The Value of Community-Based Arts Education

Posted by Matt D'Arrigo On July - 22 - 2014
Matt D'Arrigo

Matt D’Arrigo

Say the words “arts education” and most likely you think of K-12, classroom-based, standards-based arts instruction tied to the school curriculum. (You may also think that there’s an extreme lack of this happening in the current school system, and you would be right.)

When I attended my first National Arts Education Council meeting for Americans for the Arts this past January, the question was posed: “What is arts education”? After some awkward silence and darting eyes, council members began expressing their perspectives on what arts education meant to them. What emerged was a kaleidoscope of approaches and contexts: classroom-based and community based, during school and after school, arts integration and arts education, K-12/higher education/life-long learning, arts as education and arts as social service, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Building a Pipeline to the Arts, World Cup Style

Posted by Nina Simon On July - 11 - 2014

Nina Simon

In light of our upcoming webinar on July 23 at 3pm on sports and arts partnerships, the World Cup final this weekend, and our upcoming blog salon next week on unique arts/business partnerships – we reached out to Nina Simon and asked if we could repost a blog she wrote for Museum 2.0 on learning from the growing popularity of soccer in the United States, and how we might relate and apply it to the arts world.

It’s World Cup time. And for the first time in my adult life as an American, that seems significant. People at work with the games running in the background on their computers. Conversations about the tournament on the street. Constant radio coverage.

If you are reading this outside the United States, this sounds ridiculously basic. Football/soccer is the world’s sport. But in the US, it has only recently become something worth watching. For most of my life in America, pro soccer was considered something risible and vaguely deviant, like picking your nose in public.

But now it’s everywhere. It’s exciting. And it’s got me thinking about how we build energy and audience for the arts in this country.

Read the rest of this entry »

What is the Future of Arts Journalism?

Posted by Robert Bettmann On July - 2 - 2014
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 »

Reunion

Posted by Robert Bush On June - 18 - 2014
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 »

How to Get a Seat at the Table

Posted by Linda Langston On May - 30 - 2014
Linda Langston

Linda Langston

I recently spoke in an Americans for the Arts’ State Arts Action Network webinar entitled, “How to Get a Seat at the Table” on May 7.  As president of the National Association of Counties, I presented from a political perspective.  As a former museum director though, I am attuned to the unique challenges and opportunities in making sure your voice is heard as an arts organization.  Your first priority in getting a seat at the table is to make sure that your organization’s business plan and vision are in line.  You need to define what your organization is and also you need to determine your organization’s place is in the community.  You must be the story-teller of your organization. Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts are not “only” the NEA…

Posted by Kate McClanahan On May - 9 - 2014
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 »

Arts and Culture: Essential for Transition in the Kentucky Coalfields

Posted by Mark Kidd On February - 21 - 2014
Mark Kidd

Mark Kidd

Ada Smith

Ada Smith

January marked the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, President Johnson’s initiative that charged America’s institutions to create “maximum feasible participation” for those most affected by lack of opportunity. This focused effort made a lasting difference on living standards in Appalachia – but poverty, high unemployment, and shortened lifespans outlasted the war. During the last 18 months, Eastern Kentucky lost 6,000 coal mining jobs, often the highest paying career available in our region, leaving coal employment at its lowest levels since record keeping began in the 1920s.

Eastern Kentucky has 20 counties which are federally-designated as distressed, more than twice the number of any other state in Appalachia. Distressed counties have a three-year average unemployment rate, per capita market income, and poverty rate that fall within the bottom ten percent of the nation. On a recent winter weekday in Pikeville, Kentucky, almost 1,700 people traveled from mountain counties throughout Eastern Kentucky to participate in a day-long summit named “SOAR” — Shaping Our Appalachian Region. State and federal political leaders solicited ideas for a new regional planning process, which produced 600 written ideas about how to make positive change. We could not ask for a more encouraging sign that the local will exists to sustain our communities regardless of persistent, grinding economic distress.

