors of Tower One was an arts colony carved out of raw space that had been donated by the Port Authority to artists and arts organizations to create, plan, and dream. The 60 or so of us who went there that day as guests of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council got to share in those dreams and visions and gazed out the giant plate glass windows at the same blue New York sky that was serving as an inspiration to all those artists within.
On Sept 11, 2001, just a few weeks later, I was looking out the window of Americans for the Arts’ headquarters office in Washington, D.C., which looks at the White House and beyond towards the Pentagon. Suddenly I could see the plume of smoke rise from where the Pentagon was located. We had just received word both via news media and from our New York office that the Twin Towers had been hit. Some members of our New York staff were on their way to work and saw the impact. Read the rest of this entry »