Our region’s arts and culture sector is poised to make contributions to the civic, social, and economic transitions that are necessary for the future. Local partnerships that incorporate artists, arts organizations, social services, civic organizations, and the public have proven themselves a potent way to help a broad cross-section of community members take on complex projects here, including economic development. With this kind of infrastructure in place, communities can identify local issues and develop creative, ongoing solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

Retaining and Building Your Community by Working the Margins

Posted by Steven Roth On October - 11 - 2013
Steven Roth

Steven Roth

Here’s the data* – we all know it:

  • Somewhere between 60% and 80% of single ticket buyers never return.
  • Multi-buyers (including subscribers) can account for over 50% of all ticket income and more than 80% of all donation income, yet comprise around 25% of all patrons
  •  Churn numbers can exceed 80% for single ticket buyers, 20+% for subscribers, and around 50% overall

These numbers cause marketing directors to age prematurely.   Says one:  “I’ve been a marketing director for a dozen years.  There must be something I can do to increase the number of attenders.  I hate standing still. There must be something we can do to slowly increase the numbers.   Growth is very slow.  We have a high renewal rate for some packages, but I’d like it to be higher. The biggest challenge lies in one-time single ticket buyers.   There are so many each season.  Surely there is something we can do with them.  How can we identify/entice move more single ticket buyers into more frequent attendance and towards subscription?” Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Integral to Community Success (from The Partnership Movement)

Posted by Marilyn Wolf Ragatz On August - 1 - 2013

The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission (ACAC), which advises Athens-Clarke County’s mayor and commission on cultural affairs and aesthetic development, has launched a ACAC_symbol_text_RGB_smallnew partnership with the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

Since its conception two years ago, ACAC has been busy developing new procedures, starting and completing new public art installations, and considering the many opportunities and possibilities for growth and support of the arts. In that time, the work and responsibilities of ACAC have grown rapidly. This growth produced two critical needs: staff assistance and visible, accessible office space.

Thanks to the help of the county government and county commissioners, and to Athens Area Chamber of Commerce President Doc Eldridge’s vision to bring an arts component to the chamber family, ACAC now has a place to hang its hat.

We are all aware that developing collegial relationships results in better outcomes. The opportunity has now been created for the organizations housed at the Chamber office to continue sharing, discussing, and collaborating on projects with the added perspectives and contributions of the arts. What makes this new partnership especially exciting is the fact that the arts fit so well with the chamber’s mission to help its members and the community grow and prosper.

I recently attended a public art conference in Pittsburgh as part of the Americans for the Arts National Conference. Americans for the Arts and businesses across the United States came together to create the pARTnership Movement, a resource for educating and connecting businesses and arts organizations. Their purpose is to provide opportunities, information, and resources to achieve the greatest level of benefit for both. Read the rest of this entry »

At the Crossroads of the Rustbelt and the Artist Belt

Posted by Roseann Weiss On April - 24 - 2012

Roseann Weiss

In the second week of April, when St. Louis was blooming with an early spring, 292 people came for Rustbelt to Artist Belt: At the Crossroads—an arts-based community development convening—to be part of the discussion about the arts and social change.

This conference combined the three Rustbelt to Artist Belt meetings that took place in Cleveland and Detroit with the At the Crossroads convening that took place in St. Louis in 2010.

I proposed this combination when attending the conference in Detroit and the idea stuck with Seth Beattie from Cleveland’s Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), the organizer of Rustbelt. With phone calls and emails back and forth and with a grant from the Kresge Foundation, we did it!

I wondered whether our gamble—combining the people who talk about creative regeneration of neighborhoods in the Rustbelt with people who practice community arts and social engagement—would pay off.

Would we all be able to significantly connect these threads that make up the fabric of positive social change? Read the rest of this entry »

Emerging Ideas: Mobilizing Your Community through Innovation

Posted by Gabriela Jirasek On November - 22 - 2011

Gabriela Jirasek

This post is part of a series on emerging trends and notable lessons from the field, as reported by members of the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Council.

It’s not just the Angelina Jolies and Brad Pitts of the world who fall victim to the ruthless 24-hour news cycle. The public’s hunger for uncomplicated, easily digestible news can slander celebrities and entire cities alike.

On January 11, 2011, Newsweek magazine published a now infamous article titled “America’s Dying Cities.” It crunched U..S census data to list the top-10 cities with 100,000 residents or more that experienced the steepest population decline in the country.

Number 10 on that list was Grand Rapids, MI. But the residents of Grand Rapids were about to prove that the reports of their city’s death were greatly exaggerated.

In answer to the article, lifelong Grand Rapids residents and filmmakers Rob Bliss and Scott Erickson created perhaps the greatest letter to the editor of all time,  a 10-minute lip dub music video of Don McClean’s “American Pie” featuring a cast of thousands and a full tour of downtown Grand Rapids.

Responding to the city’s premature death knell, director and executive producer explained, “We disagreed strongly, and wanted to create a video that encompasses the passion and energy we all feel is growing exponentially, in this great city. We felt Don McLean’s ‘American Pie,’ a song about death, was in the end, triumphant and filled to the brim with life and hope.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fort Wayne: Integrating the Arts Through Practice

Posted by Jim Sparrow On November - 18 - 2011

Jim Sparrow

In Fort Wayne, IN, the arts are an active part of the downtown redevelopment. One of the anchors to this involvement is the new Auer Center for Arts and Culture, which is aligned with our vision of integrated partnerships.

These partnerships are both traditional, such as the ballet, an arts gallery (Artlink), and the administrative offices for Arts United, as well as non-traditional, including a small business partnership with Pembroke Bakery and offices for Fort Wayne Trails.

We have also formed a Cultural District Consortium with our organization, the city, our CVB, and our Downtown Development Group that has a presence in the building. Its focus includes development of business, activities, and public art within the downtown core.

The center’s concept includes fully-integrated business services; financial, insurance, IT, phones as well as shared common space and business service staff and operational space. It is also structured with the objective of changing the operation and relationship of the arts with the community and its development.

The Auer is a community center with activity focused less on events and more on active arts and cultural space. Our model defines arts in a very broad manner, but has high-quality traditional arts at the center. Read the rest of this entry »

Join Our First Animating Democracy Blog Salon

Posted by Joanna Chin On November - 7 - 2011

Joanna Chin

Community connections are being eroded on multiple sides. There are growing divisions amongst Americans on how to deal with our social, economic, and political problems. Technology is making it possible to never physically interact with another human being and warping the way we relate to one another. Small towns and cities alike are losing their sense of identity and facing crises involving lack of affordable housing and declining social services.

Perhaps in reaction to this erosion of community ties, there’s been an increased interest in cultivating civic engagement, placemaking, and change at a local level.

There is a growing body of evidence and examples of how communities have utilized local assets in order to begin to address this problem. We assert that the arts and culture have always had a place in this work of creating a sense of place, strengthening civic participation, and bolstering positive social change.

For this Blog Salon, we’ve dared our bloggers to answer big questions, like:

  1. Where do you see breakthrough work at the intersection of art and community, civic, or social change? What makes it effective?
  2. Looking to the future, what will it take to move and sustain arts and culture into its most potent role in community development, civic engagement, and social change?
  3. What are the principles we have to hold onto and what are the shifts that need to occur? Read the rest of this entry »

The BCA 10: Recognizing Business Leaders in the Arts

Posted by Mathew Leonard On November - 2 - 2011

(l to r) Joseph C. Dilg, Managing Partner, Vinson & Elkins LLP and Chairman of the BCA Executive Board; Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Kohler Co.; Bob Lynch, President & CEO, Americans for the Arts

Last month, Americans for the Arts recognized several outstanding businesses that support the arts during the annual BCA 10: Best Companies Supporting the Arts in America.

Set in the elegant Central Park Boathouse in New York City, the Awards Ceremony fell somewhere between formal banquet and lighthearted celebration.

The evening began at 6:00, when the honorees and their guests arrived. The excitement in the room was almost palpable as CEOs, vice presidents, and managers, representing businesses small and large from all across America mingled, brought together by their common passion for supporting the arts.

It was during the acceptance speeches that it became clear how, for these companies, supporting the arts is far more than a philanthropic duty. Read the rest of this entry »

Sara Bateman

On October 21, the Emerging Leaders in the Arts Network (ELAN) hosted our third annual Creative Conversation. Over the past three years, this event has enabled our Emerging Leaders chapter to make connections within our local Oregon community and address topics that provoke conversation around the state of the arts in this region.

As the only current university-based chapter of the Emerging Leaders Network, the Creative Conversations program has created a vital link between university students and the community at large.

Based out of the University of Oregon in Eugene, finding ways to break down the student/community divide is a high priority for our chapter. We strive to find ways to bridge the gap between students and professionals, and to take the opportunity while we are in graduate school to connect with artists, administrators, and educators so that we can inform our role as the current generation of emerging leaders.

For this year’s event, titled “Make a Scene: Activating Local Arts & Culture Media,” ELAN sought to address how our community can work together to elevate local arts and culture media coverage, providing both print- and web-based opportunities and platforms for participation, dialogue, and critical engagement.

The event started with a panel comprised of local writers, critics, and media managers, including Rebecca Black and Karen Rainsong from Eugene A Go-Go; Jonathan Boys-Hkd, founder and editor-in-chief of Emerging Artist Magazine; Suzi Steffen, independent arts critic and blogger; Dante Zuniga-West, music/visual arts editor at the Eugene Weekly; and Joshua Finch of the zine Exiled in Eugene. 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.